Essential Pots, Pans
& More

For Your French Kitchen

Which pots and pans for the kitchen?

It's wise to ask, because otherwise you'll find yourself having to buy a bigger house to fit everything in, not least that stylish set of matching ceramic pans that you somehow thought was ideal. 

Let's face it, pan sets are only economical if you need, and use, them all.

So, here are a few ideas about what you should regard as essential and then you can add to them as people ask what you would like when they want to buy you a gift.

Tips For Buying Essential Pots & Pans

  1. I almost always prefer good quality stainless steel cookware with a thick bottom that allows for even heat. (Just do not run cold water into your hot cookware or they may develop hot spots.)

  2. But if you cannot give up on the idea of non-stick pots and pans then ones made from durable heavy gauge anodised aluminium provides for even heat distribution and has a solid finish and will not leach into your food.

  3. Is the utensil you want to purchase oven safe, up to 260°C/500°F and suitable for all heat sources?

  4. Many of the top quality pans come with up to 25-year guarantees.

  5. Not all cookware will be dishwasher safe, so if that is important to you check before you buy. But for me, I always prefer to clean pans by hand anyway.

  6. It ALWAYS makes sense to invest in the best you can reasonably afford as good quality cookware is a joy to work with and produces the most delicious results.

Sauté Pan

The true workhorse in the kitchen is the sauté pan, preferably 28cm/12-inch and with a lid, clear if available.

A sauté pan has a wide bottom and curved corners which makes it easier to stir while browning or "sauteing" your food.


Saucepans, as such, are fine, and have their place, but the advantage of the saucier is that it makes whisking and combining ingredients a doddle with a curve at the corners.

These are great for poaching eggs and making risotto and other rice dishes.


A wok: Whether you stir-fry or not, a wok is one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen. It's perfect for indoor smoking, braising, and steaming.

It's by far the best vessel for deep-frying; its wide shape and large volume make it easy to fit plenty of food in there with minimal contact and oil-use, with virtually no danger of splattering the stove-top with hot oil.

I actually use two types of wok: one a non-stick pan, and the other a traditional oriental carbon-steel plan.

Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Or Dutch Oven

An enamelled 22cm/9-inch casserole, made from cast iron, and ideal for slow braising and soups.

Thick walls and a heavy lid is what makes this a great kitchen essential for slow cooking.

The best don't come cheap, but once you've used one, you won't ever want to be without it.

All Purpose Saucepans

All-purpose saucepans: you do need saucepans, for a variety of purposes, in different sizes, one of which would be handy with a pouring lip. The other two should also have lids.

A Steamer Set

A steamer set, mainly for steaming vegetables in the upper two pans while cooking potatoes in the bottom one. Versatile and relatively inexpensive.

Stock Pot

A good quality stock pot, something really big for making stock, large quantities of soup, and ideal for cooking mussels, which are so popular all around the coast of France.

Having homemade stock to add to your recipes will make them taste so much better. Make a big pot, freeze it in varying quantities and you are ready to go.


Instant Pot

An Instant pot is a pressure cooker. It is a safe way to cook delicious food, fast.

There are no worries, not like the old kind where a pot of beans could accidently end up on the ceiling! (That actually happened to my Mom once!)

The new ones have all the timing, vigilance and guess work taken out. It is exactly as they are called "instant" and safe.

Pots & Pans Sets

Why would you purchase a whole set at once?

It can be less expensive than buying one or two pieces at a time.

Usually sets include a good variety of all the pieces the average person will need.

For someone setting up house for the first time this can be a big bonus especially when you want to cook something for supper one night and you have the pot or pan you require to go make it. Saves you putting that dish off for another time until you get the one thats needed.

It can also be a lovely purchase for a longtime cook to be rewarded with a new set of pots and pans.

A good thing to remember too when looking for something with quality for the kitchen is that it will last a longtime and do the job well.

Learn about the basic kitchen knives all home cooks require.