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From Steak To Sauce, These Sauté Pans Sear, Braise & Poach Foods To Perfection

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Sauté pans and skillets may be used interchangeably in kitchens, but the best sauté pans has some key characteristics that set them apart. Straight sides give sauté pans greater volume than a frying pan, so you can comfortably fit more food for braising or searing; those higher walls also help keep sauces inside the pan.

Materials

Stainless steel is a popular cookware choice for its durability, versatility, and attractive look, though it can be an investment. Top of the line stainless steel pans are designed with tri-ply construction, meaning there’s an aluminum layer sandwiched between stainless steel, for even heat distribution. If you're looking for a nonstick option, look for a ceramic-coated sauté pan, which can withstand heat without breaking down and is a nontoxic choice to boot.

Size & Design

A 3-quart sauté pan is versatile enough for most kitchens. A larger 5-quart pan can be useful for cooking larger quantities at once, especially for families, but keep in mind anything larger may have a wider diameter bottom and not heat as evenly over a standard 12-inch burner.

Compared to a skillet, a sauté pan is noticeably weightier. A short helper handle, in addition to the long handle, makes it easier to move the pan. A matching lid is also useful for a pan that is particularly suited to braising.

The best sauté pan is a kitchen workhorse, and now that you know what to look for, keep reading to find the best one for you. Note: Each of the pans below is conveniently dishwasher safe.

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1
The Overall Best: A Stainless Steel Pick With A Cult Following

With nearly 4,000 reviews, this fan favorite is the best stainless steel sauté pan under $100. Cuisinart's highly rated pan is made of stainless steel tri-ply construction and holds 3.5 quarts. Its long riveted handle and helper handle stay cool to the touch while cooking, and it comes with a secure-fitting lid.

This dishwasher-safe pan is safe to use on traditional and induction cooktops up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit and under the broiler. The rim is conveniently tapered for drip-free pouring. Many reviewers commented that this pan works as well as All-Clad — a favorite brand among serious cooks — with one reviewer even noting, "This pan series from Cuisinart is as good as or better than the All-Clad d5 pans. Seriously. And a fraction the price. Try them."

A helpful review: "This is by far the best cookware I've ever owned. Manufactured very well, looks amazing, cooks like a dream and cleans up easily. It's taken on everything from frying, sauteing, braising, making sauces (tomato based and other) with no issues. If you've not cooked with stainless or are coming back to it, there is a minor learning curve for proper use and care, but there is lots of info out there to help and the end result is definitely worth it."

2
Worth The Splurge: An All-Clad Stainless Steel Sauté Pan

This high quality sauté pan is made of stainless steel with tri-ply construction and a stick-resistant interior. All-Clad cookware is prized for its durability, and this 3-quart pan will get plenty of use in the kitchen. This is an expensive piece of cookware upfront, but it is an investment you're unlikely to ever need to replace. This highly rated pick is resistant to temperatures up to 600 degrees. It can be washed in the dishwasher and features a helper handle and lid, plus it's safe to use on induction and traditional cooktops, as well as in the broiler. All-Clad is a favorite of my pros, including NYC-based chefs Tony Cacace at Oro Restaurant and Laurence Edelman at Left Bank.

A helpful review: “All-Clad stainless pans are simply the best. I love these sauté pans. Heat distribution is excellent. I don't have hot spots. The pan never warps and it [is] built to last past your lifetime to give to the next generation. Hands down this is simply the best.”

3
The Best Large Sauté Pan: Another All-Clad Pick For Bigger Recipes

If you cook larger amounts of food, especially sauce-based dishes or pan-fried foods, try All-Clad's deep sauté pan. The 6-quart pan has a larger surface area than most that allows for cooking without crowding the pan, and the taller walls keep oils and sauces in the pan. Like the previous pick, this pan is made of stainless steel triple-ply construction and features a riveted handle that stays cool with a helper handle and lid. It's also safe in the dishwasher, oven, and broiler, making it heat-resistant up to 550 degrees, and you can use it on traditional or induction cooktops.

If you are searching for a budget-conscious option, this 5-quart sauté pan also features triple ply construction, a helper handle and lid, and it is highly rated.

A helpful review: "ALL CLAD is my favorite cookware. It is expensive but it will outlive me!! ... This 6 quart fryer is the best yet ... Very hard to burn anything in an ALL CLAD pot. Always super easy to clean."

4
The Best Non-Stick Sauté Pan

This ceramic-coated sauté pan has a capacity of 5 quarts and a conveniently non-stick interior that's also free of toxins like BPA, PFAS, and PFOA. This highly rated pan is also scratch resistant and safe to use with metal utensils, unlike most non-stick pans.

Flared edges minimize drips when pouring, and a helper handle and long handle are made of riveted stainless steel. This pan also comes with a glass lid. It is dishwasher safe, but will hold up better if you wash it by hand.

Compared to my previous picks, keep in mind this one is oven safe only up to 428 degrees Fahrenheit and is not suitable for induction cooking surfaces. A smaller 3-quart sauté pan is also available; it doesn't have a helper handle, but it's also more lightweight.

A helpful review: “I use a 5 quart sauté pan several times a week to cook for my large family and this one fits the bill. [...] I tried it for the first time with the ultimate test ... eggs. With just a tiny dollop of butter and not even on medium heat I quickly and evenly cooked over easy eggs. They did not stick and even finished with those wonderful crispy edges. [...] Cleaning was a breeze. A soft sponge and a quick soapy rinse."

5
Nice To Have: A Cleaner To Keep Your Pans Looking Like New

Bar Keepers Friend is a popular cleanser for restoring or maintaining the shine of stainless steel. With an impressive 4.6-star rating and nearly 700 reviews, shoppers commented this is a helpful tool for washing away stubborn stains on cookware.

A helpful review: “I have used this product for years on all brass, copper, stainless, aluminum - you name it. Really cleans without leaving any scratches, splotches, or residues.”