Chefs are the experts of the culinary world. Not only can they follow a recipe and create the perfect finished product, but they’re also the leaders in the culinary field who create their own unique dishes and introduce up to entirely new flavors and textures.

Do you ever wonder what cookware do professional chefs use? Are you interested in a career as a pro chef or do you love cooking and want to use the same style and type of cookware that world-famous chefs use in their own homes?

Or maybe you’re a beginner and you’re uncertain what type of pots and pans to buy, or even where to begin?

Chefs typically use the same style and type of pots and pans at work that they do at home. Why? Because the cookware works well and provides the desired results.

If you’re not sure what type of pots and pans to use and what material to choose, you’re in luck. We’ve included many of the same types of pieces you’ll find in any chef’s kitchen cupboards, in addition to the what kind of cookware they prefer working with, whether it’s copper, carbon steel, cast iron, or aluminum.

What cookware do professional chefs use? Answer: Most of the pros tend to lean more toward cookware that’s made out of cast iron, carbon steel, or copper. The kind of material the cookware is made out of often depends on the type of the pot or pan. As an example, most chefs can agree that a skillet made out of cast iron is the way to go. For every day cooking on the stovetop, copper is the big favorite. Chefs do not recommend using cookware that’s made out of aluminum if you often cook acidic foods. They also advise us to steer clear of potentially harmful cookware, such as Teflon.

It may be surprising to learn that some of the cookware in your own kitchen is the same type that’s used by professional chefs all over the world. But we guarantee that you’ll also find cookware that’s not in your kitchen, but should definitely be on your list whether you’re a serious cook or a casual one.

Keep on reading to learn about the best cookware options for home use.

The Chef’s Cookware Arsenal

Have you ever wondered what type of cookware do chefs use at home? The type of pots and pans they purchase for home use can vary based on the chef, their cooking style, the type of food they cook, and basically, personal preference. Some chefs prefer to try newer cookware technology, such as carbon steel, while others will stick to their personal favorites such as  cast iron skillets.

You don’t have to run out and buy a wide range of pot and pan styles. Often, many chefs admit that all you really need are a few good saucepans, the perfect skillet, and a large stock pot. This can also depend on the size of the meals you normally prepare and the dishes you enjoy cooking.

Frying Pans

Frying Pans

Your basic frying pan features rounded edges and a flat bottom. These pans are made out of carbon steel, cast iron, stainless steel, copper, tempered glass, aluminum, and more.

Newer styles of frying pans include stainless steel lined copper cookware, carbon steel, and titanium.

This style of pan is used mainly to fry, sear, or pan roast meats. The term frying pan and skillet are often used interchangeably, although some kitchen pros argue that a skillet is thicker and larger. However, both styles of pans can be used to cook many of the same dishes.

Pro Recommendation: Chefs recommend frying pans made out of copper, cast iron, or carbon steel.

Skillet

As we mentioned, frying pans are often confused with skillets. Skillets are typically larger, heavier, and designed to cook a higher volume of food. Every home and professional kitchen has one. Skillets are made out of the same types of materials as frying pans, but feature a thicker construction and are often much heavier compared to a standard frying pan.

Pro Recommendation: Any chef will tell you that no kitchen is complete without a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. This type of cookware is very heavy and features a seasoning that’s made out of oil and baked several times. Seasoning the skillet gives it a type of nonstick surface that makes both cooking and cleaning much easier. The cast iron skillet is also very versatile and can go straight from the stove right into the oven, with the ability to handle higher than average temperatures compared to other types of cookware.

However, while many old-school chefs claim that a cast iron skillet is the go-to choice, modern chefs claim that carbon steel skillets are a much better option.

Like the cast iron skillet, the carbon steel skillet must also go through a seasoning process, but unlike the cast iron skillet, cookware made out of carbon steel is very light, making it easier to use and lift. Both offer a comparable performance and price. Ultimately, the type of skillet you choose will boil down to personal preference, but one thing is clear, every chef has at least one of these skillets in their home kitchen.

Sauté Pans

As the name explains it, this style of pan is used for sautéing. Sautéing food means moving food around in the pan while frying it. This cooking process requires very little oil. This style of pan is similar to the frying pan, however, the sauté pan is not as shallow as the frying pan and it usually has deeper edges. This type of pan is perfect if you want to sauté veggies or tender cuts of meat.

Pro Recommendation: Chefs recommend copper sauté pans.  Copper has a reputation for heating up food quickly, maintaining the proper temperature, and you won’t have any hot spots in the pan, making copper the best choice for delicate dishes. Sets such as the Cuisinart 10pc Tri-Ply Cooper Cookware Set includes pro-worthy copper cookware that’s perfect for home cooks who need a cookware upgrade and pots and pans that can deliver improved cooking efficiency and better results than their outdated cookware can.

Saucepans

The saucepan is used to cook sauce, soup, boil eggs, veggies, or pasta, and it’s also often the go-to pan when it comes to reheating food. This versatile little pan is a staple in home and professional kitchens. The pan’s design consists of a rounded bottom and tall sides. Most saucepans will also come with a lid that’s used to prevent the liquid in the pan from evaporating.

Pro Recommendation: Most pros recommend using saucepans that are made out of copper, pure ceramic, or ceramic coated cookware. Stainless steel can also be a great choice if you’re on a budget and don’t cook delicate dishes often. Copper is the go-to choice because of its ability to cook food evenly, a must if you’re dealing with a delicate soup or sauce. Pure ceramic and ceramic coated cookware can be a good choice as well if you’re looking for a safe nonstick cookware to use to reheat foods.

Brazier Pans

The brazier pan is another important staple in a commercial kitchen, but they’re also great for home use as well. These pans feature a moisture locking lid and a flat-bottomed pan design. These pans are typically used to slow-cook food in the oven or slowly brown food on a stovetop.

This pan is typically made out of either aluminum or stainless steel and is available in a variety of sizes.

Pro Recommendation: Chefs often choose stainless steel braziers for home and commercial use. These sturdy, large capacity pans are durable, feature a decent heft, and are pretty easy to clean if you use a moderately abrasive cleanser.

Griddle Pans

Griddle pans are perfect for commercial kitchens, providing a large nonstick cooking surface. Typically, these pans feature a large square shape and are equipped with a handle. Some griddles designed for home use are made out of Teflon, while others are made out of cast iron. These pans are perfect for cooking eggs, hot dogs, and pancakes in larger volumes. It can also be used for grilling chicken breast, hamburgers, sausages, and more.

Pro Recommendation: All chefs can agree that you should steer clear of Teflon at all costs. Teflon cookware is coated with a nonstick interior that’s designed to prevent food from sticking to the surface, making it easier to cook with and significantly minimizing cleanup. However, when the cookware reaches five hundred degrees it begins to emit harmful fumes. Over time, the nonstick coating starts to break down with regular use, leaving flakes of the coating behind in your food. To learn more about what cookware is safe, click here to read our guide on the safest cookware.

Cast iron is often a much better, safer choice. Griddles, like cast iron skillets, must be seasoned in order to develop the type of nonstick coating that can be crucial if you’re frying eggs or you want to cook your pancakes to perfection. These heavier griddles can be difficult to clean, but if you keep up on the seasoning you’ll find that no other type or style of griddle will work as hard for you as a cast iron one can.

Wok

Wok

Woks are commonly used to cook a variety of Asian dishes. The pan is edgeless and features a very smooth slope with a round bottom and a handle on each side of the pan. These pans are normally used for cooking noodles and stir frying veggies. While not every chef will use this style of cookware in their pro kitchen, most have a wok or two at home.

Pro Recommendation: The pros often go with woks that are made out of carbon steel. This type of wok features a nonstick surface that’s comparable to that of Teflon, without the use of harsh chemicals. Versatile, lightweight, and easy to clean, you’ll be surprised by how many uses the traditional wok has.

Related Questions

What is a Chef’s Pan?

The chef’s pan is similar to a frying pan, however, it’s much deeper and features sloped sides. This design allows the chef to easily add and mix ingredients as they’re cooking.

Do Chefs Use Cast Iron?

Yes. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a chef that doesn’t have their own favorite cast iron griddle or skillet at work and at home. This type of cookware material is very durable, but it’s heavier design may make it unsuitable for some users. Carbon steel is said to be a better alternative since it offers the many of the same benefits as cast iron, but is much lighter.

Is a Wok Better than a Frying Pan?

This depends on what you’re cooking. Is it a better choice for cooking noodles or stir-frying veggies? Yes. Is it a better option for frying an egg? No. The frying pan uses less oil and is a much safer option for beginners. It’s also a better choice if you have a gas oven since the open flame tends to burn the sides of the wok.

Is Enameled Cast Iron Expensive?

Yes, much more so than traditional cast iron. The enamel coating gives the cookware a nonstick surface, which means you won’t have to worry about seasoning the pan. This is a huge plus for some chefs, however, others still prefer the traditional cast iron cookware mainly because many cooks claim that food simply tastes better when it’s cooked in a seasoned cast iron skillet. Keep in mind that enamel coated cast iron will also be heavier compared to traditional cast iron, which can make it unsuitable for some cooks.

Final Thoughts

What cookware do professional chefs use? Most will mainly use copper, carbon steel, and cast iron. Each of these materials can offer different benefits depending on the type of food or dish you’re cooking and even the style of the pot or pan. However, the pros do not recommend using Teflon or other types of pans that are coated with artificial nonstick surfaces.

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Going Pro: What Cookware do Professional Chefs Use at Home?
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Going Pro: What Cookware do Professional Chefs Use at Home?
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Chefs really know what they're doing in the kitchen, so why wouldn't you want a glimpse into their home kitchen cabinets to see what type of cookware they use?
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