Cookware

The pots, pans and bakeware that make your kitchen sizzle

If you're someone who lives in the kitchen (and loves it!), you know that the right cookware makes all the difference in taking your meals from everyday to gourmet. Combining form and function is essential when it comes to cookware; you've got to make sure the pieces work for you and for the room by choosing high quality pieces that can be stored easily at hand.

Cookware Must-Haves

Essential kitchen cookware usually includes the following pots and pans: a frying pan, a sauce pan, a large pasta pot, a cooking pot, and a roasting pan. You may also want to go beyond the typical with a few specialty pieces, such as a stock pot or double-boiler, depending on your cooking needs.

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Once you determine the pieces you need for your kitchen, choosing the type of metal for your cookware set is the next step. Budget and investment will determine the decision here, along with your style sense and your cooking preferences.

Basic stainless steel cookware is often enough for most chefs, especially those on a budget. Good-quality sets can usually be found for under $150. But for those who like to throw their weight around in the kitchen, and who have the budget to do so, heavy cast iron cookware is a leading choice.

Cast iron is often chosen by kitchen connoisseurs for its durability, its even cooking and its heat retention properties. Copper cookware is another great heat conductor, but it is often chosen more for its aesthetic appeal. Aside from having a distinctive look – what looks better on a stove than a large copper pot? – it's easier to clean than cast iron and hides scratches better, too.

If your kitchen skills leave a bit to be desired, non stick cookware may be the best option for you. You don't have to sacrifice quality or looks, but the handy layer of non stick coating on these cookware sets could very well save your dinner. Better yet, if you're a kitchen disaster, opt for microwave cookware. You can cook nearly all the same meals in your microwave oven you would in your regular oven or on your stove, but without the hassle!

Bakeware Breakdown

When it's time to do a little baking in your kitchen, your essential pieces will be cake pans, cookie sheets, bread pans and muffin tins, as well as casserole trays and pots that can stand up to heat.

Traditionally, porcelain and ceramic bakeware were the pieces of choice, but recently, silicone bakeware has taken over. This material is heat- and cold-resistant, which means it can go straight from oven to freezer (and vice versa) if necessary. Its flexibility and non stick surface make it easy to remove baked goods from tray cups without having to use a knife or spatula. The sets are very affordable at around $50, or you can purchase individual pieces. Either way, the convenience is worth every dollar.

Waterless Cookware – An Innovative Option

If you're revamping your kitchen, why not revamp your cooking practices? Waterless cookware is a trendy item that's catching on. It allows you to cook food in its natural juices, which means you don't lose any of the nutrients you would if you were cooking in water. You simply rinse your foods, mixing water with the food's juices, to provide enough moisture to cook with steam. Easy!