Preparing delicious food isn't simply a matter of skilful hands and sophisticated taste buds. The right choice of cookware also has a crucial part to play. The pan you use for preparing your culinary delights can make all the difference. But with a huge variety of pans available, choosing the right one can be a minefield.
But before you go creating a stir with your sauces, it is important to know the difference between the various types of pans. Each type of pan has its own particular strengths which go to influence the end result of your culinary extravaganzas.
A frying pan is simply a flat pan with a long handle and is mostly used for roasting and frying. They can sear your favourite cut of meat perfectly, keep vegetables crisp and even give your most delicious pancakes a golden brown finish. From cooking a simple omelette to preparing a delicious meal: a frying pan is indispensable in every kitchen.
Having friends round for dinner? Homemade pizza done in the frying pan is not a totally crazy idea! Roll out the pizza dough, carefully lay it out in the frying pan and add your favourite toppings. Place over medium heat for a few minutes and hey presto – one delicious, crispy pizza.
Have you ever fancied a juicy steak or grilled vegetables but there was no barbecue around? This is where the grill pan enters the picture! Grill pans are essentially an indoor barbecue, a skillet with raised ribs and troughs in the base. This special pattern not only gives your food those sought-after char lines, but distributes the heat perfectly, just like a real grill. The troughs also act as channels, draining off surplus juices and fat.
In just a few minutes you'll see those characteristic char lines on your steak, which will stay nice and succulent. Vegetables and even fruit are also fantastic done in a grill pan. And let's not forget fish. Do you love delicate, light fish such as tilapia or salmon? No problem with a grill pan! The hot pan seals fish on the outside while keeping it succulent inside. And what about veggie burgers or halloumi cheese? A grill pan does far more than just typical barbecue food.
A wok is a versatile, round pan with tall sides and a small, flat area in the base. This shape makes it ideal for stir-fries, frying and even steaming. Besides the wok, there is also its close friend, the wadjan. This is a traditional pan with roots in Indonesian cuisine, which is similar to a wok but a bit deeper.
Thanks to the unique design, woks can get very hot very quickly. This means meat is seared in a flash, and vegetables stay crisp. The tall, rounded sides are perfect for 'tossing' (also known as stir-frying) your food, so that flavours can develop fully without anything flying out of the pan. Yet woks are anything but a one-trick pony. They're great for steaming and even cooking up a stew.
Everyone's absolute favourite in colder weather is of course the casserole. Casseroles are the heavyweight in the kitchen, with a thick base designed to distribute heat slowly and gradually. This means your food is cooked evenly all over, not catching in some places and not in others. Get the most out of your ingredients by cooking them low and slow.
When you think of the tough, robust casserole, the first thing that springs to mind is cooking large, succulent cuts of meat or thick stews. But it's also perfect for preparing slow-cooked vegetable dishes. Or what about that salmon fillet that's just a little thin on flavour? A casserole helps you achieve that delicate balance between well-done and succulent. Fancy baking some piping hot crusty bread? The fact that it distributes heat evenly and holds steam in makes it the perfect oven for baking crispy, homemade bread.
Skillets ensure that heat is evenly distributed as well as retained thanks to a design featuring tall, straight sides and a heavy lid. This makes them ideal for slow cooking, stewing or even just simmering.
Skillets are your best friend when it comes to preparing tasty nibbles en masse. Think stew, a feast of a meal or even a one-pot meal for the whole family. They are the perfect pan for roasting a deliciously crispy cut of meat. Fancy a fragrant risotto, served with generous quantities of vegetables and chicken? Or can you instead see yourself preparing a hearty stew, where all the ingredients are allowed to simmer together gently into a divine whole? The skillet is your friend.
This flat, round pan with sturdy, broadsides is specially designed for even heat distribution. This is crucial when cooking paella. It helps cook the rice evenly, avoiding the risk of burning.
What are paella pans used for? First and foremost, paella pans are not used exclusively for paella. This spacious pan with short sides is incredibly versatile. The even heat distribution makes it ideal for all kinds of stews and slow-cook dishes. It is also a great utensil for sautéing, roasting and even grilling meat. And yes, even for making a whole stack of pancakes or pizzas.
A Dutch mini pancakes pan makes cooking so-called "poffertjes", or Dutch mini pancakes, a piece of cake. What makes Dutch mini pancakes pans so special? It's the small, half-ball dimples where you pour the batter. Most pans have around 15 to 20. These dimples are responsible for that characteristic shape, a small round ball, just like mini pancakes.
Now you're probably not going to use a Dutch mini pancakes pan for anything other than those Dutch mini pancakes. But you might want to experiment with mini omelettes or pizzas!
A crêpe pan is a very flat pan (more so than a regular frying pan) with a long handle, especially for making pancakes. What makes this pan so perfect for making pancakes? It's the short sides. The short sides make it really easy to flip pancakes. And that's essential for that golden, evenly cooked finish.
Besides making perfect pancakes, crêpe pans are also perfect for making crumpets and drop scones. You can even fry an egg in this pan!
Choose the pan of your preferences
Now you know all the differences between the different types of pans and which pan meets your preferences. What else awaits you?