Can newfangled designs improve on—or even stand up to—the tried-and-true saucepan we’ve used for years?
Published July 1, 2013. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 14: Easy Summer Supper
Our favorite saucepan is a kitchen workhorse—its hefty frame, deep bowl, long arm, and tight-fitting lid make it our go-to vessel for rice, soups, sauces, and even pastry cream. What could possibly be improved? Mainly space management, we discovered when we began to peruse cutting-edge options. We tested two saucepans with removable handles, which allow the cook to fit more pans on a small stovetop, in the dishwasher, or in a cupboard. One pan also boasts a lid that doubles as a trivet. And we were hopeful that another pan—which, like the same company’s 5-quart pot, has an integrated strainer and a keep-warm bowl—would work better in saucepan form, so we also took it for a spin. We tested these new models by making pastry cream, sautéed onions, and rice pilaf.
The results? Disappointing. While they did save space, the two pans with removable handles either were out of balance or did not feel secure. One pan's wooden lid/trivet performed its heat-shield function well but prevented us from using the clamp-style handle, since the lid won’t fit when the handle is attached. Another's innovative lid met the same fate as the one for its larger pot: Bulky solids tended to block the opening. The only innovation that held up was the same pan’s nesting bowl: Placing the pan in the bowl let us take it to the table and kept the contents warm. None of the innovators came close to performing as well as our favorite.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.