The 5 Best Saucepans, According to Our Tests
Every home cook should invest in a quality saucepan. As kitchen workhorses, saucepans can be used to boil water, cook and reduce sauces, make rice, reheat leftovers, and so much more. This essential piece of cookware comes in different sizes and materials, so you can easily find one suitable for your needs. Best of all, you don't have to break the bank to get a top-rated model.
To help you pick the right saucepan to add to your cookware collection, we put various models to the test. Cuisinart's Contour Hard-Anodized Saucepan came out on top after evaluating each saucepan's overall feel, quality, value, and ease of cleaning as well as timing how long they took to boil water and how well they melted and simmered alfredo sauce. Below is our list of the best saucepans on the market as well as the other models that didn't make the cut.
Best Overall: Cuisinart Contour Hard-Anodized Saucepan
Best Budget: Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Saucepan
Best Nonstick: Calphalon Premier Nonstick Saucepan
Best Stainless: Avacraft Stainless Steel Saucepan
Best Cast Iron: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Saucepan
We chose Cuisinart's Contour Hard-Anodized Saucepan as our best overall pick because of its superior heating capabilities, contoured pot design, and easy-to-clean nonstick interior. Unlike other options, this saucepan was light enough to hold with just one hand.
How to Pick the Right Saucepan
Size and Weight
Saucepans that range from 2 to 3 quarts offer the most versatility and can handle most kitchen tasks without taking up obscene amounts of storage space. Anything bigger is meant for recipes like one-pot pasta and chili. The weight of saucepans depends on their material and size. Cast iron saucepans weigh significantly more than stainless steel or nonstick.
Saucepans come in a variety of shapes, including ones with tall and flat sides as well as ones with wider and shallow sides. The former is going to heat more quickly, while the latter is going to do a better job of retaining heat without burning or evaporating ingredients.
There are three main materials for saucepans: nonstick, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron. Stainless steel is most popular for its durability and its ability to retain heat. Plus, it's usually dishwasher safe, unlike many enameled cast iron or nonstick options. Nonstick is preferable for its easy-to-clean surface, allowing liquids to pour out effortlessly. Both stainless steel and nonstick saucepans are often made with an aluminum core, which is an excellent heat conductor. Enameled cast iron is made of heavy-duty cast iron coated with an enamel glaze that provides some nonstick qualities yet provides superior heat retention. Drawbacks to enameled cast iron include its heaviness and high price tag.
Saucepans usually come with lids, but they can differ in material and fit. Glass covers are convenient because they allow you to watch your food while it cooks, while stainless steel and cast iron lids are excellent at retaining heat.
Sometimes, saucepan handles are made with the same material as the pan, and other times they feature heat-resistant materials or cushioning. Ergonomically shaped handles offer the most comfortable and natural grip. Another important factor to pay attention to is how the handle is attached to the pan. Handles attached by flush rivets are best. Be cautious of ones that are glued on or attached by a normal screw—these are unlikely to stand the test of time.
While the above factors are most important when buying a saucepan, some models come with additional features, such as pour spouts, built-in strainers, and measurement markings.
About Our Tests
Allrecipes Product Tester Alyssa Sybertz carefully researched and evaluated the best saucepans on the market. Each saucepan was tested for its ability to quickly come to temperature and retain heat, using two different testing methods:
- Boiled Water Test: Each pan was timed for how long it took for four cups of water to come to a boil.
- Alfredo Sauce Test: Alyssa used each saucepan to make alfredo sauce, in order to test how well the cheese melts, how well the sauce thickens, and whether the cream would consistently simmer without scalding.
In addition to the performance tests above, we paid special attention to the following factors:
- Overall feel: Is it attractive? Does the outside smudge? Is it hard to get out of a cupboard with one hand? Does it seem sturdy?
- Cover: Is it glass? Solid? Rounded or flat? Does it have a hole to allow steam to escape? Does it have a pour spout?
- Handle: Does it get hot? Do you need an oven mitt to move the pot?
- Ease of cleaning: How much food sticks to the bottom? Can it go in the dishwasher?
- Value: Is it worth the money?
The Leftovers: Other Saucepans We Tested
Why Take Our Word For It?
Allrecipes shares community-driven recipes, products, and tips to millions of home cooks. Our Product Tester Alyssa Sybertz and Commerce Writer Melanie Fincher selected our favorite saucepans after testing and evaluating various models. Because of our hands-on research, we believe our list features the best saucepans on the market.