As one of the most versatile cookware pieces, a saucepan often does the most work in your kitchen. Whether you're simply cooking pasta on a weeknight or preparing gravy for a large feast, the saucepan does it all. A saucepan is best for cooking that requires a fair amount of liquid, such as simmering, boiling, cooking grains, and making sauces. Finding the right saucepan will depend on your existing cookware options, the type of food you plan to make, and your general price point. We explain the types of saucepan materials, capacities, and more below so you can find the ideal saucepan for your cooking needs.
Saucepan MaterialsStainless Steel (right)
- Durable, rust-resistant
- Works well with induction cooktops
- Made with aluminum to help heat conduction
- Dishwasher, oven, and broiler safe
- Best heat conductor
- High-quality option preferred by many chefs
- Often lined with stainless steel to prevent reaction with minerals in some foods
- Cannot be used on induction ranges
- Safe for oven use, not dishwasher safe
Cast Iron (right)
- Second highest in heat conductivity
- Pans made with only aluminum easily dent and burn unless combined with stainless steel
- Anodized aluminum offers a non-reactive, scratch-resistant finish
- Only dishwasher safe with an exterior color coating or enamel protectant layer; check with manufacturer
- Extremely durable, resists denting and chipping
- Heats slowly but evenly and retains heat
- Works with induction ranges
- Very heavy and not dishwasher safe
- Great for browning meat and frying
- Most are safe for use in an oven; check label before use
- Ceramic construction with a nonstick glaze
- Oven- and microwave-safe for versatile use
- Made with non-toxic materials
- Dishwasher safe
0-2 quarts: Best for sauces or single servings
2.1 - 4 quarts: Most common and versatile size
4.1 - 6 quarts: Ideal size for frying and soups
6.1 - 8 quarts: Professional size for large batches
Saucepan Base Construction
Solid: Solid saucepans feature a solid construction with layers of metal that make up the bottom of the pan.
3- or 5-Ply: Layers of construction with different metals allow for better heat conduction and options for use with different types of stoves.
7-Ply: High-end saucepans that are made with copper in the base for optimum heat distribution and durable stainless steel for durability and versatility.
- Easy to clean
- Require little oil for low-fat dishes and healthy cooking
- Ideal for eggs and pancakes
- Scratch easily
- Cannot use with metal utensils
- Require handwashing to preserve nonstick coating
- Don't brown or caramelize ingredients as well as unlined metal
- Saucier: A saucier is a small saucepan with a thick base for evenly heating sauces and cooking with smaller amounts of liquids.
- Butter Warmer: These saucepans feature subtle curved dips on one or both sides of the pan for easy pouring.
- Double Boiler: Used to heat materials gently to fixed temperatures without burning the ingredients. Ideal for warm sauces and chocolate. The pan with ingredients sits above boiling water at the bottom.
For larger saucepans, look for a small helper handle on the far side of the pan for easier and safer maneuvering.