Cooking can be a pleasure, especially if you have the right cooking equipment.
Investing in top-quality saucepans will prevent your sauces from sticking and bubbling over, thus enhancing your cooking experience.
Most people prefer using saucepans because they’re versatile and easier to clean.
So what is a saucepan?
A saucepan is a staple, circular pan with high sides and a long handle, and you can use it to prepare soups and sauces on a stovetop.
The high sides provide a more extensive surface area where you can put a substantial amount of food, and also cook evenly.
A saucepan’s long handle doesn’t get hot and allows you to move the saucepan freely during the cooking process.
A saucepan is a versatile cookware that you can use to create sauces, simmer, stew, deep frying, braise, and boil pasta.
In this article, you’ll learn the difference between a saucepan and a pot, things you can make with a saucepan, and what to look for when buying a saucepan.
What is a saucepan used for?
A saucepan is excellent cookware for cooking sauces and soups.
Thanks to its elevated sides, you can also use it to prepare your favorite stew.
The high sides also support even heating.
Here are the common uses of a saucepan.
- Boiling liquids: You can use a saucepan to boil water for dishes like potatoes, pasta, rice, lentils, and quinoa. Saucepans heat easily and cook your dishes much quicker than your regular pots.
- Cooking sauce: People usually use saucepans to prepare soups and sauces. However, you can use them to prepare small quantities of stews, soups, gravies, and mashed potatoes. Their shallow nature makes them perfect for thickening your sauces and meals like risotto.
- Blanching vegetables: Blanching involves cooking vegetables quickly in salted water. Blanching enhances your vegetables’ color and flavor. Put your vegetables in salty, boiling water and blanch them in an ice bath.
- Poaching: This cooking option involves submerging your dish in liquids without cooking oil. A saucepan is deep enough to poach food like pears and eggs.
What is the difference between a pot and a pan?
Saucepans and pots perform the same purpose of cooking food, but their shape and size differ.
A saucepan has high walls, which make it perfect cookware for cooking and heating liquids and sauces.
Unlike pans such as frying pans designed only to cook specific meals, saucepans and pots can cook other dishes.
Here are the main differences between these two types of cookware.
- The sides of a pan are shorter – A pot has taller sides preventing rapid steam evaporation. This feature makes it an excellent choice for creating slow-cooking foods. On the other hand, a saucepan has shorter sides, making it better for thickening sauces and heating meals quickly.
- Saucepans are smaller while pots are larger – Pots are generally larger than saucepans, thus a good option for cooking food in bulk. Conversely, saucepans are smaller and can only hold fewer quantities of food.
- Pans have a more extended handle – Pots have only two short handles on the top to give you a firmer grip when carrying heavy contents. However, a saucepan has only one long handle that moves your pan around when cooking small quantities of soup, sauces, or stews.
- Saucepans are versatile – You can use a saucepan to prepare different meals like soups, sauces, stews, rice, quinoa, and vegetables. Although you can use a pot to prepare your sauces, its taller sides prevent them from thickening properly. Pots are a good option for cooking food like lasagna, while saucepans are ideal for cooking sauces and stews.
Popular saucepan materials
Saucepans come in different materials, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Here are the most common saucepan materials.
Aluminum saucepans: These saucepans come in standard silver color and are popular among people owning cafes, start-up restaurants, and diners. Aluminum is a great heat conductor and easy to maintain. These saucepans are lightweight, and most of them are dishwasher-safe. However, aluminum saucepans should be handled with care since they can easily dent or burn.
Stainless steel saucepans: Most stainless steel saucepans come in standard silver color. This material doesn’t stain and provides an even distribution of heat when cooking. It’s dishwasher-safe, non-reactive, and more durable than aluminum pans. The only drawback is that they’re prone to scorching, and you should handle them carefully.
Copper saucepans: These saucepans come in a distinctive orange-red color. Copper material heats up and cools down quickly, thus allowing you to control the heat during the cooking process. These saucepans are durable and don’t scratch easily. However, copper reacts chemically with some of your food, and you should only buy those lined with stainless steel.
Cast iron saucepans: These saucepans cook your meals slowly and evenly and are great at heat retention. Their ability to retain heat makes them a good choice for people who want to keep their food warm for a more extended period. The only drawback is they scratch easily, and you must only use silicone or wooden utensils.
Ceramic saucepans: Ceramic saucepans are thick and can withstand high cooking temperatures. They’re the best for searing and thickening your sauce, especially if you like thick. Be careful when using these saucepans because they scratch easily, and you should only stir food using silicone or wooden utensils.
Hard-anodized aluminum saucepans: Hard-anodized pans are the best for cooking food that requires medium to high heat. This material heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly, thus allowing you to create a good sauce sooner.
Popular saucepan finishes
Some saucepans come with different finishes, and you should always choose a saucepan that fits your cooking style.
Here are the most common saucepan finishes.
Non-stick saucepans: These pans typically have a non-stick feature that prevents the food from sticking to the surface. Their non-stick nature makes them easy to clean and prevents burnt-on food. Beware that most non-stick pans have a black interior that disguises the actual color of your food, which can lead to over-browning. They’re also prone to scratching, and you should use wooden or silicone utensils.
Enameled saucepans: These pans usually have a steel or cast iron base and a porcelain coating on the surface. They are durable and don’t scratch easily.
Factors to consider when buying a saucepan
There are different saucepan brands in the market today, and choosing a suitable saucepan can be challenging.
Here are factors to consider when buying your next cookware set.
Material: The material you choose will depend on the budget and the type of food you will be preparing. Saucepans come in materials like aluminum, cast iron, ceramic, copper, and non-stick.
Thickness: The gauge or thickness of your saucepan matters. A high-quality saucepan with a thick base will conduct heat better, thus making you prepare your food quicker.
Quality: Quality is paramount, and you should only buy saucepans made from durable materials. Always buy saucepans from certified brands that have proven their quality over time.
Value for money: A suitable saucepan should have excellent heat conductivity, be durable, and be easy to use and maintain. Cheap cookware might look tentative but might be a disaster in the long run.
Aesthetics: Saucepans are part of your kitchen décor. Only buy those whose color and structure uplift the look of your kitchen.
Size and style: The size and style you get depend on the quantity and type of food you’ll be preparing. For example, straight-sided pans are more versatile and heat evenly than tapered ones.
Weight: Most chefs prefer lighter pans because they are easy to maneuver. On the other hand, heavy saucepans are the best choice if you’re looking for something durable because they’re long-lasting and don’t dent easily.
Handle options: Saucepans have different handle options, like the riveted handle and the welded handle. Ensure you choose a saucepan whose handle stays cool while cooking and has the firmest connection.
A saucepan is becoming the most liked kitchen equipment because of its versatile nature.
Regardless of its material, it can be used for creating sauces, simmering, stewing, deep frying, braising, and boiling pasta.
Ensure you check the quality and durability of your saucepans when buying them.
Also, don’t forget to take care of them because if you love your pans, they will love and serve you better.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is a saucepan used for?
A saucepan is excellent for cooking sauces and soups.
However, saucepans are versatile, and you can use them to prepare other dishes like stews, pasta, quinoa, poached eggs, and rice.
What are the disadvantages of using a saucepan?
Although a saucepan is considered versatile, it has a limited size, thus limiting the amount of food you cook.
Moreover, saucepans require frequent stirring to prevent food from sticking and burning.
What should I look for in a saucepan?
A saucepan cooks food under high temperatures, so you should choose one made from durable materials.
Additionally, saucepans usually prepare acidic dishes like tomato soup, so you should buy those made of non-reactive metals.