The word or term “pan” is pretty loosely used talking about cookware. Not all pans are the same in any way and are in fact vastly different from each other. If someone were to say to you, “Hand me that pan over there”. You would not know what to grab since there are literally hundreds of types of pans. There are also many different materials used to construct the pans as well.
In this article we are going to go over some of the main materials used to construct different types of pans. We will also cover a vast majority of some of the different types of pans and what they are made to do specifically.
Types of Materials
There are many different types of materials used to construct pan but there are only a few that are the most common materials used. Many times, pans will be constructed of several different types of materials in order to give them strength, heat conductivity, heat retention and durability. Some materials are just placed on the outside of the pan in order to work with certain cooktops like induction or to be used over direct flame or open fires. Here is a quick little guide to help you decide what material may be the best fit for your pan.
This is the most common material used to construct pots and pans alike. The heavy-duty metal gives the pans durability and strength with little to no rust or corrosion to form.
This material is used in many ways. If the entire pan is made of aluminum, it will be flimsy and prone to damages. These are usually very cheaply made. But when aluminum is used in the inner core of the pan or placed on the bottom of the pan, this allows the pan to gain excellent heat retention and even heat distribution across the surface of the pan.
This material makes the pan easy to use and very easy to clean. The surface of the pan prevents food from sticking to the bottom without the use of oil or butter. However, they are prone to scratches and are not dishwasher safe.
This material is one of the oldest types used for pots and pans. If you have a pan that is made from cast iron, it should last forever as long as you take care of it. It needs to be handwashed though and cannot have any water present on the pan or it will need to be seasoned again or could permanently damage the pan. But the metal gives the pan excellent durability and strength as well as even heat distribution and excellent heat retention.
Types of Cookware
These types of pans are used to make an array of foods like pancakes, eggs and French toast for breakfast. Or grilling sandwiches for lunch and searing steaks and chicken for dinner.
This pan is what is referred to as a frying pan and is ideal for sauteing vegetables, scrambling eggs and searing meats. The pan has short and sloped edges for easy pouring or sliding food out of the pan.
This pan is another form of the frying pan but with almost no sides and just a short edge. Sometimes the pan has ribs on the bottom for even heat distribution and is really great for frying bacon. It really does make the best grill pan for the stovetop.
This type of frying pan is used for the same functions as the skillet but has large sides the slope to a circle which make it perfect for sauteing foods and making stir-fried foods. Some of the best woks will cost a pretty penny though so do your research first about them.
This pan is similar to the frying pan but has large straight edged sides that are not curved to contain foods easily. They are usually larger than skillets and are used for sauteing, frying, braising or poaching. It is essential for and chef, cook or home cook to own the best sauté pan to elevate their cooking skills.
This pan is more of a pot but is still called a pan because of its function. So, what is a sauce pan then? It is a smaller pot with tall flared edges that make it easy to stir the contents. Best for making sauces or heating up liquids and soups.
This is a special type of pan that is really only used to make the Spanish dish paella. It is a large round pan with flared edges that are fairly short. The pan is controlled by two small handles at either end and the material used is fairly thin to help create the coveted crispy Socrata bottom of the paella.
Baking pans are usually only to be used in an oven but some of them have been used for a wide array of other situations. There are many different baking pans and are usually pretty specific to the type of baked good you making at the time.
These are some of the more common baking trays and are sometimes referred to as cookie sheets. They come in several different sizes and can be made of several materials. Sometimes they are used in a proofing machine in a commercial setting or on a speed rack for storing food in a kitchen.
This pan is known as the best casserole dish and also comes in many different sizes. They are also some of the only pans that are made of Pyrex to be exposed to high temperatures while still maintaining a clear presence.
This pan is specifically used to make Bundt cakes.
These pans are made for baking muffins whether they are small large or mini muffins. They usually have a non-stick surface and can hold as many as 30 muffins at once.
These pans are intended for baking cakes but are sometimes used for other cooking methods. They are usually rectangle, square or circle shaped as well.
This pan is used for baking loaves of bread and can come in several sizes and lengths depending on the type of bread you are baking and the desired size of the bread loaf.
This type of pan is for baking foods and pastries that start as a liquid and come out fairly sticky or wet when the bake is done. They are meant to release the sides of the pan so you don’t have trouble getting the baked good out of the pan. One of the most common desserts that is baked in this pan is cheesecake.
The tart pan works the same way as the springform pan but is smaller, shallower and has a fluted edge for the classic tart pastry.
These are used for baking pies and can be found in all materials including Pyrex, metal, ceramic and stoneware. Usually, they will be highly decorated with color and design to place on display with a baked pie within it.
These types of pans are also generally used in an oven but don’t really have to be. Some of them can be used on open fire, in grills and smokers and as a drip pan for many other cooking devices.
This is the most common roasting pan and is usually rectangle in shape with high walls. They are used for roasting a wide array of meats and vegetables but more commonly found to be used to bake poultry like chickens and turkeys. They also usually have a wire insert that will fit in the pan and holds the poultry bird as it roasts to allow the liquids, fat and drippings to fall into the pan without the bird sitting in them while roasting.
This pan is a very versatile pan and is more often than not constructed of cast iron. It is able to be used in the oven, stovetop or over open fire. They can be used to bake breads, make stews or even sear and sauté meats and vegetables. An all-around very well-rounded pan perfect for the home cook.
This pan is usually very large with tall and deep sides and usually made of stainless steel. The pan is very thick and heavy making it very durable and strong and can be used on the stovetop but is meant to be used in the oven for braising meats and vegetables for extended periods of time.
This pan is similar to a Dutch oven but is more commonly made of earth ware or stone. It has a cone shaped lid that is placed on a circular dish to contain steam and heat in the pot. There is an opening at the top to release any pressure desired as well. This pan is commonly used for making stews and curry dishes and is best used in an oven or open fire.
So, if you are in the market for a new pan, you may want to ask yourself what the pan will be used for before you leap at purchase. There are many different kinds and they all come in many shapes and sizes with specific uses to specific food dishes.