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Essential Cookware

The Skinny:

Celebrity chefs and cooking shows might make you think we all need an expensive array of pots and pans to create delicious meals. Cookware sets can cost big bucks, but often contain items you just don’t need. Knowing the essential cookware can save you money and cupboard space, while allowing you to make fantastic meals.

The How-To:

Your budget, cooking habits and tastes will play a role in selecting what’s essential for you. As a rule, buy the best cookware you can afford. Settling for the cheap stuff will only cost more money when bad cookware needs to be replaced.

The Essentials

When you’re buying pans, it’s best to get two sizes of each. A small size (6-8 inches) is great when cooking for one or two people, and the larger size (10-12 inches) is great for cooking larger quantities or bigger pieces of food.

  • Saucepan

    As the name suggests, a saucepan is great for making sauces and working with liquids. You can also cook rice and reheat soup. A larger saucepan can be used to boil pasta, making it a go-to pan for small families.

  • Skillet or Sauté Pan

    This will be the workhorse in the kitchen. The difference between a skillet (frying pan) and a sauté pan are the sides of the pan. Skillets have angled, shallow sides to allow liquid to evaporate. Skillets are meant to sear and brown foods. Sauté pans have straight, higher sides and have lids to allow for steaming and retaining liquid. Sauté pans can also hold more food than a skillet. These two pans are often considered interchangeable, but knowing the differences can better suit your cooking needs. A larger skillet with a lid can take the place of a sauté pan.

  • Stockpot

    Every kitchen needs one big pot. The stockpot is great for boiling pasta, making stock, steaming veggies or making large batches of soups and chili. For big cooking jobs, the stockpot can be a lifesaver.

Other Important Cookware

While not necessarily essential, these pieces of cookware can help round out your kitchen. If you’ve got the extra cash and want to be able to cook just about anything, consider these options.

  • Cast Iron Skillet

    A pan that can work on the stove or in the oven. Great for grilling, searing or frying, a cast iron skillet is an affordable piece of cookware that can last a lifetime. Since it retains heat well, it’s great for keeping food warm. Cornbread made in a cast iron skillet is a must!

  • Cooling/Baking Racks

    While racks can cool food, you can get extra mileage when you cook with a rack as well. Cooking meats on rack in the oven allows for better heat circulation. Chicken can be crispy on all sides, avoiding a soggy bottom.

  • Dutch Oven

    Perfect for searing and slow-cooking, this pot is great for chili, soups and stews. It does double duty since it can be used on the stove or in the oven. It can also work well for serving food.

  • Nonstick Skillet

    Nonstick skillets are great for cooking more delicate ingredients, such as eggs. You can also cut back on fat and oil when cooking with nonstick cookware.

  • Rimmed Baking Sheets

    Not just for cookies, baking sheets are perfect for roasting vegetables or anything that needs to be browned. Its large surface area gives food the space it needs to cook and is big enough to handle large meats or poultry.

  • Roasting Pan

    This pan is great for holiday cooking, but it has lots of everyday uses as well. Cook vegetables, pasta and large cuts of meat with one durable pan. For any recipe that needs a water bath, this pan does the job right.

  • Johnsonville Sizzling Sausage Grill

    This indoor electric grill makes grilling sausages easy. Cook 1-5 Johnsonville Bratwursts or Italian Sausages in 15 minutes or less, thanks to a patented temperature probe that ensures the sausage links are thoroughly cooked and evenly browned. 

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Whether you’re creating your first kitchen or looking to free up some extra space, knowing the essential cookware you need can start you on a path to smarter cooking or rekindle your passion for great food. Until next time, Enthusiasts.

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