Saucepan Vs. Sauté Pan. Update In June 2022

A fully equipped kitchen should have a variety of cookware that serve different purposes. However, it can be hard to understand the difference between various types of cookware.

While there are various pans and pots, most people don’t know the difference between a saucepan and a sauté pan.

Both these pans are essential for any kitchen due to their design and versatility. Read on to understand the difference between Saucepan vs. sauté pan.

What Is a Saucepan?

A saucepan refers to a metal, circular piece of cookware with high wall sides and a long handle. The high sides of saucepans serve to allow more liquid and food to fit in the saucepan.

Additionally, they provide the saucepan with a more extensive surface area which, when combined with the smaller base area, allows for even heat distribution for the content by being surrounded by all sides.

Compared to their width, saucepans are taller. Saucepans are normally used to create sauces hence their name. However, they also do well in deep-frying, braising, and boiling water because of their deep depth.

Compared to the overall cookware size, the high sides ensure the saucepan can handle a high amount of liquid without so much volume during the process.

What Is a Sauté Pan?

A sauté pan is a cookware type between a frying pan and a saucepan. Its name originates from ‘Sauter,’ which means to jump. This cookware features straight sides and a larger base surface area.

This makes it perfect for reducing pan sauce and braising meat. It also makes it harder to splash things over the side. Thanks to the large base, the pan has been designed to cook a larger volume of ingredients without overcrowding.

A sauté pan is conveniently used to toss ingredients back and forth into the air and is conveniently used on high heat with fat and oil.

The pan normally features a tight lid to spatter and trap heat. Food prepared in a sauté pan has a brown, nice crust but is not soggy.

This makes it perfect for frying the crust on meat before cooking in an oven. The long handle on sauté pans is designed to stay cool, making transferring from the stovetop to the table seamless.

The Differences Between the Saucepan and Sauté Pan:

A saucepan is perfect cookware for any cooking procedure that involves liquid. It is an excellent option for making sauces. The qualities of a saucepan’s structures make it best in cooking stews, jams, stocks, and sauces.

A saucepan features a small base surrounded by deep-leveled straight walls. It looks almost like a tall cylinder.

Unlike a sauté pan, a saucepan has a narrower and taller figure. The cylinder-like shape enables the base of the saucepan to retain the heat better and faster.

The high walls distribute the heat throughout the surface of the pan. The high walls also make it superior in preparing larger sauce batches, boiling water, and cooking grains.

Saucepans are made of high-quality stainless-steel material. This makes them compatible for use in different cooking sources, including; electric stoves, induction cookers, and a gas stove.

Some saucepans are safe to go into the oven and are even broiler and dishwasher safe.

When it comes to sautéing pans, these cookware types are suitable for sauteing your dishes. However, they might not be the standard cookware in the kitchen. Some get mistaken that they can use a normal frying pan to sauté, stir-fry, and cook food.

The reality is that a sauté pan is a cross between a frying pan and saucepan. It is somehow a combination of a frying pan and a saucepan. A sauté pan features a lid that condenses the food vapor.

Compared to saucepans, sauté pans have a more extensive base. This makes searing and sautéing easier than in a saucepan. A sauté pan can retain the food liquid and vapor similar to a saucepan via condensation.

Thanks to the tight-fitting lid, the steam trapped in the cookware will be condensed on the lid and fall back into the food.

Besides using a sauté pan to stir-fry vegetables and sauté onions, you can also use it in searing large pieces of meat, oven roasting, and cooking saucy dishes.

Some saucepans are oven safe up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Similar to saucepans, you can clean a saucepan with your dishwasher.

Generally, there are notable differences between a saucepan and a sauté pan. First, a saucepan is deeper and narrower than sauté pans.

It is the larger base that makes sauté pans more versatile compared to saucepans.

Saucepans perform better in cooking dishes with more liquid, while sauté pans are better in dry cooking.

Related: Carbon steel pans Vs stainless steel pans.

Comparison Table Between Saucepan & Sauté Pan

Parameters of ComparisonSaucepanSauté pan
AppearanceA saucepan is a closed-lid pan with a narrower base and deeper bottom.A sauté pan is a closed-lid pan with a larger base and shallow depths.
Purpose and usageFor cooking foods with a liquid such as stews, jams, stocks, sauces, and boiling water.For sauteing, braising, and tossing veggies and other ingredients. It is ideal for dry foods.
Included structureFeatures a high flat side wall and deep base. Often, it includes a lid and a handlebar.The bottom is flat, and the side walls are pretty low and don’t flare. A lid is also often included.
VersatilityNot very versatile due to its shallow base.The larger cooking surface area makes it more versatile and duplicates the purpose of other pans.
Volume capacityIts high straight sidewalls hold more volume.Has lesser volume than saucepans.
Oven safeven-safe saucepans are available depending on the material you choose.It can be oven safe depending on the material of the sauté pan.

Can You Sauté in A Saucepan?

Sauting involves a cooking procedure that utilizes a drizzle of fat or oil on high heat. The procedure works great on even-sized, small pieces of food.

You can sauté your food by stirring your food with a spoon or tossing your pan until the food starts to wilt.

Wilting is a term used when preparing vegetables in which the vegetables lose their original structure.

The essence of the food will release on the pan, generating moisture. Continued moisture. Continuous sauteing caramelizes your vegetables, creating deeper and richer flavor tones.

Because of its almost similar properties, you can sauté your food in a saucepan. To wilt your garlic and onions does not mean you toast your condiments dry.

With the use of the saucepan surface, you can conveniently sauté your food without expelling a lot of moisture to your food.

Because of its nearly similar properties, you can use your saucepan to sauté dishes. However, you should keep your food in small and even sizes to get the best results.

What Types of Saucepans & Sauté Pan Are the Best?

· Material

The best and most popular cookware material for saucepans is stainless steel. Stainless steel saucepan is readily used by home cooks and professional chefs alike as it can perfectly handle the high heat, essential for many recipes. A stainless-steel saucepan has excellent heat retention evenness and conductivity. 

It is also easy to clean as it is dishwasher safe, although hand washing is recommended.

Like saucepans, the material of the sauté pan is the main factor to consider when choosing the best one for your kitchen. 

The sauté pan should be versatile and durable, so you should avoid sautéing pans with a single material layer. Some of these materials include ceramic, stainless steel, and cast iron. 

You should consider buying a sauté pan made with a combination of materials. Find a sauté pan with both stainless steel and hard-anodized aluminum. 

The aluminum helps distribute the heat evenly throughout the pan, while stainless steel offers a durable surface. Combining these materials results in a multi-ply pan that is highly durable.

· Size

In terms of size, saucepans come in a variety of sizes. Those looking to craft a pasta sauce from scratch or want to braise should consider getting a bigger, nonreactive saucepan such as a 4-quart stainless steel saucepan.

These larger saucepans often come with a stay-cool and helper handle, making them easier to move around and manipulate in the kitchen and the oven.

For people preparing smaller batch sauces or boiling a smaller volume of water, smaller saucepans like the 2 quart saucepans are available.

These pans are not as heavy as the larger ones and do not feature a cheaper handle. Many other saucepan sizes vary from ¾ quarts up to 7 quarts to fit any of your saucepan needs.

Sauté pans are also available in several sizes. However, the most common span sizes have 8-, 10-, and 12-inches diameters. The size will depend on what you plan to cook on the pan.

How To Use a Sauté Pan?

There are two ways of applying heat when cooking with a sauté pan; direct and indirect. Both these methods offer different cooking results.

· Cooking food with direct heat

You can cook your food with direct heat by directly putting the pan on the heat source. The heat will heat the pan, which then heats your food. Direct heating means that the food gets the heat from just one direction. Therefore, you need to flip over your food to get an even brown crust. Cooking food with direct heat is faster as the pan gets hotter. Therefore, direct heating is best for searing meat.

· Cooking food with indirect heat

With most sauté pans being oven-safe, you can use indirect heat for cooking food. This method is when you don’t place your pan directly above the heat source. Cooking food in the oven is a perfect example. The oven has a warm surrounding that heats the air and then the food and the pan.

Indirect cooking is slower than direct heating because the pan doesn’t heat quickly. Direct and indirect cooking produces different consistency and food texture.


Now that you know the difference between a saucepan and a sauté pan, which of these pans should you have in the kitchen? The answer is; you should have both because each of them has a specific function in your kitchen. 

While they might have several similarities, they are two different pans, each having a range of versatility. With no time, they will turn to be your most-used pans.

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