The Best Saucepans, According to Our Test Kitchen
Despite its name, a saucepan can do much more in the kitchen than make sauces. It can be used to make a batch of grains, boil eggs for sandwiches or even prepare soups. Of course, a saucepan can also be used to make delicious recipes like Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Cream Sauce and Hollandaise Sauce. To help you find the right saucepan, we've pulled together a list of the best saucepans for any job.
Best Material for Saucepans
Saucepans can vary widely in material, and different materials may have an impact on the pan's heat conductivity and retention, style and cleaning instructions. For this guide, we tested nonstick, ceramic, stainless-steel and copper saucepans.
Nonstick saucepans can vary in terms of appearance and construction—some might be made from a nonstick material on both the exterior and interior while others might only have a nonstick interior and be made from a different material on the exterior, which will impact heat conductivity and retention.
It's worth noting that regardless of how they're constructed, nonstick pans often have a bad reputation as people are concerned about the chemicals associated with nonstick coating like PFOA and PTFE (Teflon). While more research is needed, you're unlikely to be exposed to toxic levels of the chemicals through nonstick cookware.
One way to avoid these chemicals is to opt for a ceramic saucepan, which, despite its name, is not actually made from ceramic. Instead, ceramic saucepans are typically made from aluminum and feature a ceramic nonstick coating. This coating is touted as being free from the chemicals associated with regular nonstick coating; however, more studies need to be done on the safety of ceramic coating.
Meanwhile, a stainless-steel saucepan is a durable option that's known to conduct heat well and can withstand high temperatures. With stainless-steel saucepans, you'll want to avoid using metal utensils as they will scratch the surface. One positive of stainless-steel saucepans is that most of them are dishwasher-safe, which is a great time-saving feature.
Finally, copper saucepans are known for their ability to conduct heat quickly and retain it. However, copper saucepans do require more maintenance if you want to keep the shiny exterior from developing patina, which is a layer of film that can develop on copper surfaces due to oxidation. Luckily, a product like Wright's Copper Polish Cream can prevent spots and blemishes (buy it: Target, $8).
Size and Shape of Saucepans
Saucepans vary in size—the ones featured in this guide range from a capacity of 1.5 quarts to 4 quarts. In addition to its capacity, you'll also want to consider the shape of the saucepan. While saucepans might have the same capacity, some have higher sides, which might make it more difficult to see the contents of the pan (but also keeps the contents from sloshing out if you are whisking or stirring vigorously).
This is our list of the best saucepans. Each saucepan was tested twice, first with water to see how quickly it would boil (this is a good test of a pan's heat conductivity). Next, each saucepan was used to make our Easy Cheese Sauce.
Read on for what makes these saucepans the best, as well as the ones that deserve an honorable mention.