The secret to idiot-proof cooking? The right tools. In other words, upgrading from the stock pot and sheet pan you bought for little more than your spare change at Ikea can have a big effect on the foods you prepare. Even if your cooking repertoire is limited to eggs and pasta, these nine pots and pans will help you make the most of your meals.
5-½ quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens (okay, you can stop laughing now) are great not only for soups and stews, but also for braises and other slow-cooked foods. Use this durable 5- to 6-quart pot on the stove, and then shove it in the oven, where it won’t have any trouble withstanding high temperatures.
CAST IRON SKILLET
12-inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
Channel your inner cowboy with this sturdy skillet. It’s perfect for searing meat on the stove, baking cornbread in the oven or even using over an open flame. Food won’t stick, and it’s easy to clean—in fact you don’t even need to use soap (in fact, you shouldn’t use soap!).
MEDIUM NON-STICK SKILLET
All-Clad Copper Core 10-inch Nonstick Fry Pan
This is your go-to pans for eggs—but of course its nonstick surface makes it great for frying up anything else you don’t want to end up scraping off the bottom of the pan. To maintain the nonstick coating, avoid using steel wool and other abrasive surfaces to clean it.
STRAIGHT SIDE SAUTE PAN
All-Clad d5 Stainless Steel Nonstick Saute Pan (4 quart)
Unlike a skillet, this pan has straight edges, which gives you a little more surface area for searing meat. It also comes with a secure-fitting lid, which you can use for things like wilting greens and braising.
Cuisinart 12-quart Stockpot with Cover
Want to make enough pasta for an army? This is your guy. In addition to delivering on all of your spaghetti needs, stock pots are handy to have around for large batches of sauces, soups, chili, and natch, homemade stocks. Look for one that can hold at least 8 quarts, has a heavy bottom and is equipped with sturdy handles.
SMALL SLOPE-SIDED SAUCIER
All-Clad Stainless Steel 3-Quart Saucier Pan with Lid
When you’re not whipping up big batches of liquids, you’ll want to employ this little guy. It’s great for reheating soup, preparing sauces and gravies or making a few servings of boiled vegetables, pastas or grains, like couscous.
Le Creuset 3-½-quart Rectangular Casserole Dish
A casserole dish may conjure up the image of the quintessential Midwestern mom, which, we get it, you’re not. However, a shallow ceramic dish will make your life easier when it comes to preparing things like lasagna, enchiladas and—come Thanksgiving—stuffing.
Calphalon 16-Inch Roaster
You definitely don’t want to be without a heavy-duty roasting pan when Turkey day rolls around. But year round, it’s what you need to roast meat, poultry and vegetables—it’ll cook more evenly than a scrawny sheet pan, and it can trap all those tasty juices for gravy. Look for one with a roasting rack, which allows you to elevate your food, making for quicker more consistent roasting.
Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen 14-inch Flat Bottom Lidded Wok Set
Your favorite Chinese joint isn’t the only place to get delicious stir-fry. This large, sloped, carbon steel pan makes it easy to mix up your favorite protein, veggies and Asian sauces. Plus, woks are relatively inexpensive.