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The Best Sauté Pans
A cross between a skillet and a saucepan, this versatile pan can be used for shallow frying, searing, braising, and more.
What You Need To Know
The best sauté pans heat evenly, have a broad cooking surface, and are comfortable to hold and pour from. We liked many of the pans we tested, but we found a favorite in the Made In Stainless Clad Saute Pan. It had a roomy cooking surface and browned food evenly, and its moderately high walls corralled splatters. We also liked its comfortable handle.
What You Need to Know
Sauté pans offer the broad cooking surface of a skillet but unlike skillets, they have moderately high, L-shaped walls. Their walls are high enough to contain food and prevent spills as you stir but low enough that it’s easy to reach in with tongs to flip food. They’re one of our go-to pans for braising, shallow frying, and cooking large amounts of greens.
All the pans in our lineup are made from stainless steel, which is good for developing fond, the flavorful bits of food left behind after browning that serve as the base for pan sauces. Stainless steel can withstand high temperatures: The pans in our lineup are ovensafe to at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The pans we tested hold between 3 and 3.5 quarts, offering a cooking surface similar to that of a 12-inch skillet.
The pans have another important thing in common: They’re fully clad, which we know from previous testings that we prefer to disk-bottom pans. Fully clad pans are made of layers of aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel. Aluminum quickly conducts heat, while stainless steel retains heat well. During our testing, we identified other key features that mean the difference between a good sauté pan and a great sauté pan.
What to Look For
- A Broad Cooking Surface: Our favorite pans had wide cooking surfaces that measured between 9.5 and 9.8 inches. A large cooking surface meant we could cook more food at once. Meatballs weren’t crowded together, and there was room for us to reach in with tongs and rotate them. Greens cooked quicker because they could be spread in a thinner layer.
- Moderately High Walls: Walls on our pans ranged from 2 to nearly 3 inches tall, but we preferred pans with walls that were just under 2.5 inches, which not only contained the food we cooked in them but also made it easy to access the cooking food.
- Moderate Weight: When transferring food to a plate, pouring off fat before making a pan sauce, or moving a full sauté pan to the oven, it’s important that the pan be comfortable to lift. Moderately heavy pans were ideal. They felt sturdy, but we could still lift them and pour from them without too much strain.
- A Long, Straight, Comfortable Handle: We preferred pans with long, straight handles; they were the most comfortable to use. A dedicated place to rest our thumbs was a ...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
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.