Not sure? We admit it can be difficult keeping track of which pan does what. So to help separate a rondeau from a Dutch oven, or a double-boiler from a bain marie, we offer up this comprehensive list of pots and pans that we call Panology 101. We’ve divide the list into two parts: Stovetop pans and those intended for oven use.
Keep in mind that unless you’re a professional, you probably won’t have need for half of these pans, but it never hurts to know what they are and what they can do for you.
- For Stovetop
- For Oven
Brazier or RondeauWide shallow pot used for browning, braising and stewing meat. Usually round with straight sides and two loop handles. Popular in restaurants, but not so much so with home cooks. Wider but shallower than a dutch oven.
Cast Iron SkilletThick and heavy fry pan forged from durable cast iron. Heats evenly and holds a steady temperature. Over time, if handled properly, the surface will “season” and develop a non-stick quality. Never wash with soap.
Crepe/Omelet PanVery shallow skillet with flared walls. Commonly made from blue or carbon steel. Some crepe-only pans will have no walls, only a lip around the rim to prevent batter run-off.
Double BoilerSometimes called a bain marie. Used to heat foods that cannot be cooked over direct heat. Consists of two nested pots. Lower pot is filled with water, which is brought to a boil. Upper pot rests inside of lower one, while its contents are gently heated to 212°F (100°C).
Dutch OvenRound or oval-shaped pot with removable lid. Used for making soups and stews and for braising meats. Often made from cast iron or enameled cast iron. Usually 5-7quarts (liters).
Fish PoacherLong, narrow pot with straight sides, two loop handles and a lid. Includes a removable rack for holding a whole fish.
Sauce pot (or Saucepot)Deep, straight-sided pan. Usually 5 quarts or larger, with two handles on either side. Useful for large preparations of soups, stews or sauces. Can also be used for braising meats.
SaucepanHighly practical pan with straight or sloping sides and a long straight handle. Sizes generally range from 1- 4 quarts. Saucepans with rounded sloping sides, called a saucier, make whisking sauces easy. Quality, heavy saucepans distribute heat more evenly than inexpensive pans and dramatically reduce scorching.
StockpotLarge, deep straight-sided pot that ranges in size from 8-12 quarts (or liters) for the home cook. Professional sizes can be so large a spigot is needed for draining. Used primarily for making large amounts of stock or broth. Also great for cooking pasta, steaming crabs, or heating canned foods and preserves. For home use, some stockpots may come fitted with a colander insert and/or a steamer basket.
Sauté PanSometimes called a skillet. Broad and shallow with a long straight handle. Primarily used for browning, sautéing and frying; there are two types. A straight-sided sauté pan is called a sautoir. Its large surface area is perfect for cooking down sauces and other liquids into reductions. A slope-sided sauté pan is called a sauteuse. The angular or curved sides are good for tossing food. Most common sizes are 8-14 inches (20-30 cm) in diameter. Quality sauté pans are indispensable. If buying only one, 12-inch sauteuse is the most practical option.
WokWide parabolic-shaped pan with two side handles, though some may include a long handle. A mainstay of Chinese and other Asian cuisines. The best are made from carbon steel. Excellent for stir fry. Requires a special high-heat burner that also holds pan steady. Some sold with flat bottoms to fit Western stoves.
Bake PanSometimes called a cake pan. Round or rectangular metal pans between 2 and 4 inches (5-10 cm) deep. Used for baking cakes or brownies. Common sizes: 9×13 inches (23×33cm); 9×9 inches (23×23 cm); and 8- or 9-inch round (20-23 Cm).
Baking DishGlass or ceramic dish about 4 inches (10 cm) deep. Often has removable lid. Rectangular or oval in shape. Used for baking casseroles and side dishes. Sometimes called a casserole dish.
Broiler PanLarge metal rectangular pan with a rack that rests across the pan rim. Food, usually meat, is placed on the rack and cooked under an oven's broiler element. Pan is filled with water to catch grease and other drippings.
Cookie SheetLarge flat metal pan, sometimes insulated. Similar to a sheet pan but shallower, often with only a flared rim. Designed for baking cookies.
Cupcake or Muffin PanMetal pan with several cups built-in. Used for baking cupcakes or muffins; usually 6 to 12 cups per pan. Also called a muffin tin.
Gratin Dish or PanShallow oval-shaped ceramic dish or metal pan used specifically for making gratins.
Loaf PanDeep, narrow rectangular pan with straight or slightly angles sides. Used for baking breads. May have a slide-on lid for making square loafs.
Pie Dish or PanOften called a pie plate. Round metal pan or ceramic or glass dish with flared sides for making sweet or savory pies. Usually 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter and less than 1½ inches (4 cm) thick. Deep dish plates are 2 inches (5 cm) or deeper.
Ramekin/Souffle DishRound, deep ceramic or porcelain dish of varying sizes used for baking custard and soufflé.
Roasting PanLarge, heavy rectangular pan with side handles. Deeper and sturdier than a bake pan. Used to roast meat or poultry. May have a removable rack for lifting out large roasts.
Sheet PanShallow rectangular pan, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. Sometimes called a jelly roll pan. Used for baking cakes and cookies. Very versatile for heating various foods. Most common sizes: full-pan is 18 × 26 inches (46 × 66cm); half-pan is 18 × 13 (46 × 33cm); quarter-pan is 13 × 9 (33 × 23cm).
Springform PanA round cake pan of various diameters with a removable bottom. Side wall is a collar that wraps around the base and is held in place by spring clip. Commonly used for cheesecake.
Tart Dish or PanShallow, round ceramic dishes or metal pan, often with scalloped edges, used to make tarts and quiches. Shorter than a pie plate. Metal pans may have false bottoms for easy removal.
Tube PanDeep, round pan with fluted sides and tube in the middle. Often has false bottom for easy release. Rounded versions with decorative indentations and curvatures is called a Bundt pan. Used for making angel food, coffee and Bundt cakes.