Have you ever walked into a vacation rental kitchen to whip up a delicious meal, only to realize that the cookware is not nearly as good as your own? Or maybe you've visited your friends or parents and gushed over how well their cast-iron pan seared your steak? Pots and pans are certainly not made equal—and the options range from big-box starter kits to incredibly high-end heirloom pieces.
With myriad options out there, finding the best pots and pans for your needs is no easy feat if you have no idea where to begin—that's why we asked three NYC-based chefs to enlighten our pot and pan purchases. "I have a few different pots and pans at home, says chef Laurence Edelman of Left Bank in the West Village. "I use them all constantly and for different things. What they all have in common is that they are built to last throughout generations, heavy, stable and even heat conductors."
Ready to give your pots and pans an upgrade? Check out these cookware brands worth buying, according to the pots and pans NYC chefs use. Plus, top-rated cookware picks according to home cooks.
"The brand I swear by is Zwilling," says Laurent Tourondel, executive chef and founder of Second, L'Amico, and The Vine in New York City. "I bought a 10-piece cookware set a few years back and have been using the brand ever since. I always look for a thick nonstick coating for scratch resistance and lightweight pieces that are easy to travel with."
While Touroundel swears by Zwilling for most of his cookware, he also holds a special place for a second brand: "I prefer Staub for a cast-iron skillet," he adds. "Its products transfer and retain heat easily and have a long lifespan."
For chef Nic Caicedo, executive chef at Harvey at The Williamsburg Hotel, only one brand matters: Le Creuset. "It's durable, easy to clean, looks great, and can be used with a ceramic, induction, electric or gas range," he says. "In general, I'm looking for a flat bottom, a product that can cook food evenly and perfectly and is easy to clean."
"What I have the most of is Le Creuset, and if I had to choose only one pot and one pan, they would undoubtedly be Le Creuset," says Edelman, who shares a love for the classic French brand. "I go for the classics—their beautifully enameled iron pots and pans. I use them for braising meats, making sauces, roasting chickens, or making elaborate rice dishes like paellas. There is nothing that they don't do well, and they transfer seamlessly to the dining table."
Edelman also cooks with Mauviel. "I have two sizes of blue steel Mauviel skillets," he says. "One I use solely for eggs and must have cooked over 10,000 eggs in it. The other, I use for searing fish or meat. These pans allow you to build a patina, and they are essentially non-stick at this point."
"For boiling pasta, making quinoa or any other grains, or boiling eggs, I generally use my stainless steel All-Clad pots," adds Edelman. "I have a few different sizes (all pretty small and all with lids), and they work really well. I like them because they are light and easy to move around and wash. Also, the lighter material heats up quickly, getting the water boiling in a timely manner. I really love all my pots and pans—they are as important as knives."
And that's not all. The rest of the internet feels very strongly about their cookware brands too. Below, keep scrolling to see what everyday home cooks are cooking with:
This mid-range cookware brand is known for its quality nonstick pots and pans; its anodized cookware set racked up an average of 4 of 5 stars (based on over 400 reviews) on Amazon. They're also ideal pans for dishes that start on the stovetop and finish in the oven. Anolon is manufactured by Meyer, which also makes Circulon, Kitchen Aid, and Rachael Ray-branded kitchen products.
Cook N Home
Internet reviewers dig the non-stick qualities of Cook N Home's ceramic coated cookware. "I was a little leery of the ceramic non-stick, but I'm a believer now," one reviewer writes. Reviewers also liked the cookware's retro green color and the versatility of its interchangeable lids.
Reviewers of Cuisinart's stainless cookware approve of its quick-heating and even cooking properties. Plus, for stainless steel cookware, Cuisinart is one of the more accessible price points on the market. If you're looking for a set that features just the basics, their seven-piece cookware set "is the perfect set for a small, minimalist kitchen. This has all the right sizes of cookwares..." writes one reviewer.
With a near-perfect 4.3 star rating on Amazon, reviewers praise Farberware cookware's long shelf-life (one reviewer wrote she's had her set for 40 years) and are particularly fond of its "Classic" series.
T-fal's nonstick pots and pans set boasts more than 4,000 Amazon reviews, making it one of the most-loved on the website. One reviewer is impressed that they're "almost as strong as cast iron, at a fraction of the weight," and that they "have all the advantages of cast iron without the need to first season them, will never rust... require heavy scrubbing, and, apparently, will never scratch or dent." Other pluses: They're a cinch to clean, heat quickly, and evenly.
Chef Nic Cardeiro's Guide to Pots and Pans
Build your own cookware set with these chef-approved essentials:
Braising pan: Great for roasting, braising, sautéing, proofing (like waiting for bread to rise, which is part of the fermentation process). Ideal for braising short ribs or chicken.
Sauté pan: Sautéing is one of the best feelings of cooking, especially when you learn how to properly sauté. I love a good stir-fry with julienned onions, red pepper, carrot, garlic, and broccoli.
Cast-iron skillet: For searing a nice piece of steak, a cast-iron skillet—a naturally nonstick surface—is a workhorse. It's great for searing and or roasting.
Stockpot: A good stock, chicken, for example, will cook for a good five to six hours, lid on, to retain all flavors and aromas.