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Guide to Cookware Shopping
Guide to Cookware Shopping

The holiday season is here, and now is the time to assess your cookware.

There are so many options for cookware, from cast iron and stainless to copper and aluminum, that it can be overwhelming. It is important to understand the differences and which ones are best for different foods. We discovered that top-quality cookware doesn't necessarily have to cost a lot. We found that there are many affordable pieces that can cook as well as the more expensive ones in our tests.

Are you short on storage space? Don't worry. Here are 5 Essentials for Small Kitchens that you will need to cook a delicious meal.

Confidence in Cookware

Consumer Reports tests and buys stainless and nonstick cookware, Dutch ovens and a range of frying pans including cast iron, nonstick, stainless and carbon steel. Are you unsure which type or types of frying pans to buy? Before you shop, take a look at the following information.

Sets vs. open stock

To determine which pots and pans need to be replaced, or new ones you want to own, take a look at your collection. Open stock, which is the individual pans and pots that are available, is widely available. Open stock is the best way to save money on a damaged frying pan. It's also the most popular way that cookware is sold.

You should consider your cooking style and choose the right cookware set.

What's Cooking?

Consider what you are most likely to cook often. This will impact your selection of pots. Cast-iron skillets are great for browning meat. Nonstick frying pans work best for delicate foods like fish and scrambled eggs. Stainless is great for any type of food that requires browning or searing. The Best Frying Pans to Change the Way You Cook is a deep dive.

A stock pot is great for boiling pasta or making soups, but a Dutch oven is a better choice if you prefer to make stews and sauces slow. A Dutch oven is versatile and can bake, brown, broil, boil, or bake bread. It can also be used as a stovetop oven. A versatile Dutch oven can cook just about anything. See Why Every Home Cook Should Have a Dutch Oven.

Match your cookware with your stovetop

Consider how your new cookware will look on your cooktop. For smoothtop ranges, flat-bottomed pans with no warp are necessary. Gas ranges can be a bit more flexible, but they still require good contact between the pan's bottom and the burners. Induction cooktops require magnetic cookware. A magnet is a must-have for induction cooktops. If the magnet sticks to the bottom, it will work with an induction range/cooktop. In our ratings, we also note which pans can be used with induction.

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