How many Pots and Pans do I need

how many pots and pans do i need

Some pans you will use everyday while others might only make an appearance on special occasions.  When you are looking for your next set of pots and pans you must decide which pans are essential, which pans could be useful from time to time and which pans you really don’t need.

If you are replacing an existing set of pans then you probably have a good idea of essential pans that you can’t live without.  You might also be aware of pans that you don’t have that could make your experience in the kitchen so much better.  Write them down making sure that you dont add any pans that you don’t use.

The following are essential pans that I believe every kitchen needs if you are planning on cooking regularly:


If you only had one piece of cookware to choose for the rest of your life then a saucepan would be the most practical choice.  The decision is not whether you need a saucepan, the decision is how many saucepans you need.  A saucepan should feature in everyone’s kitchen even if you are not going to be cooking that often.  So what is a saucepan?

A saucepan is basically a pot with a handle and sometimes comes with a lid.  My recommendation would be to go for 2 saucepans.  One saucepan that is about 1-1.5 quart or otherwise known as a milk pan and a saucepan that is about 3-4 quart.  If you are on a budget or don’t cook that often then you should be ok with a small saucepan around 2 quart.


A Skillet or what some people refer to as a fry pan is another essential pan that most people will need in the kitchen.  What is a Skillet?  The difference between a skillet and a saute pan is mainly to do with the sides.  A skillet has curved or rounded sides while a saute pan has straight sides.  Skillets are used when you want to quickly fry food and offer the ability to flip the food.  There will be a lot of pressure on the handle therefore it is important to choose a quality skillet.

The biggest complaint about cookware sets that I hear is the handles on skillets becoming loose.  That being said, a skillet is a pan that you will move around a lot so make sure it’s not too heavy for the person using it.  This is usually why people buy cookware sets with different sized skillets; then they can use the smaller pan when flipping and moving is required.  Skillets rarely come with lids as food prepared with a skillet is usually fast cooking so it’s not usually required.  Some cooks still like to cover food cooked in a skillet so if that is you then make sure you check if your skillets come with lids when buying your cookware.

Saute Pans

What is a saute pan?  The difference between a saute pan and a skillet is the sides.  Saute pans have straight sides which helps keep liquids inside the pan.  A saute pan will therefore be used for slower cooking and therefore will usually come with a lid.

The best size saute pan is 10 or 12 inches in my opinion and about 2 inches deep.  This will give plenty of room for things like sauce making, sauteing (of course) and braising.


Stockpots are not essential in every kitchen.  I however could not live without my stockpot.  A stockpot is basically a big, deep pan that doesn’t have long handles like you might find on skillets and saucepans.  Instead a stockpot will have two small handles attached closely to the pot.  This helps maneuver the pan because a stockpot can get very heavy when it is full of juices and food.

I would suggest looking for a 10 14 quart stockpot however if you want variation then you could always look for a cookware set with 1 smaller pot and 1 bigger.


The number of pots and pans you need from your cookware set depends on your cooking style and the number of people you are cooking for.  Many families of 4 that I know can function perfectly with a couple of saucepans and some form a skillet, more adventurous cooks will need more.  Before buying your next cookware set have a think about the meals that you cook or want to cook and write down the types of pans from those above that will make the job much easier.