Stovetop Essential Pots and Pans

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Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

Adding these stovetop essential pots and pans to your repertoire elevates your kitchen to gourmet status. I am sure by now, you have the basics; a pan, pot or two, and your stove. However, with these top-notch kitchen tools at your disposal, any cook will find it easier to master the range of recipes they want to make and increase confidence in their cooking skills.

However, first, you need to understand the differences between the materials used in pots and pans. And when they should be used.

Non-Reactive vs. Reactive

When choosing the suitable material for the essential pots and pans, it is crucial to consider how it will be used. Non Reactive pans, pots, and bowls are best if you intend to cook with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar, or tomatoes.

On the other hand, aluminum and copper can react with acidic foods, and metal might seep into your dish. This can hurt the food’s taste and safety.

  • Non Reactive: Stainless steel, ceramic and ceramic-coated, glass and plastic
  • Reactive: Everything else: aluminum, copper, cast iron, etc.

The Four Stovetop Essential Pots and Pans You Should Have in the Kitchen

No kitchen is complete without a set of stovetop essential pots and pans. Whether you’re a beginner cook or a seasoned pro, you’ll need a few key pieces to create delicious, healthy meals. Here are the four pots and pans you should have in your kitchen to make cooking more accessible and fun.

1. Cast-iron skillet

cast-iron pans

Why you need it: Cast-iron skillets are a great way to bring the flavor of a grill indoors. These cast-iron pans get better as they age since they get more seasoned from cooking and proper maintenance. This adds flavor to the food and makes dishes more aromatic.

There is also almost no better equipment to sear meats or vegetables on. Some cast irons, such as woks, can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, which shows their versatility when used for cooking. 

Use for: bacon, grilled cheese, lamb chops, pancakes, and steaks

2. Perforated steamer

perforated steamer

Why you need it: It’s simple, and it will ensure perfectly steamed food every single time. There are pots with a steamer fitted to the pot and lid. However, as an alternative, these universal steamer baskets can be used in any pot and still give you the right results.

Use for: vegetables, dumplings, and seafood

3. 8-quart Dutch oven

4 Essential Pots and Pans For Your Stovetop

Why you need it: It is one of the stovetop essential pots and pans that’s perfect for cooking large meals or feeding a large family. Dutch ovens are spacious and evenly distribute heat, making them ideal for larger dishes that require cooking for extended periods.

Some Dutch ovens can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. While others are suitable for cooking over a campfire. Dutch ovens made in the actual “camper-style” have indented lids to hold the coals on top. This creates a mini-oven.

Dutch ovens were traditionally made from cast iron, giving them those unique flavor properties. However, ceramic-coated or stainless-steel Dutch ovens are also good to have for your kitchen, especially if you intend on braising.

Use for: baked beans, beef bourguignon, braised short ribs, and roasts 

Bonus: Discover the rondeau pan. It is smaller than its big brother, the Dutch oven. However, it’s still one of the most versatile kitchen pans found in any kitchen. A rondeau pan has half the depth of an average Dutch oven or stock pot so that you can roast, fry, braise, poach, and simmer your food without worrying about overflowing in your favorite skillet or sauté pan.

Use for: chicken paprikash, glazed carrots, and roasted Brussels sprouts

4. Pressure cooker 

4 Essential Pots and Pans For Your Stovetop

Why you need it: A pressure cooker is one of the stovetop essential pots and pans you need in the kitchen. It is a great way to save time in the kitchen. These are great for cooking beans, grains, and vegetables. The unique lid and design of the pressure cooker allow you to use pressurized steam to speed up cooking by 30 minutes (sometimes even more).

Use for: dried legumes, potatoes, and whole grains (wheat berries, barley, oat groats)


Whether starting with an empty kitchen or having a considerable stockpile of cookware, these four stovetop essential pots and pans are a must-have. They can be used in various ways, from making a fluffy soufflé to roasting sweet potatoes to crisping up your favorite veggies or protein. Weigh the pros and cons of each option against your needs and the amount you intend to spend because, in the end, it’ll be up to you to decide which choice is best for you and your cooking needs.

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