Feb 21

Understanding Kitchen Utensils

The first time I went to buy utensils for my kitchen, I was overawed by the different types of utensils available. There were woks, everyday pans, griddles, roasting pans, fry pans, stock pots and what not. I have explained the decision making for hard anodized and nonstick cookware earlier in this blog. That is a helpful article on deciding whether you should buy that nonstick pan or prefer the hard anodized one.

This article delves into the shapes and utilities for the different kinds of utensils. It is a detail of what the different kinds of pots and pans there are, and why different pans work better for different sorts of preparations.

1.Stockpot: This is great for making gravies or soups. It is round and has tall sides, which allows the liquid to keep simmering, and not lose volume. Stockpots usually have small handles on both sides to allow easy lifting. They also come with a lid.

2. Everyday Pan: This is a wide, rounded pan with a small-ish flat base. Its an all round pan and works for almost anything. You can reach out for this pan, no matter what you are cooking, and it will work well. Although these pans come with and without lids, it is better to have a lid. These can come with long or small handles, and come in all kinds of sizes.

3. Fry pans: This is not a very deep pan and is round in shape. The sides usually point outward, and it has a long handle and no lid. As the name suggests, the frying pan is best used for frying. It is ideal for this purpose since they have shallow sides and a large base for heating. There is a variant of this pan with vertical sides and a lid, which is a sauté pan. The vertical sides in this pan allow for the food to be turned.

4. Griddle: This is a flat plate of metal that is placed directly on the stove. It is used for grilling and making breads such as chapatis or dosa. It is a great pan for heating dry and flat food items. This does not have a lid, and usually has a long handle.

5. Saucepan: These are smaller than stockpots, and their sides are not very tall. The sides are usually about as tall as the diameter of the base, and they have long handles. They usually have lids to allow ease of boiling. They are ideal for reheating liquids and bringing liquids to a boil-such as for boiling eggs, making custard, making tea among other uses.

6. Braising Pan or Roasting Pan: This is a very wide, shallow pan with vertical sides. It has a long handle, and sometimes a small grab handle opposite to the long handle. Most braising pans come with lids. It allows the food to cook evenly, and provides plenty of space since the base is wide. Usually, braising pans have a heavy base, and are great for braising or roasting.


These are the basic utensils available in the market, based on my research. Although cookware utensils come in different sizes, most of them will fall in one of the above categories. When starting a kitchen, I would recommend getting an everyday pan and picking the rest based on need. Not everyone has need for a stockpot or a braising pan. So, buy only based on your specific cooking needs. If you are sure that you will be cooking extensively and be using all these kinds of pans, it is best to buy a set that has everything-it is more economical. But make sure you are fond of the brand and it works for you before you pick. Also, if you pick a set, you cannot mix hard anodized and non stick utensils.

Wish you luck with your cooking endeavors!

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