What Are Saucepans Used For?

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It was the first Thanksgiving I was to host in my new home. I use the term “host” loosely because my Mom was coming over to do all of the cooking. Hey I was providing the venue! My Mom wanted to make sure she had all the necessary cookware needed to prepare a proper dinner.

She asked if I had a roaster and a saucepan along with a bunch of other things. I assured her that I did. Once she arrived I had proudly displayed all my cookware. To her dismay, I assumed the saute pan I had was a saucepan! Clearly, I needed a class on naming cookware. So what are saucepans used for as I never had an issue with cooking any meals without one?

man and woman cooking with saucepan

Saucepan Shapes and Sizes

Once you know the shape of a saucepan, you can clearly differentiate it from other cookware. A saucepan has a long handle, is usually circular, deep and has high, straight sides. The surface area of a saucepan is smaller compared to its high sides. This allows for even heating of the contents surrounded by the sides of the saucepan.

Saucepans typically range from sizes 1 Qt to 4 Qts. You will want a saucepan of 4 Qts if you plan to use it to boil pasta. If you need anything larger than this, you’ll probably be better served with a stock pot.

Saucepan Features

  • Long Handle
  • Circular
  • Deep
  • High, Straight Sides

Uses Of Saucepans

So, what are saucepans used for? Well as the name implies, they are commonly used for making sauces and marinades. Now that I actually own a saucepan, I use it to make my own homemade BBQ sauce often. The high sides allow my sauce to maintain even heat as my ingredients simmer together.

But of course, you don’t want any pan that’s only good for one thing. Think of your saucepan as “liquid’s best friend”. Basically, saucepans can be used for any cooking that requires boiling, simmering or stewing.

They are great to boil water in. You can use them to boil eggs and to boil your water for pasta. Since beans, rice, mashed potatoes and risotto all require boiling, your saucepan is great to prepare those dishes.

Spaghetti boiling in saucepan

What Saucepan Material Is Good For Cooking?

Saucepans, like all cookware, can be made of a variety of materials. Common materials are stainless steel, aluminum, enameled cast iron, and copper.

Some may have a non-stick coating such as Teflon. However, you should remember that non-stick saucepans should not take on very high heat as it causes the coating to breakdown.

The best saucepan materials for cooking are stainless steel and enameled cast iron. This is because these two materials can handle high heat without any problems. Many marinades and sauces will require you to bring your saucepan to a boil which will require high heat. So, a saucepan that can take on this high temp is crucial.

Stainless steel and enameled cast iron are also the best choices for saucepans because these materials are non-reactive. Acidic or high in alkaline foods can “react” to certain materials such as aluminum and copper. If you were to cook something acidic like tomato sauce in a saucepan that isn’t non-reactive, it may take on a metallic taste.


It is now clear to see that a saucepan has many uses and is a valuable addition to any kitchen. From sauces to rice dishes – a saucepan is perfect for the task. Make sure that you choose a high-quality, sturdy saucepan. A great saucepan is made by All-Clad. You will likely use your saucepan repeatedly and want a pan that will last a long time.