Many of us have plenty of cookware to choose from, but we all tend to turn to our tried and true favorites. We came up with the items we rely on the most when it comes to cookware.

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All-Clad

I’ve had a set of All-Clad stainless cookware for 23 years.  It’s sturdy and consistent. The piece I use the most is the three quart sauce pan.  I use it for sauces, rice, pasta, with the insert for steaming… it’s the perfect size for so many tasks.  All-Clad is made in the USA and committed to using the best, high quality materials.  One unique characteristic of All-Clad is that its heat-conducting core is distributed through the sides of the pan, too.  The pan heats quickly and consistently. Most pans conduct heat through a disc welded to the bottom of the pan.  If you’re interested in trying All-Clad, start with one pan and see what you think before plunging into a set. One warning though if you haven’t used All-Clad: it’s heavy!

Le Creuset

I have one piece (a Dutch oven) of Le Creuset cast iron and it’s a beast!  It’s giant, very heavy (detecting a theme?!) and perfect for cooking up large quantities of sauce, soup, chili and giant roasts.  My piece is from their signature enameled, cast-iron line.  Le Creuset is really beautiful, available in many colors and many people leave it on their cooktop when not using for display.  It can last more than a lifetime and is often passed down from one generation to the next.

In business for more than 100 years, Le Creuset originated in France and is still made there.  The combination of the heat conduction of cast iron, combined with enamel (for which the French are known as experts), produces quality pieces loved by cooks all over the world.  I love the enamel because it doesn’t stain, stick, absorb flavor or chip easily.  In addition, it’s super easy to clean.  While you might feel like it’s a big splurge, you’ll never have to replace it and you’ll quickly appreciate the quality.

Nonstick Fry Pans

This is a category in which I won’t spend significant money.  I started with an All-Clad nonstick skillet and regardless of the price, the nonstick coating will wear and you’ll have to replace it.  My friend Cheryl told me she buys her nonstick pans at Costco and doesn’t feel bad when she has to toss them and replace them 18 months later. I’ve started to do that, too, and I’m totally happy with them.  Laura really likes her Ozeri fry pans and says they hold up well.

I do use a very large fry pan much of the time, anywhere from 14″ – 16″.  I’ve bought them in a restaurant supply store for around $100 and they do a nice job!  I recently bought this Rachel Ray pan and am liking it, too.

Cast Iron

We both have seasoned cast iron skillets and neither of us use them as often as we think we should.  They do an awesome job for sure, but they’re heavy and the handles conduct heat making them a little difficult to manage.  I like to use mine to sear steaks or duck breasts, and then finish them in the oven.  Being able to transition from the cooktop to the oven is a real plus! If you haven’t used one and decide to give it a try, make sure it’s seasoned.  You can google it… it’s worth it!

Jelly Roll Pans for Roasting

We both love to roast veggies and strive to achieve the perfect caramelized, golden-brown finish.  Laura’s go-to pan is the Calphalon jelly roll pan.  It works perfectly every time!

I bought a huge sheet pan (18×26) from Amazon that I love.  It’s perfect for veggies because you can spread out a large serving and roast them to perfection. I have a smaller, old pan I love to use because it’s well “seasoned” which just means it shows its signs of wear and has developed a kind of coating that browns the veggies so well.  I love to use it for roasted potatoes, too.

So Many Options

There are so many wonderful stores, web sites and cooking shows that highlight a bazillion cookware options.  You can find great options at many different price points.  If you decide you are ready for a new line of cookware, try one piece to make sure it meets your needs before you go all in!

We would love to hear about your favorites!

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