Hi friends! Last summer on my instagram I talked all about my pots and pans that I use and recommend. Please note, this is just what I personally use. This is not the end all be all. It’s my personal pot and pan choices that have worked for us over the years. We will start with pans (stainless steel and nonstick), then cast iron, dutch oven, pots, and end with baking sheets. I have everything linked in my Amazon Shop but I will also individually link the item I am talking about as we go.
To start, my go to recommendation is a 10-12” stainless steel pan. I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite, but I really do prefer stainless. I used to use nonstick and noticed that most famous chefs are always using stainless and I wanted to be like them and challenge myself in my cooking. My favorite brands are Cuisinart and Allclad.
10-12” pans are classic frying pan sizes and a staple in the kitchen. All-Clad is pricey so I try to snag them when they are on sale. My shopping tip for #ballingonabudget is to look at Marshalls/TJMaxx type places for these. They usually have a few really good brands (All-Clad, Calphalon, Cuisinart) at a much lower price point. Bed Bath and Beyond will often have them on sale and you know they always have a 20% off coupon available.
Cooking with stainless steel
The key here is FAT. You need to have something (oil/butter) on the pan protecting it from the food sticking to it. If you are cooking and your food is sticking, you probably don’t have enough fat. I cook eggs and do my everyday sauteing in this. To take care of stainless steel, I suggest Bar Keepers Friend or Bon ami. Great for cleaning stainless.
If you want to do nonstick, by all means, go for it. The problem with nonstick is that certain chemicals can leach into your food. Teflon, PTFE, PFOA, C8, etc. However, there are some brands that are doing a better, safer job. There are many different price points for safe nonstick, I’m linking you to one affordable option and one higher end. I totally get the appeal of nonstick. There’s no shame in using it. The ones we had were definitely Teflon and they were flaking into our food so that was the red flag that told me it was time to change our pans.
I use and love Lodge. These babies are for LIFE. And a wonderful price! This one is 12” and comes with a handle holder. I also love the dual-handle option because of how heavy they are (they are very heavy but so very durable). The key is “seasoning them” and how you care for them. You should not clean these pans with soap. Simply clean with a metal scrub brush and then re-oil after use. A lot of people cook eggs in this, I use it mainly for cooking meat. After I’m done cooking, I wipe it out, maybe with a little water, then I use a metal scrubbing pad that I scrub it really well with and then I’ll oil it. That can seem high maintenance but they add great flavor to your food and small amounts of iron too. You can also put it in the oven from the stove. Make sure you have a grip cover for the handle because it will burn you terribly if you touch it. They are affordable, safe, and conduct heat really well.
My Dutch oven is Le Creuset 4 qt. And I would NOT suggest this size unless your baking is specific to this size. It’s never big enough for anything else I make because I make double batches so often. I got a bigger 7.5 qt for Christmas and it’s SO HEAVY. This one is Lodge and a much better price point than Le Creuset and you can often find them at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Both are enameled cast iron so it performs similar to regular cast iron, and conducts heat really well. The only negative is that it’s so heavy which makes pouring quite difficult. You will a 8 quart dutch oven with chili and that things is HEAVY!
I love this little 1.5 qt soup pot from All-Clad (I got it during a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond a few years back). I would also love to get a 2 qt. to have one more in a similar size. This perfectly reheats a quart of soup which is the portion size I usually freeze. I also have a cuisinart 6 qt stock pot and a 4 qt pot. I don’t think you need both. If you’re going to get one, just get a 6 qt. This is my everyday boil pasta kind of pot. If you’re boiling water, you do not need top of the line either. You want it to be sturdy, but it doesn’t need to be super pricey. Just make sure the handles are good. No one wants a handle to break off with a boiling pot of water.
I do have a massive 12 qt pot for my big batches of spaghetti sauce. It comes with all the pieces to cook and drain a large amount of pasta, lowcountry boil, etc. The one I linked is such an amazing price!
I LOVE a large sheet pan like this. They are perfect for roasting veggies. I also have a classic sheet size and also a smaller 9 x 13. If you’re ever choosing, always go with the larger. I love USA pan so I will link you there. That’s what I use for baking brownies and love the ridge lines at the bottom.
Pot and Pan Organization
For pan organization and lids for pots, we use these. They are AWESOME. I have one for pot lids and one for baking sheets. I also use a hanging pot rack from a restaurant supply store and LOVE IT. It saves space in my cabinets and makes my most used items in the kitchen easily accessible.
In summary, I would suggest the following for your kitchen:
- 1-2 qt
- 6 qt
- 12 qt.
- 10-12” stainless steel or nonstick if you desire
- a cast iron
- a super large one of pasta dishes (at least for us because we love pasta).
- *I don’t think you NEED a dutch oven, it’s sort of more dependent on if you would need a stove top to oven transfer option. I use my Crockpot and Instant Pot for this.
1-2 baking pans:
- 1 large roasting sheet pan in a full size
- one half size baking sheet pan
If you are looking to replace your entire set of pots and pans, I am linking you to three different sets at three different price points, but all brands that I love and recommend:
- Cuisinart 77-11G Chef’s Classic Stainless 11-Piece Cookware Set – Silver
- Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Pots and Pans, 10-Piece Cookware Set
- All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set, Pots and Pans, Tri-Ply Stainless Steel, Professional Grade, 10-Piece
I hope this helps some of you who are overwhelmed with all of the options out there. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current selection, registering for items, or looking to declutter the items you don’t need, let this serve you. Again, keep in mind that these are my personal preferences and opinions and it’s okay if you disagree or have found other options work better for you and your family.