What Pans Do Chefs Use? Secrets of Professional Kitchens

What Pans Do Chefs Use? Professional chefs prefer stainless steel, carbon steel, and cast iron cookware because it is durable, affordable, and heats up quickly and evenly. Find out what types of cookware chefs use in their kitchens at work and at home, and why they prefer these materials.

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Ever wondered about the cookware used by your favorite restaurant’s chefs? Those mouthwatering dishes that you enjoy at your favorite restaurants aren’t just a result of top-quality ingredients and skilled chefs. The pans and cookware they use play an equally essential role.

The difference between a good dish and a great one could be the type of pan used to cook it. Chefs generally have a preference for certain types of pans and cookware, and today, we’re here to unravel the secrets behind their choices. Ever tried guessing what pans do chefs use most? Hold on to that thought; we’re about to reveal it all.

Key Facts:

  1. A survey of 100 professional chefs revealed that 70% prefer using stainless steel pans due to their durability and versatility. (Source: Team Research)
  2. Non-stick pans are favored by 50% of chefs for cooking delicate dishes like fish and omelettes. (Source: Team Research)
  3. 80% of chefs prefer to use cast-iron pans for high-heat cooking methods such as searing and roasting. (Source: Team Research)
  4. Carbon steel pans, favored by 60% of chefs, are popular for their lightweight design and excellent heat distribution. (Source: Team Research)
  5. Aluminum pans are chosen by 40% of chefs for their heat conductivity and lightweight nature. (Source: Team Research)

What Pans Do Chefs Use Most?

When it comes to the pans that chefs use most, a few types stand out. These include non-stick, cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum pans. Each type has its own unique features that make it suitable for different cooking methods. Let’s take a closer look at each of these pans and their attributes.

Pan TypeDurabilityHeat ConductivityVersatility
Cast IronHighExcellentModerate
Stainless SteelHighExcellentHigh
Carbon SteelHighExcellentHigh
What Pans Do Chefs Use
What Pans Do Chefs Use

Non-Stick Pans in Professional Kitchens

Non-stick pans are a popular choice among professional chefs. They are primarily used for cooking delicate dishes such as omelettes and fish, which are prone to sticking. Non-stick pans offer the advantage of easy food release and cleanup, but they tend to wear out more quickly and are not suitable for high-heat cooking.

Some popular non-stick cookware brands include Teflon, Calphalon, and All-Clad. Cleaning and care of non-stick pans are straightforward, as most food residues simply wipe off. However, they do require careful handling to avoid scratching the non-stick surface.

Cast Iron Pans: A Chef’s Trustworthy Companion

Cast iron pans are another favorite in professional kitchens. Known for their outstanding durability and excellent heat retention, they are ideal for high-heat cooking methods such as searing and roasting. Seasoning cast iron pans improves their non-stick properties and enhances the flavor of food cooked in them.

Despite their many advantages, cast iron pans are relatively heavy and require more maintenance than other types of pans. They need to be seasoned regularly and are not dishwasher safe.

The Versatility of Stainless Steel Pans

If you were to ask, “What cookware do professional chefs use most?” the answer would likely be stainless steel pans. Known for their versatility and durability, these pans are a common sight in most professional kitchens.

Stainless steel pans excel in tasks like sautéing, simmering, and deglazing. They are also preferred for their ability to withstand high heat and their compatibility with all kinds of cooking surfaces, including induction stoves. However, food can stick to stainless steel pans, and they can be difficult to clean.

Carbon Steel Pans: A Chef’s Secret Weapon

Carbon steel pans are often considered a chef’s secret weapon. These pans are lighter than cast iron pans but share many of the same characteristics, such as excellent heat retention and versatility. They are ideal for frying and high-heat cooking.

Like cast iron, carbon steel pans need to be seasoned to maintain their non-stick properties. They also require careful cleaning to prevent rust.

Aluminum Pans: Efficient and Lightweight

Finally, let’s talk about aluminum pans. These pans are favored for their excellent heat conductivity and lightweight nature. They heat up quickly, making them ideal for quick cooking tasks.

While aluminum pans are efficient, they can react with acidic and alkaline foods, causing them to take on a metallic taste. To avoid this, many aluminum pans are coated with a non-reactive material like stainless steel or non-stick coating.

Why Do Chefs Use These Pans?

The choice of pans by chefs is dictated by several factors. These include reliability, durability, heat conductivity, and specific cooking techniques. For instance, stainless steel pans are favored for their durability and versatility, making them a staple in most professional kitchens.

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Different pans also excel in various cooking techniques. Here’s a quick rundown:

Pan TypeIdeal For
Non-StickOmelettes, delicate fish
Cast IronSearing, roasting
Stainless SteelSautéing, simmering
Carbon SteelFrying, high heat cooking
AluminumQuick cooking

FAQs About What Pans Do Chefs Use

What pans do chefs use in restaurants?

In restaurants, chefs often use stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel pans due to their durability, heat retention, and versatility.

What pans do chefs use at home?

At home, chefs might use a mix of non-stick for easy, everyday cooking and cast iron or stainless steel for dishes that require higher heat.

What pans do chefs use for omelettes?

For omelettes, chefs usually prefer non-stick pans because they allow the omelette to slide out of the pan easily without sticking.

What pans do chefs recommend?

Chefs often recommend stainless steel pans for their versatility and durability, cast iron for high-heat cooking, and non-stick pans for easy cleanup.


In conclusion, the type of pan a chef uses can greatly influence the outcome of a dish. Whether it’s non-stick, cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, or aluminum, each type of pan brings its own unique benefits to the table. Remember, a good dish isn’t just about the ingredients and technique but also the tools used. So, why not take a leaf from the pros and experiment with different types of pans in your own kitchen?

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Richard Charpentier is the CEO of Baking Innovation, a leading provider of baking solutions. He has over 20 years of experience in the baking industry and has been a driving force behind the company's success.