When it comes to cookware, it can be easy to overlook the humble saucepan. Often purchased as part of a set of pots and pans, we reach for them to boil water and warm-up sauces. But the best saucepans are capable of much more — you just have to know what to look for when buying one. There are dozens of saucepans to choose from, so here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for this indispensable kitchen tool.
Depending on what you plan to make, look for a saucepan that’s big enough to allow for ingredient expansion when cooking grains, beans, or small batches of pasta, and, at the very least, hold standard store-bought jars of soups and sauces. As a general rule, the best saucepans will measure between 2 and 4 quarts of liquid volume (or 8 to 16 cups) to offer the most versatility.
For durability and performance, consider investing in a stainless steel saucepan, ideally one with tri-ply construction. "Tri-ply" means that three layers of metal are bonded together, with a highly conductive metal like aluminum at the core. Tri-ply saucepans have some weight to them and heat evenly, preventing hot spots and burning. You can also find nonstick saucepans, but keep in mind, their surfaces tend to wear out over time. Lastly, a tight-fitting lid is essential for steaming, cooking grains, and storing recipes, so avoid buying a standalone saucepan.
With the right care, the best saucepans below will last for years, no matter what you use them for.
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