Buying Guide: The Best Sauce Pans For You

Pick the Right Type of Saucepan for You

Saucepan

Saucepans are go-to pans when you need to saute your favorite meats or prepare rich and delicious sides including a variety of sauces or syrups. These highly versatile pans can also cook starches such as rice and potatoes, and they are an excellent tool when you want to blanch fresh vegetables to bring out their innate colors. A good saucepan can double as a stockpot or soup cooker, depending on the size, as well as living up to their name when you create delicious gravies and sauces.

This versatile piece of cookware comes in a variety of different shapes, sizes and styles, and learning how to choose a saucepan is important because of these distinctions. The right saucepan should provide enough capacity for your favorite recipes while taking up as little room as possible. Of course, you'll also want high-quality construction and the best materials. Quality saucepans also have a bevy of additional features that can make them even more versatile.

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Finding the Best Saucepan

Nonstick Saucepan with Lid

The size of your family's meals and your favorite cooking methods are very important when it comes time to choose the right saucepans. Families that regularly enjoy large one-pot meals, including soups or stews and boiled and potatoes, are likely to want a much larger pot. Singles and couples who rarely prepare such dishes should still keep these and versatile everyday pans handy for special occasions.

The right saucepan should also have features that simplify cooking. These features include riveted handles that provide extra stability when moving the pot and textured handles that provide a firm grip during use. Many saucepans include tempered glass lids that help keep moisture in the pan to help you avoid over-reducing your sauces. Some have handy features like straining lids that let you pour off the water from pasta or potatoes.

Construction

Stainless Steel Saucepan

When learning how to choose a saucepan, you'll quickly find several different materials are used in modern pans. Cast iron heats quickly and retains its heat for quite some time. Because of the excellent heat retention, these saucepans are excellent for

Cast iron heats quickly and retains its heat for quite some time. Because of the excellent heat retention, these saucepans are excellent for sauteeing as well as sauce and gravy creation. The high heat common when using pans of this type gives some users pause. Stainless steel is a far more common modern alternative to cast iron saucepans because it is exceptionally sturdy and far lighter than cast iron. The lightweight design of stainless steel saucepots sacrifices some of the heat retention qualities as well as even heating, and aluminum materials are becoming the top option for having the best of both worlds. Aluminum pans distribute heat equally as well as cast iron without retaining heat at quite the same level, the sturdy construction of aluminum is a nice balance between cast iron and stainless steel. Steel-clad pans with aluminum cores are very common in top-end models available when you are buying saucepots.

Stainless steel is a far more common modern alternative to cast iron saucepans because it is exceptionally sturdy and lighter than cast iron. In exchange for lighter weight, you'll loose out on some of the heat retention qualities and even heating you'd get with cast iron. aluminum materials are becoming the top option for having the best of both worlds. Aluminum pans distribute heat equally as well as cast iron without retaining heat at quite the same level, the sturdy construction of aluminum is a nice balance between cast iron and stainless steel. Steel-clad pans with aluminum cores are very common in top-end models available when you are buying saucepots.

Aluminum, especially anodized aluminum, is becoming a top option as it offers the best of both worlds. Aluminum pans distribute heat equally as well as cast iron without retaining heat for as long. Sturdy anodized aluminum strikes a nice balance between cast iron and stainless steel, and doesn't have the reactive qualities of standard aluminum.

Another variant is a steel-clad pan that features an aluminum core. These heat as easily as aluminum and offer the easy-care qualities of stainless steel. They are often a great choice when you don't have a specific material in mind.

Depth

Finding the right depth of pan is very important when you are ready to buy new saucepans. Shallow pans work similarly to saute pans by providing a wide surface area and straight sides to reduce evaporation. These are excellent for searing and making sauces quickly. Deeper pans provide an alternative that ensures ingredients in sauces and gravies can cook low and slow to develop full flavor. Deeper pans are a great choice when you regularly cook for four or more and need to be able to steam, stew, boil and reheat larger quantities.

Size

Saucepan for Kitchen

Saucepans are sold by size, and the diameter of the pan indicates the available surface space--which is important if you like to make braises or sauces that require deglazing--and the height of the pan affects whether it's suitable for making soups and stews.

Size is especially important when it comes to dishes that require multiple cooking methods, such as beef burgundy or caramelized onion reduction. Most pans indicate the overall volume, leaving it to you to judge diameter and wall height at a glance, but many listings include this important information. For instance, a 1-quart saucepan holds a small batch of gravy, a side of veggies for two or a small batch of rice perfectly. However if you need to cook pasta, mashed potatoes or a batch of fresh spaghetti sauce for your whole crew, you'll want a 4-quart pan on-hand.

In addition to pan size, the size of handles and accessories on saucepans can be especially important. If you regularly use your saucepans to create soups and stews or stock for other dishes, wide handles with firm grips are invaluable. The size of the knobs and handles on the lids and the overall weight of lids and other accessory parts can make a major difference when you need to move the pans around the kitchen.

Sets

Saucepan Set

Saucepans often come in collections of multiple pans of varying shapes and sizes. These cookware sets include multiple sizes of saucepans. Complete sets that feature an array of pieces usually offer a cost-effective alternative to purchasing pans individually. Most pieces in a set include the same features, for a cohesive look as well as the tools you need to work through a new recipe. Saucepan sets often feature pans that nest inside one another by design, allowing a single set to take less space in your cupboard than multiple pans from different manufacturers.

Learning how to choose the right saucepans and saucepan sets for your family is important. The best option for your family depends on the quantity of food you normally create and what methods you like to use when cooking. Paying close attention to the quality of construction and types of materials, the volume and diameter, and the additional features can help ensure you get the right match for your needs.

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