Bolognese sauce in a saute pan

The best sauté pans tried and tested

It's one of the most useful pans in your kitchen, so it's worth investing in one that will last. Browse our pick of the best sauté pans for browning, searing and frying food.

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A sauté pan is easily one of the most versatile pans to have in the kitchen. They come in many shapes and sizes, some with two handles, with or without lids. Their shared characteristics are that they are sturdy, robust pans with thick, heat-retaining bottoms and sides making the sautéing of vegetables, meat and fish so easy.

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Plus, as they are deeper than a regular frying pan, they can also be used for for steaming, deep-frying, searing and poaching. Many are also able to go from hob to oven, and cooking on all heat sources including induction.

When buying a sauté pan, price isn’t always the decider as there is a vast difference, and at the budget end, there are also some excellent pans to be found.

Size is an important factor though, from a generous 30cm wide, which is excellent for family and batch cooking, to a handy 22cm which can comfortably sauté chopped onion and up to 500g of minced beef.

Do watch out for the weight, even when empty. Sauté pans can be heavy given their sturdy construction, so when full can be hard to lift.

Read on to discover our top buys. For over 400 buyer’s guides, visit our reviews section and find guides to everything from griddle pans to food processors.

Best sauté pans to buy

Lakeland hard anodised bell shaped 24cm sauté pan

Best everyday sauté pan

Pros:

  • The lightest pan with no compromise on performance

Cons:

  • Low oven temperature for onward cooking

Star rating: 4.5/5

This charcoal coloured Lakeland pan was the only one on test with bellied sides which is a great feature for those who like a little fun when cooking. With a cheffy flick of the pan, the vegetables fly up the curved sides, and with no effort, land effortlessly back in the pan.

This is the lightest on test for its size; the lightness though makes no compromise on the efficiency. There’s an excellent spread of heat to the top, without hot or cold spots anywhere.

Both the vegetable sautéing and bacon frying on a low setting were excellent. Our bolognese sauce, cooked with the tightly-fitting lid on, was impressive.

Like the sides, the handle of this pan is gently curved with a grey silicone covering, making it easy to hold and ensuring the handle didn’t get too hot. There’s also a handy hanging hook.

The pan is not dishwasher-safe, and is ovenproof only to 180C (much lower than other pans tested). Nevertheless, it would be a great addition to anyone’s kitchen. We loved its shape and performance.

Le Creuset toughened non-stick sauté pan

Best investment sauté pan

Pros:

  • An investment pan with a lifetime guarantee

Cons:

  • Most expensive on test

Star rating: 5/5

The deep, straight-sided Le Creuset sauté pan is hailed as one of their toughest non-stick pans ever, it’s dishwasher-safe and you can carefully use metal tools with it too.

You won’t need the dishwasher though – the non-stick is so super-smooth that even after cooking a sauce for a few hours, it only needed a light hand wash. The handle is super-comfy and tightly riveted on, and even with a sauce in, the pan didn’t feel too heavy.

The heat distribution was exemplary, with the onions soft and translucent in under 10 minutes on a medium heat. Lowering the heat and cooking even longer created lovely, slightly golden onions, likewise with a soffritto, and the mince browned evenly in just 8 minutes.

With the silky surface, the food hardly needed any stirring during cooking – a shake was enough, and even then, the contents of the pan flew around.

The lid fits exceptionally well on the pan, with very little steam escaping and our bolognese gently cooked away for a couple of hours, resulting in a beautifully thick, slightly dark and rich tasting sauce with no drying out at all.

The Le Creuset may be an expensive pan, but given that it also comes with a lifetime guarantee, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Circulon Infinite Total non-stick sauté pan

Best non-stick sauté pan

Pros:

  • Professional looking
  • Ultra non-stick

Cons:

  • Lid makes the pan heavy

Star rating: 5/5

The Circulon is a very good-looking pan, from its long, curved handle to its smooth satin-grey finish and ultra non-stick finish. There are clever, little grooves in the bottom of the pan to protect from scratching into the surface, which means, according to Circulon, you can use metal tools during cooking.

The non-stick finish worked very well; if you ever fancied flicking food in the air like a celebrity chef, this is the pan to practice with. Equally, as nothing sticks, washing-up was quick, easy and required just a little hot water and soap. If that’s too much, it’s dishwasher-proof, too.

The pan heats scarily fast, so we found it best to start low and work our way up. For its 24cm diameter, this is a slightly heavy pan when the stainless-steel lid is on, but there’s the sturdy grab handle makes carrying it easy.

With the lid on and the sauce simmering on a very low heat, our bolognese was one of the best on test; the meat meltingly soft and the sauce rich and thick.

Tefal Jamie Oliver stainless steel sauté pan and lid

Best overall sauté pan

Pros:

  • Stylish
  • Professional looking pan

Cons:

  • None

Star rating: 5/5

There’s little not to like about the professional-looking sauté pan from Tefal. The celebrity endorsement from Jamie Oliver may be an attraction, but it’s the great looks and excellent cooking that make this pan shine.

Its solid build is evident when picking the pan up – it has a lovely feel, not heavy and holds well with the silicone wrapped handle.

This pan comes with Tefal’s renowned red Thermo spot inside the base, which lets you know when the pan is hot enough to start cooking. This doesn’t take long, we had to turn it down sharpish as the onions started to blacken. Once lowered, it held a steady, reliable heat throughout our sauce-making.

With its non-stick coating reinforced with titanium, there wasn’t the slightest problem with moving the food around the pan – all it took was a shake. The pan made an impressive bolognese, it cooked quickly under the tightly-fitting lid, so tight that the sauce had not reduced and needed 10 minutes lid-off to finish.

Crane C2 sauté pan

Best cast iron sauté pan

Pros: 

  • Superb heat distribution and retention
  • Exemplary packaging

Cons:

  • Heaviest pan on test, but it is cast iron

Star rating: 4.5/5

The Crane pan comes in totally plastic-free packaging, even the padding is recycled cardboard. We were impressed before we took it out the box.

Made from black cast iron and 30 per cent recycled materials, it’s small, but incredibly stylish.

Preparing the pan for sautéing onions, soffritto and meat, even a medium heat was too high.

On a low heat, with the lid on, we created, sweet, melting onions, a tender soffritto, and beautifully browned meat. Plus, because of the great heat retention, our sauce cooked in just over an hour.

As this is a small pan, we felt our sauce was a tiny bit dry, but by adding 100ml extra of stock, the sauce sprang to life and was thick, rich and delicious.

This pan may not be family-sized, but is a stylish and useful addition to the kitchen.

Wilko sauté pan

Best budget sauté pan

Pros:

  • Top quality at low price

Cons:

  • Narrow handle

Star rating: 4.5/5

This good-looking, solid pan from Wilko is a steal at £25. There’s no fancy packaging, just a simple cardboard wrap with all the information needed on it.

Though solidly built, it weighs in at only 2kg and you could be forgiven for thinking it flimsy – the test proved otherwise. From chopped onion through to our finished sauce, it proved to be as reliable as pans with a much higher price tag.

The cook was quick and even on a low heat, as the pan has good heat spread and retention.

The non-stick interior meant food moved around easily, and we particularly liked the tight-fitting, vented glass lid which released enough, but not too much, steam. The resulting sauce was thick and very tasty. There were no hot or cold spots.

The handle is a little narrow, so felt less sturdy than others; however, the silicone grip enhances its comfort and safety.

Truly, what more could we expect from a pan at such a bargain price?

Available from Wilko (£25)

Samuel Groves classic tri ply sauté pan and lid

Best looking sauté pan

Pros:

  • Handsome
  • Not as heavy as it looks

Cons:

  • Hard to find

Overall score: 5/5

The Samuel Grove is a beautiful looking 26cm pan made by Samuel Groves in Birmingham, cookware makers since 1817.

It arrives without a scrap of plastic, wrapped in a thick jute sack inside a box. Unwrap and find a polished, gleaming and extremely handsome pan.

It has classical clean lines and two handles, both of which are solidly-riveted onto the pan and the well-fitting lid.

Despite being made of durable three-ply stainless steel and aluminium, the pan was not overly heavy. Its solid construction and secure handles made it feel safe to move around the kitchen when full. The pan is also ovenproof to 260C, making it extremely versatile.

The speed of heating and the subsequent heat retention was remarkable, the sautéing only needed a low heat and even then, required a watchful eye to prevent burning.

There is no added non-stick coating, the highly polished high-quality stainless steel provides this all by itself – nothing stuck and hand-washing was a doddle.

While cooking a sauce, all that was needed was a quick eye from time to time to check the contents weren’t drying out –  they didn’t. Our sauce came out beautifully cooked, rich and very tasty.

Available from Samuel Groves (£141.77)

Netherton Foundry sauté pan

Best spun iron sauté pan

Pros:

  • A handmade pan which, with care, will last a lifetime

Cons:

  • The oak must be removed before using in an oven
  • Re-seasoning required from time to time

Star rating: 4.5/5

The shallow, 25cm Netherton sauté pan is handmade in Shropshire using spun iron, resulting in a deep, dark chocolate brown finish. The handle has a smooth British oak grip, with brass fittings which are lovely to hold but must be removed before the pan can go anywhere near the oven.

To create a non-stick surface, the pan comes pre-seasoned (heated to a high temperature with a light coating of Sussex flax oil), which means no chemicals or PTFE, and makes it very easy to wash. Netherton recommend re-doing this from time to time.

We found the pan a little shallow to make a full bolognese sauce, so we cut the recipe to two-thirds. The pan heated up exceptionally fast and evenly. Chopped onions and vegetables cooked quickly, and browning bacon and mince heralded the best results in our test, thanks to the great heat retention and spread. Our finished sauce was thick and rich thanks, in part, to the vent hole in the lid.

Though the pan requires a little extra work, your reward is a beautiful utensil which, with care, will last you a lifetime.

Available from: Netherton (£85.70)

Greenpan Venice Pro anodised ceramic non-stick sauté pan

Best lightweight sauté pan

Pros:

  • Lightness with durability, a great all-rounder

Cons:

  • No lid

Overall rating 4.5/5

The Greenpan Venice Pro pan ticks many boxes. For its size, it’s easily the lightest pan on test, despite its sturdy build.

The Thermolon Infinity Pro non-stick ceramic coating is enhanced with diamond – it’s no surprise that the smallest movements send the ingredients spinning around the silky smooth interior of the pan. Greenpan says it’s OK to use metal utensils with it, but only time will tell if it stands up to this rigour.

We loved the curved, generous handle, it was very comfortable to use and a second grab handle brings added security when moving it around the kitchen. It’s ovenproof and dishwasher-safe (though we doubt it would ever need to see the inside of one, it’s so easy to wash).

There was no sticking, burning hot or cold spots. Our sauce cooked gently on a low heat thanks to great heat retention and spread, and we loved the resulting bolognese.

This pan is a great all-rounder. Had it come with a lid, it would easily have been full marks all round.

Available from: Green Pan (£62)

AEG conical sauté pan

Best professional standard sauté pan

Pros:

  • Professional-style pan

Cons:

  • No lid
  • Heat marking

Star rating: 4/5

The AEG is the closest you’ll find to a professional kitchen sauté pan, and is a style loved by chefs. The conical shape means the sides flare from 17cm at the base to 22cm at the rim, giving lots of room to shake, stir or toss ingredients comfortably – proven by the even and quick sautéing of onion, soffritto and meat in our test.

Our bolognese fared slightly less well than in wider based sauté pans, though. It took longer to reduce, and it wasn’t as thick as many of the others we made. An extra 10-15 minutes on a slightly higher temperature and the sauce reduced well.

We were surprised at the alarming discolouration on the base of the pan after washing-up – caused, according to AEG, from overheating – on their advice, we cleaned the pan with a little white wine vinegar, and it was good as new.

We especially liked the AEG for sautéing, which, after all, is what it’s designed for. The sturdy build and sleek design mean it will be with you in your kitchen for many years.

Available from: AEG (£119.99)

Tower TruStone non-stick sauté pan

Tower TruStone non-stick sauté pan

Best value sauté pan

Pros:

  • Excellent quality for price
  • Lightness

Cons:

  • Overheats quickly

Overall rating: 4/5

The Tower sauté pan is impressive. Made from thick forged aluminium, it’s robust without being heavy. It has a non-stick, scratch-resistant interior which is both oven- and dishwasher-safe.

When cooking, the pan became very hot, very quickly. Our onions needed turning down to a very low heat, as they started to catch in minutes.

During cooking, we noticed a few hot spots but no sticking. The tight-fitting vented lid prevented the sauce from drying out, yet released enough steam to ensure our sauce reduced well. We loved how easily it washed up, too.

The sauté pan from Tower is roomy enough for family cooking, and being oven-safe, it’s very versatile, making it a superb pan for the price.

Available from: Tower (£32.99)

Zyliss Cook sauté pan

Zyliss Cook sauté pan

Best sauté pan for families

Pros: 

  • Great all-rounder for family cooking

Cons:

  • Can be weighty

Star rating: 4/5

This beast of a pan from Zyliss is deep as well as wide, which makes it great for family and batch cooking. The solid build of the pan and the vented lid is impressive, and Zyliss make confident claims about their triple-layered non-stick coating, which felt slightly rough against the spatula on first touch.

We discovered very quickly that this granite-like surface was up there with the best – nothing stuck and there were no hot or cold spots.

When full, it gets heavy, but the Cooltouch, silicone handles made it feel easier and safer to pick up than expected. The handles never got hot, a great safety feature with children around.

We had no problems whatsoever sautéing or cooking a bolognese. Given the pans width and impressive heat retention, we could easily have cooked three times the amount we made, making this a great family-sized pan, but perhaps a bit large for smaller households.

Available from: Zyliss (£53.99)

How we tested sauté pans

All the pans were tested by first sautéing a finely chopped onion in three tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Then, we sautéd a soffritto (finely chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic cooked in olive oil), then 500g minced beef and crisped up smoked bacon or pancetta for our ever-popular bolognese recipe.

We scored the pans against the following criteria on our test matrix:

  • Overall material quality
  • Handle comfort
  • Weight of pan
  • Non-stick credentials
  • Heat retention and distribution
  • Quality of sauté
  • Sides – do they protect from splash-back?
  • Ease of washing
  • Quality and fit of the lid
  • Added bonuses: dishwasher-friendly; oven-friendly
  • Capacity
  • Any special features such as measurement marks or pouring spout?
A selection of pans on a hob with sauteed onions

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This review was last updated in July 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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