Cooking delicious meals only calls for the right ingredients and preparation methods, right? After all, if the knife cuts your food, you can stir it with some sort of spoon, and it fits in a pan, what’s the big deal?
Well, if you want your food to cook in the best way possible and to taste as good as it can, the pan you use can make a big difference. The size, shape and thickness of your pan can all impact on how well your food cooks, with the wrong pan meaning something doesn’t turn out quite as good as it could.
Although it’s easy to just grab your favourite pan – admit it, you have one – and cook everything you can in it, you might want to start thinking about the types of food you make and if there could be a better way to prepare them.
So what pans should you be using for certain foods? Here’s our handy guide to make sure your kitchen is kitted out with every pan you could possibly need:
As the name suggests this type of pan is ideal for whipping up sauces or for making anything in a sauce, such as bolognese. This pan is similar to a saucepan, except it has higher sides and a shape that is more like a bowl, which makes it easier to stir sauces without them burning.
The pan is also great for even heating, allowing you to control the temperature and stop your sauce from bubbling over. You can also use them for making deep frittatas, especially if you have a heatproof or removable handle – check out our Ingenio range – so you can put the pan in the oven as well as on the hob.
This type of pan is perfect for those who love a good barbecue, as it cooks in a similar way to your grill if you get one with a ridged bottom. This means it is ideal for cooking anything you usually would on your grill – such as vegetables, meat and fish – and that you want to give those great grill lines to.
You can get grill pans that are totally flat or that look like large, square and shallow saucepans. Ideally, you want one that is quite heavy as this will mean it holds heat better and it is easier to get the grill marks on your food.
This is another pan that is often mistaken for a frying pan – we’ve all been there. It can also be mistaken for a saucier because it is similar in that it is a large, shallow pan. However, unlike both a frying and saucier pan, a saute pan has straight sides and a totally flat bottom.
Because the base is flat and the sides are straight, saute pans are great for even heating, so they are the ideal choice for searing meat. They are also pretty great for reducing sauces and – as the name might suggest – sauteing things like vegetables, as the sides make it harder for you to splash hot oil all over the place.
You’re probably thinking that you know what a frying pan is for, but seeing as so many other types of pans get mistaken for frying pans, we thought we’d throw this in too. Basically, a frying pan – also called a skillet – is shallower than both the saute and saucier pans. It also has slightly slanted sides, which makes it easier for getting your spatula under things.
Frying pans are great for foods like omelettes, vegetables and anything else that you need to move around easily or that requires very little oil. You can use them for searing and frying meat too, although it’s worth getting a heavy frying pan for this, as it will hold heat better and cook faster.
This is probably one of the most recognisable types of pans because, as the name suggests, it has no rim. It is essentially a circular pan that looks like you’d use it to play a larger version of ping pong – as you can see from our version that is part of the Madras Collection.
You might be wondering what you could possibly need one of these for, but they are perfect if you’re a fan of traditional crepes, chapatis, American-style pancakes, rotis, French toast and even fried eggs. The lack of a rim makes it really is flip things over, while the simple design means it heats quickly and leaves you ready to serve in no time.
Your casserole pan is different from your casserole dish as it can be used on the hob, as well as in the oven. Usually, this type of pan comes with two handles to make it easier to lift, although they can come in a few different shapes.
These are great if you enjoy making casseroles, as you can brown your meat in the pan and not lose any of the juices as you don’t need to tip it into a separate dish. You can also make things like macaroni cheese, soups and anything than needs to be cooked on the hob and in the oven.
Last but definitely not least is the sturdy, ever-reliable saucepan. This is probably the most versatile type of pan in your kitchen, which is why we all seem to end up with numerous sizes. Saucepans tend to be quite deep, have long handles and lids, making them great go-to options.
While they actually aren’t the best option for sauces, they are brilliant for boiling foods, such as pasta and potato, heating liquids – the smallest pans are intended for heating milk – and melting foods like butter.
You can do so much in a saucepan that it’s no wonder we use them for practically everything. Although, as this guide suggests, you might want to switch up your pan habits to get the best possible results in your kitchen.