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The Right Cookware For Every Dish

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In the same way that you spring for certain recipes depending on your cravings—Absurdly Addictive Asparagus on the first 70º day of May, perhaps—your pots and pans are each uniquely suited for certain kitchen tasks. Knowing which one to pull from the shelf depends mostly on what you want to cook, but how you're feeling (or how much cleanup you feel like doing) can enter into the equation just as much.

The following are our favorite cookware materials, organized by when it makes the most sense to cook with them.

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Photo by James Ransom

And if you'd like a heads-up, here's what we're covering:

For easy-does-it (and easy clean up) cooking... Non-Stick

When you're making eggs or reheating anything, you want a pan that stays slippery as silk over steady low heat. (We even love nonstick pots, too, from which soupy dregs can be wiped out with just a swipe.)

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Limited Edition TVS Nonstick Pots

Limited Edition TVS Nonstick Pots

From $80
Zwilling Madura Plus Nonstick Fry Pan

Zwilling Madura Plus Nonstick Fry Pan

From $39

Breakfast loves a nonstick skillet:

A Genius Way to Upgrade Your Fried Eggs

A Genius Way to Upgrade Your Fried Eggs by Kristen Miglore

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Our Definitive Pancake Guide

Our Definitive Pancake Guide by Caroline Lange

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For when you're feeling saucy (or acidic): Stainless Steel

Photo by James Ransom

Since stainless steel is non-reactive, it can hold up to even acidic ingredients like wine or tomatoes. And if you're going to make a pan sauce after browning, your stainless will catch more of those brown bits (called "fond") than any other, which means all kinds of flavor as soon as you deglaze it.

Zwilling Aurora 5-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan

Zwilling Aurora 5-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan

From $79
Demeyere Apollo Sauté Pan with Lid

Demeyere Apollo Sauté Pan with Lid

From $219
Demeyere Apollo Saucier Pan

Demeyere Apollo Saucier Pan

From $169
Cristel Space-Saving Fry Pan, 10.2"

Cristel Space-Saving Fry Pan, 10.2"

From $44

Pan-saucing, deglazing, and getting a damn good sear—what can a stainless steel skillet not do?

3 Variations on Pan Sauce for Weeknight Chicken

3 Variations on Pan Sauce for Weeknight Chicken by Samantha Weiss Hills

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Our Guide for Caring for & Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans

Our Guide for Caring for & Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans by Sarah Jampel

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For when you need a pan that can do everything: Enameled Cast Iron

Photo by Bobbi Lin

In case grandma didn't leave you her perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet, an enameled version will act the part for shallow frying and searing, too. It's also nonstick, no seasoning required, and can handle acidic ingredients.

Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker

Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker

From $99
Staub Fry Pan

Staub Fry Pan

From $99
Staub Large Cast Iron Square Grill Pan and Press

Staub Large Cast Iron Square Grill Pan and Press

From $149
Staub Round Cocotte

Staub Round Cocotte

From $129

And caring for it, since it's A-OK to use soap on these puppies, couldn't be more of a breeze:

What to Cook in Your Staub Pots & Pans (+ Tips for Care!)

What to Cook in Your Staub Pots & Pans (+ Tips for Care!) by Annie Crabill

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Why Enameled Cast Iron Discolors (& How to Fix It)

Why Enameled Cast Iron Discolors (& How to Fix It) by Sarah Jampel

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For the cook who is not-so-secretly a chemist: Copper

Photo by James Ransom

In addition to having naturally antimicrobial properties, copper is prized for its excellent heat retention (so your sauces won't separate, your chocolate will melt as if on cue)—and if they're lined with tin, you can cook alkaline or acidic dishes in them, too.

Mauviel M'passion Copper Jam Pan, 10.6QT

Mauviel M'passion Copper Jam Pan, 10.6QT

$280
Mauviel M'passion Copper Sugar Saucepan, 1.9QT

Mauviel M'passion Copper Sugar Saucepan, 1.9QT

$150
Mauviel M’héritage Copper 10.2" Frying Pan

Mauviel M’héritage Copper 10.2" Frying Pan

$200
Vintage Copper English Saucepan, Mid 19th Century

Vintage Copper English Saucepan, Mid 19th Century

$425

You might need the help of an expert to restore and tin vintage copper (we know one), but caring for it is easier than you think:

Meet Beth Sweeney and Perk up Your Kitchen with Copper

Meet Beth Sweeney and Perk up Your Kitchen with Copper by Amanda Sims

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Cooking in and Caring for Copper

Cooking in and Caring for Copper by Kenzi Wilbur

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For bakers and oven-lovers: Ceramic

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Safe for slipping right into the oven, ceramic cookware is heavy-duty and versatile with a tough glossy finish—just take care not to drop it!

Pillivuyt Patisserie Round Cake and Brioche Bundle

Pillivuyt Patisserie Round Cake and Brioche Bundle

$100
Pillivuyt Ulysses Deep Lidded Casserole Dish

Pillivuyt Ulysses Deep Lidded Casserole Dish

From $150
Eden Gratin Dish (Set of 2)

Eden Gratin Dish (Set of 2)

$116
Laurel Pie Dish

Laurel Pie Dish

$125

Bake your pastas, crimp your pie crusts:

All the Best Advice for Better Pie Crust—in One Place

All the Best Advice for Better Pie Crust—in One Place by Gabi Benedit

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How to Make Any Kind of Baked Pasta (& Live a Happy Life)

How to Make Any Kind of Baked Pasta (& Live a Happy Life) by Sarah Jampel

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For showing off those bubbly edges: Borosilicate Glass

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Borosilicate glass, which is so strong it's used to make beakers in labs, is our go-to material when we want a baking dish we can see through.

Jenaer Glas Nesting Casserole & Baking Dishes

Jenaer Glas Nesting Casserole & Baking Dishes

From $33
Jenaer Glas Quiche Dish

Jenaer Glas Quiche Dish

$44

Just add trivet:

A Baked Feta Dip for Last-Minute Guests (& Last-Minute Cravings)

A Baked Feta Dip for Last-Minute Guests (& Last-Minute Cr... by Kendra Vaculin

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An Impressive, Sweet & Cheesy (Yes, Cheesy) Middle Eastern Dessert

An Impressive, Sweet & Cheesy (Yes, Cheesy) Middle Easter... by Anna Francese Gass

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What's your favorite kind of cookware? Tell us which pot or pan you couldn't live without, in the comments.


Tags: cookware, pots, pans, baking dishes