There are a few pots and pans we use all the time—we love our large pot for boiling water, and our medium-sized frying pan for searing beef or chicken. When it comes to making dinner, choosing the right pot or pan can make a big difference.
If a frying pan or baking sheet is too small, the food will end up very close together. This make it difficult to brown or sear whatever you’re cooking. Vegetables and proteins release steam as they cook, and if they’re all piled on top of each other, the steam won’t be able to escape. You’ll end up with a watery steamed dinner instead of a flavorful browned dish. An unnecessarily large pan can lead to waste, and increases the likelihood of burning your dish.
Read on for tips on how to choose the right pan for the job.
A large frying pan is true kitchen workhorse. Blue Apron recipes use large frying pans for everything from browning chicken for Chicken Tikka Masala to searing tilapia for Tilapia with Shallot-Tarragon Butter. It’s a good idea to invest in one your love. If you cook often, you’ll find yourself setting it on the stove nearly every day. We alternate between two pans, one nonstick and one a heavy stainless steel pan. Both are about 12 inches in diameter, which means there is plenty of room any task we encounter, from sautéing onions to flipping fish. If you’re cooking for a crowd you can even go for a bigger pan—a 14-inch frying pan will cook up to 4 chicken breasts at once.
Don’t have a pan that’s exactly this size? Don’t fret. The good news is that you can improvise. The main criteria is simply that you have enough space to cook your food. If necessary, you can brown two filets of cod, for example, in two smaller frying pans.
When we call for a large pot, we’re likely cooking pasta (or sometimes gnocchi!). When pasta cooks, you want to give it lots of space to dance around the boiling water. In a crowded pot, your spaghetti will cook unevenly and stick together. Don’t let that happen. Haul out the biggest pot you’ve got. We like one that holds at least 6 quarts.
When cooking grains or vegetables, we usually reach for medium pot rather than a large one. Depending on the quantity, these foods often don’t need as much space. If you only own one pot, make it a large one.
The small pot should hold about 1 1/2 quarts and have a tight-fitting lid. We use the small pot almost exclusively for cooking up grains, from brown rice to bulgur wheat. In this case, the tightly fitting lid is more important than the exact size of the pot. Since most grains steam as they cook, you don’t want to let boiling water or hot air escape from the vent in between the pan and the lid. If your lid doesn’t fit tightly, you can seal a sheet of foil on top of the pot before placing the lid on.
Medium-Sized Baking Sheet
We use our baking sheet for heating up bread or naan, baking meatballs, or finishing our quinoa-falafel patties. When it comes to choosing a baking sheet, the determining factor is often the size of your kitchen. Half sheets, quarter sheets, and full-sized sheet pans can all get the job done, as long as they can fit in your oven. When you’re cooking, make sure you have enough room to allow for a few inches of space between your items. This will help ensure even cooking. As with your frying pan, if your baking sheet is on the small side, improvise by using two.