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Lakeland, the home of creative kitchenware

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The ultimate guide to
buying pans

Whether you cook for a hobby or are aiming towards Michelin-status in your own kitchen, good equipment makes the job so much easier, and will even save you money in the long run.

With so many options on the market, knowing where to start can be daunting, so we’ve put together a broad selection of ranges and individual pans that offer superb performance whatever your budget, and this guide will help you find the right kit to meet your needs and match your style, hob and kitchen.

A pan for every task

The choice of pans is simply astonishing! Many are of course intended as multi-use pieces, but there’s an almost endless line of bespoke pans available, tailored to perform a specific cooking task to perfection. Here are some of the ‘experts’…

Steamer

A healthy way to cook and keep nutrients locked in, steamers come in a vast range of sizes, with a clever choice of gadgets also available to transform a regular saucepan into a steaming device. Generally a two-piece set, the higher pan has holes in the base for steam to ebb through, and three-tier steamers are available for cooking more types of food at the same time.

Steamer
Stainless Steel Steamer
Stainless Steel Steamer
Stainless steel steamer with extra-deep baskets and glass lid.
£34.99
4.5 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.
Lakeland Stainless Steel Universal Steamer
Lakeland Stainless Steel Universal Steamer
  • Lakeland exclusive
£25.99
5 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.

Fish kettle

Available in different sizes to accommodate different fishes, kettles are a sure-fire way of ensuring a fish is perfectly poached and remains intact during the cooking process.

Fish kettle
Fish Kettle
Fish Kettle
Long stainless steel fish kettle, with a perforated rack for easy lifting & presentation. 51cm long. Dishwasher safe.
£24.99

Stockpot

Originally for making large vats of stock, they’re multi-functional these days with their generous capacities being ideal for stewing or soups.

Stockpot
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 24cm Lidded Stockpot
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 24cm Lidded Stockpot
Stainless steel pots and pans with an aluminium core base, vented glass lids and soft-grip silicone coated handles.
  • Special offer
£41.99
5 stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews.
Circulon 24cm Stockpot
Circulon 24cm Stockpot
Non-stick hard anodised pots and pans, with tempered steel lids and stay-cool handles. Dishwasher safe.
£74.99
5 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.

Maslin

A large pan principally for making batches of jam or pickles.

Maslin
Stainless Steel Maslin Pan
Stainless Steel Maslin Pan
Graduated 8.5 litre pan with silicone covered handle
  • Lakeland exclusive
£46.99
4.5 stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews.

Egg poacher

Containing an inset with cup-slots to house the eggs and stop the whites wandering off, egg poachers often double-up as frying pans when the inner part is removed.

Egg poacher
4-Cup Egg Poacher
4-Cup Egg Poacher
Non-stick frying pan with a non-stick 4-cup insert for poaching eggs. For all hobs (except induction). 20cm dia.
£25.99
4 stars out of 5 based on 11 reviews.

Griddle/ Fry-Pan/ Skillet

The terms ‘fry-pan’ and ‘skillet’ are used almost interchangeably these days, but both are suitable for all manner of shallow-frying, with griddles being a healthier alternative, also leaving your food with a characteristic charred stripe.

Griddle
Valira® Platinum Induction Griddle Pan
Valira® Platinum Induction Griddle Pan
Platinum non-stick induction griddle pan with 2mm thick stainless steel disc on base. 28cm sq.
  • Lakeland exclusive
£52.99
Lakeland Cast-Iron Griddle Pan
Lakeland Cast-Iron Griddle Pan
Our range of blue cast-iron enamelled cookware.
£28.99
4 stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews.

Saucepan

The term ‘saucepan’ encompasses a whole range of cooking pans these days, but in general it’s a deep pan, often lidded and coming in a variety of sizes and materials for different cooking tasks such as making sauces, boiling and heating, even sautéing. Saucepans have one or two handles depending on size. A set of pans will generally include three or four saucepans, ranging from a small ‘milk pan’ for minor tasks such as warming sauces, up to a large pan big enough for cooking meals for the whole family.

Saucepan
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 16cm Lidded Saucepan
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 16cm Lidded Saucepan
Stainless steel pots and pans with an aluminium core base, vented glass lids and soft-grip silicone coated handles.
  • Special offer
£26.99
4.5 stars out of 5 based on 1 review.
Hard-Anodised 16cm Lidded Saucepan
Hard-Anodised 16cm Lidded Saucepan
Non-stick hard anodised pots and pans, with matt finish & stainless steel lid. Metal-utensil friendly.
  • Special offer
£38.99
3 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.

Crêpe pan

Fry-pans can be used for crêpes of course, but dedicated pans generally have shallower sides, crafted for sliding the crêpe from pan to plate in one perfect piece.

Crêpe pan
My Kitchen Non-Stick 24cm Crêpe Pan
My Kitchen Non-Stick 24cm Crêpe Pan
Made from aluminium with a stainless steel base, the heavy-duty non-stick on these frypans exceeded our expectation…
  • Lakeland exclusive
£16.99
4.5 stars out of 5 based on 1 review.
Colourful Ceramica Crêpe Pan
Lakeland Crêpe Pan
Want to make perfect crêpes, fried eggs, drop scones and Welsh cakes? With our flat pan, you can!
£21.99
5 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.

Stir-fry pan

Wide, tall, sloping sides allow for heat to be concentrated in the base so searing is possible, and food can be tossed without it jumping out of the pan. The Chinese wok is perhaps the best known and widely used.

Stir-fry pan
My Kitchen Non-Stick 26cm Stirfry Pan
My Kitchen Non-Stick 26cm Stirfry Pan
Made from aluminium with a stainless steel base, the heavy-duty non-stick on these frypans exceeded our expectation…
  • Lakeland exclusive
£21.99
Circulon 26cm Lidded Chef Pan
Circulon 26cm Lidded Chef Pan
Non-stick hard anodised pots and pans, with tempered steel lids and stay-cool handles. Dishwasher safe.
£74.99
4.5 stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews.

Paella pan

It’s best not to attempt this classic Spanish dish in anything else – paellas should be shaken, not stirred, and these have dual handles designed for that purpose.

Paella pan
Typhoon® Paella Pan
Typhoon® Paella Pan
Carbon steel with a special Typhoon non-stick finish.
£26.99

Sauté pan

A cross between a deep-sided frying pan and a saucepan, sautéing is a method of ‘sweating down’ food without frying or stewing it.

Sauté pan
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 24cm Lidded Sauté Pan
My Kitchen Stainless Steel 24cm Lidded Sauté Pan
Stainless steel pots and pans with an aluminium core base, vented glass lids and soft-grip silicone coated handles.
  • Special offer
£39.99
Circulon 24cm Lidded Sauté Pan
Circulon 24cm Lidded Sauté Pan
Non-stick hard anodised pots and pans, with tempered steel lids and stay-cool handles. Dishwasher safe.
£58.79
5 stars out of 5 based on 8 reviews.

The history of the pan

Pans evolved alongside cooking methods and mankind’s discovery of new materials and skills. Once man had learned to make fire, the first cooking methods are likely to have involved roasting, either on basic spits or by wrapping food in hot coals, methods which are still in use today.

The earliest ‘pans’ were likely to have been flat stones, heated first over fire until red hot, with food then placed on them in a basic but very effective frying method. From flat stones, cooking vessels progressed to more shapely ‘pans’ during the Stone Age, with primitive tools being used to carve out shallows in stones to make them more effective at holding food.


Stone was eventually surpassed by earthenware pots, due to it being easier to mould into a desired shape, and it is thought that fired-clay bowls, which were both fire and waterproof, have been around for more than 8,000 years. Cooking vessels were usually suspended over an open fire.

The Bronze and Iron Ages saw metal pans take over clay as the first choice for cooking in many parts of the world, with that popularity continuing to this day, although happily, clay and even stone are still in use. Metal pans gave as much versatility as clay but was more durable, wouldn’t break if accidentally dropped and was a great conductor of heat, qualities which mean it has yet to be surpassed as the number one material for cookware.

‘Open fire’ cooking methods remained much the same in Europe until the 15th century, although with more permanent living quarters, fires were moved indoors. The big change was the adoption of the closed stove, being a more effective and heat-saving method. Europe was a late starter on this front – primitive closed-stoves have been discovered in the Far East, dating back to several hundred years BC.


From basic shapes, cooking pans have expanded into specific shapes for specific tasks, such as frypans, casseroles and various sizes of saucepan. Nowadays the choice is endless, with a different pan for almost every task and foodstuff, in a variety of materials to suit all budgets and personal preferences. On the one hand, it is fascinating how little things have changed from the earliest pans, yet at the same time it can safely be said that we’ve never had it so good!

What to consider when buying a set of pans

Surely a pan is just a pan? But when you start to look around you’ll find a bewildering array of choice out there. So it’s worth asking yourself certain questions to work out which ones will be the best for your kitchen.

What do I need to consider before buying?

Like many things in life, it’s a truism to say that you get what you pay for when it comes to pans. The important thing is to find the right set of pans for you – this may mean investing in a set, it may mean cherry-picking individual pans, depending on what you’re going to be cooking.

What will I be cooking?

Consider how much you use your hob against how much you use your oven. Consider how often you cook, and whether you do it out of necessity or enjoyment! Consider what you will be cooking, and how many people you will be cooking for.

Will a set of matching pans suit you more than a collection of different pans? It’s also worth considering the future – the right investment now can save you spending all over again in a couple of years.

Traditional or modern?

Looks are a major consideration here – what will suit your kitchen décor? Materials are another – more traditional materials such as cast-iron may look the part but you may find them too heavy for everyday use. Technology has also seen a great breakthrough in how versatile materials can be – these days a traditional-looking set may not necessarily be made of ‘traditional’ materials, and so on.

An important consideration here is pan care – some more traditional materials may need a bit more TLC, such as seasoning and/or washing in a different manner to a modern material.

Heavy or light?

A heavy or light pan is really down to personal preference in cooking and materials, but an important aside to consider is the thickness of the pan, especially the base. As the base of the pan sees the most action, this is the most important part, and a thin base simply will not last and be highly prone to hotspots and warping.

On many modern pans, the lighter materials are clad in other metals to provide durability and longevity.

How long do I want them to last?

A really good set of pans can last years, sometimes even a lifetime if looked after, but it really depends upon your personal circumstances as to how much it’s worth investing.

If settled in a house then a pan set is worth as much consideration as furniture; if it’s likely you’ll be moving around then perhaps versatility is most important, i.e. a set in neutral colours, suitable for all hobs.

What handles should I look for in a pan?

Check out a handful of pan ranges and chances are you’ll see a host of materials used for handles. Looks are an important consideration of course, as are materials – you don’t want a handle that will get too hot to touch, but it’s also worth considering that many non-metal handles won’t go in the oven, which may or may not be a requirement of yours.

Look how the handle is fixed to the pan – is it spot-welded or riveted? The join between handle and pan will take a lot of stress whilst cooking, so needs to be secure to ensure not only your safety whilst cooking but the longevity of the pan.

What lids should I look for?

Heat-treated glass allows you to keep an eye on your cooking, metal lids are often made from the same material as the handles. Look at the fit – some fit more snugly than others and so are more likely to stay put even when boiling at a high temperature.

Vents in a lid will help expel excess steam and prevent bubbling over, meaning less clean-up on the hob post-cooking. Bear in mind that glass lids take a lower temperature in the oven, as do plastic handles on lids.