What cookware do chefs use?

Published Categorized as Cookware

Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

So, you are one of the people who really enjoy cooking and see it as an art? You watch famous chefs cook amazing meals, you follow their recipes, but there seems to be something missing?

Or maybe you are just looking for a perfect piece of high-quality cookware to buy as a gift for someone you care about (maybe even pots and pans made in the USA)? Well, we can tell you right away – the type of cookware you use can make a huge difference in cooking. This article will take you through the types of cookware the masters like to use!

Professional chef cookware needs to respond to different requirements than cookware for home use (and definitely different from all occasion cookware). Chefs in restaurants need to work fast (and have cookware dishwasher safe), sometimes cooking on very high temperatures to deal with the dinner rush (and to have NFS cookware).

Moreover, the cookware sets used in professional environments needs to be as durable and impact-resistant as possible as there is rarely enough time to handle dishes with care (rarely used on induction stoves).

Another difference between home-cooking cookware and the one chefs use might be the sheer variety of pieces available. A universal frying pan and two good pots might actually be enough for all cooking needs for one person.

On the other hand, a professional chef will probably have a whole range of different pans (and even pots with spigots) at hand for different purposes – one for searing, another for sauteing, and a third for frying, for example (storing the cookware is also very important).

What is Chefs’ Cookware Made of?

When it comes to cookware, one characteristic is definitely more important than all the others – the material it is made of (hard anodized cookware even). So what material is professional cookware made of? Maybe a granite rock cookware?

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is quite a common choice of cookware material in professional kitchens. Stainless steel doesn’t react with food in any way, it rust-resistant, and it stands extremely high temperatures reasonably well. It is also quite tough, durable, and virtually indestructible, which makes it perfect for the busy life in professional kitchens.

However, stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat really well which can result in uneven heating and hotspots. In high-quality stainless steel cookware, this problem is solved by adding one or more layers of copper or aluminum in between the layers of stainless steel. Stainless steel is also usually dishwasher safe which makes the cleanup much easier.

Many chefs choose stainless steel for stock pots and sauté pans. Stock pots are incredibly versatile and are used for anything that needs to cook gently for longer periods of time. Stainless steel is best used for this kind of cooking, and once you find a good stainless steel stock pot, it will become your best friend for many years to come.

There are also people who like to use stainless steel cookware even for frying, but in general, this is not a good option since you need good heat transfer in order to be able to fry food evenly.


Aluminum is certainly one of the most commonly used materials in a restaurant kitchen. It transfers heat evenly and it heats up quite quickly which is very important for restaurant chefs who are always in a rush. Chefs often cook at very high temperatures and aluminum makes this possible (great for gas stove cooking).

Moreover, aluminum cookware is quite affordable, which makes it a good choice for professional kitchens that commonly go through a lot of cookware because of heavy use.

There have been claims about aluminum reacting with food and causing health concerns, but there is actually no proof for these claims. In fact, you’ll find aluminum cookware in most restaurant kitchens around the world! You can also try using anodized aluminum, which is harder and has a non-reactive surface.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is another great choice of material when it comes to cookware. It’s very durable and offers great heat distribution. However, it’s rather heavy and it can’t be washed in a dishwasher. It also needs to be seasoned before use by essentially baking oil into the surface of the pan.

Cast iron is heavy and needs to be handled carefully which is why not many chefs use cast iron cookware in restaurants. However, they do recommend it and many of them use it at home.

A cast iron skillet is perfect for frying or searing meat and/or veggies. It should never be washed with soap – when you finish you just need to wipe it with a clean cloth. Over time, a cast iron skillet acquire s characteristic “seasoning” which gives a special flavor to your food.

Carbon Steel

Along with aluminum, carbon steel is among the top materials used for professional cookware! If you want to cook like a pro, you should definitely consider the option of getting a carbon steel pan or two.

In case you are still wondering what carbon steel is, it’s a material very similar to cast iron, but a bit better, at least when it comes to using it in a modern kitchen. Carbon steel actually contains more iron than cast iron – around 99%. The remaining 1% is carbon.

Cast iron, on the other hand, contains up to 98% of actual iron. Why does this difference matter? It results in a uniform grain structure. Carbon steel cookware has all the performance characteristics of cast iron cookware, but it’s also lighter, harder, and has a smoother surface.

No wonder it’s a favorite among chefs!

Nonstick Cookware

Even though it’s quite popular among home cooks, chefs rarely use nonstick cookware. There is a simple reason for this – nonstick surface is quite sensitive and it’s easy to scratch. Metal utensils should never come close to it and once you scratch the surface, it becomes dangerous for your health.

In any case, nonstick cookware needs to be handled with care and professional chefs just don’t want to deal with this. However, there is one case where nonstick pans are actually used – for frying eggs. The nonstick surface is simply perfect for this, so feel free to do so yourself!

Final Thoughts

What cookware do chefs use? No one really knows. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Many chefs are very particular about the cookware they like to use, but it can be any of the types mentioned above. Finding what works for you requires some experimentation.

We have done some research and took into consideration several popular cookware sets and reviewed them. Consider reading our articles regarding them: