Dedicated pans or ‘one pan does it all’ in your home kitchen ?

Before my cookware journey started, I honestly believed in ‘one pan does it all’ and that if you had found your favourite pan, you could make anything with it.

Unfortunately i soon came to the conclusion, that this wasn’t the case for my cooking technique and skill level in the kitchen.

As a cookware enthusiast, it’s also nice to come a conclusions that will actually support the theory of ‘the more variety of pans you own, the better quality dishes you can make’

My theory is, that you can make pretty much anything in a stainless steel lined copper pan, but you have to master the level of temperature much more for certain delicate items like fish and eggs.

You can also make most things perfectly in a well seasoned carbon steel pan - expect pan sauces with wine/port/Sherry and tomato sauces.

There always seem to be an exception in what a frying pan does perfectly.

You see master chef participants sear steaks in non stick frying pans in all the programs on danish television all the time, but most of us know this type pan is not suited for high heat searing and you’ll never develop the same quality fond in it as you would in a stainless steel lined pan.

To support my theory of the more pans you own, the better dishes you can produce, I’ve now added two extra pans to my collection so I now have 16 frying pans and 9 sauter pans/rondeaux pans in my home kitchen :stuck_out_tongue:

On a more serious note, I believe a good home kitchen should have between 4-5 frying pans and 2-3 sauter pans to be able to produce high quality dishes on a daily basis.

Size is also important - I once thought 28 cm pans did it all. I now own several 20 cm and 24 cm pans, based on advice from professional chefs.

So are you a ‘one pan does it all’ type person or have you realised by now that you need a variety of pans to make the best dishes in your home kitchen ?

Cheers, Claus


Well, I guess this post coming from you makes sense, as you have easily the most cookware I have ever seen anyone have! :slight_smile:

When I was a few years in my first job, finally making some money, I bought 3 Mauviel ss-lined copper pans. A 24 cm saute pan, a 26 cm frying pan, and a 20 cm saucepan. At the time, my collection also consisted of 2 identical disc bottom saucepans, cheap ones, 20 euro something. By having so few pans, I learned to use pans for multiple purposes.

To this day, almost 15 years later, these three copper pans are still my most used ones, and I still use for example the 24 saute pan as a multipurpose pan. Over the past few weeks I have used my 24 cm saute pan for: parboiling white asparagus, making fish soup with the pan filled to the brim, risotto with spring peas, and spaghetti alle vongole. It’s ridiculously multifunctional!

So, I guess if I were to pick a ‘one pan does it all’ it would be the 24 cm saute pan. For a household of 2.

Of course, people who know me will know that these days I have around 20 or so pans as well. I still use them all, with the odd exception. But walk into my kitchen any day and I’ll bet you the Mauviel 24 saute will be sitting on my Smeg stovetop dirty, and waiting for its next job.


I use 2-3 different skillets depending on the protein or vegetable and portion size. I use two different pots depending on the intended use.

I could use a hammer and a pair of pliers for most everything too, but I don’t. If those tools don’t fix it, I call my people to have it repaired or replaced.

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With a few exceptions like proper sizing for browning to avoid crowding and small enough pans for braising, no tin for high heat searing, large enough pans for large things like leg of lamb or whole salmon, etc. I am capable of cooking most anything in most anything. However, I tend to select different pans for different dishes.


large and small cast iron - frequently used
large and small clad stainless - frequently used
large and small non-stick - eggs/omeletes/crepes

Sauce Pans
2qt/3qt/5qt clad stainless - frequently used

deep saute clad stainless - occasionally used
deep saute ceramic non-stick - almost never used
large and small le creuset dutch oven - rarely used
cast iron grill pan - almost never used

Elusive (never found one I like)
griddle pan to fit 8"x17" ceramic cooktop’s bridge element


ETA quote:
@Respectfully_Declined, “I could use a hammer and a pair of pliers for most everything too, but I don’t. If those tools don’t fix it, I call my people to have it repaired or replaced.”

I could use a shoe as a hammer and a butter knife as a screwdriver.
:shushing_face: :see_no_evil: :hear_no_evil: :speak_no_evil:


Pans galore for various uses.

Carbon steel and cast iron fry and sauté in various sizes for most things.
Stainless for things with delicate flavours.
Non stick for dosa and gyoza
Crepe pans for, well, crepes.
Ebelskiver pan for ebelskiver/takoyaki
Paella pans

Considering the fact that the 5 ring hob is often fully occupied, a single pan or two is just not enough.



For me everything must be grabbable: that’s a major limit. There are a limited number of slots. I have both ECI and SS, but it’s the SS I mostly grab in the morning: mostly pans–a few pots–and my Staub ECI Crepe pan.

The pans are 9", 10", and 11", the pots are around 2-3 qts in different shapes–bigger ECI ones are for one pot meals, but not quite so grabbable.

I have a few specialty items–like my Demeyere poacher–and non metallic containers for microwaving.

I even have a pots and pans graveyard for the ones I no longer regularly use . . .




So funny…but…I do too.

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I am100% with you on pans that are easy to grab. The only pans I cannot easily grab are used infrequently: paella, poacher, large roaster, LC Dutch oven, marmite.


I definitely have a variety!
A few of my favorites and their uses:
15+ year old Kitchen Aid 2.5qt saucepan with rounded bottom. This is perfect for making rice, custard/pudding, or a small portion of gnocchi/tortellini.
30+ year old oval LC dutch oven. I use it for small batches of stew (it’s 3.5qt) and for making cranberry sauce during the holidays.
newish 32cm LC stainless sauté pan. It’s a little big (about 12.5in) but it’s perfect for sautéing cutlets.
Cousances 7qt cast iron roasting pan. This fits a small turkey, and I don’t have to worry about using it on the stove to make gravy.
Pyrex 9x13 baking dish. The only vessel in which I make lasagna.
5.5qt Cuisinart stainless multi-purpose pan. This is a cheapee from Macy’s cellar, originally bought as an extra pot for boiling potatoes. But it’s now become my dedicated popcorn pot. Despite it’s disc bottom, it does a great job on the popcorn.


That reminds me that on the “what kitchen appliances?” thread, I forgot to mention an electric cake-ball cooker. One of my daughters requested it as a birthday gift maybe 5 years ago.

She’s used it 2-3 times to make cakeballs.

My son and I have used it probably 20 times to make octopus takoyaki. It’s not ideal but it works.

To the OP’s question (@Claus), I probably use an array of 3 skillets, one big soup pot, and 3 smaller sauce pans in a given week, primarily selected for size. I don’t have any great cookware, most of it’s just mass-market “12-piece set” type stuff.

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Not really sure I’d agree with the statement that copper pans require a cook to master temperatures more compared to other pans.

With copper there is hardly any lag in the time between you turning the flame down and the pan becoming less hot. So, in fact it should be easier to cook in copper versus pans that do experience a lag, eg the Proline or a thick disc based pan. Because with copper you don’t have to make a judgement call in how slowly the pan will react to a changed heat setting.

In the end, mastering heat is what makes a good cook imho. Once one understands how different pans react to heat differently, it becomes easier to use just any pan. I personally belief that having less pans will give a cook more opportunity to increase his skill set.


You took my sentence out of context, Damiano.

Cooking in copper pans is very easy and straightforward, as long as you realise how fast they heat up and down. Very straightforward. Very little learning curve.

What I meant by having to master the temperature level in a stainless steel lined pan for a cook to be able to cook delicate fish and eggs in them applies to ALL stainless steel lined pans whether they are PLY, disc bottom or copper pans.

To cook any kind of eggs in a pan with stainless steel lining requires an attention to temperature level you don’t need to have to the same degree in a well seasoned carbon steel pan or a non stick pan.

Cooking eggs in stainless steel lined pans - whether they are copper pans, PLY pans or disc bottom pans requires experience & solid technique to a degree where I personally find it too cumbersome and much more enjoy the cooking result using my non stick pans.


Yes, the very fast responsiveness of copper takes a lot of the guesswork out of reducing heat. Didn’t reduce enough? Reduced too much? Either way, it’s more quickly and readily apparent, and the adjustments to dial in are relatively immediate. The same applies to upward responsiveness, too, but in a different way.

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I was so happy to see this post today it prompted me to post for the second time since signing up.

Sometimes I feel that I have too much cookware and it needs to be pared down, but then I read something like this and am reminded that most pieces get regular usage. It is great to be able to select from a range of fry or sauté pans depending on what I am cooking. I don’t think that one needs that many to be able to make a lot of great dishes, but it really does make life easier if you have them.

When I was in college I probably had 2 fries, 1 sauce and maybe a stock pot, I made tons of different dishes without worries, and I still think that you only need a few basics to make most everything. But I had the fortune to work for a major kitchen retailer for many years and acquired many different pieces and I use almost all of them.

Some are seasonal (asparagus pot) that come out from hibernation when needed, and others are always within easy reach. Some pieces don’t get used because I am currently not set up with the right kitchen - woks etc.

Then there are the pieces I have because they are beautiful and I paid next to nothing for them - Mauviel turbotiere, which I have never used and can’t imagine using as the shape is really specific to one type of fish and many copper molds that don’t get used. I think of these more as decoration than cookware.


Glad that you decided to join the party welcome back !

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Thanks, I have always been a lurker and decided to chime in for once.


I enjoyed reading your post and hope that you decide to continue to contribute.
Completely understand the lurking that can be very rewarding as well.

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