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Pan buying guide

Find the perfect
pans for you

Pots and pans

How to choose the right pan for you...

From setting up home to running a professional kitchen, a good pan set is the most essential of kitchen kit. However, with so many types and shapes available, selecting the right ones for your cooking style and budget can be daunting. Rest assured that your perfect pans can be found in the Waitrose Kitchen range - and our handy guide will help you track them down...


Gas hobs can be used with pans made of any material and is the most controllable heat source available, making it a very popular choice for cooking with. Remember though, to use a gas ring suitably sized to the base of your pan, to avoid the flame traveling up the side of the pan and damaging the handle.

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Radiant spiral & solid hot plate

Found on electric cookers, these type of hobs are quite challenging to use as it takes the element much longer to heat up and respond to changes in temperature - to produce the best results when cooking, conductive pans made from copper, hard-anodised aluminium or a laminate will be the best for these types of hob.

Copper Aluminium

Halogen & ceramic

The heat source is positioned below a glass surface and is either a halogen lamp or an element. A smooth surface makes them easy to clean and you can use any type of pan material, but to prevent scratches, avoid heavy pans which can’t be lifted easily. For use with halogen, you should also avoid pans with reflective bases.

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The latest in cooking technology, induction hobs conduct heat through an enclosed magnetic coil which heats the cookware rather than the hob surface. Capable of fine temperature changes, this a popular choice in modern kitchens but they can only be used with pans with magnetic surfaces such as steel or cast iron.

Stainless steel Cast iron

Solid fuel

Range cookers are gaining in popularity as they not only cook food but can be a source of hot water and heating for the home. Cast iron is a classic choice but you can use any type of pan material. As traditional range cooking can involve moving pans from the hob to the oven, make sure handles are always oven proof.

Cast iron View all pans


Technology has come on a long way from when microwaves were first developed and the same can be said for compatible cookware. Ideal for when you don’t have a hob or oven for cooking food, suitable cookware typically has a secure lid with a built-in air vent, making them perfect for storing and transporting.


Cast iron

Weighty and thick, cast iron takes longer to heat up but will retain the heat for longer, making it ideal for long slow cooking on a low to medium temperature. Cast iron can be used on all hob types but their weight, especially when full, will make them very heavy to lift and carry.

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Stainless steel

Strong, durable and long-lasting, stainless steel pans are a combination of iron and other metals to prevent corrosion and to provide an optimal cooking environment for food which doesn’t chip or flake, making it a popular choice.

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This is a great choice for those who wish to cook with pans which are much lighter and easier to use yet still conduct heat effectively. It can be hard-anodised, giving an extremely smooth outer surface which is stronger than steel, or coated with an easy-clean exterior and a non-stick interior.

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The brilliant conductivity of copper is the primary reason for it being a prized asset of any serious cook’s kitchen. Copper pans are a worthwhile investment as they will last a lifetime but to keep them looking their best, maintain them with a specialist cleaner.

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Non-stick pans are a saviour to those who love cooking but hate washing up. Referring to the cooking surface, non-stick can be found in pans made from many materials and is also brilliant for cooking healthier dishes, as you can reduce the amount of fat you need to cook with.

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Suitable cookware is typically made of certain types of plastic or silicone and many items have a secure lid with a built-in air vent, making them perfect for storing and transporting before heating. Although not suitable for use with other heat sources, they can generally be cleaned in a dishwasher.

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What types of pan do you need?

With so many types of pan available, whether it’s a standard sauce pan or a more specialist piece of equipment such as a preserving pan, it’s important you know you’re buying the right pan for the job, so you get the best results in your kitchen.

Browse our helpful guide to pans and discover the various pans available from Waitrose Kitchen, together with their unique features and what their primary use is.

Find out more

Sauce pans & milk pans

An essential tool in any kitchen, sauce pans have straight sides and long handles. Available in a variety of sizes, they’re extremely versatile for anything from heating small volumes of liquid to boiling pasta and everything in between. Larger pans may also have a ‘helper handle’ to assist with lifting.

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Frying pans & skillets

Frying pans and skillets are the same type of pan and have a wide cooking surface with gently sloping sides and a long handle - they’re excellent for cooking foods which require a large surface area and plenty of space to encourage quick, even cooking or crispness.

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Stir fry pans & woks

This type of pan generally has a very small base but very pronounced sloping slides and is a staple of any home which loves Asian cuisine or stir-fries. Woks perform best with a gas hob as flames can travel up the side of the pan, providing the constant high temperature needed to stir fry successfully.

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Sauté pans

A cross between a sauce pan and a frying pan, sauté pans have a wide base but with shallow and straight sides and typically have 2 handles. They’re ideal for cooking one-pan meals where meat, fish or vegetables are cooked first and have a sauce added during cooking and vice versa.

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Stock pots & casseroles

Available in many shapes and sizes, casseroles typically have 2 handles and are made from materials which can be transferred from the hob to the oven, ideal for slow cooking. Stock pots are very similar but even larger, with the name originating from when large quantities of bones would be boiled down to create stock.

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Consisting of a base pan, additional steamer layers plus a lid, steamers are a great way to cook many types of vegetables over one pan of water, saving energy and retaining nutrients - boil potatoes, pasta or rice in the base pan and add the layers filled with vegetables on top, finishing with the veg which will cook quickest.

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Crêpe pans

For pancake connoisseurs, a crêpe pan is the only suitable pan for cooking pancakes with - a traditional pan has a thick, heavy base with a shallow lip all round the edge. The heavy base helps cook the batter evenly and quickly, while the lip helps with flipping the pancake halfway through cooking.

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Paella pans

To produce an authentic paella, you need a specific pan which enables the rice to be cooked in a thin layer with little agitation during the cooking process. Paella pans have a large base, short sloped sides and handles and are suitable for cooking both stages of the paella and also serving - the ultimate one-pan dish.

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Griddle & sizzle pans

Both pans do the same thing but griddle pans are grooved and provide the attractive ‘stripe’ effect during cooking, while sizzle pans will sear food evenly across the whole surface. Great for cooking a variety of food, especially steaks, this type of pan will inject flavour into food with little, if any, added fat needed.

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Preserving pans

Also known as a ‘maslin’ pan, a preserving pan has a vast capacity of around 8l with a small handle on one side and a large handle over the top. For use when making preserves, chutneys and pickles, the size of the pan is essential when maintaining a constant high temperature and reducing the liquid contents.

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Fish kettles & mussel steamers

Seafood needs delicate cooking and having the right tools for the job makes a real difference. A fish kettle enables you to steam a whole fish gently on the hob or in the oven, and a mussel steamer enables you to cook mussels or other shellfish in a little broth or liquid and then serve from the same pan if you wish.

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