Which saute pan is best?

Whether you’re searing a steak or cooking onions and garlic for your pasta sauce, a high-quality saute pan can help with plenty of recipes. This versatile pan is a must-have for every kitchen.

A saute pan has straight sides and a wide, flat bottom that increases its surface area. Its design also prevents splashing over the edge when moving food around in the cookware. If you’re looking for a pan that can last for years without much maintenance, the Oxo Good Grips Pro Nonstick Dishwasher-Safe Black Frying Pan should top your list.

What to know before you buy a saute pan

Material

Saute pans can be made of several types of metal, which affect their heat conductivity, heat retention and maintenance requirements.

  • Stainless steel is often preferred for pans because it’s scratch-, stain- and dent-resistant. It’s a nonreactive metal, too, so it won’t alter the taste of acidic foods, such as tomatoes. Stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat well, though, so it’s often paired with an aluminum or copper core. 
  • Aluminum is an affordable material for pans, but it’s a reactive metal that can change the taste of acidic foods. It’s also prone to scratches and dents. However, it’s an excellent heat conductor. Most pans are made of anodized aluminum, which is chemically treated for greater durability and strength. Many aluminum pans have a nonstick surface, too.
  • Copper is a pricey material for cookware, but it looks beautiful in your kitchen. It also conducts heat well. However, it’s a reactive metal, so it doesn’t do well with acidic foods. It can also easily become discolored and scratched, requiring regular polishing to keep it in good condition.
  • Cast iron isn’t technically used for many saute pans, but you can find cast-iron skillets that work similarly. It’s one of the most durable metals for cookware, but it’s heavy and hard to maneuver. While it’s not the best conductor of heat, it retains heat extremely well. It can react with acidic foods, though. Cast-iron pans also require seasoning with oil to maintain their nonstick surface.

Size

Most saute pans offer a cooking surface with a diameter of approximately 11 inches, so a saute pan’s size is typically measured in quarts. Most pans fall between 3 and 6 quarts in size, but you can find some as small as a quart and others as big as 12 quarts.

For most homes, a pan that’s between 4 and 8 quarts is typically large enough to offer plenty of versatility. However, if you have a large household, entertain regularly or like to make large batches of food to freeze, you may want a larger pan.

What to look for in a quality saute pan

Lid

Nearly all saute pans come with a lid. However, all lids are not created equal.

Some pans have a lid made of the same metal as the rest of the pan, while others have a glass lid. Glass lids can easily shatter if dropped, but they let you see inside the pan without lifting the lid and allowing heat to escape. Some pans use shatter-resistant glass, though, which can improve the durability of the lid. 

Handle

A pan’s handle must be sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about breaking off when moving hot food. That’s why a pan with a welded or riveted handle is typically the best choice. Other pans use screws to hold their handles in place, so they can come loose fairly easily. You may also want to look for a pan with a silicone-coated handle that stays cool to the touch. 

Oven-safe

Some recipes call for starting a dish on the stove and then moving it to the oven to finish it off. It’s a good idea to choose a pan that’s oven-safe, so you can transfer it from the stovetop to the oven.

Keep an eye out for the maximum oven temperature for a pan, though. Some models can only withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees, so they aren’t suitable for broiling and other high-heat baking. 

Induction-compatible 

Induction stovetops require pans with a magnetic material, such as iron or steel, in the base. Cast iron and some grades of stainless steel are naturally compatible with induction stoves, but other metals, including aluminum and copper, must be treated with a magnetic material for safe use on an induction stove. 

Dishwasher-safe

Some manufacturers recommend hand-washing for your pans, but you can find some dishwasher-safe pans. If you prefer fuss-free cleaning, this is an important feature. 

How much you can expect to spend on a saute pan

Saute pans usually cost $15-$250. Pans under $30 typically offer thinner construction and screwed-on handles, but you can find a high-quality, durable pan for $30-$75. However, if you want a pro-grade pan, expect to pay over $100. 

Saute pan FAQ

What’s the difference between a saute pan and a skillet?

A. A saute pan and a skillet can usually be used interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two. Saute pans are generally deeper and feature straight sides with a flat bottom that provides a large cooking surface. Nearly all come with a lid. Skillets are shallow and have sloped slides. They often don’t include a cover. Because of a saute pan’s taller sides, they work better for recipes that have a large liquid component. 

How many saute pans should I have in my kitchen?

A. If you get a saute pan in a versatile size, you only need one. You can pair it with skillets or frying pans in various sizes, so you have the right pan for every recipe. 

What’s the best saute pan to buy?

Top saute pan

Oxo Good Grips Pro Nonstick Dishwasher-Safe Black Frying Pan

Oxo Good Grips Pro Nonstick Dishwasher-Safe Black Frying Pan

What you need to know: This nonstick pan is PFOA-free and made of durable anodized aluminum for a durable, versatile cookware option. 

What you’ll love: It has a triple-layer nonstick coating that’s durable and easy to clean. It’s oven-safe up to 430 degrees and dishwasher safe. The rolled edge allows for mess-free pouring. The handle has a heat-resistant grip.

What you should consider: It isn’t compatible with induction stoves. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Top saute pan for the money

Utopia Kitchen 11-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan

Utopia Kitchen 11-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan

What you need to know: This versatile pan offers excellent performance and works for all types of stoves. 

What you’ll love: It has a nonstick surface for easy cleaning. It can be used on electric, ceramic and induction stovetops. It’s free of PFOA, lead and cadmium. Its sturdy Bakelite handle has an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold.

What you should consider: The nonstick surface can be damaged if you use metal utensils. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

What you need to know: This pre-seasoned pan is an excellent choice for those new to cast-iron cookware and is as durable as it gets. 

What you’ll love: It can last for years if maintained properly. It’s pre-seasoned for use right out of the box. It can work with all stovetops, ovens and even on campfires. It comes with a scrub brush. 

What you should consider: Cast iron requires more maintenance than other pan materials.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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