Cookware Buying Guide

Making amazing meals is impossible without the right cookware, and investing in good quality cookware is worth it if you want the most delicious dishes. This guide will help you choose the best pots, pans, skillets and other kinds of cookware for the very best results in your kitchen.

1. Cooktop-Compatible Cookware

The most important thing is to buy cookware that's compatible with your cooktop.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops work in a different way to conventional cooktops. They use a magnetic field generated from the coils under the surface of the cooktop to transfer heat directly into pots and pans rather than thermal heat generated by a flame or the hob surface. This is why you need to use a special kind of induction cookware with a ferrous base.

Ferrous-based induction cookware contains a magnetic element such as iron, and you can test whether your current pots and pans are induction ready by seeing if a fridge magnet sticks to the base. If it does it will work on an induction cooktop, but if not you'll need to buy new induction cookware for an induction cooktop.

Gas, Ceramic or Electric Cooktops

All cookware is compatible with these three cooktop types - including induction cookware

If you're using a gas cooktop don't let the flames go too high up the sides of pots and pans as this can warp the sides.

If you're going to use heavy cast iron cookware on a ceramic cooktop (not recommended) you need to be really careful when picking them up and putting them down to avoid damaging the delicate ceramic surface.

To search for the best cookware brands based on cooktop compatibility, use the Narrow Your Results tick boxes on The Good Guys' cookware page.

2. Surface Material of the Cookware

Different types of cookware - stainless steel cookware, non-stick cookware, cast iron cookware, ceramic cookware and aluminum cookware - each have different benefits, so think about which of the factors below are most important to you.

Stainless Steel Cookware

  • Great for basic cooking because it's durable, low maintenance and corrosion-resistant
  • Stainless steel pots and stainless steel pans heat rapidly and evenly
  • Some stainless steel cookware is made with iron so can be induction cooktop compatible
  • Won't react to acidic ingredients (chilli, pasta sauce, tomato soup etc.)
  • Oven safe up to a maximum temperature

Cast Iron Cookware

  • Great for healthy cooking because minimal to no oil is needed for low-fat meals
  • Stops food like eggs and pancakes from sticking and is extremely easy to clean
  • Some have a red dot that glows when the non-stick pan is hot and ready for cooking
  • Some non-stick cookware is induction cooktop compatible
  • Made to be durable and long lasting
  • Most non-stick cookware is oven safe up to a maximum temperature

Ceramic Cookware

  • Has a natural non-stick surface so is easy to clean after cooking
  • Can be used in the oven, microwave, as a serving dish and for fridge and freezer storage
  • Can go in the dishwasher for quick and easy cleaning up

Alluminium Cookware

  • Used in lots of restaurants because it's extremely responsive and durable
  • Can be used with the highest and lowest cooking heat
  • Compatible with gas or electric cooktops but not with induction cooktops
  • Oven safe up to a maximum temperature

Cast Iron Cookware

  • Cast iron cookware is so durable it can be passed down through generations
  • Is heavy so be extremely careful if using on a ceramic cooktop (lift never drag)
  • There are two types: non-enamel cookware , which needs to be seasoned, and enamel cookware , which doesn't.

    • Non-enamel cast iron cookware

    • Non-stick when seasoned properly
    • Best for frying, searing and blackening
    • Distributes heat evenly for excellent results
    • Is virtually indestructible if cared for properly
    • Can be used in the oven and on any kind of cooktop
    • Retains heat so is great for serving sizzling meat
    • Acidic foods can wear away the seasoning and react with the bare iron

    • Enamel cast iron cookware

    • A natural, chemical-free, non-stick surface that doesn't need to be seasoned
    • Great for healthy cooking because only a little oil is needed for low-fat meals
    • Perfect for roasting, braising, risottos, stews, soups and baking at low-med heat
    • Can be used in the oven and on any kind of cooktop
    • Heats slowly and evenly and retains heat so food stays hotter for longer
    • Won't react to acidic ingredients
    • Takes longer to heat up than non-enamelled cast iron cookware
    • Doesn't absorb cooking stains or smells
    • Incredibly easy to clean and can go in the dishwasher
    • Comes in a range of colours that look lovely on the table

3. Essential Cookware

Every kitchen should have the following cookware essentials:


– for cooking rice, pasta, sauces and vegetables

Frying pan & skillet

– for fast frying, searing, browning and deglazing

Sauté pan

– for shaking and tossing when sautéing and browning (less fat than frying)

Stock pot

– for making stock, soups and boiling corn, potatoes and seafood

Grill pan

– for indoor grilling of poultry, seafood, vegetables and meat on high heat

Dutch oven

– for slow-cooked, one-pot wonders like casseroles, stews, braises and roasts that need to be cooked on the cooktop and in the oven

Roasting dish

– for roasting meat and vegetables in the oven


– for fast pressure cooking and slow cooking

Cast iron cookware

– for searing meat and then slow-cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. Perfect for convenient oven-to-table serving

Some specialty cookware for cuisine-specific dishes:


– for fast, healthy, tasty stir fries


– for homemade dumplings

Paella pan

– for a delish Spanish dish


– for slow-cooked, Moroccan-spiced meats

Cookware sets are a great, easy way to get multiple pots and pans in different sizes.

4. Quality of the Cookware

Kitchen cookware is something you'll use almost every day of your life so it makes sense to invest in good quality cookware that will stand the test of time.

Consider the material the handle is made from. Metal and silicone-coated handles can withstand high oven heat, and if you want a handle that keeps cool while you're cooking on the stove go for a silicone-coated, wood or hollow metal handle.

Some pans have rivets that attach the handle to the inside of the pan, making everything sturdier, but the flipside is that it's easier to clean pans with no rivets.

Think about how many years you want your cookware to last for - this will help you work out the level of quality you want and how much you're prepared to spend.

5. Caring for Cookware

It's important to care for cookware so it lasts longer and you get the best cooking results:

  • Wait until the pan has completely cooled down before washing, otherwise it can warp
  • Never use steel wool, nylon scrubbing pads or abrasive cleaning products
  • Different cookware must be cared for in different ways so follow the care instructions

    • Non-stick cookware :

  • Don't ever soak it and clean it as soon as it's cooled down
  • Keep in mind that high heat can shorten the life of some non-stick pans
  • Avoid using cooking oil sprays on your non-stick pans – the aerosol can bond to the pans creating sticky patches that can be hard to remove. If you need to use oil it’s best to use it straight from the bottle.

    • Non-stick and cast iron cookware both need to be regularly seasoned:

  • Cooking oils bond to and enhance cast iron and non-stick surfaces
  • The seasoning process makes the cookware better with every use
  • Don't use detergent, soak or put in the dishwasher - this strips off the seasoning
  • Only ever rinse under hot water and scrub with a stiff brush
  • Revitalise non-stick cookware by scrubbing with baking soda, water and a non-metallic sponge or brush. Once dry, heat the pan briefly and use a paper towel to wipe with oil - this seasons and repairs the pan's non-stick surface
  • Every few months re-season cast iron cookware by putting it on low heat to evaporate moisture, then when it's dry, rub in a few drops of oil with paper towel, switch off the heat and let it cool before putting it away

    • Ceramic cookware :

  • Always use a bit of oil or butter so the coating lasts longer and food doesn't stick
  • Don't spray oil or extra virgin olive oil as these damage the ceramic surface
  • Only use low or medium heat as high heat can cause damage
  • Make sure it cools before you wash it - cold water can damage the non-stick coating when the cookware is hot
  • Even if it's labeled dishwasher safe hand washing is recommended so it lasts longer
  • Put paper napkins or pan protectors between cookware to avoid storage damage

6. Recommended Cookware Accessories

Having the right accessories protects you, your cookware and your dining table.

  • Use the right utensils to make cooking easier and prevents cookware surface damage:
  • Non-stick cookware - don't use metal utensils; only use silicone, nylon, plastic or wooden utensils that won't scratch the surface
  • Enamel cast iron cookware - don't use metal utensils that can chip the enamel
  • Don oven mitts and an apron to keep your hands and clothes safe while you cook
  • Sit pots on top of stylish trivets to protect your table when serving from hot cookware
  • For the fastest food preparation:
  • Use good quality knives
  • Use clever time-saving kitchen tools
  • Let a food processor do all your chopping, slicing, dicing and more