Nothing beats a good sauté pan when you want to make a sauce-based dish like chili, sear a juicy pan-fried steak, or stir up a creamy risotto! With its tall, straight sides and a larger bottom surface than a frying pan, a sauté pan gives you space to brown and allows you to cook with both dry and wet heat for delicious braised meats and vegetables. These sauté pans open up all kinds of recipe possibilities in your cooking.
What to Look for in a Sauté Pan
These are basic features you should consider with choosing a sauté pan:
- Size: Common sauté pan diameters are 8, 10, or 12 inches. Pan depth is also important, so check to see how high a pan’s sides are. Pan size is also measured in volume, expressed in quarts. Pans with a 3- or 4-quart capacity are great for serving one to two people; a 5-quart capacity and above typically serves three or more people.
- Material: Sauté pans are typically made from aluminum or stainless steel, often in combination. Aluminum conducts heat very well, but it’s vulnerable to wear and tear because it’s a soft metal; stainless steel is highly durable, but it doesn’t conduct heat as well as aluminum. A really good sauté pan will be made of stainless steel with an aluminum and/or copper core; sometimes, only the base of a stainless steel pan contains these materials. Copper is a great material for a sauté pan because it conducts heat so well, but pans made entirely of copper may be very expensive.
Note: If you have an induction cooktop in your kitchen, you also have to check that the pan works for that type of heat source: magnetic grade stainless steel, aluminum, or copper with a bonded magnetic base will work for you.
- Handle and Lid: A good sauté pan must have a lid! Whether made from glass or metal, ideal lid knobs or handles are secured with durable fastening. Look out for lids that have only a screw to secure a knob. Pan handles should also be securely fastened, and for larger pots, a “helper handle” on one side is a plus. Take a look at how the pan design prevents handles from heating up to temperatures too hot to hold.
- Coating: Many sauté pans have nonstick coatings. Look for pans that say they’re free of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), cadmium, and lead. Always treat nonstick pans with care to prevent scratching and chipping, and never heat them to extremely high heats that might cause the coating to break down and release fumes.
- Stove-to-Oven: One of the great things about sauté pans is that you can start a dish on the stovetop and then finish it up in the oven. Even if you don’t plan to do that often, check the maximum oven temperature for a sauté pan: most are safe at around 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, while others may be safe at higher temperatures.
Use our recommended sauté pans to whip up your next stew, curry, casserole, or pasta dish!
Top Choice: T-Fal 5-Quart Sauté Pan
This durable 5-quart sauté pan, a size large enough to cook four to five chicken breasts, can handle being used every day and still deliver superior results. Made from heavy-duty aluminum with a coating that’s free of PFOA, lead, and cadmium, this pan is scratch-resistant and holds up to metal utensils. The riveted silicone handle and helper handle ensure you have a secure grip on the pan.
The pan’s unique Thermo-Spot Indicator turns solid red to show when the pan is perfectly preheated and ready for ingredients to be added. Its dimensions are 12 inches (diameter) by 23 inches (pan diameter plus handle) by 3.5 inches (depth); it weighs 4 pounds and is oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
T-fal B36290 Specialty Nonstick 5 Quart Jumbo Cooker Saute Pan with Glass Lid, Black
This nonstick pan stands up to daily use and gives outstanding results.
Classic Style: Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 5.5-Quart Sauté Pan
This sauté pan is perfect for slow simmers, rolling boils, and liquid reductions; it has a mirror finish, classic looks, and professional performance! The stainless steel used in its construction will not discolor, react with food, or alter flavor, and the riveted handle and helper handle made from the same material give you balance and support when you’re lifting the pan. The encapsulated aluminum base offers fast and even heating, and the tight-fitting lid seals in moisture. The pan measures 23.2 inches by 11.8 inches by 4.5 inches, and it weighs 6 pounds. It’s dishwasher safe for easy cleanup and oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cuisinart 733-30H Chef's Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan with Helper Handle and Cover, Silver
A classic chef's sauté pan made from stainless steel.
Great for Induction: Farberware 2.75-Quart Sauté Pan
This 2.73-quart stainless steel pan, with a thick aluminum core base, gives you rapid, even heating on all types of burners and makes your cooking a breeze, whether you’re making Sloppy Joes or pan-seared steak with red wine sauce. The iconic styling of its handle, knob, and lid with its mirror finish makes this pan as beautiful as it is functional!
The dimensions of this pan are 15.2 inches by 10.5 inches by 4.4 inches, and it weighs 2.87 pounds. The pan also comes in a 4.5-quart size. It’s dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Saute Fry Pan with Lid, 2.75 Quart, Silver
Iconic styling makes this pan as beautiful as it is functional.
Great for Stove to Oven: Scanpan 3.5-Quart Sauté Pan
Artisan-made in Denmark, this sleek aluminum and stainless steel pan browns, braises, sears, and deglazes with little to no oil! The proprietary STRANTIUM+ ceramic coating consists of five layers that interlock to create a very hard surface that’s not just dishwasher and metal-utensil safe—it’s oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit!
The dimensions of this pan are 25 inches by 12.25 inches by 3.5 inches, and it weighs 2 pounds.
Scanpan Professional Covered Saute Pan 12.5-Inch by 3.5 QT
This pan is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.