The Best Cookware: My Favorite Pots and Pans

If you’re looking for the best cookware, I have some recommendations to share. My favorite pots and pans are very durable and perform really well too. I’ve had most of them for close to a decade so I’m confident in promoting them.

Using the best cookware makes a big difference in how your food turns out and your experience of cooking too. When I got married almost 17 years ago, I went through a lot of trial and error finding cookware that would work well. I had no idea what to look for and went through a lot of different pots and pans until I figured out which ones were good.

I’m happy to share my favorites with you. When I was starting out as a new homemaker, we didn’t have as many extensive reviews available. I wish I could have read more information or watched some videos before making these purchases, but I’m glad that’s not the case today.

In this blog post, you can find all my favorite pots and pans that I have owned for many years, most for close to a decade. I’ll share what to look for when looking for good quality cookware too.

*Although this post is NOT sponsored and I am not affiliated with any of the brands that I will be mentioning, some of the links may be affiliate links.

Video of the Best Pots and Pans

What is the best pot and pan set?

I know it sounds like a great idea to buy a cookware set, since it seems like you’d save the most money and get everything you need all at once. However, I would recommend NOT buying a set. Most of the time, you’ll end up having pieces that come with the set that you don’t use. You’ll most likely buy additional pieces anyway.

By buying exactly the pots and pans that you need and will use, you’ll not have extra cookware taking up space in your kitchen. That’s my suggestion, but if you want to buy a set, I would recommend a cookware set from All Clad. (This one has many of the pieces that I own.*) The majority of my cookware is from All Clad, so I would look for one that has the pieces that you would want to own.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel is so durable, nontoxic and very versatile too. I have a video and blog post all about stainless steel cookware, how to use it, clean it and maintain it so check that out for more information. I use my stainless steel pots and pans the most.

When looking for good quality stainless steel, find something that is fully clad, which means that different metals are bonded together to give you the most even heating and durability. You want either, 3 ply or 5 ply, meaning 3 or 5 metals, copper or aluminum sandwiched in between stainless steel, which are all really great conductors of heat. Don’t buy stainless steel that feel light and flimsy, you want it to be thick and heavy.

Best cookware - stainless steel pots and pans

Must Have Basics For Every Home Cook:

  • 10 inch Traditional Skillet*
    • This is the skillet I use most often. It is a workhorse in my kitchen, great for sauteing, searing and almost any kind of cooking you can imagine.
  • 3 quart Deep Saute Pan*
    • This deeper pan is so nice for one dish recipes where you can cook rice and protein together, couscous and meatballs and for recipes where you need more space.
  • 6.5 quart Dutch Oven
    • This is my absolute favorite pot. It’s a great size and very versatile, both for boiling water for pasta, cooking braises, and so much more. I haven’t been able to find the exact one that I have, since I’ve had it for about a decade, but this one is similar and by the same brand*.
  • Small 2 quart Sauce Pan*
    • Everyone should have a small pot like this to make sauces, custards, melt butter and reheat a bowl of soup.
  • 3 Quart Sauce Pan*
    • I use this one a lot when cooking a small pot of soup or small batch of rice and many other things for our small family. It’s just the right size in between a larger pot and a small saucepan.
  • 8 quart Stockpot*
    • Boil water in this stockpot as well as cook soups, broth, pasta, rice, potatoes and much more.
The best cookware - stainless steel basics

Additional Stainless Steel Pots and Pans: (Nice to have, but not necessary)

  • 12 inch Traditional Skillet*
    • This one is the same kind of skillet as my 10 inch traditional one that I talked about above, just a little bit bigger. It’s nice to have when you need more surface area, like sauteing a whole chicken.
  • 2.5 quart Medium Sauce Pan*
    • Since I cook a lot, it’s very handy to have an additional pot when I’m cooking a lot of different things. I use this one quite often for cooking oatmeal, sauces, custards, hot cocoa, reheating soups, etc.
  • Large 16 quart Stockpot
    • This is wonderful for cooking large batches of broth, kompot, as well as when I make applesauce, tomato sauce and soup for a crowd. (I found mine (David Burke brand, 16 quarts) at Home Goods. It was really budget friendly and works great. Even my tomato sauce didn’t scorch at all.)

Cast Iron Skillets

Not only is cast iron really durable, it’s very budget friendly too. It should last you a lifetime and gets better the more that you use it. For more details on how I use, season and clean cast iron, check out my video and blog post.

  • 10 inch Cast Iron Skillet*
    • I would also recommend this 10 inch cast iron skillet to be in every kitchen. I can sear chicken, steaks and even make omelets and pancakes in this skillet.
  • 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet*
    • If you use cast iron a lot, a bigger 12 inch one is also nice to have, but not a necessity.
  • I do NOT recommend buying cast iron skillets that have an interior surface that is “finished with a black satin enamel.” It is claimed that it “eliminates the need for the traditional seasoning and maintenance of raw cast iron”, but I don’t like it. It’s much better to just buy the cast iron skillets I have listed above and keep seasoning them. Not only is it much cheaper to buy the Lodge cast iron skillet, it also gives you much better results.
Best cookware - cast iron skillet

Enameled Cast Iron

These dutch ovens are beautiful and a statement piece in any kitchen. They are also very durable and versatile and hold and conduct heat amazingly.

However, you have to be a bit more careful with them then stainless steel. You can’t use anything abrasive to stir the pot or to clean it. They perform very well for many tasks though. They are also wonderful to bake crusty loaves of bread.

  • 5.5 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven*
    • This was a gift from my husband and I really enjoy using it. It’s beautiful (Color – Coastal Blue; unfortunately I can’t find one in this color, but they have many other stunning color options)
  • Aldi Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
    • I bought mine so many years ago, that I don’t even know the brand or the size. It’s somewhere between 5 and 6 quarts. The exact same one isn’t sold in Aldi anymore, but they have very similar ones. I have used mine for many years and bake bread in it several times a week.

If you’re on a budget or just want a more minimalistic cookware collection, I would recommend just having a stainless steel dutch oven and only buying a cheaper dutch oven, like the one I got from Aldi, if you want to use it to bake bread.

I certainly really enjoy my Le Creuset and would highly recommend it if it’s in your budget and you want something that is both beautiful, stylish and works really well too.

Best cookware: enameled cast iron dutch oven
Le Creuset

Enameled Cast Iron

Ceramic (“Nonstick”) Skillet

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to a nonstick skillet, this ceramic one is great. I have been testing several ceramic and other nontoxic “nonstick” skillets for a year and this one was my favorite. (More detailed video and blog post coming soon.)

  • 10 inch Ceramic Skillet by GreenPan*
    • This skillet is relatively inexpensive compared to many other ceramic skillet brands and it’s great for so many things – crepes, pancakes, fish, eggs and more. If you’d rather not use stainless steel and cast iron, this one can be used for everything else too. It’s also not as heavy and doesn’t have as much of a learning curve.
    • It’s not as durable as stainless steel and cast iron. The coating does eventually wear off and you will have to replace it. You also can’t use anything abrasive in it. However, it’s nontoxic and a better option than typical teflon coated nonstick skillets.
Best Cookware: Ceramic skillet

Where To Buy Cookware

It has taken me years to collect all these pots and pans. They are definitely an investment, but if you get good quality pieces, they will last you a lifetime. I have also been able to find a lot of good deals over the years too. For example, we bought the Le Creuset enameled dutch oven from a Le Creuset outlet store for a fraction of the price.

I also bought several of my All Clad skillets and pots for a reduced price at Home Goods. They don’t sell them all the time, but you can find them sometimes, especially around the holidays. I have also bought several of the Calphalon pots and pans for less than half the original price in those stores as well.

The way I look at it though, is that if you want cookware that performs well and will LAST for years, quality does matter. Unlike a pair of shoes or a purse, that will wear out and you will need to buy new ones, cookware can be passed down to your children.

We store most of our cookware in these deep pull out drawer right underneath our stovetop. It’s so convenient!


  • Mila L.

    With All Clad stainless steel, are you able to fry eggs without it sticking to the pan? What about making pancakes or crepes? Is there a trick to it? Thanks for your review on the pans.

    • olgak7

      No, I do not cook eggs, pancakes or crepes in stainless steel cookware. I cook those in nonstick or ceramic. I shared one of my favorite ceramic skillets in this video too.

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