Cooking For a Crowd? A Guide to Cookware

If you find that you cook for a crowd of 25-50 good friends and favorite family members, then it may be time to invest in a few pieces of large capacity cookware. It will make your job that much easier!
Cooking for a Crowd: What to Do About Tableware

What Do You Need?

Dutch Oven
If you decide to purchase new cookware you have to decide what type and size of cookware is going to give you the most bang for your buck. One essential is a Dutch oven . A Dutch oven is basically a large, deep pot with a lid.

I recommend at least a six-quart capacity pot. An eight-quart capacity is even better, especially for cooking for a crowd of 20 or more. These pots are excellent for crowd-size sauces, soups and stews. Best of all it can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven. It is great for slow-braising meats and is ideal for quantity rice recipes, freshly cooked beans and vegetables.

A large-capacity Dutch oven has a large cooking surface. This is especially important when browning meat prior to braising. To get a good caramelized brown surface, meat needs to be browned in single layer batches. A large cooking surface reduces the number of batches and if you are cooking for a crowd, you will have several pounds of meat to brown. This will save you quite a bit of time.

As the story goes, the Dutch Oven was developed in Colonial America. To use it, hot coals were placed both on top and underneath the pot. At some point during this time the best cast iron came from Holland, hence, "Dutch"

Roasting Pan
Another good staple, and sometimes a substitute for a Dutch oven, is a roasting pan. Roasting pans range from about 16 to 20 inches long and 11 to 14 inches wide. They generally come with either upright or side handles and can be open or covered, non-stick or anodized. I prefer the upright handles which give you a more secure grip. These pans provide a very large cooking surface and when used on the stovetop are placed over two burners (front to back). In the oven and with the use of a roasting rack, they are perfect for turkeys, prime rib, whole chickens and duck.

When Size Matters...Stock Pot

Stock pots are generally of 8-quart capacity and over and are taller then a Dutch oven, with a smaller cooking surface. They are preferred for very large quantities of soup, gumbo and well, for making stock. I love to use a stock pot for boiling lobsters, indoor seafood boils and to cook very large quantities of pasta. They are a little awkward to handle so make sure you have a clear landing spot when you maneuver these big boys.

Dutch ovens, roasting pans and stock pots can be constructed of heavy gauge stainless steel, with and without an enamel finish. Some manufactures also offer heavy gauge aluminum with an anodized surface.

More information on what today's cookware is made of and what to consider when purchasing


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