Chefs demand durability and reliability from professional cookware. The types of pots and pans used may differ from one kitchen to another, but all commercial cookware must withstand constant daily use and cleaning. Anything less will quickly wear out and need frequent replacing.
Materials used to make professional cookware include aluminum, carbon steel, and cast iron. Below you’ll find a guide to the many types of cookware used in commercial kitchens.
Professional cookware includes many types of pans. A professional pan typically has a long handle and shallow sides for high-heat cooking. The following are the most popular types of professional pans:
- Frying pans come in various sizes and finishes and offer even heating for searing, stirring, and flipping meat, fish, and other foods. Frying pans are flat-bottomed, with long handles and low sides that flare outward. Frying pans hold heat longer than other pans, although their sloped sides result in smaller cooking areas.
- Sauce pans, as the name implies, are used for cooking and heating sauces and other liquids. Deeper than most pans, a saucepan has a fat bottom and steep sides and resembles a small stockpot with a long handle. Sauce pans are ideal for simmering and boiling food in quantities too small to require a large pot.
- Saute pans have wide, flat bottoms and straight sides. Designed for sauteing, this pan can also be used for braising, poaching, and deep frying. Most saute pans come with a lid with a long handle on one side and a shorter hoop handle on the other.
Professional Kitchen Pots
Professional cookware differentiates between pots and pans. While pans are typically shallow with single handles, pots have tall sides and two hoop handles. A commercial pot may be used to simmer stock, make soup, or boil large amounts of ingredients. Types of pots include stock pots, double boilers, and Dutch ovens.
- Sauce and Stock Pots are two slightly different types of pots. A stock pot is a wide, flat-bottomed pot with straight sides and an opening that matches the diameter of the pot’s bottom. Chefs use stock pots to make soups, large quantities of gravy, chili, and stock, or to deep fry food. A sauce pot occupies a middle ground between a stock pot and a saute pan. Sauce pots are deeper than saute pans, smaller than stock pots, and are used for cooking smaller quantities.
- Braziers and Dutch Ovens allow chefs to sear meat and slow-cook stews, soups, and bread. A brazier resembles a shallow stock pot with a large surface area for searing meat, while the low side walls prevent steaming during the browning process. Braziers can also simmer food, but a Dutch oven is a better choice for making large quantities. Dutch ovens have wider bases and thickened walls than stock pots and have two short handles to make moving the pot from the stovetop to the oven easier.
- Double Boilers consist of two pots — a large outer pot for boiling water and a smaller insert pot that uses the steam from the boiling water to cook food. Commercial kitchens use double boilers to temper chocolate, cook delicate egg-based dishes, or cook any item which tends to separate when exposed to direct heat.
Oven-to-table cookware lets you serve piping-hot dishes directly from the oven for a memorable dining experience. Examples of oven-to-table dishes include lasagna, shepherd's pie, baked macaroni and cheese, and steak fajitas. Casserole dishes, sizzler platters and underliners, au gratin dishes, and mini cast iron servingware are popular oven-to-table cookware and give your food presentation a warm, home-cooked feel.
Cast Iron Cookware
Many chefs prefer cast iron cookware to stainless steel or aluminum pots and pans. Cast iron cookware allows for high cooking temperatures and offers excellent heat retention. Once properly seasoned, cast iron professional cookware develops a remarkable non-stick surface, so it can cook delicate items despite the heavy nature of the cookware. Cast iron Dutch ovens, skillets, and pots can be used on the range or in the oven. While cast iron griddles and grills cook a variety of food, including pancakes, burgers, fish, and even cheeses.
Stir Fry Pans and Woks
Stir fry pans and woks are most often used for stir-frying food and come in various sizes. A sizable commercial wok can measure as much as thirty inches in diameter. In addition to stir-frying, woks deep fry food and act as steamers when combined with steaming pans.
While some types of pots and pans are essential for any kitchen, other types of cookware are more specialized. Depending on a restaurant’s menu, the kitchen may need professional cookware like crepe pans, paella pans, or steamer sets.
Covers and Professional Cookware Accessories
No commercial kitchen is complete without a collection of professional cookware accessories. Stainless steel and aluminum covers and lids keep heat and moisture in pans, while pot and pan handle covers protect staff from handle burns. Steamer racks and baskets increase your cooking options and lock nutrients inside cooked vegetables. Stovetop griddle and grill pans allow for the quick cooking or searing of meats, vegetables, and pancakes. At the same time, egg poachers enable the creation of specialty breakfast meals such as eggs benedict.