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Best Saute Pan

With a sauté, it’s all about heat, speed, and having the right equipment. We've found the best saute pans you can find online.

While you may assume that the sauté pan is just a fancy name for your traditional frying pan or skillet, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the concept behind sautéing foods is to cook them in smaller pieces, very quickly, over high heat, and with just a splash of oil or butter to aid in heat distribution and prevent sticking. So, we’re not talking about a leisurely Sunday morning fry-up of greasy bacon and eggs sizzling away on the stovetop. With a sauté, it’s all about heat, speed, and having the right equipment.

What Are the Benefits to Using a Sauté Pan?

The trick to successful sautéing is to always keep the pan moving. Why? Because when you use high heat and minimal oil, it’s easy to burn foods if they aren’t continually flipped and tossed during the cooking process. This explains why sauté pans are generally lighter than a standard frying pan – it makes them easier to maneuver. Then there’s the completely flat underside that’s ideal to rapidly slide this pan back-and-forth across hot burners as foods cook. And while skillets typically have rounded edges, the flat base and steep sides of a sauté pan ensure the cooking surface receives full exposure to the burner for even heat distribution. These straight sides also help to prevent sauces from sloshing up and foods from sliding out, while the pan is in motion.

What to Look for When Buying a Sauté Pan

Construction

While your pan will need to have that classic flat base, the steeper, straight-edged sides, and ideally that convenient helper handle feature, the missing component is of course the material your pan is constructed from. You’ll want a metal that offers superior thermal conductivity – meaning it heats quickly and evenly when cooking, then cools down just as fast. You’ll also need a pan that is light enough to flip and toss foods which will probably rule out cast iron unless you’re planning a campfire cookout.

Materials

You want superior thermal conductivity to get that quick, hot cook surface and you’ll find this with copper, cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum. And while aluminum has long been a no-no in cookware, today’s designs have found a way to safely benefit from its exceptional heat conductivity by using it in the pan core, then wrapping it with either stainless steel or a non-stick coating for a safe, durable finish. There’s also anodized aluminum that is a favorite with professional chefs and offers optimal heat conductivity but is harder and more durable than plain aluminum without the health risks.

Handle

Sautéing means the pan keeps moving as you toss and brown pieces of food. And because you’re using high heat and just a little oil, grabbing the handle and shaking the pan across a hot burner is the only way to prevent your food from burning. As a result, handles are a key feature of this pan and you want something that is ergonomically comfortable, riveted to the pan, and constructed from metal for longevity. And the extra helper handle located across from the primary handle is another important feature as it allows you to safely lift hot pans when the sauté is complete.

Top 6 Sauté Pans

Cuisinart 5.5-Quart Stainless Steel Sauté Pan with Flavor Lock Lid

Best for Quality Construction at a Budget Price

It’s time to replace that old frying pan for something a little more suited to the job of sautéing, but you’re not sure where to begin – am I right? Well, this generously sized, 5.5-quart model is a great way to kick off your search. Made from premium stainless steel with an aluminum encapsulated base for quick and even heat distribution, it’s big enough to prepare the family meal, but light enough to flip and toss foods during the cooking process. A cool grip stainless steel handle offers safer grasping of hot pans while the convenient helper handle – an important feature on larger sauté pans – lets you easily lift a full pan of hot food, with both hands. A snug-fitting Flavor Lock lid instantly turns this versatile sauté pan into a saucepan that will capture moisture and preserves flavors.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

The larger size of this sauté pan makes it an ideal choice for those who cook larger family meals or entertain.

Pros:

  • Stainless-steel on aluminum pad
  • Cool-grip helper handle
  • Stainless-steel, flavor-lock lid
  • Tapered, drip-free rim
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons:

  • Heavier weight

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All-Clad 3-Quart Stainless-Steel Sauté Pan with Aluminum Core

Best Top-of-the-Line Sauté Pan

For those thinking of investing in a sauté pan, but who are concerned it lacks versatility, you’re going to want to short-list this top-of-the-line option. Not only does this 3-quart sauté pan feature 3-ply construction with durable stainless-steel over the aluminum core for optimal heat distribution, but it’s also designed for use on all cooktops – including induction – as well ovens and under broilers. A fitted stainless-steel lid turns this kitchen essential from sauté pan to saucepan, while its ability to withstand high-heat (up to 600-degrees F) means you can pop it under the broiler to finish off steaks or into the oven for use as a casserole or holding dish. Both primary and helper handles are constructed from stainless steel and riveted in place for a safe, no-fail way to lift hot dishes off the stovetop or out of the oven.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

This quality-constructed pan is an investment piece for the home chef that wants a professional-grade design, with a little extra versatility.

Pros:

  • Stainless-steel over aluminum
  • 3-ply bonded construction
  • Includes stainless steel lid
  • Compatible with all cooktops including induction
  • Oven- and broiler-safe

Cons:

  • Not non-stick

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T-fal 5-Quart Non-Stick Sauté Pan with Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator

Best for No-Fail Results

For the home chef looking for a fool-proof way to improve upon their sauté skills, this 5-quart pan is definitely the one you’ll want to check out. Because it’s made from stainless steel with an interior coating of non-stick titanium, you’ll appreciate that foods will never stick to the pan sides – so you can flip and toss with confidence. Even better, the proprietary thermo-spot technology clearly indicates when your pan has reached the optimal temperature to begin cooking – so you simply can’t go wrong. Primary and helper handles are constructed from stainless steel and riveted to the pan sides so you have a safer, more comfortable grip when lifting a hot pan from the stovetop or oven. Best of all, a heat-proof glass top with a steam-escape hole lets you monitor the cooking process without ever having to lift the lid.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

This is a great, no-fail option for the home cook that wants to venture into sauteing but appreciates the safety net of non-stick finishes and thermo-spot technology.

Pros:

  • Larger, 5-quart capacity
  • Thermo-spot heat indicator
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Titanium non-stick interior
  • Stainless-steel riveted handles

Cons:

  • Heavier weight

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Cooks Standard 12-inch Stainless-Steel Sauté Pan with Aluminum Core and Domed Lid

Best for Versatility

If limited cupboard space means cookware needs to do double- or even triple-duty, you need a sauté pan that can go from stovetop cooking to oven baking without missing a beat. And we’ve found it for you. This premium-grade stainless steel pan features an alloy aluminum core that makes it not only suitable for all cooktops – including induction – but perfect for delivering the quick, even distribution of heat that’s so important when sauteing. And with a solid, stainless-steel handle and large, domed lid, this versatile pan can be popped into the oven (up to 500-degrees F) for baking or to simply keep foods hot. It’s perfect for sautéing, braising, broiling, or even making up a quick stir-fry. And the unique, open-air design of the handle helps dissipate heat for a safe, comfortable grip during stovetop use.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

For the home chef looking for a top-quality sauté pan that delivers exceptional heat distribution, but can also be used to bake, broil, braise or fry, this is a perfect choice.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel with aluminum core
  • Air-flow, stay-cool handle
  • Works on all cooktops
  • Suitable for oven use
  • Extra-large, domed lid

Cons:

  • No helper handle

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Farberware 4-Quart Aluminium Sauté Pan with CopperSlide Non-Stick Coating

Best Easy-Care Sauté Pan

If your busy life requires you to meld your professional chef aspirations with the need for easy-care cookware, we’ve got you covered with this non-stick sauté pan. Constructed from solid aluminum, it delivers fast, even heat distribution across the entire cook surface and can go straight from stovetop to oven (up to 350-degrees F) for when you want to keep finished foods warm. But it’s the proprietary double layers of CopperSlide coating and durable non-stick finish that lets you toss and flip foods without the worry of sticking or damage to the pan’s surface. Gently flared edges allow for the drip-free pouring of sauces and oils while the extra-sturdy primary and helper handles make for a safer, more comfortable grip. And because we all appreciate time-saving conveniences, you’ll love that this pan is dishwasher-safe.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

For those who are big on cooking but short on time, this non-stick, dishwasher-safe pan brings the professional-grade features you want with an easy carry finish you’ll appreciate.

Pros:

  • Aluminum construction
  • CopperSlide non-stick coating
  • Shatterproof lid
  • Oven-safe
  • Flared lip for drip-free pouring

Cons:

  • Non-stick finish can scratch

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Cuisinart 3.5-Quart Hard-Anodized Sauté Pan with Tempered Glass Lid

Best Non-Stick Finish

If you’re looking for a professional-grade sauté pan but are on a home chef’s budget, then look no further. This 3.5-quart pan is constructed from hard-anodized aluminum for superior heat distribution and one of the most durable cookware finishes around. The proprietary Quantanium non-stick interior means you need minimal oil to sauté foods for healthier meals and easier clean-up. Handy interior measurement markings take the guesswork out of prepping your favorite foods and sauces while a turned rim ensures drip-free pours. And for those who appreciate versatility, a tempered glass lid instantly converts this open kitchen essential into a sealed saucepan that can simmer sauces or steam foods. Best of all, the riveted, cool-grip stainless-steel handle and matching helper handle are oven-safe and make lifting this pan from hot surfaces, safe and easy.

Who Should Buy This Sauté Pan?

This is a great all-around sauté pan for the home chef who wants quality along with versatility. Made from hard-anodized aluminum with a proprietary non-stick finish, this pan is built to last.

Pros:

  • Hard-anodized aluminum construction
  • Cool-grip handle
  • Tempered glass cover
  • Quantanium non-stick finish
  • Drip-free pouring

Cons:

  • Requires hand-washing

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Bottom Line

Let’s count the ways that a great sauté pan far exceeds the traditional frying pan. Firstly, you get a full, flat cooking surface with an even, edge-to-edge heat. Then there’s that convenient helper handle that makes lifting a full pan so much easier. Finally, imagine trying to shake and flip a pan full of sizzling hot foods in a standard frying pan with sloped versus steep sides. A quality sauté pan is an affordable investment that will last for years and offers a level of versatility that far surpasses that which you get with your typical frying pan or skillet.

Photo credit: Shaiith/Shutterstock

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