What are the different types of cookware?
Cookware simply means pots, pans and equipment which food can be cooked in. This can cover everything from roasting tins to a tortilla press, stainless steel smokers to Chinese clay pots. Cookware can be made from a variety of materials, the most common of which are stainless steel and cast iron. Both these materials have properties that make them suitable for withstanding high temperatures, are durable and long-lasting, as well as being food-safe! Cookware which is non-stick is great if you want to be able to clean it with ease, as well as being able to get cakes, muffins and tarts out without them breaking.
Here are the positives of stainless steel cookware:
- Withstands high temperatures and doesn’t rust, perfect for achieving smoky aubergines in an oven
- Conducts heat well for even cooking, great for cakes and bakes
- Easy-to-clean if non-stick
- Durable so it will last a long time
If you’re considering cast iron cookware, here are the benefits:
- It improves with use, creating a natural layer making it easy to release food
- Cast iron maintains heat very well, great for getting a rise when baking bread
- Extremely durable, it can be used time-and-time again. Lots of cast iron cookware have decade-long guarantees they’re that long-lasting
For baking, silicone is a useful material to have in your kitchen, here’s why:
- Silicone is soft, flexible and lightweight, perfect for storing in smaller spaces and great for easily removing food from the cookware
- As it’s not metal there’s no risk of rust
- The flexible material is microwave, oven and dishwasher-safe, so very versatile
What cookware do you really need?
The cookware you need depends on the style of cooking you do regularly. Here we’ve put together a list of cookware that is handy to have in your cupboards, plus what you should use each item for.
Shallow baking sheets are handy for laying food flat and baking in an oven or storing in a fridge, everything from roasting vegetables to chilling cookies.
Deeper baking trays have higher sides so are ideal for roasting cuts of meat, layering lasagnes or baking brownies and flapjacks.
A round cake tin can be used for a single-layer cake, or slice it into as many layers as you like once the cake has cooled. A loose bottom makes it easy to remove the cake and keep the base even.
Whether you want to simmer sauces, heat up soup, make stock or slowly cook porridge, this set comes with a variety of sized pans. They easily stack inside of each other to save on space and are dishwasher safe. De Buyer’s magnetic, heat diffusing base means they’re all compatible with induction cookers, too.
Poach fish, use for Spanish tortillas or simmer pasta sauces in a non-stick frying pan. A non-stick frying pan is perfect for gentle cooking, or when you want to reheat food.
Cook perfectly charred steak, halloumi and flatbreads with a griddle pan. This cast iron pan retains heat very well and provides an even cooking surface. Griddle pans are great when you want a BBQ but don’t have the space!
Cook over searing heat with an iron wok. The sides heat up evenly for consistent cooking and provides a larger area for fish and meat. De Buyer’s wok has a flat base so it doesn't tip on electric and induction stoves.
Cook rich ragùs, slow-cooked stews and loaves of bread in this cast iron casserole dish. This long-lasting dish has two side handles making it easy to carry from oven to table (just be sure to put a heatproof mat underneath!).
What other cookware can I use in my kitchen?
Now we’ve covered the basic kitchen equipment, it’s time to tailor your cookware to what you love making, be it Spanish paellas, golden brioche rolls or even frilly crêpes!
Whether you keep it classic with saffron and shellfish, or go vegan with olives and sundried tomatoes, a paella pan is great for making the classic Spanish dish. The flat base means that the rice spreads into a thin layer, allowing it to cook evenly and absorb stock at a steady rate.
Make traditional French brioche with this fluted steel mould. The mould has a non-stick coating which means the sweet, golden buns will be released with ease.
Cook frilly crêpes and fluffy pancakes on this flat pan. The heavy iron pan has a low rim which makes it easy to flip the pancakes, whether you flip them up high in the air or gently turn with a fish slice.
Make the popular Japanese street food snack at home with this cast iron takoyaki pan. All you need to do is brush the oil into each hole, heat up and spoon the batter in, rotating the pan and adding more until each hole is filled.
Bake light, golden madeleines at home with this 12-hole tray. The arrangement of the moulds allows for optimum circulation of hot air, for the best cooking results every time.
Achieve a beautiful fluted tart with this non-stick quiche tin. While baking, any excess moisture can escape through the small holes, so not a soggy bottom in sight! The loose bottom makes it easy to remove the quiche from the tin without it breaking.
Investing in long-lasting cookware is really worthwhile, and there are a couple of extra-special items that are perfect for gifting.
The De Buyer Prima Matera straight copper saute pan for induction is too good looking to hide away in a cupboard. It's the ultimate all-rounder. Use as often as you can for browning meat, reducing sauces, caramelising onions and more.
Use the Skeppshult cast iron waffle pan to make classic heart-shaped waffles on the stovetop, with crispy edges and fluffy middles. Heat the pan on your hob, then once the cast iron is hot pour in the waffle batter and close the lid. Flip the pan halfway through cooking to ensure the waffles are heated evenly all the way through. Then serve while still warm, with a dusting of icing sugar and slices of fresh fruit.
Ellie Edwards is the Food Editor at Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.