Pots and pans are found in every cooking equipment store in the world. These essential tools offer versatility to cook everything, from meat to pasta, eggs and fish. Even something as simple as sautéing onions to put on a hamburger requires a pan.

From New York to Paris, professional cooking equipment must include pots and pans.

But which pots and pans are a must-have?

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Cooking Equipment Guide: 10 Essential Pots and Pans


1. Aluminum Stock Pot

Stews, chilis, stock, pasta and more can be cooked in a stock pot. Quart sizes matter, but a 12-quart pot is a preferred size. Cooks can also use stock pots to cook up vegetables quickly, make soups or steam foods.

Aluminum is the ideal material of choice because it is lightweight, and it heats up quickly, allowing chefs to boil a pot of water in minutes.

2. Aluminum Sauce Pans

Fryer sauce pans offer nice depth that allow for soups, sauces and gravies to be cooked or heated quickly. Sauce pans allow for reducing sauces, and they offer a long stick handle that makes using the pan easy.

Round in shape and offering high, straight sides, a sauce pan can be:

  • As small as one-point
  • As large as four quarts

3. Aluminum Pasta Cooker

Pasta is eaten by 59% of Americans every week, which makes an aluminum pasta cooker a must-have item. One of the overlooked pieces of cooking equipment and appliances, pasta cookers offer inserts to help divide up the pasta as well as large capacity.

A 20-quart pasta cooker saves space in any kitchen and speeds up the time it takes to cook different types of pasta.

Pasta cookers make it quick and easy to strain pasta, and each section can be taken out or put in individually. These cookers may not be a pot or pan, but they replace the need for several pots.

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4. Carbon Steel French Style Fry Pan

Add a touch of France to your New York-style restaurant. One of the most loved cooking equipment for young chefs, the French style fry pan is ideal for all commercial kitchens. An 11-inch model is common.

These pans are suitable for searing, and the thickness allows for a longer pre-heating process at higher temperatures.

5. Aluminum Roasting Pan

Chef equipment and tools wouldn't be complete without a roasting and bake pan. These small pans are affordable, yet they're a vital part if every kitchen. Roast meats, potatoes or vegetables in these durable pans.

Racks may be needed to keep the meat above the fat and juices that sit at the bottom of the pan.

Vegetables absorb the fat and juice from the meat, allowing for an added flavor and wonderful aroma. Roasting pans can be covered or remain uncovered, and they come in a variety of depths and materials, including: stainless steel, enamelware, cast iron, aluminum and clay cooker.

6. Cast Iron Grill Pan

A cast iron grill pan requires little to no fat and can be used to cook a variety of foods, such as:

  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Pancakes

A dab of olive oil is often all that's needed to keep food from stocking to the cast iron. Winco offers a 10-inch pan for under $10. Meant for high heat, grill pans also come in circular or square shapes.

The 10-inch pan is a must, but other sizes, including an 8-inch and 9-inch pan are available.

7. Aluminum Sauté Pan

Sauté pans offer long hands, deep depths and even conductivity when made with aluminum. Sauté pans are often used instead of a skillet, and the reason comes down to one thing: shape. A sauté pan has a wider, flat bottom with a deeper depth, straighter edges and is a heavy weight.

These pans are best for shallow-frying, searing and braising.

A 7.5-quart Winco is a great start to any chef's collection of pots and pans.

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8. Stainless Steel Non-stick Fry Pan

Non-stick and stainless steel, fry pans are used for frying meats, searing fish and offer a long handle that keeps the chef an ample distance away from the hot food. A variety of fry pan sizes can be purchased, including:

  • 10-inch
  • 11-inch
  • 12-inch

Stainless steel is a great option, but ceramic, aluminum and cast iron pans are also available.

9. Carbon Steel Paella Pan

Paella pans are versatile kitchen tools, and they have a larger radius or width, which make them a great option for:

  • Frying
  • Stir-frying
  • Stewing

Mediterranean cuisine heavily relies on paella pans, and these pans can be used to make chicken with vegetables, meat or fish. Ideal for larger servings, a paella pan's size makes it a great choice when making popular dishes in bulk.

10. Cast Iron Casserole Dish with Lid

Cast iron is heavy, yet it's durable and is what most chef's grandmothers cooked in. High-quality and practical, no commercial cooking equipment and tools list is complete without a cast iron casserole dish.

Country-inspired food is best with a casserole dish that retains heat optimally and offers versatility.

These dishes are ideal for casseroles, but they can also be used to:

  • Bake brownies
  • Roast chicken breasts

Restaurants that demand their chef equipment offer versatility will find casserole dishes to provide dozens of cooking choices.

Equipment Price: Cook's Starter Kit Pricing

Chefs have a lot of equipment they need when first starting out. A restaurant or eatery may supply all of the professional chef equipment needed. But when chefs are responsible for their own cooking equipment essentials, they can pay as little as $10 for a round iron grill pan or $50 for a Paella pan – costs vary widely.

Chef equipment for restaurants is often acquired over time, but it's important to start with the basics and add as needed.


Essential Pots and Pans

Cheap vs. Expensive Option

Stock Pot

Sauce Pans

$2.54 - Winco DCWA-101S
$74.02 - Winco TGAP-7

Pasta Cooker

French Style Fry Pan

$8.06 - Winco CSFP-7
$17.55 - Winco CSFP-12

Roasting Pan

Cast Iron Grill Pan

$9.71 - Winco IGL-10
$17.99 - Old Mountain 10108-OM

Sauté Pan

$13.00 - Winco ASET-3
$96.89 - Winco TGET-7

Non-stick Fry Pan

$5.95 - Winco AFP-7NS
$71.95 - Winco TGFP-14NS

Paella Pan

$4.58 - Winco CSPP-7
$149.99 - Garcima G10028

Casserole Dish


Our cooking tools and equipment list is in no means extensive. And as technology advanced, cooking equipment suppliers will continue to add products to their catalog. Start small, purchase the essential items every chef needs and add to your collection over time.

Not sure where to buy cooking equipment?

Check out our equipment catalog – it has everything you need and more.