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The 8 Cookware Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

March 28, 2019  —  Written by Chris 

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This post is part of an ongoing paid partnership with eBay. Easily shop their cookware here to find all these great pieces, or check out their awesome Daily Deals page for all kinds of great deals. 

As I’ve continued doing my Chris Cooks videos and posts, probably the most common question I receive is, “What cookware do you use?” And we’ve shared thoughts on this over the years, and I have spent dollars not a few on gimmicky cookware and utensils that gradually made their way to the back of the cupboard or the bottom of the drawer. But as my cooking has evolved, I’ve really come to recognize the cookware items in my house that I am constantly turning to, and that make my cooking experience so enjoyable.

8 Cookware Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

Another facet of this is that, up until several months ago I didn’t give much thought to the materials I was using. But with Jules’ health, we’ve been examining every aspect of our environment, and the dangers of Teflon are no joke. We recently replaced all of our Teflon nonstick with GreenPan ceramic nonstick, and I’ll never go back. Let’s put aside the “health” aspects of Teflon which, for better or worse, not everyone buys into. The nonstick nature of ceramic holds up a lot longer than Teflon, and many ceramic finishes are safe for use with metal utensils. On top of that, they’re right on par in price, and many brands of ceramic are even cheaper than Teflon. We have their Valencia line, but you can find so many of GreenPan’s options on eBay by using their simple filtering options.

Toxin-Free Nonstick Frying Pans

My frying pans are definitely the work horses in my kitchen. I have 4 of them, and there are days I’ll use all four, or a few of them several times. They’re versatile and definitely something every kitchen should have. Fun fact, the best steak you’ll ever have in your life is made on the stove top, in a frying pan from GreenPan®. And GreenPan’s ceramic finish is metal utensil-safe.

Lidded Sauté Pan

A sauté pan gives you higher edges than a frying pan, along with more volume. It’s great great for sauces, shallow frying and braising. Sear some chicken in it, add garlic, cream, lemon and herbs, cover and finish in the oven. Some parmesan and capers to finish and you’ve got an easy chicken piccata.

8 Cookware Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

Vegetable Steamer Basket

This is an affordable little thing that can do a lot of work in your kitchen, especially for leaner cooking. This basket allows you to turn almost any lidded pot or pan into a steamer by raising your food out of the cooking liquid. I’ve used it for fish, dumplings, vegetables, and reheating previously cooked dishes. A great thing to have that doesn’t take up much space.

Enamel-Coated Cast Iron Dutch Oven

I’m a big, big fan of cast iron, but I don’t care for the upkeep or acid sensitivity. Enter the enamel coating, which can be cleaned with dish soap and doesn’t react to acid foods like tomatoes. I bought mine from eBay after stewing for days over all the amazing options they had, and I use it multiple times a week. Love it so much.

Carbon Steel Wok

They also make Teflon-coated woks, and that’s just about the worst idea ever. Woks are meant for stir frying. Stir frying is supposed to happen at super high heats. Teflon fails and flakes at super high heat. Carbon steel is durable and quick nonstick so long as you keep it seasoned well. Stir fried vegetables is a common side around here, and my wok gets at least weekly use.

8 Cookware Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

Enamel-Coated Stock Pot

I feel that every kitchen should have a gigantic stock pot. Most cooks won’t use it weekly, but when you need capacity it earns its place in your kitchen. Whether you’re actually making stock to be stored in the freezer for future use, or a stew for 20 people, you won’t regret having this one around, and the enamel coating holds up amazingly well to long cook times. Le Creuset is an amazing brand and this stockpot is really affordable for its size.

Ceramic Rectangular Baking Dish

Gratin. Lasagna. Shephard’s pie. Baked ziti. Herb crusted chicken. All things made in a baking dish, all things that are making your (and my) mouth water right now. The baking dish is what carries the food that earns the “oohs” and “ahhs” at the dinner table, so go for high-quality ceramic. And this baking dish from Staub comes in matte black and is a show-stopper in its own right. But eBay is also a great place to find cool, vintage pieces.

Baking Stone

We were given our baking stone when we got married. It looked like all of them – pale tan, and a little less nonstick than one would hope. But the beauty of a baking stone is that it takes on elements of the food you cook on it slowly over time, and as you can see below ours has seasoned amazingly well as we’ve used it over the years. Always preheat a baking stone in the oven at full heat for at least 30 minutes. The surface is now naturally nonstick, and it produces crispy results every time. So don’t let yourself think of it as “just for pizza.” Use it often, and you’ll be well rewarded for it.

8 Cookware Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

Of course there are other things you can add to your cooking arsenal, but having the above gets almost all your bases covered, and makes sure you have a kitchen that works for you, even if storage is limited.

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What do you think?

  1. mockginger says:

    Hi Chris! I’m looking to upgrade some of our cookware, but the links in this are out of date. Is there any chance you could re-link for those of us behind on this post?

  2. Sara says:

    Hi! I shared this link with a friend today and realized many of the links are no longer working. Can you share which products you went with if it’s not mentioned? Thank you!

  3. Nancy says:

    Hi! I’m thinking about buying a greenpan set soon and was wondering which set you decided on? Also, wondering how it’s holding up since you’ve been using it for awhile now. I’ve read great reviews and bad ones so I thought I would check with you! Thanks!

  4. Jessica Fielhauer says:

    what sizes of fry pans did you go with?

  5. Jessica says:

    Any suggestions for knives for meal prep? I’m not looking for anything fancy, just good economical knives for someone who is a novice at cooking :) thanks for any suggestions!

  6. Sophie says:

    I noticed your cutting board in the photos and was wondering if you could give the details on it? Thanks! :)

  7. Angela says:

    Tips for cleaning your oven? I cook all the time and hate the chore. Just can’t seem to find a good way to deal with it.

  8. Lori says:

    Thanks for this post! I’ve also been getting rid of my Teflon pans, but haven’t been able to find a good nonstick frying pan. I’m gonna give that GreenPan a try.

  9. Angela says:

    Any tips on caring for a pizza stone? I am about to buy one but am afraid to mess it up!

    • Chris says:

      Don’t wash with soap, and use a metal spatula to scrape any stuck on bits off. Use it for everything! Even using it to cook frozen chicken nuggets and fries for the kids – those types of foods have oils in them that the stone takes on over time and it helps season the stone which makes it easier and easier to clean over time.

  10. Christina says:

    I’m curious how long it took for your baking stone to become seasoned and if you did (or avoided) anything in particular to aid the process. We lost ours in a move a good while ago and it was so frustratingly NOT non-stick that we didn’t bother to get a new one. Now that it’s been a few years, I’m considering getting a new one, but I’ve always wondered what I could do to have a better experience this time around.

    • Chris says:

      A couple basics – don’t wash with soap, preheat in the oven for at least 30 minutes before use, allow to cool completely before scraping off with a metal spatula etc.. But some other things I suggest doing are using it to cook things like chicken nuggets, french fries, corn dogs – silly things (unless of course you don’t eat that stuff). The oils used in those foods will be absorbed by the stone and it really helps to season it. Also, whenever you make pizza or bread, use a sprinkling of medium grind corn meal under the dough. The cornmeal helps the dough transfer easily to the stone, and keeps the dough from sticking. But the oils in the corn meal are also absorbed by the stone and just continues to help season it.

  11. Becky says:

    All the eBay links say the listing is no longer available?

  12. Celena says:

    I purchased a two-pack of the GreenPans from Costco and I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, but almost everything sticks! Any tips?

    • Chris says:

      Oh no! Are you still using oil of some kind? Or maybe cooking at too high a temp? Medium to medium low is the best temp (unless searing), and spray oils aren’t suggested. Just small amounts of olive oil.

  13. Krystal says:

    I seem to always have trouble with food sticking even in non-stick pans. I use olive oil but find I am having to add more and more….so much oil! Do you find that having a certain temperature helps you? I tend to cook on 6 on my dial ( guessing that’s just over medium heat ).

    • Chris says:

      With my nonstick I’m usually a little below medium, unless I’m cooking steak then I go a little above. What kind of nonstick do you use?

      • Krystal says:

        Cuisinart Green Gourmet is the type I have. I have also tried stainless steel but again everything sticks. I will try lowering the temperature…..maybe that’s it. Thanks!

    • Aminah says:

      Waiting and making sure the oil in the pan is hot enough before adding your ingredients is key to them not sticking to the pan, too! :)

  14. Mary says:

    I’d be dying to know, do you prefer Staub or Le Creuset? What is the major difference between the 2 brands?

    • Chris says:

      Sixes IMO. I buy Staub more often because the price isn’t quite so high and the quality is still great, but Le Creuset also makes a great product.

  15. Allison says:

    Hi! Can you link me to your post where you got the free roof through someone knocking on your door and then working with your insurance company? I remember reading it and went back to reference it but could not find it (just found a podcast).

    Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      In the end that company didn’t actually do anything to help us so we removed that post. But we found a good roofing company in our area that was able to give us a fair quote and we worked with our insurance and their adjuster directly to get the roof reshingled.

  16. Heather says:

    Do you have any opinions on cast iron cookware. I’m almost afraid to ask because I love mine so much, I don’t think I can take it if you know something negative about it. It’s not the dreaded Teflon, it cleans up like a breeze and for someone who’s always low in Iron (me!) it’s been a winning choice all around. I just can’t go back.

    • Chris says:

      Oh I love cast iron. Most home cooks don’t care for the cleanup, but it sounds like you don’t have that problem, so cook on! You just have to be careful about acidic foods in it, like pasta sauce. Can leach a little too much iron into the sauce. But I have a couple cast iron pieces that I love and wouldn’t trade for anything. They just didn’t make this list because I think most people would prefer something that requires less maintenance.

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