One of the most essential kitchen items that you'll want to have is a high-quality saucepan. When it comes to capacity, a saucepan can hold from one to four quarts of liquid. Within high sides, straight edges, and a long handle, it's great for making sauces or cooking oatmeal. However, there are many products available online, so how do you know which one is of high quality?
Different materials are better for certain types of cooking, and understanding this is the first step to finding a good saucepan. Knowing how to prevent food from sticking to and ruining your pan will do wonders, too. If you don't know which product to purchase, check out our favorite, Ninja's Foodi NeverStick Saucepan With Glass Lid, which suits any cooking situation. Read on to see our other recommendations and buying guide that will help you decide!
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Want to take your cooking to the next level? A good, high-quality saucepan can make all the difference. But don't just go out there and buy the first saucepan you lay your eyes on! There are many factors to check to ensure that you pick the right saucepan for you and your kitchen.
Probably the most important factor in deciding what saucepans to buy is the material they are made out of. The most common metals that saucepans are made of are copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron.
Each metal has its own characteristics in terms of price, heat retention, heat conductivity, durability, and care. Moreover, some metals are better than others at certain types of cooking, like browning meat.
Aluminum is affordable and a great material for saucepans since it is lightweight, strong, and has great heat conductivity. However, one downside to aluminum saucepans is that they can dent and scratch easily.
If you're thinking of buying aluminum saucepans, be sure to get anodized aluminum saucepans. These are aluminum saucepans that have been electrochemically treated.
You want anodized aluminum because non-treated aluminum is chemically reactive, which will alter the taste of some foods, and pits when it comes into contact with salt or acidic items like tomato sauces and lemon juices. Anodized aluminum heats fast and evenly and is relatively non-stick.
Stainless steel may be the best material to look for when buying saucepans. Stainless steel saucepans are inexpensive, highly durable, and scratch-resistant. And unlike copper and aluminum ones, they are non-reactive and nonporous.
The only downside to stainless steel is that it is a poor conductor of heat. It is for this reason that stainless steel must be layered with other metals for the saucepan to heat and cook evenly.
Stainless steel saucepans with an aluminum or copper core are some of the best to consider. They are more affordable than full copper saucepans, whilst also having some of the same characteristics, such as heating evenly and being responsive to the flame. Stainless steel saucepans are excellent for searing or browning foods.
Copper saucepans heat fast and evenly to ensure even cooking. Plus, they are very heat-responsive. Copper saucepans are also beautiful to look at and end up with a second purpose of decorating your kitchen.
However, copper saucepans are the most expensive. They also need to be lined with another metal as copper is toxic, corrodes easily, and reacts with acidic ingredients such as tomatoes. Usually, copper saucepans are lined with stainless steel.
Additionally, the beauty of copper saucepans requires high maintenance. You'll need to handwash and polish them frequently to prevent corrosion and keep them looking shiny. Still, lined copper saucepans work for all types of cooking, and unlined ones have specific uses, like for making jam.
Cast iron is a timeless, beloved, and classic saucepan material loved for its exceptional cooking ability. While they do need maintenance, like needing to be seasoned, they are extremely durable. Some cast iron cookware is available pre-seasoned, too, which saves you that step before you can use it.
Cast iron is also a versatile material. Cast iron saucepans retain their heat very well and can be used on the stove or in the oven. They can be used for searing foods, and their excellent heat retention is great for slow cooking foods or making stews. Some pots such as the Dutch oven can even be used to bake.
However, keep in mind that cast iron cookware is very heavy and can be awkward to manipulate. It will also rust if not cared for properly.
Some cast-iron saucepans have an enamel coating. Enameled cast-iron saucepans are non-reactive and heat evenly. They can retain heat well and are great for making soups and sauces. They are great for cooking acidic foods like tomatoes.
On top of that, enameled cast-iron saucepans can be used on many kinds of heat sources, from induction to oven and grill. However, it isn't recommended to use an enameled cast-iron saucepan on fire, as the enamel coating can chip or crack.
Nonstick saucepans can be a great option for your kitchen. They are easier to clean and can be a little healthier as they require less oil to prevent ingredients from sticking. However, nonstick saucepans don't allow browning as much as metal surfaces do, and using metal utensils on a nonstick pan risks scratching the material.
Most nonstick saucepans are coated with the material Teflon to make them nonstick. Recently, Teflon has come under some health criticism. Teflon releases highly toxic gases when heated above 680 degrees Fahrenheit, so it may not be safe to leave an empty nonstick saucepan on the heat for too long.
In general, it's recommended to not overheat a saucepan, as doing so will damage the non-stick coating. 500 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be the highest suggested temperature for cooking.
Additionally, cheap, low-quality nonstick saucepans will chip and scratch easily and should be avoided. Be sure to read reviews to see what other customers thought of the nonstick coating. If you are thinking of going with other nonstick saucepans, consider anodized aluminum, granite, or ceramic saucepans.
Anodized aluminum saucepans have been electrochemically infused with nonstick polymers. Compared to regular aluminum, they're more durable and offer great nonstick protection. Granite saucepans have a nonstick coating made from granite dust or porcelain. They're scratch-resistant and are durable, but are not suitable for high-heat cooking.
Ceramic nonstick saucepans are also great as they are non-stick and non-reactive. The non-stick coating of those pans are made of sand and look glossy just like ceramic, so that's why they are called ceramic.
What stovetop you have in your kitchen can influence what material and shape your saucepans need to be. Almost all materials, from aluminum to stainless steel to copper, work for gas stovetops. You can use round-bottomed pans such as wok on gas stovetops, too!
Electric stovetops can also work with pretty much every saucepan material. However, they cannot accommodate round-bottomed saucepans, so your saucepan will need to be flat on the bottom.
Induction cooktops cook food much more quickly and are much safer than gas or electric cooktops. But, the saucepan material needs to be magnetic, otherwise, the saucepan will not heat. Stainless steel with an aluminum core works with induction stovetops. Most saucepans will be marked with an IH if they are compatible with induction heating stovetops.
Saucepans come in many different sizes, ranging from one quart up to four quarts. If you're starting from scratch, we suggest getting a set of saucepans of different sizes to suit all your cooking needs.
In general, small saucepans with a capacity of one to 2.5 quarts are suitable for cooking small portions. They're great for making things like sauces, gravies, and oatmeal.
For a family of three or more people, you should get larger saucepans with a capacity of over three quarts. They're great for boiling pasta or cooking a whole chicken. Their tall sides and large surfaces are suitable for frying and braising a large amount of food as well, as you won't have to worry about oil splattering all over the place.
Wooden and plastic handles provide a comfortable and non-slip grip. Plus, they have low heat conductivity and don't transfer heat to your hand as quickly as metal, so they can protect you from getting burnt. However, one downside is that they're not oven- or dishwasher-safe.
Meanwhile, metals like aluminum have high thermal conductivity and can get hot quickly. If you want to choose a metal handle, try to go for stainless steel. It conducts heat poorly, so the handle will remain cool for longer. It can also be used in the dishwasher and is oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Handles that have been forged from the same metal as the saucepan or permanently bonded to the pan are the best, since they won't break easily and are easy to clean. Riveted handles are also strong and durable, but harder to wash. Spot welded or screwed on handles should be avoided as they can break off more easily.
When you buy a saucepan, you should consider extras like a lid or spout. A saucepan lid can be an essential tool in the kitchen, helping with steaming, stopping liquids from evaporating, and making heating more efficient. In a cookware set, a lid may fit more than one saucepan in the set.
The material of the lid doesn't matter as much as the material of the saucepan, but try to opt for glass. Glass lids can be heavy and could break, but they also let you see into the saucepan without having to take off the lid, which would let steam or heat escape.
Also, some saucepans are designed with a spout to make it easy for you to pour liquid without splashing. Some have a built-in strainer to drain pasta or boiled veggies. If you love steaming foods, you can go for a saucepan that comes with a steamer!
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Professional Aluminum Nonstick Restaurant Fry Pan
Best Nonstick Saucepan for High Heat Cooking With Metal Utensils
5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Best Enameled Cast-Iron Saucepan
Nonstick Fry Pan with Lid
Best for the Beautiful Hammered Copper Finish
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Best for the Durable Coating and Stay-Cool Handle
MultiClad Pro Stainless-Steel Cookware 7-Piece Cookware Set
Best Saucepan Set for Beginners
MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 1-1/2-Quart Saucepan with Cover
Best Uncoated Stainless Steel Saucepan
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet With Assist Handle
Best Small Cast-Iron Saucepan for Indoors or Out
Stainless Steel Cookware, 3.0-Quart Casserole Set
Best to Boil and Steam Foods at the Same Time
Fry Pan with Lid
Best Saucepan for Boiling and Straining
Chef's Classic Stainless 14-Inch Stir-Fry Pan
Best Large Saucepan
With a thick 4.5-millimeter aluminum base, this pan can retain heat well. The nonstick surface is made from ceramic particles heated at 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so it won't chip or crack easily. It can also withstand a temperature of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and is oven-safe.
There are some reports saying that the saucepan is too heavy. On another note, most buyers confirm that it's comfortable to hold in the hand, durable, and heats up evenly. Another bonus for buyers is that it's dishwasher- and oven-safe. They also love that it can tolerate high temperatures and can be used for searing and frying.
This porcelain-enameled cast-iron saucepan can tolerate high temperatures and can be used for simmering dishes, making stews, searing, and sautéing. It's oven-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with a self-basting lid that has ridges on the inside to catch condensation and direct it back to the food.
Some buyers complain that the enamel coating chips easily. Meanwhile, the majority love how versatile this saucepan is and further mention that it heats up evenly and can be used for high-heat cooking. Many others also like that it's easy to clean. The two handles are a great feature for buyers, too!
Made from aluminum with a copper-like finish, this 2.5-quart saucepan has all the stunning beauty of copper cookware without all the maintenance. It also features a titanium-ceramic coating to make it non-stick and durable. What's more, the manufacturer offers a 10-year limited guarantee to ensure your satisfaction.
A couple of buyers are a bit disappointed that this saucepan can only be used at low or medium heat. Nonetheless, the majority agree that it's easy to clean up, sturdy, and heats up evenly. They also praise the beautiful hammered copper look. According to many others, the non-stick surface helps prevent foods from sticking.
This saucepan has an aluminum core with a porcelain coating in a granite pattern for durability. It's nonstick, and the handle is made from bakelite, a type of plastic that's comfortable to hold. Plus, this saucepan is compatible with all kinds of stovetops, from electric to induction. The manufacturer also offers a 12-month guarantee!
A couple of buyers complain that the lid doesn't fit snugly on the saucepan. Yet, most reviewers like that it's easy to clean and heats up pretty well. They further mention that the handle doesn't get hot to the touch and offers a non-slip grip. Many also verify that it's durable and scratch-resistant.
If you're a beginner cook looking to get started or just looking to buy a set of the basics, this cookware set is a great choice for you. Including one-quart and two-quart saucepans, this set can meet your diverse cooking needs, be it soups, gravies, or pasta. Both saucepans are made from aluminum with a nonstick coating.
There are some reports mentioning that the lid handle gets hot easily. Some others also note that the nonstick coating is not durable and wears off. Even so, the majority are pleased that they are easy to clean and distribute heat evenly. The glass lids with vent holes are another bonus for buyers.
This pan has got a solid construction of stainless steel with an aluminum core giving it even heat distribution as well as great heat retention, making it great for soups, browning meats, or simmering stews. Plus, the handle is made from stainless steel that stays cool to the touch.
A few reviewers mention that the pot stains easily. Yet, most like that the saucepan heats up quickly and evenly. Many reviews also mentioned the riveted handle as being really solid and sturdy.
This one-quart cast-iron saucepan retains heat well and comes with a self-basting lid to keep your foods moist and tender. Plus, this saucepan makes it easy to get started as it comes pre-seasoned, and with a little care and maintenance, it will last you for a long time. The small size is great for making sauces while grilling outdoors!
A couple of buyers mention that this saucepan rusts easily. Many suggest seasoning it again before the first use and regularly maintaining it to preserve the quality. On another note, most buyers are happy with the durability of this saucepan and further mention that it's versatile and works great for a variety of heat sources, including open fire.
This 2.5-quart saucepan is designed with two spouts for convenient pouring. On top of that, it comes with a stainless steel steamer, so you can steam some veggies while also boiling pasta at the same time! It even comes with a spatula.
A few buyers feel it's not durable. However, most reviewers love the stainless steel steamer that comes with the pot and mention that it's great for steaming buns, tamales, dumplings, or vegetables. Many also like that it's nonstick and heats up quickly.
This saucepan features aluminum construction, which gives it even heating and great heat responsiveness. Another plus point is that it has two spouts for easy and smooth pouring. The included lid can also act as a strainer to drain off water from boiled vegetables, pasta, eggs or potatoes.
A few buyers warn that the plastic handle is weak and can melt if you put it close to a gas flame. Yet, the majority praise that it heats up quickly and evenly. And the best part for them is that there is no stuck food thanks to the nonstick surface.
This saucepan is made from hard-anodized aluminum to ensure even heat distribution, so you won't end up with burnt foods. The non-stick coating makes cleanup an easy task as well. What's more, this saucepan has a durable dual-riveted colored handle that provides you with a non-slip grip. There's also a hole in the handle for hanging.
One complaint that some buyers have is that the lid doesn't have any steam vents. However, the majority are pleased with the durable construction and further note that cleaning is a breeze with this saucepan. Many also say that it isn't too heavy, and the handle is comfortable to hold.
If you're looking to spruce up your kitchen with some new pots and pans, why not check out some other suggestions we have for you?
Looking for some other options? Take a look at Amazon's bestselling saucepans to see what other people have chosen!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
No. 1: Ninja | Professional Aluminum Nonstick Restaurant Fry Pan | C30235
No. 2: Tramontina | 5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven | 80131/060DS
No. 3: Gotham Steel | Nonstick Fry Pan with Lid
No. 4: Carote | Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
No. 5: Michelangelo | MultiClad Pro Stainless-Steel Cookware 7-Piece Cookware Set
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