How Many Pots and Pans Do I Need? (Number & Type Chart)

Adulting is difficult, especially when you move out of your parents’ house. You will ask yourself some questions like “What appliances do I need?”, “How many pots and pans do I need?”, “What furniture pieces should I buy?”. These are the things you need to prepare. Therefore, adulting will require you to set aside all your material desires and prioritize all your adulting needs.

What is the difference between pots and Pans?

sizes of cooking pots

You use different cookware for every kind of dish. You do not cook fried eggs in a pot, and you shouldn’t cook dishes with soup in a shallow pan. Thus, it is necessary that you know the difference between the two.

Just by looking at their physical appearance, you can see a huge difference between a pot and a pan. The most obvious ones are their shapes and sizes. Pots tend to be bigger and deeper in the overall look compared to the typical shallow pans. Though they both have a circular opening, the overall shape varies.

Take a look at the table below to see their similarities and differences:

Characteristic Pot Pan
Size 1 quart, 2 quarts, 3 quarts, 4 quart Varies depending on its usage (baking pan or frying pan)
Shape Round, Cylindrical Round, Square, Rectangle
Opening Circular Circular, Square, Rectangle
Material Cast Iron, Enameled Cast Iron, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, Copper, Nonstick, Glass Cast Iron, Enameled Cast Iron, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, Copper, Nonstick, Glass


what size saucepans do i need

How can you prepare a meal for your loved ones if you do not have the perfect equipment to use right? Frequently, pots are designed to cook soup and stew dishes. This is the ideal cookware for the dish as it has deep and high sides.

Pots are usually cylindrical in shape, with either one long handle or two looped handles resembling ears. Since this is meant to cook soups and stews, it always comes with a lid to allow proper and faster heating of the cookware. There are multiple pot sizes you can choose from and various pot names ranging from the saucepan, dutch oven, and stockpot.


what cookware do i need

Pan is also a piece of equipment used for preparing food. They are often shallow, wide surface, and broad. Thus, it is designed for frying, but you can also cook dishes with sauce. However, the sides of a pan are a few centimeters in height but not as high as a pot. Its sides could either be straight or angle up slightly from its base.

Pans are meant to cook huge quantities and sizes of food for frying due to their larger and broader surface area. They typically come with a lid but are often used without it. Some pans have one elongated handle, but it is not limited to as some have more.

However, despite being wide and large, pans cannot accommodate cooking dishes that require a lot of liquid, just like soup dishes. Pans are made out of different materials, and it is up to the end-user which one they prefer the most, but some professional chefs have their favorites.

There are different pans such as a frying pan, skillet pan, grill pan, wok, and roasting pan. However, it is not just meant for cooking because some pans are designed for baking, such as the baking sheet pans that also come in different shapes and sizes.

How many pots and pans do you need?

what pans do i need

Adulting can be challenging yet exciting, especially when you start organizing your stuff before moving into your new apartment. It can be scary as it also means that you will be on your own most of the time.

And so, you start purchasing the things you will need. These essentials include the bed, the table, and other home appliances. Moreover, the elders advise you that the best thing to save money is to cook food at home. Therefore, you may wonder how many pots and pans you will need and should purchase.

Take a look at the table on the type and number of pots and pans you should get according to your experience knowledge in cooking:

Pans and Pots recommended for Beginners:
1 piece of Small Saucepan
1 piece Large Stock Pot
1 piece Small Fry or Saute Pan preferably in 8” to 10” Size
1 piece Large Fry or Saute Pan preferably in 10” to 12” Size

Of course, if you are an expert or if cooking has always been your passion, you will definitely need more.

Pans and Pots recommended for Experienced Cook:
1 piece of Small Saucepan 1.5 Quarts
1 piece of Medium Saucepan 2.5 Quarts
1 piece of Large Saucepan 3.5 Quarts
1 piece of Large Stock Pot 6-8 Quarts
1 piece small Fry Pan in 8” Size
1 piece Medium Fry Pan in 10” Size
1 piece Large Fry Pan in 12” Size
1 piece Large Saute Pan with Lid 3 Quarts
1 piece Grill Pan
1 piece Dutch Oven
1 piece Wok
1 piece Roasting Pan

8 Different types of Pots and Pans

Ordinary people would call a pot and a pan just the same, and that is okay, but would not it be nice if you know how to properly call them, right?

Though it may become overwhelming to you as it could be an information overload, it is excellent that you should know how to call them and their difference correctly.

Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven

You should think twice if you need a Dutch oven before purchasing. It takes much of your cabinet space due to it being bulky. It is way heavier and thicker though smaller compared to a stockpot. If you are looking for a versatile pot where you can cook almost anything, then never think twice and add this Dutch oven to your cart!

Grill Pan

Grill Pan

A grill pan is not in demand because only a few dishes will require you to do so. Thus, it is more like specialty cookware. A grill pan is often used for outdoor setting while grilling your barbecue, pork, and beef, perfect for a weekend picnic with your family in your yard.

Roasting Pan

Roasting Pan

A roasting pan is also specialty cookware only used for special occasions and gatherings. Though this may not be essential for daily use, it is still best to have something you can use to prepare a feast for your loved ones during holidays and vacations.

Stock Pot

Stock Pot

A stockpot comes in handy if you prepare dishes with soups for large servings. This versatile cookware is ideal for making large batches of soups and stews.



A saucepan is quite deep and well-rounded. As the name implies, a saucepan is frequently used to make sauces, making it a perfect pan to cook pasta.

Saute Pan

Saute Pan

Despite the basicness of the saute pan, it also serves its purpose and is considered versatile. And as the name implies, this is often used for sauteing meats and vegetables.

Skillet Pan

Skillet Pan

A skillet pan is famous for being a frying pan. It has angled and sloping interior sides, making it easier to stir the ingredients. It is also easy to clean and nonstick but will require to be seasoned regularly.



A wok is also considered a frying pan but compared to others. It has a deep interior siding making it a perfect pan to use when cooking vast servings. It is also lightweight, making it possible to carry and toss the ingredients quickly while on high heat.

7 Different Pot and Pan Materials

One among the few common similarities of pots and pans is the materials used to make them. Therefore, when buying pots and pans, you have many options according to their materials ranging from aluminum, stainless steel, copper, cast iron, and so much more.

Below are the 7 different pot and pan materials that can help you decide on which one you should get:


aluminum pan

Pots and pans made out of aluminum can handle extreme heat very well. However, it may take some time. Aluminum works well when combined with other metals, making it both affordable and lightweight.

However, using aluminum alone to make cookware does not go well with acidic food as it can cause a chemical reaction. Ensure that the aluminum cookware is anodized to make it flexible.

Budget-Friendly Less Durable
Lightweight Not induction cooktop friendly
Highly efficient / High performing Use for dishwasher and oven actually varies

Cast Iron

Cast Iron

Cookware made out of cast iron is highly durable despite it being heavy. However, the natural properties of iron make this cookware slow both in heating and cooling, which is highly recommended if you prefer a gradual cooking time.

Though there are two types of cast iron, the first one is the natural cast iron, which will require you to season it regularly to prevent rust from occurring. The other one is the enameled cast iron, which is originally nonstick and nonreactive to acidic food.

Highly durable and versatile Quite heavy to carry
Does not easily warp, dent or chip Highly maintenance as it requires to be seasoned from time to time to maintain its finish
Quite Affordable (Only the natural ones) Enameled type of cast iron is quite expensive
Long lasting Does not heat evenly and requires a little time and effort to do so
Naturally non-stick Reactive to acidic food


Ceramic pan and pot

Pots and pans made out of ceramics are an excellent alternative for Teflon-coated cookware. It is like the organic counterpart of the typical nonstick pans due to the absence of harmful chemicals. Moreover, it is also considered to be environmentally friendly.

Easy to clean Chips and breaks easily
Non-reactive does not react to acidic food Usually tends to over-brown sweet food
Multiple colors and design Cannot withstand high heat pressure as it can cause damage to the nonstick finish
Nonstick yet environmentally friendly Tends to build up oil when not cleaned well


Copper pan

If you are into aesthetics and want to flaunt your favorite cookware in your kitchen, experts highly suggest that you purchase copper cookware. Its finish comes and goes well with any interior design.

Thus, it is not considered to be an eyesore. It is also good at conducting heat, making it a cookware material that most professionals highly recommend. However, it is a high-maintenance cookware material requiring daily polishing to maintain its shine. Moreover, it does not work well with an induction cooktop.

Recommended cookware material due to being most responsive to heat Premium / Most Expensive
Great cooking result Requires tin lining to prevent reaction between the material and food acids and minerals
Most precise cooking method High maintenance according to performance and appearance
Aesthetic Not induction cooktop and dishwasher safe


Glass pan

The least famous cookware material is glass, yet they are versatile and resilient. You are missing out on something when you do not have glass cookware in your kitchen as they are high heat conductors and nonreactive.

Non-reactive Subject to breaking or shattering with high heat temperature
Affordable It reacts easily to heat, which can cause sugar to burn quickly.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel pan

A stainless steel cookware is quite famous in many households despite being one of the most expensive cookware types. It is a poor heat conductor material. Thus, it still needs to be reinforced with either aluminum or copper to improve its properties. Despite that, it is considered the most durable material and is also anti-corrosive.

Affordable Quite Expensive
Dishwasher, Broiler, and Oven Safe A bit heavy
Non-reactive to an alkaline and acidic food Poor heat conductor
Durable yet low-maintenance

Teflon Coated / Nonstick

Teflon Coated Nonstick

A nonstick pan has a chemical coating called Teflon. It is a material popular for cookware due to its nonstick property making it easy to clean compared to the others.

The nonstick cooking pan does not require much oil and butter when cooking. However, it is quite a bit high maintenance to retain its nonstick properties, therefore, ensure that you use cooking utensils that are safe for nonstick cookware.

Encourages healthy cooking as it only requires a minimal amount of oil and butter Limited cooking utensils due to the sensitivity of its coating (can only use wooden, nylon, or silicone utensils)
Lightweight and Affordable Cannot handle high heat pressure
Both non-porous and non-reactive Can only use sponges or soft-bristled brushes to clean
Easy to clean Short lifespan


You can always go back to this article and serves as your buying guide every time you question yourself about “How many pots and pans do I need?” You already know all the different pots and pans, especially now that you plan to live independently. The answer is to get at least one for each variety.

how many pots and pans do i need

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