What to Look for in a Small Saucepan
Saucepans are made from a variety of different materials including stainless steel and aluminum. Some also come with nonstick coatings, which can make for easy cleanup but impedes good browning on food. Each material can affect the way your food cooks and may determine the type of utensils you can use with it. Consider what types of food you cook most frequently when shopping.
Take a look at how the handle is attached. “You want a handle that is actually screwed into the pot and not glued or welded—you should see screws on the inside of the pot,” says Tanorria’s Table chef, cooking instructor, and creator, Tanorria Askew.
Saucepans come in all different sizes, and even those considered small can hold varying quantities. How many people you typically cook for and the types of food you cook most often should drive your choices.
Think about how you’ll be using your saucepan. If you’re cooking things that need to be covered or partially covered, shop for those that are sold with matching lids. Also look at things like what type of handle it has, plus any other special features that may make your cooking a little easier. Also consider if a pan is suitable for oven cooking, as well as if it’s dishwasher-safe.
What is a nonreactive saucepan?
In the kitchen, “nonreactive” is a descriptor for materials that don’t react with food being prepared. Foods with high acidity (like tomatoes, citrus, or vinegar-based sauces) tend to react with certain metals, which can lead to discoloration of the cooking vessel and an “off” taste or smell to the food. A nonreactive saucepan might be made of stainless steel or enameled cast iron; highly reactive pans include bare cast iron, untreated aluminum, and unlined copper.
How do you clean a badly burnt saucepan?
Cleaning a burnt pot will mostly depend on what the saucepan is made of, but for starters, you’ll want to remove as much of the food from the pan as possible. After that, add an inch of water and a teaspoon of dish soap (stainless steel, aluminum, or copper pans) or a half cup of baking soda (nonstick pans) and bring to a simmer. Use a wooden spoon or plastic scraper to further loosen up any burned bits, empty the pot, then use a non-abrasive nylon scrubber and dish soap to continue washing as you would normally.
Can you put a saucepan in the oven?
This varies depending on the saucepan and what it’s made of. Always check with the manufacturer’s guide regarding oven safety and maximum heat threshold. If your saucepan is oven proof, it is typically referring to the pot itself and does not include the lid. If your lids are oven-safe, they will usually have a slightly lower temperature threshold, particularly if they are glass. If you aren’t sure what the heat maximum is for your lids, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use aluminum foil as a lid in the oven instead.
Can you use a saucepan as a frying pan?
Saucepans and frying pans have vastly different shapes, so it might be a bit tricky to use them for the exact same purpose. You might be able to use a saucepan to saute a small amount of chopped vegetables or to make scrambled eggs, but you may find the narrowness of the saucepan limiting.
Can you deep fry in a saucepan?
Yes, depending on the size of your saucepan and its thickness. You’ll want a substantial saucepan that is large enough so it doesn’t move around on the burner and can hold your oil at a fairly constant temperature. If you’re working with a gas stove, we would highly recommend ensuring that your saucepan is at least as big as your burner and keeping the side of your flame smaller than the diameter of your pan to avoid the chance of causing a grease fire.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Joy Manning is a food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post. She’s the author of “Almost Meatless” and “Stuff Every Cook Should Know.”
This piece was edited by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. After a 2-year stint at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Best stainless steel sauce pan