Buying Guide: The Best Specialty Pans for Your Kitchen
For everyday cooking, your standard pots and pans are sufficient to help you prepare meals for your family. But, once you start to master certain dishes, you’ll want to consider some specialized cookware to make the experience easier and to improve the appearance of your meal. A few specialized pans can make the difference when preparing food for your friends and family.
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there’s no bad time to make crepes. While Americans typically view the crepe as a breakfast food, the French eat it at any time of day. Sweet or savory, a crepe is the perfect ultra-thin pancake to wrap your meal in. You could use a frying pan to make crepes, but the ideal tool would be a crepe pan.
If this is your first crepe pan, look for a nonstick pan with a raised rim around the edge to keep your batter from spilling off.
When you pour the batter onto your crepe pan, you’ll want to lift it off the stovetop and move your arm and wrist in a swirling motion until the batter has spread in an even circle over the surface of the pan. This is where—unless you’re a crepe-swirling expert—you’ll appreciate the benefit of a rim. After all, do you want to mop your floor every time you make crepes? When selecting the size of your pan, keep in mind your crepes will be two inches smaller than the edges of the pan.
Stir frying is a great way to use up whatever is in your refrigerator while still preparing a delicious meal that no one would guess is leftovers! The best stir fry is prepared in a wok because the unique shape of this specialized pot allows for a more even distribution of heat. With this pan, ingredients cook much more evenly than in a standard pan.
Shopping for a wok can be a little intimidating because there are so many options. Once you have your wok, though, you’ll quickly move from just using it to stir fry and expand its uses to deep-frying, steaming, and smoking meats indoors.
When looking for a wok, there are three things to consider:
- The handles: These come in a variety of sizes and combinations. Some woks have double loop handles, while others have one loop across from a long stick handle or even just a long handle without any loops. Handles are all about personal preference, since their purpose is to assist you in lifting the wok without burning yourself or spilling the contents.
- Size and shape: Traditionally woks have a rounded bottom. If your stove is a gas range, you’ll want to choose this shape since the flames will envelop it and heat the pot evenly. However, this shape won’t work for an electric range. If that is what you have, look for a flat-bottomed wok. The size you choose, whether rounded or flat, will depend on how many people you intended to cook for. As a reference, a 14-inch wok can typically prepare enough stir-fry for a family of three or four.
- Material: Carbon steel and cast iron are typically regarded as the best materials for a wok, however, they can be heavy. Stainless steel woks work just as well and make great lightweight alternatives.
If you’re ready to delve into the world of unusual meals and cookware that will have your family and friends saying, “You can cook with that?” you may be ready to add a tagine to your kitchen. This conical pot is made of glazed earthenware and named for the Moroccan stew that is traditionally cooked in it.
The tagine works similarly to a Dutch oven or slow-cooker, as it keeps the food inside of it extra tender and moist. Because of this, the tagine is extremely versatile—use it for stews, rice, couscous, veggies, and roasts, either on the stovetop or in the oven. Tagines are often beautifully designed and glazed, making them attractive from-the-stove-to-the-table serving dishes.
Typically, tagines come in clay, ceramic, or stainless steel forms. Before selecting a material, think about what you intend to cook in it and select the material that will best withstand the temperatures needed to prepare your meals. Clay tagines are best for low temperatures (stews, etc.), while ceramic and stainless steel ones work well for searing or broiling foods.
Other specialty pans
- Nordic Ware Italian Frittata and Omelette Pan: This frittata/omelette pan lets you prepare perfectly-shaped breakfast entrees without oil or butter—just flip one side of the hinged pan. This pan has deep sides to allow for tall, light, and airy frittatas or omelettes.
- Stove top smoker: Get the savory flavor and low-fat benefits of wood-smoking indoors or out with this heavy-gauge stainless steel smoker. The lid seals in moisture and smoke, producing flavorful meats, chicken, fish, and vegetables. Can be used on the stovetop, backyard grill, or over a campfire.
- 8-Cup Multi Pot with Strainer Lid: Mix and pour omelets and batters, heat soups, sauces, and gravies, and create hearty one-pot meals—this one does it all.
- Chicago Metallic Lasagna Trio: Three separate nonstick channels let you vary your lasagna menu. You can serve traditional meaty lasagna, chicken lasagna, and 4-cheese spinach lasagna—or any combination!—all from one dish. Make 3 dinners from one batch: one for tonight’s dinner, one for a neighbor, and one to freeze!
- CHEFS Stainless-Steel Stovetop Popcorn Kettle: With the encapsulated base, this stove top popcorn popper ensures even heating to create light and fluffy theater-style popcorn at home. Long, inner stirring paddle distributes oil with kernels inside this popcorn kettle—no more shaking the pot!