Archive

Category Archives for "COOKWARE"

Best Wok to Cook With

Want to master the art of stir-frying? If so, you’ll need a wok. Learn what makes the best woks stand out from the rest and see our picks for the new best wok available for sale.

What You Should Look for in a Wok

There are so many different kinds of wok out there. Non-stick woks, stainless steel woks, carbon-steel woks, cast iron wors, and even electric woks are commonly used in wok cooking. However, as you can tell from our reviews, not all woks are the same and don’t produce food the same. Some are just better than others and while there are dozens, if not hundreds, of options out there, only a few hit all the right points. Here are the features we considered when selecting the best cooking woks on the market:

wok cooking

Shape

All woks should be round with steep sides and traditional woks also have a rounded bottom. However, this rounded bottom isn’t ideal for most modern stoves, particularly those with a flat ceramic cooktop. A simple wok ring can solve this problem, but if you don’t want to purchase additional equipment or simply want a wok that woks with your stove the way you have it set up now, you can choose a flat-bottom wok.

In theory, flat-bottom woks don’t offer the exact same stir-frying facility as a round-bottom wok, but if you choose a model with the right design, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Material

Stainless steel isn’t a great material for a wok—it isn’t naturally non-stick and that can cause some serious problems (and require the use of a lot of oil) for effective wok cooking. Plus, stainless steel tends to be quite heavy, which makes it less than ideal for the active tossing cooking style associated with this type of cooking tool.

This means that cast iron and carbon steel are the two best materials for a wok. Cast iron is the classic choice for a traditional wok and carbon steel is a modern material that you should consider if you want the lightest, sturdiest wok you can find. Though cast iron is a reliable cooking material with excellent non-stick properties, it’s sturdiest when it’s thick and thickness leads to heaviness, which is, again, not what you should get from a wok. Still, it’s worth considering so we’ll discuss a cast iron option below for you to try out.

Handles

Tossing and jiggling are vital for keeping food moving in the wok so it doesn’t burn. This is the heart and soul of stir frying—you have to be able to hold onto the wok and move it around as you cook. This means your wok should have a long, heatproof handle made of a material such as wood or cool-touch plastic. Ideally, the wok will have another, short handle, also made of a heatproof material, opposite from the long handle so you can easily lift and carry it.

New Best Wok to Cook With

Best Wok Reviews

Joyce Chen 22-0060 

Joyce Chen 22-0060

Made from uncoated carbon steel, this flat-bottom wok hits all the points we outlined above, featuring heatproof plastic handles, including a large stirring handle, plus a lightweight construction and high, sloping sides that will make it easy to dance your ingredients around in the pan. The 14-inch size is just right for active stir-frying and the pan slopes gently to its flat bottom so you get as much of that valuable curved side surface area as possible as you cook.

When purchased brand new, this Joyce Chen Pro Chef carbon steel wok arrives with a protective coating you must remove, after which you’ll season the pan using heat and oil. This seasoning forms a natural non-stick coating from polymerized fats. Though you should be careful to avoid removing this non-stick seasoning, the myth that you can’t clean seasoned metal isn’t accurate. Avoid heavy abrasives and don’t stick it in the dishwasher. Other than that, you’ll be able to wash with dish soap and water as normal, making upkeep simple and easy.

Lodge P14W3

Lodge P14W3

This cast iron wok breaks one of the rules we outlined above—it doesn’t have a long handle for stirring and its two side handles are made from the same heat-conductive cast iron as the rest of the pan. However, Lodge, one of the most trusted names in cast iron cookware, clearly had their heads on straight when they designed this wok. It’s not intended for lifting and stirring—it’s too heavy for that. This means that the handle would be moot even if it was there, so if you tend to prefer to move your arms and your body as you stir-fry rather than moving the pan, this one’s a good choice for you.

The Lodge P14W3 cast iron wok has a flat bottom, but that flat bottom is more like a built-in pedestal for a round-bottom wok. This means you can set the pan flat on your stove without wobbling, but the actual bottom of the wok itself is perfectly rounded. This is smart design and, though the bottom foot is pretty small, it might take a while for this wok to become perfectly heated, meaning it’s a good solution to a common issue and a great compromise for those who insist on cast iron cookware.

Additionally, this one’s pre-seasoned, which is ultra convenient for those who don’t want to worry about adding their own nonstick coating. Just make sure you have two pot holders on hand to grab the handles on either side of the wok so you don’t burn yourself.

Joyce Chen 23-001 

Joyce Chen 23-001

Described as a lightweight cast iron option, this Joyce Chen wok also features a flat bottom with generously curved sides. This wok is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to balance classic wok design with the demands of a modern kitchen. Pre-seasoned and ready for action after a quick wash, this wok isn’t as good as either of the options listed above.

However, if you want a combination of the two, this is the wok for you. Some customers have complained that the pre-seasoning flakes off so you may need to be careful with how you wash the pan. Treat it like you would a self-seasoned cast iron pan by avoiding heavy abrasive cleaners (no steel wool allowed) and be sure to add a light coating of vegetable oil after each use so you can maintain and build upon the existing seasoning.

New Copper Skillet Cookware

Copper cookware is a classic associated with high-end French cuisine and fine dining experiences in some of the world’s best restaurants. You can capture some of this luxury in your own home with a copper skillet, cookware that’s designed to last a lifetime. However, unlike stainless steel or anodized aluminum, copper isn’t the kind of material you can just start cooking with and hope for the best.

This is a reactive metal that’s also softer and more prone to scratching than what you might be used to working with. If you want to start cooking with the best tools, take some time to learn more about copper skillet cookware, including our picks for the best new copper pans available to your today.

copper skillet cookware

All About Copper Cookware

Traditional copper cookware is made from pure copper and may be lined with tin or have a cast iron handle but, for the most part, it’s made solely from the orangey-gold metal that looks so beautiful hanging from a pot rack. Solid copper pots and pans are delicate, requiring regular polishing and careful cleaning to avoid scratching, and they’re also considered “reactive,” which means that acidic foods cooked in copper take on a metallic flavor that can ruin your food. For example, if you were to make a batch of fresh spaghetti sauce using tomatoes from your garden, you wouldn’t want to cook it in an unlined copper pot. Otherwise, your sauce would taste like tomatoes with a heavy note of pennies. Not very tasty!

New copper skillet cookware

The good thing about new copper cookware is that most people don’t have much patience for reactive cookware anymore so most copper skillets, pots, and fry pans tend to be lined with other materials such as ceramic, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum. This is good, not only because copper can make your food bad, but also because copper is one of those metals that leach into the food it comes into contact with. A little bit of copper every now and then won’t hurt you, but you could end up with copper toxicity if you ate a lot of food cooked in a copper pot on a regular basis.

This may make copper sound like a useless cooking material, but it really isn’t. In fact, copper is an excellent choice for cooking because it is one of the most conductive metals we know of, which means it distributes heat quickly and evenly across the entire cookware surface. That’s why copper is such a common material used in electrical circuits and wires. So, in spite of its delicacy and its potential for reactivity, copper is a fantastic cooking material in very practical ways.

Selecting Your Copper Cookware

With all that in mind, you may feel ready to purchase some copper cookware, and it is a better choice than ever before thanks to the abundance of options at various price points. Heritage brands, including the two we cover below in the reviews, are still your best bet for heirloom-quality copper cookware. But not everyone has that kind of cash to spend on a frying pan.

If you choose to go with a budget brand, be on the lookout for dubious claims. Infomercial brands have recently decided to make copper their gimmick of the moment and there are a lot of affordably priced “copper” cookware pieces out there that don’t have much actual copper to speak of and use low-quality ingredients to produce low-quality results.copper cookware

Copper isn’t a cheap material and it isn’t easy to work with. That’s why so many of the best options in this category are so expensive. Any brand purporting to offer a piece of brand-new copper cookware for less than $50 MSRP is probably not being completely forthcoming. To really get the most out of copper cookware, you’re going to have to spend a little to get a little.

Best Copper Skillet Reviews

Mauviel M’Heritage 9.5” Copper Saute Pan with Lid Mauviel M’Heritage 9.5” Copper Saute Pan with Lid

Mauviel is one of those culinary brands that serious foodies dream of adding to their kitchen someday and the price tag reflects its exalted status. This brand has earned its prestige in the kitchen, though, especially when it comes to copper cookware. Made of 90% copper with a thin stainless steel lining and stainless steel hardware for the lid and pan handles, this saute pan really makes use of its materials to produce a durable, heirloom-quality skillet that’s beautiful and certain to perform with aplomb.

Matfer Bourgeat 11” Copper Frying PanMatfer Bourgeat 11” Copper Frying Pan

This oven-safe frying pan features a copper exterior, stainless steel interior, and cast iron handle in a classic shape that gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. Matfer Bourgeat is a French brand that still makes all of its products in European factories staffed by skilled master craftsmen. With more than 200 years under its belt, this isn’t some upstart brand looking to make a buck. The utilitarian design on this copper frying pan belies its usefulness and quality, but it’s a great reminder that there’s no need to gild the lily when you’ve got something good enough to stand on its own.

Analon Nouvelle Copper 10 Covered French Skillet

Analon Nouvelle Copper 10” Covered French Skillet

No, this pan isn’t orange in color and it doesn’t feature much copper at all—except where it arguably counts the most, right at the base. While a lot of other budgets brands are getting tricky with their use of copper (or, more frequently, “copper”), integrating just a little bit of it in a flashy way or using the word “copper” to describe a color rather than an actual metal, Analon is keeping it real with this budget-friendly option, which provides the heat-distributing power of copper in a thick band around its base.

Other material, including hard-anodized aluminum and a nonstick coating that’s safe to 500 degrees, making this pan a versatile choice that looks sleek with its copper foot. This skillet comes with a glass lid, too, adding yet more utility to its already excellent design.

Best Programmable Crock Pot

Set-it-and-forget-it cooking is ideal for busy parents and other home cooks who want to create a delicious, hearty meal but don’t have a lot of time for active prep. Slow cookers are ideal for this style of cooking because they maintain a steady temperature and have a self-contained design that’s way less risky or expensive than leaving your oven running all day. If you want to get the most out of this style of a cooking appliance, though, you should opt for a programmable model to ensure the perfect cooking times. Learn why this is and find out which programmable crock pots are best for your needs with this handy guide.

Benefits of a Programmable Slow Cooker

Manual slow cookers let you flip a switch or a knob and maintain a steady level of heat until you switch them off. This approach is great if you’re around for some passive monitoring, but if you want to keep the crockpot going while you’re at work, not being able to set the cooking times can be a big gamble. It could be that the recipe you’re trying out didn’t include enough liquid and leaving that slow cooker on all day could mean you’re welcomed home big a burned mess.

Programmable Slow Cooker

Programmable slow cookers solve this problem by allowing you to set the appliance to cook for a specified amount of time. That’s a major bonus for those days when nothing seems to go your way—even if you end up stuck in a surprise traffic jam on your way home, you won’t have to worry about your food burning because the machine will just turn itself off according to your programmed timer selection. When you use them properly and abide by all safety recommendations, programmable slow cookers remove the little risk associated with this cooking method and give you peace of mind for passive cooking.

Best Programmable Slow Cooker Reviews

There are a lot of slow cookers on the market and, as far as the manual models are concerned, they’re usually one and the same. You can use criteria like design using stainless steel with a glass lid or capacity and do pretty well with a manual slow cooker. However, as programmable slow cookers are more technologically complex, deciding on the right programmable slow cooker takes more time and consideration. Each of the three best we’ve identified here has its strengths and weaknesses though, in our opinion, the ALL-CLAD SD700450 is the clear winner.

ALL-CLAD SD700450 

All-Clad is the kind of brand that professional cooks trust, but its signature lack of decorative bells and whistles can be a turnoff for some consumers. Don’t make this mistake—sure, the SD700450 programmable slow cooker looks bare-bones and utilitarian, lacking the pretty colors and appealing design of some of its competitors, but it is the best programmable slow cooker money can buy.

All-Clad SD700450

The digital programming interface is extremely simple, featuring just five buttons, including a power button, and a simple digital readout that anyone can understand. This alone puts it head and shoulders above some of the lesser options in this category, which feature complex control panels that seem unnecessary for such a simple machine.

Another major plus that sets this slow cooker apart is the fact that its interior ceramic insert is dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean and it’s black, meaning it won’t show stains the way white ceramic slow cooker inserts often do. It can hold 6 quarts total and is programmable for up to 26 hours, allowing you to take the concept of slow cooking to the extreme over the course of more than a full day. This option is one of the most expensive in its category, but its large capacity and versatility more than justify the price.

Hamilton Beach IntelliTime

The 6-quart IntelliTime programmable slow cooker also features a relatively simple interface controlled with a knob, which you can use to set a pre-programmed cooking time interval between 4–12 hours or select a manual cooking mode at various heat settings to control cooking time yourself. The one drawback of this system is that the single knob system means that controlling for minute details can be a bit confusing and you may have to scroll through several options before landing on the exact setting you need. This may not be a big deal to all users, but if you tend to be tech-phobic or if you’re shopping for an elderly relative who isn’t that great with digital interface controls, this is a potential issue to consider.

Hamilton Beach IntelliTime

Though it doesn’t measure up to our top choice in terms of the versatility it offers with programmable cooking settings, the Hamilton Beach IntelliTime programmable slow cooker does boast some great features, including a dishwasher- and oven-safe black ceramic insert. This slow cooker’s side handles also fold down for easy storage, making it a more streamlined option for crowded kitchen cabinets.

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry 

Another large slow cooker with a black stoneware insert, the Crock Pot 6-quart Programmable Cook & Carry sets itself apart with a few handy features that make it ideal for on-the-go use. Whether you’re bringing lunch in for your colleagues at the office or you’re heading to a potluck dinner, this slow cooker is specifically designed to keep the lid on the insert in place. Two sturdy clamps on either side of the insert lock the lid in place and keep it there when you need it, which makes this a great option for those who like to take their slow cookers to different places.

rock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook

Other than this feature, the Programmable Cook & Carry doesn’t really best the competition—its pre-set cooking program time range of 30 minutes to 20 hours is generous, but not best in class. The ease-of-use in the digital interface is also middle-of-the-road in terms of features, with multiple clearly labeled buttons and a small readout screen that doesn’t really provide a lot of useful information. The arrangement just isn’t very intuitive, meaning you’ll probably need to read the user’s manual to figure out how to use these controls.