How to Choose a Cookware Set
Learn how to choose the perfect cookware set for your kitchen with House. Find out about exactly what cookware you need, best materials & more.
Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen or a well-seasoned cook, you’ve probably asked yourself the question what is the best cookware for me?
With an overwhelming selection of cookware sets, individual pieces, and a vast range of materials, it can be hard to know where to start, whether you’re a first-time buyer or simply want to upgrade your current collection. In this cookware buying guide, we will break it down, so you can increase your knowledge and choose the right pieces for your kitchen.
Why does cookware differ?
You can indeed fry an egg in a saucepan and heat soup in a frying pan, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a breeze. Having the correct pieces of cookware for completing different cooking tasks is essential for efficiency, enjoyment and favourable results.
Another vital question to keep in mind is what's the best cookware to buy for your cooktop. Classic gas stoves, favoured by professionals, are flexible and work well with any combination of materials and shape of pan, although a rounded bottom has its advantages.
Electric ceramic-glass cooktops are also compatible with all materials but require flat-bottomed cookware for full contact with the heating element. In addition, be aware that rough materials like cast iron runs-the-risk of scratching the precious shiny surface of the cooktop.
Induction is a whole other ball game, and without magnetic materials, the super-efficient cooktop technology simply won’t be able to connect to the pan and transfer heat effectively.
Is it better to buy individual pieces or cookware sets?
With so many options available, you’re probably wondering if you should purchase individual pieces or an all-inclusive set to cover all bases at once.
Well, the thing is, if your kitchen is only lacking in certain areas, such as a good quality Dutch oven, an individual investment may be all you need to refresh your cooking repertoire.
On the other hand, a cookware set is a perfect way to start totally from scratch, or to replace a worn-out, mismatched collection with wobbly handles and scuffed surfaces.
The best cookware basics to buy
To cook stress-free and with the ability to follow many delicious recipes, there are certain basics that no kitchen should ever be lacking.
A well-rounded selection of essential cookware allowing you to create delicious dishes from your favourite cooking magazine to secret family recipes to the latest viral TikTok trends looks something like this:
- 2 x Saucepans with Lids
- 2 x Frying Pans
- 1 x Stockpot with Lid
- 1 x Sauté Pan with Lid
The purpose of essential cookware items
Saucepans come in a range of sizes, typically from 1L to 4.5L and feature straight, tall sides for holding liquids, a single long handle, and a lid. Depending on the capacity, saucepans are perfect for heating small amounts of sauce, cooking rice, boiling, and mashing potatoes and preparing healthy batches of soup.
A good quality frying pan is the beating heart of any kitchen and takes care of everything from the simplest meal of fried eggs to gourmet crispy-skinned salmon fillets. Boasting shallow bodies and wide sloping edges that allow a spatula to slide in and stir ingredients, frying pans are also fantastic vessels for sauteing vegetables and whisking together authentic pasta sauces.
With a large, deep body and a typical capacity of eight to ten litres, stockpots take care of large-scale cooking tasks like preparing deeply flavourful broths, hearty soups, healthy stews and boiling large quantities of pasta. A close-fitting lid helps to seal in all the moisture and wonderful flavours.
Not to be confused with a frying pan, sauté pans have a lid and tall straight sides that prevent liquids from evaporating too quickly and keep splatters from making a mess. Searing meat, sauteing greens, and crowd-pleasing one-pot meals like risotto and mac and cheese are all effortlessly prepared in a good quality sauté pan.
Overview of common materials
When it comes to choosing the material of your cookware, there are many factors to consider:
- Style of cooking
- Kitchen cooktop
This cookware material guide will give you a brief understanding of the most popular choices on the market.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Known for being one of the most durable materials and commonly found in professional kitchens, stainless steel cookware is guaranteed to last a long time due to its high resistance to scratches and dents. It's perfect for deglazing and making rich gravies, while oven and dishwasher-safe properties offer versatility and convenience.
Cast Iron Cookware
Heavier to handle, cast iron cookware requires patience for heating up and cooling down but is rewarded with even heat transfer and fantastic results. When taken care of accordingly, cast iron cookware offers a non-toxic, non-stick surface and long-lasting, oven-safe use.
Lightweight and a rapid conductor of heat, aluminium cookware is widely found in kitchens for its many favourable properties. Quality non-stick coatings provide easy food release and are perfect for cooking low-fat, healthy meals, while premium hard-anodized aluminium cookware boasts ultra-hardwearing bodies that are less likely to warp or rust.
Non-stick vs stainless steel vs cast iron
When it comes down to it, what's the best cookware to buy? It ultimately depends on your individual cooking approach, however, remember these key points for a rough cookware set buying guide:
- Stainless steel cookware is practically indestructible, the best option for browning ingredients and following recipes that require precise heat levels.
- Cast iron is the better choice for cooking with high heat levels and, when taken care of correctly, can be used with joy for generations.
- Non-stick cookware offers many benefits: cooking is easy, food won’t stick, less oil is required for healthy results and clean-up is a breeze.
Other important cookware features to keep in mind
Design: With endless aesthetically pleasing options to suit any kitchen environment, even the most style-conscious cooks don’t have to compromise on quality and style.
- Lids: A glass lid makes easy work of monitoring the ingredients bubbling away inside while you keep on top of other food prep tasks.
- Handles: You’ll want stay-cool handles with an ergonomic moulded grip for the most comfortable cooking experience.
- Dishwasher Safe: If washing up isn’t your cup of tea, then a dishwasher-safe set should be a priority.
- Oven Safe: Versatile cookware that can transfer between the cooktop and oven leaves your cupboards with space for other essential items.
Buying the right cookware can make you a better cook
Most pots and pans are used daily, so it’s truly worth investing in a high-quality cookware set that suits your cooking style and will be able to stand the test of time. Becoming familiar with the basics of materials and styles will help to ensure that all your culinary requirements are fully met. We recommend going for the best possible quality within your means and closely following the use and care instructions for continued top performance over time.Back to blog