How to Choose Your Cooking Pan

Cooking is an art, and much like a painter needs brushes, a cook needs pots and pans. When just starting, it’s good to get to know what the tools are used for. If you don’t know when to use a skillet or when to use a pot, then you can’t truly cook anything you want.

If you’ve been wanted to take your cooking skills to a new level, then this is the post for you. Today, we’re going to talk about all the different types of posts and pans as well as their uses. This should help you stock your kitchen so that you can make what you want when you want it. First, let’s talk about the material.

What’s it made of?

If you’ve ever wondered why pans can vary so much even if they are the same type, that’s partly due to the material. When choosing the material, you have the options of copper, nonstick, cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic, aluminum, and more. The good news is, all of the pans we’re about to talk about can be purchased in each of these materials. The only thing that changes is how you wash your pan and the difference in cooking. In the end, it’s the personal preference with the material you choose.

What Types of Pots and Pans are There?


The skillet, also known as the frying pan, is the catch-all of pans. You’ll have the ability to grill meat, stir-fry food, cook omelets or pancakes, and more. Light frying and simple flat surface cooking are perfect with this pan. It’s easy to confuse with a saute pan; however, the main difference to look for is the slanted sides of the pan.

Saute Pan

As mentioned, this looks much like a skillet but with straight sides. Much the same, you can use this to cook pancakes, make omelets, or sear meat. However, the straight sides can make it harder to flip the food with a spatula. What this does better than the skillet is reductions causes as the straight sides keep more from splattering out from mixing or pouring.


A wok is an Asian cooking pot with tapered sides. It almost looks like a mix of a pot and a pan in a way. Using this with a long-handled spatula or ladle will help with cooking. Much like the previous two, the wok is used for cooking stir-frys. However, it can also be used to steam food, roast, and making dumplings.


Moving from the middle of a pan and a pot to a full pot, we get to the saucepan. It’s something everyone has in their kitchen as it can do many different cooking tasks from heating liquids and boiling noodles to making soup and melting butter. It comes in many sizes but has tall sides and a round base. Usually, you will also get a lid so that you can steam or simmer food as well.


This is the second pan that looks to be a mix of a pot and a pan. The saucier is a shorter saucepan that has a rounded bowl-like shape. It’s best used to create sauces! Its shape lends great for whisking and stirring sauces so that you don’t let the edges or sides burn. In addition, the low sides make it easier to work with the sauce over a wider area rather than being tempted to fill up a saucepan and have it cook unevenly.


You’ll recognize this as a wide top, tall, and flat bottomed pot that comes in gallon or litter sizes. It’s most often used to cook stock, broth, pasta, popcorn, or low country boils. However, it’s perfect for any large batch cooking so deep frying and cooking large amounts of soup can also be done in these pots.

In the end, these may all sound a bit similar. However, if you use the pans for what they were meant to be used for, you’ll see just how much simpler your cooking can be. While many can be substituted in a pinch, having a well-stocked kitchen will leave you on your way to being a better cook and eating better meals.