Top three pans, bottom three pans

Virtually any cook in the Western world will rattle off chef’s knife, paring knife, and bread knife as their top three knives. However, the world of pots and pans is not quite as clear cut, or is it? What are the three pans you seem to grab most often? Please specify not only the general shape (fry pan saucepan, etc.), but also the material (clad, anodized aluminum, etc.). If your cooking style does not have three clear winners, which pans are at the top of your order? Also, is there some pan that may not get as much use, but you use it enough that letting it go would be a real loss?

What are your bottom three, if you have such? Do they get used now and then or gather dust? Do you have any that have not been used for over a year?

My top three would be a large carbon steel fry pan, a 24 cm heavy tinned copper saute, and a 20 cm saucepan.

My bottom three would be a large steel paella pan, a tinned copper tart tatin pan, and a tinned copper bain Marie with ceramic insert. They are only used a few times a year. Once or twice a year I crave paella. Ironically the tatin pan is rarely used for tart tatin. It is busiest in cherry season, making clafoutis. The bain Marie is used for small servings of impulsively concocted Hollandaise for asparagus and for that extremely rare time when we have a filet and want Bernaise, maybe every few years.


TOP (most used):

  1. A 10" Calphalon stainless steel sauté pan
  2. A 1 qt. Farberware Classic stainless steel saucepan
  3. A round blue enamelware baking pan (I use it to roast veggies in the convection oven) OR a small 13"x8.5" Farberware stainless steel roasting pan (which they no longer make)

BOTTOM (used infrequently):

  1. Fluted white ceramic tart/quiche dish (I usually just use a pie plate for quiche)
  2. Le Creuset cast iron enameled 3.5 qt. braiser (it’s almost too heavy for my hands to safely hold on to while taking it out of the oven after cooking)
  3. Farberware stainless steel roasting pan (the largest megaboo-sized roasting pan they ever made - 13.5x20") I just don’t cook turkeys that large anymore, and a smaller Calphalon roasting pan now takes care of anything I might be cooking. Plus no way I’d be able to lift it anymore with a 20+ lb. turkey in the pan. The old Farberware pans didn’t have full handles - just a little extra “ledge” on each short side.

(Edited to fix the size of the XL Farberware roasting pan - finally found it online)


I use a cast iron skillet (I can’t fry eggs well in any other pan), a large stainless steel All-Clad skillet, a small stainless steel saucepan (my favourite one is a Cuisnart), and ovenproof Pyrex/Corningware dishes daily.

I rarely use my Bundt pans, paella pans, muffin tins.


Used most/least often will definitely be different from my most/least recommended or what I consider “winners”, but going with the original question here:

Most used:

  1. 1.5qt Cuisinart 3-ply stainless steel sauce pan. This thing gets used almost every day, if not daily.
  2. Misen 10" non-stick pan (I don’t remember if they specified frying pan, skillet or saute pan).
  3. Misen 10" carbon steel pan (same as above)

Least used:

  1. 8 qt Scanpan dutch oven
  2. 4 qt (5 qt?) Le Creuset oval dutch oven
  3. 8" Lodge cast iron pan

These are all most or least used due to practical reasons like number in my household, lifestyle, and then what I have time to make and eat. But if you look at it from a factor of being most indispensible because of dishes I enjoy making, then you get a very different list. I also didn’t include pots that were a gadget itself (e.g., rice cooker, Instapot, slow cooker, etc.). Rice cooker could easily tie for #1 most used.


I agree 100%. Being indispensable and being most used are quite different. I have pans I use regularly but infrequently because they are so perfect for specific things.


More like the top 3 and bottom 30.

Top 3:
26 cm tinned copper skillet
20 cm tinned copper saucepan
18x24 tinned copper oval roaster/gratin

Bottom-est 3 (meaning least used):
12 gallon tinned copper stockpot
Pommes Anna set
2 gallon saucepan.


Hi Tim, if anything this post says chowhound is back… :slight_smile:

Anyway, here goes. Cooking for 2 mostly.

18/20 cm saucepan (mine are the hybrid Lagostina Lagofusion and Mauviel ss copper)
22 cm Le Creuset dutch oven (perfect for stews and soups)
24 cm saute pan (Mauviel stainless steel lined copper)

And then like you, I need a largish saute pan/frying pan. Right now I’d probably go for the Le Creuset 30cm shallow dutch oven. I say this as someone who has used (and still has) a plethora of options, from Fissler disc bottom to tin-lined copper.

Least used (never): a Fissler non stick oval fish frying pan. Never used because I prefer the De Buyer oval carbon steel fish frying pan. A pan I hardly use is my Dehillerin tin-lined 32 saute pan, because it’s just too large for what I usually cook.

And then finally I have some specialty pans which I don’t use often but they are irreplaceable, e.g. the copper jam pan by Falk.

I won’t be getting rid of any of these pans by the way.


Hi vecchiouomo,

In my California-American world, I almost never use bread knives, and the santoku is preferred to a Chef’s knife. Usually a petty knife or some other utility knife is nearby as well.

3 used: With induction, I most frequently use my nonstick omelette pan, my coppercore saucier, and my Staub crepe pan.

Others: Recently, I’ve been unable to use any of my Le Creuset, Staub, or other ECI since I haven’t been able to be involved in catering or group projects. I have been able to use my 28 cm nanobond pan and a few larger Thermoclad and All Clad pans, but I’ve been limited by Covid 19 to smaller preparations.



Interesting. My stockpot almost made my top three, but it is a multitasker, making stock at least weekly, boiling long pasta, and used with a rack in the bottom to steam large things like big artichokes. And i agree on the two gallon saucepan. It is close to a unitasker for Bolognese.

Actually your knife preferences are not that far from the trio of chef, parer, bread. A Santoku is a close cousin of a chef’s knife, a petty is a close cousin of a parer, and if you aren’t a big baker, a bread knife can easily become superfluous!

My smaller stockers are used a lot more. If you make 10 or more gallons per batch, I’ll make you a hell of a deal.

It’s like my dear friend alarash’s 1-meter turbotiere–cool, just not that useful.

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One 24x24 is perfect for my uses. When making stock it is rarely more than 7-8 quarts before separating the broth from whatever was used to make it.


Le Creuset 5.5 qt dutch oven
Tramontina Pro 14’’ non-stick skillet
Griswold #8 cast iron

I make stock and a soup once a week, and a marinara every month so the dutch oven is always ‘stored’ the stove.

The Tramontina is a big ass pan and I only cook for two people. But I like the heft and space. I like to do a large batch of mushrooms, peppers, asparagus or some veg to have in the fridge for a few days as a utility ingredient. Nothing’s ever crowded in the pan and the non-stick performance is outstanding – I’ve yet to use soap on it.

The Gris is the go-to for eggs, steak and most fish.


outside of the aforementioned paella pan …

Baguette Pan - there are excellent baguettes in my area and I’ve been focusing on baking general purpose loaves and rolls (trying to nail the characteristics of a NYC bodega style Kaiser roll).
double boiler - I use the blender method or Kenji’s method for hollandaise.
fondue set - I forgot I still had this in the garage.



  • All Clad D3 Every Day 10.5 Skillet (3-5x week for potatoes and/or vegetables, or duck breast)
  • All Clad D5 10.5” Stainless NonStick Omelet (daily for bacon, eggs, etc)
  • DeBuyer 8” Mineral B Frying Pan (3-5x week for beef tenderloin)


  • All Clad 8” Sauce Pan
  • DeBuyer 12.5” Mineral B Frying Pan
  • Lodge 10” Cast Iron Skillet

Bigger is better for me - I like having plenty of surface space, so even though I’m usually cooking for two, I almost always use a 12-14" pan (unless I need to fit pans on multiple burners). I have a 12" T-Fal nonstick that gets used almost daily for eggs, plus several All-Clad 12/14 skillets and sauté pans that are in heavy rotation. My 12" cast iron skillet and cast iron grilled also see heavy use.

The only pans I own that don’t get used are the two high-sided All-Clad saucepans my mother gifted me when I got my first apartment. She has the same ones and loves them, but at 6" across they are basically completely useless for the way I cook. I can’t imagine a a use for them that can’t be accomplished more easily and with better results in a larger pan. I need to sell them on Ebay so they can stop collecting dust!





This is a tricky one because what cookware I used the most depending on what kind of dishes I am into cooking (no surprise). Also do you mean just pans or any cookware?

For the last month, the most used probably are:

  1. 2.5 quarts stainless steel triply cladded saucepan
  2. 3.0 quarts stainless steel bottom disc cladded pot
  3. 2.0-2.5 quarts aluminum saucepan

These cookware are the most used because I have been making a lot of blanching, soups and congee.
I would say my carbon steel fry pan comes a close fourth.

I have to say that some truly infrequent cookware have been discarded over the years, so these are still useful or sentimental.

  1. Granite stone pot
  2. 5.5 quart bare cast iron Dutch oven.
  3. 8 quart pressure cooker

Top 3 most used

Mauviel M250C 24 cm sauter pan
Mauviel M’Stone 24 cm sauter pan
Demeyere 7-Ply 30 cm wok

Top 3 least used

Le Creuset 28 cm ECI round DO
Staub 28 cm ECI round DO
Staub 28 cm ECI grill pan

In between these are 40-45 other pans, that I also use once in a while.


As a reply to my own post, a frying pan seem to be missing from my Top 3 most used.

It’s missing for two reasons.

First reason is that I own too many frying pans and try to rotate between them. I also use my frying pans for dedicated things. My carbon steel pans are for meat searing, my bimetal SS lined copper pans I prefer to use for vegetable sautéing and my non stick frying pans are only used for delicate items like frikadeller, fish, eggs and starchy stuff like pan tasted potatoes.
I also own many PLY frying pans and they are used for pretty much the same stuff as my bimetal SS lined copper pans.

Second reason is that I actually find myself using my sauter pans and woks instead of frying pans.
A wok and a sauter pan can pretty much do the same stuff you do in a frying pan except maybe do a perfect steak searing, but some would argue a sauter pan can do that as well as a frying pan and then even shelter the stovetop area from splatter better than a low frying pan (other will argue here, that steam better escapes a low frying pan during searing and that gives you a better sear, but I have yet to find proof of this)

So in short this is why I now gravitate more towards using my sauter pans and woks than my frying pans.

I own 17 frying pans, I kid you not, 17 frying pans (bimetal copper, PLY, carbon steel, cast iron and non stick) , but they are not the pans I use the most in my kitchen any longer.