Every kitchen needs a high-quality saucepan (or several). Whether you're a kitchen novice or a self-proclaimed home chef, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for this pan when making pasta, sauce, oatmeal, rice, soup, vegetables, and much more.
Saucepans can be made from a variety of materials, though they tend to have a similar shape: circular with taller sides, resembling a small pot with a long handle and lid. Some saucepans are made with a nonstick coating, while others are made of materials like ceramic, cast iron, or stainless steel. Determining which is best for you depends on your preferred cooking methods.
Because this kitchen basic is well-loved in most homes, you want to make sure you invest in the right one (or multiple if you make large or complex recipes). Consider factors like material, size, and construction. For example, our top choice, the Calphalon Premier Space-Saving Hard-Anodized 2.5-Quart Sauce Pan, has a three-layer non-stick coating and its space-saving design means it will easily stack alongside your other pots and pans.
Here are our top picks to help you find the best saucepan for your boiling, steaming, and simmering needs.
Best Overall: Calphalon Premier Space-Saving Nonstick Saucepan with Lid
What We Love: Stackable, heats evenly, can be used with metal utensils, handles remain cool
What We Don't Love: Pricey, not induction-compatible
If you’re looking for a high-performance, high-quality saucepan, this one by Calphalon is sure to impress. Its space-saving design allows for neatly stacked pots and pans in small spaces, and the ultra-durable, three-layer nonstick finish is safe for metal utensils. Plus, the hard-anodized aluminum ensures even heating without hot spots, and the stainless steel handles remain cool while cooking.
This versatile pan is compatible with gas, electric, and glass cooktops, as well as with the oven for up to 450 degrees. However, it’s not safe for induction. Cleaning and caring for this saucepan is easy because it’s dishwasher-safe, but you’ll want to avoid abrasive cleaning tools and detergents; nonstick cookware is subject to wear and tear over time.
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum | Capacity: 2.5 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 450 degrees
Best Budget: Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized Saucepan with Lid
What We Love: Oven-safe up to 500 degrees, cool-grip handles, drip-free pouring
What We Don't Love: Small capacity, hand-wash only, not induction-compatible
For a small, basic saucepan that gets the job done nicely, consider this model by Cuisinart. It’s the perfect starter saucepan for amateur home chefs and small households. Like some of the more premium models, this saucepan is made with hard-anodized aluminum, a popular material for nonstick cookware since it is durable and wear-resistant. It also features stainless steel handles that stay cool when cooking, as well as a tempered glass cover.
Reviewers give this pan high marks for its affordable price point and easy cleanup, though some note it may scratch easily and is not dishwasher-safe.
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum | Capacity: 1 quart | Maximum Temperature: 500 degrees
Best Nonstick: All-Clad HA1 Hard-Anodized Nonstick 2.5-Quart Saucepan with Lid
What We Love: PFOA-free nonstick coating, stainless steel disc bottom and handle, dishwasher- and induction-safe, stainless steel contoured handle
What We Don't Love: Pricey
It is not common for hard-anodized aluminum saucepans to be safe for induction. However, this one by All-Clad features a stainless steel, anti-warp disc base that can be used on induction as well as all other cooktops; this makes it one of the most versatile nonstick saucepans. Plus, it's oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
The nonstick coating is PFOA-free (a toxic chemical that has been found in nonstick cookware) and scratch-resistant, which lets you cook food with less oil or fat. While some consumers may not think to look at a saucepan’s handle, this one is permanently secured with stainless steel rivets for a solid grip. It’s also contoured for a comfortable hold when pouring.
"I invested in a few All-Clad saucepans in my 20s and they were worth every penny. They heat and cook evenly, can take a beating, and will certainly last my lifetime and likely beyond!" — Emma Christensen, Editor-in-Chief
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum | Capacity: 2.5 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 500 degrees
Related: The Best Nonstick Cookware Sets
Best Stainless Steel: Farberware Classic Series Stainless Steel Saucepan with Lid
What We Love: Rolled rim for drip-free pouring, dishwasher- and induction-safe, heats quickly and evenly
What We Don't Love: Only oven-safe up to 350 degrees
Seasoned saucepan users flock to stainless steel options because the material is long-lasting, durable, and dishwasher-safe. But one common complaint is that stainless steel is not the best conductor of heat, so food may not cook evenly. Enter this saucepan by Farberware. It's made with stainless steel and an aluminum core, a combination that offers the best of both worlds: the durability and performance of stainless steel with the rapid and even heating properties of aluminum.
A nifty feature of this saucepan that even some premium models don’t have is drip-free pouring. It also has the additional option of a standard lid or straining lid from certain retailers. This convenient add-on offers a pouring spout, and lid with strainer holes, which allows you to drain liquid from small batches of pasta or vegetables without a separate colander.
Material: Stainless steel with aluminum core | Capacity: 3 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 350 degrees
Best Set: All-Clad Essentials Nonstick Saucepan Set
What We Love: Limited lifetime warranty, made with three layers of nonstick coating, can be nested
What We Don't Love: Pricey, not induction-compatible, handles and lid may conduct heat
You’ll likely reach for your saucepan so often you’ll wish you had a second or even third one, especially if you frequently cook large or complex recipes. In this case, investing in a set of saucepans that come in various sizes is a must—and this nonstick saucepan set by All-Clad should fit the bill.
Though these pans are dishwasher-safe, washing by hand may preserve the nonstick coating for longer. Since the interior is made with three layers of premium nonstick coating, food is likely to slide right off, making hand-washing a breeze.
Some reviewers note that the handles and lid heat up while cooking, so potholders are recommended.
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum | Capacity: 2.5 quarts, 4 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 500 degrees
Related: The Best Nonstick Pans
Best for Induction Stoves: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Saucepan
What We Love: Rounded base, wear-resistant enamel, comes in several colors, compatible with any cooktop
What We Don't Love: Pricey, heavy
Though induction cooktops are increasing in popularity, it’s not always clear if a pan is induction-safe. Cast-iron saucepans are compatible with induction, so this pan by Le Creuset is a safe choice for induction users. It is especially reliable for recipes that call for high-heat settings because it is oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
Enamel cast iron is not only a heavy-duty material for your saucepan. It also comes in a variety of colors, so you’re sure to find a color that matches your kitchen or the rest of your Le Creuset cookware.
Material: Enameled cast iron | Capacity: 1.8 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 500 degrees
Related: The Best Cast Iron Skillets
Best Ceramic: GreenPan Rio 2-Quart Ceramic Non-Stick Covered Saucepan
What We Love: PFOA- and lead-free ceramic nonstick coating, dishwasher-safe, can use with metal utensils
What We Don't Love: Only oven-safe up to 350 degrees, not induction-compatible, may scratch easily
GreenPan’s ceramic nonstick coating is made extra durable because it's reinforced with diamonds, one of the strongest materials on earth. It is also free of harmful PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. However, some reviewers have experienced scratching on their pans.
Though the interior is made with nonstick ceramic, the exterior is made with hard-anodized aluminum. It heats up quickly and evenly, but the handle stays cool to the touch. When cooking, the glass lid makes it easy to keep an eye on your food.
Material: Ceramic coating, aluminum exterior | Capacity: 2 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 350 degrees
Best Straining: Farberware Glide Nonstick Saucepan with Straining and Lid
What We Love: Built-in strainer, easy-hold handles, fast and even heating
What We Don't Love: Only oven-safe up to 350 degrees, not induction-compatible
Anyone who has tried to pour the contents of a saucepan into another dish is familiar with the dreaded mess and spills. This saucepan by Farberware will come in handy for pasta and vegetable lovers because it doesn’t require a separate strainer or colander to drain liquids.
This pan is made with dishwasher-safe aluminum on the exterior for rapid, even heating, as well as with PFOA-free ceramic coating on the interior for nonstick cooking and easy cleanup. The glass lid is shatter-resistant, and the handles are sturdy and comfortable to hold and pour.
Material: Copper coating, aluminum exterior | Capacity: 3 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 350 degrees
The Calphalon Premier Space-Saving Nonstick Saucepan with Cover (view at Amazon) checks all the boxes, so it’s our top choice: It’s dishwasher-safe, safe to use with metal utensils, and made with ultra-durable hard-anodized aluminum. For a budget-friendly option, the 1-quart Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized Saucepan (view at Amazon) is a great starter saucepan. It has all the basic features you’d expect in a saucepan—and then some.
What to Look for in a Saucepan
Saucepans are often made with aluminum or stainless steel, and some have a nonstick coating made from either ceramic, copper, or other materials. Cast iron is also a durable material for a saucepan. It depends on your preferences: Aluminum is durable and ensures even heating, so it’s great for preventing hot spots when cooking. Stainless steel is much harder than aluminum, so saucepans made from it may last longer. The type of nonstick coating can determine compatibility with certain utensil types: Some materials are prone to scratching and releasing chemicals when used with metal utensils.
Though all saucepans have a similar circular shape, they come in many different sizes. Smaller saucepans can hold up to 1 quart, while larger models can hold upward of 4.5 quarts. The right size of saucepan for you depends on the size of your household and how much food you prepare. This is where having multiple saucepans of varying sizes is convenient.
Your saucepan may be one of the most-used items in your kitchen, so you’ll want it to be constructed well. Consider how the handles are constructed and whether they’re permanently affixed to the base of the saucepan. Some saucepans are also constructed with multiple layers of material or nonstick coating, making them more likely to last longer.
What is a heavy-bottom saucepan?
A heavy bottom saucepan has a noticeably thicker base than other models. This can prevent hot spots, which occur when food doesn't cook evenly. A thicker base can distribute heat more evenly than a thin base, ensuring food is heated evenly throughout. Saucepans made with materials that conduct heat well, such as aluminum, may not need extra material at the bottom to reap the same benefits.
What are saucepans used for?
Saucepans are incredibly versatile kitchen staples. Because of the circular shape and tall sides, saucepans are ideal for boiling or simmering liquids like soups and stews. They can also be used to steam moist foods like rice and vegetables because many come with a lid that seals in heat and moisture. Because saucepans can be used to boil water, pasta lovers will reach for them often.
Can you deep fry in a saucepan?
A saucepan should not be used to deep fry. Instead, a frying pan with a wide base and shallow depth should be used for frying. Stick to using your saucepan for simmering, boiling, and steaming.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lacey Muinos is a health and wellness writer who specializes in food- and drink-related topics. Because she goes through a decent amount of sauces and soups, she relies heavily on her trusted saucepan.
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Sajid M, Ilyas M. PTFE-coated non-stick cookware and toxicity concerns: a perspective. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017;24(30):23436-23440. doi:10.1007/s11356-017-0095-y
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Are You Cooking with These? Cookware Considerations.