The BBC Good Food team review everyday saucepans to discover which models are the best for heat distribution, easy cleaning and resilience.
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We all need a saucepan, even if it's just to warm up baked beans. A good saucepan can do a multitude of jobs, from boiling potatoes for mash to making jam, so owning a few in different sizes is essential.
But which ones do you need for your individual purposes? First, take into account the amount of space you have. Large saucepans are great but require room; nesting sets will save precious drawer space.
Take into account the hob you have – some designs work better on specific hob types, plus you should consider the material of the pan.
Aluminum is a good conductor of heat and a cheaper alternative to copper, but it's soft and won't last as long as other metals. It's also a reactive metal, so when combined with some acid-rich foods, it may affect taste and colour. Anodised aluminum pans have been treated to stop the metal reacting with the foods you cook.
Read on to discover which saucepans are best. For more, visit our review section and find over 200 practical buyer's guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in, including pan sets and non-stick frying pans.
Circulon Ultimum saucepans
Best non-stick saucepan for all hob types
Pros: durability, heat distribution and brilliant non-stick coating
Whether you cook on gas or have an induction hob, you can’t fail to be impressed by this range of durable forged high density aluminium non-stick pans with stainless steel handles and lids.
Not just smart to look at, they are dishwasher and oven safe up to 260C and can be used with metal utensils so you know your investment will last – they come with a lifetime guarantee to be extra sure.
They have a thickened base for even heating and a patented 3-layer non-stick coating with the grooved design, which helps stop abrasions and enables you to cook with the minimum amount of fat. And this coating also ensures they are easy to clean by hand – we found the food washed off with hardly any effort.
The stainless steel lid creates a great fit so very little steam escaped when boiling veg. We also liked their generous depth – a bonus if space on your hob is tight between rings as the 18cm pan that we tested had a capacity of 2.8 litres.
Kitchen Craft 900ml microwave saucepan
Best saucepan for using in the microwave
Pros: a great tool for cutting cookery corners
Who says that you can't use pans in the microwave? If you like to grab the first thing you can to warm up baked beans or that handful of frozen peas I'm betting that this will become your new favourite gadget!
It's made from stain-resistant plastic (so hopefully won’t go bright orange the first time you cook carrots in it) and has the handy design of dual pouring spouts, which is a bonus for left handers. The two side vents open to cook in the microwave and close to store food in the refrigerator.
We bet that once you start using one of these you’ll be amazed at how much more efficiently your microwave works – it's a great way of cooking frozen spinach for one.
Wilko five-piece stainless steel saucepan set
Best budget saucepans
Pros: excellent value for money, plus bonus milk and sauté pans
For the price you pay, you really can’t beat these pots. We use them frequently and they more than do the job. They do discolour slightly on a gas flame, but it's never a problem. They heat up extremely well and the long tapered design of the handles keeps them well away from any heat source.
The set consists of three lidded pans, a milk pan, which heats soup in less that five minutes, and a sauté pan. They are very lightweight so if heaviness is an issue these would make a great buy. For more best buys, read our review of the top saucepan sets.
Stellar pan 6000 hard anodised 14cm milk pot
Best saucepan for making sauces
Pros: handy spout that's ideal for making sauces
The design of this looks odd but it makes for an indispensable pan for sauces, soups and porridge. Made from anodised steel, it means that the excellent heat dispersion warms the walls of the pan as well as the base, plus making it suitable for all hobs too.
With its deep sides, pouring lip, it’s simple to clean and the sculpted handle is surprisingly easy to grip. Although as it's metal, make sure you wear gloves as it does get hot.
Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel saucepan set
Best investment saucepan set
Pros: heat distribution, lifetime guarantee, diverse range of pans
Combining good looks with second-to-none construction, this set of saucepans will be used in your kitchen for years to come. The triple-layer stainless steel ensures even, constant heat and the solid lids make cooking with less water possible, locking in steam and flavour.
Laser-etched measurements inside the pans and curved rims for no-spill pouring only made us love them more. They are on the heavy side, but an extra 'helper' handle makes lifting easy, even when full.
Robert Welch Campden three-piece saucepan set
Most stylish saucepan set
Pros: stylish design, top-grade steel/copper bottoms, even heat distribution
Lovely to look at, these pans are also a dream to use. This stylish trio comes from a British company renowned for their top-notch cutlery, so the handles are very comfortable to grip – and they stay surprisingly cool, even over intense heat.
Using the same high-grade stainless steel, the pans have a layer of copper in the base to ensure perfect heat control – these are for serious home chefs.
Saucepans with best lid design
Pros: functional design at a great price, easy draining and measuring, quiet to use
This trio of saucepans is a great choice for those who live in an open kitchen/dining space and love a bit of peace and quiet.
The silicone rings, though not to everyone’s taste, mean lids make next to no noise when removed and replaced, and with nifty pouring spouts and hole-punched panels on each side of the soft-handled pans and lids, it's easy to drain vegetables and pasta.
The grade of stainless steel is not top-class, but is heavy enough for even heat distribution without hot spots. And as they're under £50 for three, they're a brilliant bargain.
What we looked for
1. A pan that washes up well. We wanted a pan that, on the occasions when something did catch, a quick soak would bring it up like new.
2. A handle that's comfortable to hold. It's easy to forget how much you use a pan's handle when you're cooking. The handle should be comfy to hold, ideally with smooth edges that won't be slippery when your hands are wet.
3. The weight of the pan should be balanced. Heavy enough to feel stable on the hob so a spoon won't be enough to topple it over, but light enough to carry and pour comfortably. Pans obviously get heavier as they get bigger, but don't forget that the volume can also increase substantially, so food will add a lot more weight.
This review was last updated in September 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which saucepan do you use? Leave a comment below...