Pots and pans buying guide

Making sure that you have a selection of good quality pots and pans makes cooking more fun, increases the range of dishes you can make in your kitchen and ensures that you get the best results from your ingredients. From mixing together a simple cheese sauce to rustling up some coq au vin, having the right saucepans makes all the difference.

Tesco has put together a pots and pans buying guide to help you make the right choice for your kitchen. We'll explain the difference between frying pans, saucepans, woks, and even pressure cookers. You'll know your skillets from your steamers, and your griddle pans from your frying pans in no time.

Our guide also outlines the differences between ceramic pans, cast-iron pans, copper pans and others so you know the advantages each material has in the kitchen. Tesco stock a wide range of first-rate kitchenware perfect for amateur and professional chefs alike. From Tefal frying pans to Jamie Oliver pots, Raymond Blanc Saucepans to Morphy Richards 5 piece sets, you'll find plenty of kitchen accessories online.

When buying a new pan always check that the heat source that you're using is correct for the pan. Some pans are not suitable for use on induction hobs, as these hobs use electromagnetic waves to conduct heat, which some pan bases will not react with. Most pans specify whether they are suitable for induction hobs, but a great way to check at home is by putting a magnet to the bottom of the pan. If the magnet sticks then your saucepan will work on an induction hob.

Another important consideration is to check whether the pan you're looking at is dishwasher safe. Some materials like stainless or carbon steel react badly to soap, so it is wise to be aware of what they require to keep them well maintained.

Grill pan

For a delicious barbecue-like char on your home cooking, you need to get a grill pan. Also called griddle pans, these utensils are ideal for grilling all manner of cuts of meat, and are perfect for vegetables with a tasty chargrilled finish.

Frying pans and skillets

A kitchen essential the world over, frying pans are one of the most versatile kitchen implements out there. Frying pans come in a range of materials, and non-stick products are especially useful for everything from rustling up a perfect fried egg, to shallow frying some delicious popcorn chicken.


Not just ideal for making a tasty creamy sauce, saucepans also provide a solution for everything from boiling spaghetti to creating soup. They come in a range of sizes, and many of our sets offer small, medium and large pans ensuring you can simply boil a few quick veggies or cook a large batch of chilli con carne with rice, for example.


Steamers ensure that your food maintains its healthy nutrients. Steam cooking is one of the best ways to prepare vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, as it lets them retain a bit of bite that is sometimes lost when boiling.

Pressure cooker

By utilising the power of steam, high-pressure cookers you can cut down on the cooking time of traditional pots and pans. Far removed from the pressure cooker of old, modern models are safe, easy to use, and provide great results every time.

Woks and stir-fry pans

Similar to frying pans, woks are a crucial implement for making Asian-infused cuisine. The deep sides of the pan allow the food to be easily moved around with a spatula and various vegetables can be tossed together with meat to ensure even cooking and create a delicious mix of flavours.

Casserole and stockpots

From hearty sausage stews to scrumptious chicken casseroles, stockpots offer a way to make wholesome food for the whole family. They tend to be extremely hard wearing, so you don't have to worry about sticking them in the oven at high temperatures. Choose from a range of sizes - casserole dishes are a kitchen staple for families up and down the UK.

Pots and pans materials

From space-age Teflon to old-school cast iron, the materials that form today's pots and pans vary greatly. Thankfully there are designated pots for different ingredients, so here is a quick guide to the advantages of each.

Cast iron

Made from a heavy-duty material, cast iron pans take a while to heat up, but once they do they retain their heat better than most other pans. This makes them perfect for serving a meal straight from the dinner table, as you're stews and sauces will stay piping hot long after you've taken them out of the hob or oven.

Cast aluminium

Increasingly popular, cast aluminium cookware has the same look as cast iron, but is far lighter. This is especially important for casserole dishes and stockpots as they can be too heavy for some people to lift when full. Investing in a cast aluminium pot or pan will help give you peace of mind that your tasty beef stroganoff won't end up on the floor when you're transferring it from the oven to the dinner table!

Aluminium cookware is often competitively priced in our stock, but it is not as hard wearing as other materials so sometimes does not last as long.

Stainless steel

Scratch resistant and extremely durable, stainless steel makes for a hardy choice of kitchenware. The only downside is that stainless steel is not particularly conducive to radiating an even heat, this can lead to heat spots and therefore is often combined with other materials like copper for the base.


Copper pots and saucepans remain a staple in professional kitchens the world over. Since copper is an excellent heat conductor it makes for a high-end cooking product, and a great choice if you really want to show off your culinary skills for a dinner party.


Ceramic pans are brilliant for healthy cooking, as they require minimal oil and have a strong non-stick coating. They are also scratch resistant and easy to maintain, so a well looked after ceramic pan can last for years. They are not suited to induction cooking however, so if you have an electric hob you would be advised to pick a steel option instead.

Carbon steel

Carbon steel is much lighter than stainless steel, making these pots and pans perfect for induction heating. Your food will be cooked quickly and evenly. Carbon steel pans aren't dishwasher safe, and also shouldn't be used with acidic foods, however if they're well looked after theycan last a lifetime.

Hard anodized

Made from aluminium that has undergone a chemical process, hard anodized pots and pans are twice as strong as stainless steel and far lighter. They tend to be high-quality non-stick products that make a great all round choice. If you have induction hobs, it is important to check if the hard-anodised pot you're looking to buy is compatible with your cooker.

Consider your cooking requirements and your kitchen carefully before purchasing cookware, particularly if you enjoy spending time trying out different recipes. The accessories and products required for a student in their first kitchen will not be the same as the pots and pans a family might want, for example, and the prices vary quite substantially.