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Oct 21, 2007 06:39 AM

5 "Must Have" cookware?


Would like to know the 5 "Must Have" cookware you might suggest I buy for me. When I first got my apt, I didn't think that I would cook much, so I ended up buying the cheap non stick stuff and they are literally falling apart.(scratches, handles coming loose etc...)

Doing some research and seems like All Clad is the way to go. What do you think. Basically, I would like 5 essential or "must have" pots&pans to build upon. I already have a beloved 12" cast iron skillet(but I only used that for steaks and meat).

Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. All Clad are definately the way to go and they can help you with your deciion making on what 5 essential pieces. It is always sheaper to buy them by the set. I think they have a small set and then a larger set. We have used All Clad for about 15 years now and I would never use anything else.

    1. We have a small kitchen as well, so there are a lot of things I would love to have (Paderno puts an enormous stockpot in their bi-annual sale at 70% off that I keep saying "when I have a proper kitchen) but don't because I just don't have the room. One thing that I have that I really like is a large, high sided skillet (called sometimes a texas skillet) that I make do for a frying pan, stir fry pan and for cooking batches of chili or spaghetti sauce.
      Other things I love my Paderno egg pan- it's a rectangle about 4x6 inches (a little larger than a cue card- and it's great for a couple of eggs or a mini omelet or just warming up a bit of something.
      If I had to narrow it down to just a few more things, can't live without my dutch oven (for pasta, casseroles) and two saucepans (although I use the larger one more). I have a small rice cooker- it's maybe a space luxury, but once you've used one, can't cook it in anything else. I have a crock pot, but I don't use it as much as I should. I use it maybe once a month and if I was smart, I would use it twice a week. I just can't get into it.
      The main thing is figure out what you can't live without. If you buy a set, you often wind up with at least a couple of things you just won't use and when space is an issue, it's a real waste. I would recommend going with the same brand for open stock pieces, so there's a better chance you can nest them. I also recommend going with items that can go in the oven, to give you more flexibility and save you having to buy casserole dishes that will take up space.

      1. If you have limited space (which it sounds like you do if you want to keep to five), then I would recommend against getting a set -- a set always includes at least on piece that's not very useful. Also, different kinds of pans are better for different kinds of cooking, so getting all one brand isn't necessarily the way to go.

        What pans you need really depends on how you cook. What pans do you use the most now? Which ones are sitting in the back of the cupboard? Are there times when you look at your pans and none of them are really right for what you're going to cook? How many people you cook for on a regular basis will determine what size pans you need -- no point in getting a 7 quart dutch oven if you never make large quantities, etc.

        Personally, I'd start by replacing the pans you use the most -- you can get good deals on individual pans online (especially if you check the Friday sales on, or using one of those 20 percent off Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.

        I don't think there's actually much difference between pans of similar construction from different manufacturers. After years of anodized aluminum, I went back to multiply stainless -- I have both Cuisinart and All-Clad frying pans, and there's no difference in how they perform, although I do like the design (handles, lip) of the Cuisinart better.

        1. 1. Dutch oven. Enameled cast iron with ovenproof handles is the way to go.
          2. Very large heavy-bottomed pot for making stock, boiling pasta, blanching vegetables, etc.
          3. Small heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
          4. Medium-large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
          5. Heavy-bottomed skillet with a tight-fitting lid.

          Am a big fan of multi-ply stainless. All-Clad is great but you're paying for the name and it's overkill if you have a small electric apartment range. Like Ruth Lafler, I prefer the design of the Cuisinart, though the heft, fit and finish of the current Korean-made line doesn't begin to compare with that of the original line made in France.

          1. I mostly cook for two. The 5 pots/pans I use most:

            1) 5.5 enameled cast iron dutch oven( i use this for stock and boiling water for pasta as well)
            2) 3 qt covered saute pan(also sometimes called a chef's pan)
            3) 12 in copper skillet
            4) Small roasting pan
            5) 8" nonstick skillet(for eggs only)

            For basic cookware tri-ply is a great way to go. All-Clad is good stuff but you don't have to pay for the name...there are other tri ply out there that is good quality without the markup for the name.

            Skip the set and build your collection a piece at a time based on what you use the most.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ziggylu

              I also usually am only cooking for two and my list is similar to Ziggylu's, though I could use something bigger from time to time (like that 12 inch skillet!). I can't afford the most expensive lines, so these are all mid-range to cheap products but work fine for me. My 5 most-used are:

              1. 4.5 qt dutch oven
              2. 4.5 qt taller "pasta pot" with colander insert and lid. (Used as "heavy-bottomed pot" Carswell describes).
              3. 10" nonstick skillet (like Ziggylu, for eggs only)
              4. 10" (2" deep)nonstick "everyday pan" with cover, which I really do use almost every day. If I got this again I wouldn't care so much about nonstick.
              5. 2-qt. stainless saucepan with glass lid

              And for a bonus, I also have a very small saucepan (4 c.) that is perfect for small jobs, which I use for melting butter, making small amounts of sauces, and more. It's almost too lightweight. It looks to be aluminum and it's a little old (a hand-me-down pot), so I'm looking for a new one in case I'm now eating my aluminum!

              1. re: Neuromancer

                the all-clad 1 qt saucier is a "try me" piece and priced at $50. You might want to pick up one of those: