Our saucepans are the most popular pots in our kitchen: we recruit them for gravies, for delicate sauces like bechamel, and even to boil our morning egg. The best are made with a sandwich of different metals; our favorite is the 3-ply, 3-quart ANOLON ULTRA CLAD SAUCEPAN (shown in picture to left, top left), which includes layers of fast-heating aluminum and durable, nonreactive stainless steel.
Copper pots are the most efficient conductors of heat, so foods get hot lightning fast and cook evenly. The downside? They’re expensive. We think the stainless steel-lined 3.1-quart MAUVIEL COPPER WINDSOR SAUCEPAN (shown in picture above, center) is well worth the price: its flared sides (the signature feature of a windsor pan) speed up evaporation, a boon when you’re reducing sauces and sauteing. The pot is heavy enough that we can stir without holding the handle, leaving one hand free to tend to dishes on other parts of the stove.
From Germany to Morocco, home cooks rely on pressure cookers, which use steam to create a high-pressure chamber, to get dinner on the table fast. Pressure promotes speedy cooking, allowing dishes like beef stew to get done in half the time, without losing any of their tender juiciness. Our favorite is the 6-quart FAGOR DUO PRESSURE COOKER (shown in picture above, top right), with its comfortable handle, stainless-steel body, and easy-to-control settings.
A nonstick pan is our choice for frying eggs and delicate fish filets. The 10-inch T-FAL ULTIMATE FRY PAN (shown in picture above, bottom right), from the French company that pioneered nonstick cooking in the 1950s, is the sturdiest around. Unlike Teflon-coated pans, it has a hard surface, made of a plastic-based resin called PTFE, that is virtually scratchproof and stands up to metal utensils.
The 4-quart ALL-CLAD STRAIGHT-SIDED SAUTÉ PAN (shown in picture above, bottom left) is a multipurpose workhorse with a stainless-steel exterior and a quick-heating aluminum core. Its wide, flat surface offers maximal contact with the stove-top heat source, and the straight sides help trap moisture.
The hefty 12-inch LODGE LOGIC CAST IRON SKILLET (shown in picture to left, top left) is one of the most versatile tools a cook can own: we fry in it, we saute in it, and we use it to sear meats on the stove top before roasting them in the oven. Cast iron gets extremely hot and maintains high, even temperatures, which gives foods the tastiest char. Traditionally, cast-iron pans require seasoning to develop a satiny, nonstick surface; this one comes preseasoned with vegetable oil and is ready to use.
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t use a rimmed sheet pan, so we seek out the most durable, sturdiest ones we can find. Our favorite, the half-size LINCOLN FOODSERVICE HEAVY DUTY SHEET PAN shown in picture above, center), is made from a thick aluminum alloy that won’t warp or buckle, even in the hottest oven. It turns out perfectly bronzed cookies and biscuits every time.
The tough, simple, and capacious 12-quart CARLISLE DURA-WARE STOCKPOT (shown in picture above, top right) has a towering profile, which minimizes evaporation, conserving liquid when you’re boiling pasta or preparing soups. Made of professional-grade aluminum, which heats up quickly, this kitchen stalwart has an extra-thick base that conducts heat well and reduces the risk of scorching.
Because glass retains heat more effectively than metal does, it responds better to lower oven temperatures, so it’s the best choice for casseroles, brownies, and baked pasta dishes. And because glass is nonporous and nonreactive, it doesn’t rust, stain, or impart undesirable flavors to food. The 9-by-13-inch ANCHOR HOCKING GLASS BAKING DISH (shown in picture above, bottom right) is the toughest and longest-lasting everyday glass baking vessel we know.
We prize woks for their ability to cook food quickly and evenly over intense heat and also because their broad, semicircular profile allows us to toss and stir ingredients with ease. We rely on the American-made PRECISION WOK (shown in picture above, bottom left); its carbon-steel composition makes it heat up faster than other models we’ve tried, distributes heat smoothly and evenly, and seasons with age. Its flat bottom is compatible with gas, electric, and glass-topped stoves.