An ordinary saucepan has its uses, but once you experience the ease of stirring in a saucier, you’ll wonder how you ever did without one.
Last Updated Sept. 1, 2022. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 6: Dinner on a Dime
Mention the word “saucier” in the test kitchen, and you’re in for an earful. The loyalists among us rave that these vessels, which are essentially rounded saucepans with wider mouths, flared walls, and rolled lips, can do everything a conventional saucepan can do—and that their distinct design features make some cooking tasks even easier. These include preparations like oatmeal, risotto, and polenta, where the food is prone to getting lodged in corners and burning, as well as custards and sauces that require frequent stirring. And as their name and wide-mouth design imply, they’re built for reducing sauces. (“Saucier” is also the name given to French cooks who prepare sauces, stocks, and soups.) And though models vary in shape and size, sauciers offer depth and capacity, as well as easy access to their interiors and corner-free surfaces that are easy to clean.
But while a saucepan is standard in any kitchen, sauciers have mainly been the domain of restaurant chefs. We thought it was time this changed. We gathered eight models with capacities ranging from 3 to 3½ quarts—the most common large size—and compared them with our favorite 4-quart saucepan from All-Clad. Six of these pans were fully clad, meaning they were made of alternating layers of steel and aluminum, which takes advantage of the best qualities of each metal. We also tested a “disk bottom” model (only the base is fully clad, and the sides are a single layer of stainless steel) and a hefty model made of enameled cast iron. In them, we prepared risotto, gravy, and pastry cream, noting their cooking performance as well as how comfortable they were to maneuver. We also tested their reduction speed by boiling a measured amount of water in each model for 10 and 20 minutes and weighing the results. Finally, since their curvy sides are known for being easier to clean than L-shaped saucepans, we washed each model by hand.
The good news: Every model delivered creamy risotto, satiny gravy, and smooth pastry cream, and it was a pleasure to whisk and stir in most of them. Our utensils glided against their curvy walls—a noticeable difference from the stiffer, bumpier movements they made in the saucepan. The Paderno was the exception; its L-shaped corners meant that it behaved more like a saucepan, trapping custard and rice.
The diameter of the base separated top performers from lesser models, affecting how frequently we had to stir the contents to ensure that food cooked evenly. When softening aromatics for risotto and gravy, testers using sauciers that measured less than about 5¾ inches across the bottom had to stir continuously, lest the vegetables pile atop...
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Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.