Cookware – The Kitchen Cornerstone

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by David Michael

Cookware – The Foundation of Your Kitchen

Cookware is the cornerstone of a functional kitchen, playing a vital role in every aspect of cooking. From boiling and frying to baking and roasting, the right cookware makes all the difference. Cookware is the foundation of every kitchen. It’s what we use to prepare all of our meals, from simple snacks to elaborate feasts. And while it’s possible to cook with just a few basic pieces of cookware, having a high-quality set can make a big difference in the quality of your food.

When choosing cookware, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider what type of cooking you do most often. If you’re mostly frying and sautéing, you’ll need a different set of cookware than if you’re a baker or a stew-maker.

Second, think about your budget. Cookware can range in price from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It’s important to find a set that fits your needs and budget.

Finally, consider the materials that your cookware is made from. The most common materials are stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, and non-stick finished. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Types of Cookware

Pots and Pans

Pots and pans are versatile cookware essentials. Pots are typically deeper and used for boiling, while pans, with their flat bottoms and slightly raised edges, are great for sautéing and frying. They come in various materials like stainless steel, cast iron, and non-stick coatings.


Bakeware encompasses pans and dishes designed for baking. From cakes to casseroles, having a good set of bakeware is crucial. Common materials include glass, ceramic, and metal.

Selecting the Right Cookware

Consideration of Cooking Needs

Understand your cooking style and needs. A home chef might prefer a diverse set, while a minimalist cook might opt for essential, multi-purpose pieces.

Budget and Quality

Strike a balance between your budget and the quality of cookware. Investing in high-quality pieces, though slightly more expensive, often pays off in the long run. My dad always told me to buy the best I could afford at the time and his advice still holds true.

Cookware Materials

The choice of material significantly impacts your cooking. Stainless steel is durable and versatile, cast iron retains heat well, and non-stick pans offer easy food release. Each material has its advantages and considerations.

Here is a brief overview of the different types of cookware:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a durable and versatile material. It’s good for a variety of cooking tasks, including frying, sautéing, boiling, and baking. Stainless steel cookware is also relatively easy to clean. However, it’s important to note that stainless steel can heat unevenly, so it’s important to use a medium heat when cooking.

Selection of stainless steel cookware on a table.
Stainless Steel Cookware

For more info on stainless steel cookware be sure to see our post The Ultimate Guide to Stainless Steel Cookware.
See our recommendations of The Best Stainless Steel Cookware.


Aluminum is a lightweight and good conductor of heat. It’s ideal for cooking tasks that require even heat distribution, such as frying and sautéing. However, aluminum cookware is not as durable as stainless steel, and it can be scratched easily. It’s also important to note that aluminum cookware can react with acidic foods, so it’s important to avoid using it for cooking dishes like tomato sauce and lemon chicken.

Hard Anodized Aluminum

Hard anodized cookware is aluminum that has been transformed using an electric process. This turns the outer layer of aluminum into a hard and durable surface that is no longer reactive and is much stronger than untreated aluminum.

Hard anodized cookware on a table.
Hard Anodized Cookware

Please check out our post The Ultimate Guide to Hard Anodized Cookware for more information.
And be sure to see our top picks at The Best Hard Anodized Cookware Sets.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a heavy-duty material that retains heat well. It’s ideal for cooking tasks such as searing meat and baking. However, cast iron cookware can be difficult to clean and maintain. It’s also important to note that cast iron cookware is not dishwasher safe.

Cast iron cookware arranged on a table
Cast Iron Cookware

We take a closer look at cast iron in our post Everything You Need to Know about Cast Iron Cookware.
And please be sure to see our top picks at The Best Cast Iron Cookware.

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron gives you all of the benefits of cooking with regular cast iron, and makes it easy to care for. The baked on finish makes for easy clean up with soap and water. This is my favorite type of cookware, and it comes in an incredible range of colors.

Collection of enameled cast iron from Staub and Le Creuset
Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

For an in depth look at this type of cookware please see Enameled Cast Iron Cookware: A Complete Guide.
We run down our favorite brands in our post Best Enameled Cast Iron Cookware.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel cookware has long been a staple in professional kitchens. This excellent cooking material is finding its way into more home chef’s line up. Lighter than cast iron and with a heat responsiveness close to copper, carbon steel is more and more popular. Care is similar for cast iron.

Carbon Steel Cookware on a table.
Carbon Steel Cookware

Please check out our guide to carbon steel at Carbon Steel Cookware: A Comprehensive Guide.
For our recommendations make sure to visit Best Carbon Steel Cookware.


Copper cookware has been the gold standard with chefs for good reason. It is incredibly responsive to temperature changes. The traditional tin lining is amazingly non-stick, and unlined pans help with things from whipping egg whites to caramelizing sugar.

Copper pot filled with a pasta dish.
Copper Cookware

We have a comprehensive guide at Copper Pans 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Copper Cookware.
For our recommendations of the best, check out picks at Best Copper Cookware.


Non-stick cookware is coated with a special material that prevents food from sticking. It’s ideal for cooking tasks such as frying eggs and pancakes. However, non-stick cookware can be scratched easily, and the coating can eventually wear off. It’s also important to note that non-stick cookware should not be used with high heat, as this can damage the coating. The base of non-stick cookware can be made out of nearly any material.

Specialty Cookware

Induction Cookware

More and more kitchens are being outfitted with induction ranges. These energy efficient cooktops are so great (I love mine). You do need cookware that is induction ready in order to be able to use them.

A collection of induction cookware
Induction Cookware

They can be made of nearly any material nowadays. Check out our recommendations at our post: Best Induction Cookware – Our Favorites.

Grill Pans

Stove top grill pans let you enjoy a grilled meal any time of the year – with char marks too. They come in a variety of materials and shapes and sizes to fit your cooking style.

Staub grill pan with steak, peppers, corn, and zucchini
Grill Pans

Please check out our picks for The Best Stove Top Grill Pans for our recommendations.

Tea Kettle

A high quality tea kettle is a joy to use. Most of the high end cookware makers have one or two in their line. These are as long lasting as the rest of their cookware. I highly recommend the investment in a quality tea pot.

Staub tea kettle on a table with a cup and saucer of tea and a pile of loose tea leaves.
Tea Kettle

I’ve owned this one for over 10 years. Check out our review of the Staub Tea Kettle.


Cookware is undeniably the cornerstone of a functional kitchen. Investing in quality cookware not only enhances your cooking but also helps improve the flavors and textures of your dishes. Choose wisely, maintain diligently, and let your cookware be the silent partner in your culinary adventures.
Bon appétit!

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