Sauté Pan vs. Saucepan: What’s the Difference?

Sauté Pan vs. Saucepan: What’s the Difference?


Sauté Pan vs. Saucepan: What’s the Difference?

Do you love to cook delicious meals at home for your family? If so, you've probably had the experience of coming across a new recipe and wondering which pot or pan to use. With so many different types of cookware, it can be easy to get confused. Should you use a skillet? A saucepan? A sauté pan? While you might not assume using specific cookware could make a significant difference, using the proper tool to create your dish provides unique benefits and can significantly improve your meals. 

However, when so many pans look similar, it can be difficult to figure it out. For example, sauté pans and saucepans have several similarities. But their varied sizes, shapes and uses mean they each serve a unique purpose in your kitchen. While it can seem intimidating, we're here to help you learn about how to use these pans to upgrade your cooking experience. 

Differences Between Sauté Pans and Saucepans

The easiest way to determine if you're looking at a sauté pan or a saucepan is by the size and shape. Generally, sauté pans are skillet-shaped, with a wider surface area for cooking and lower walls. The wider base allows you to add more ingredients, while the walls prevent liquids from splashing out. Think of it as a frying pan but with more depth. On the other hand, a saucepan is more like a pot with taller sides and a smaller base. As the name suggests, saucepans are mostly for preparing various sauces, such as marinara or gravy. 

Sometimes, a saucepan might feature a spout to pour sauce directly onto a dish. Both pans come in various quart measurements. Typically, a saucepan will be somewhere between 1 or 4 quarts. Sauté pans are usually bigger, ranging from 3 to 12 quarts, but you can also find them measured in inches.

To recap, a sauté pan is wider and shorter, while a saucepan is smaller and taller. Both cookware items feature a long handle and a flat bottom for even cooking. 

When to Use a Sauté Pan vs. a Saucepan

When you're in a rush, it's easy to grab the nearest pan or pot and start cooking without thinking much of it. But, once you know the best uses for each piece of cookware, you'll know when to use a sauté pan vs. saucepan.

How to Use a Saucepan

Saucepans are best for boiling liquids, such as making pasta, rice or soups. You can also use them to make a roux for a thick sauce like bearnaise. Saucepans are perfect for reducing and thickening sauces or simmering liquids. However, you can also use them to blanch vegetables. The taller edges of the saucepan make it easy to boil water, whisk up a gravy, simmer homemade jam or make your family tomato sauce recipe. For breakfast, saucepans are great for making poached eggs. 

How to Use a Sauté Pan

How to Use a Sauté Pan

Sauté pans are a bit more versatile because they have higher walls to allow for some simmering, with a wide base that makes it easier to cook more ingredients. For instance, you might use a sauté pan to sear a steak, sauté onions and peppers until tender or braise chicken and rice in one pan. One of the best features of some sauté pans is that they are oven-safe, depending on their materials. You can sear a juicy steak and finish cooking it to perfection in the oven. 

What to Look for When Buying Cookware

When shopping for new cookware or bakeware, the different sizes and materials can be overwhelming. How do you decide which one is best? To simplify this, here's a list of primary factors you may want to consider for your cookware:

  • Heat conductivity
  • Presence of toxicants  
  • Versatility 
  • Size
  • Durability 
  • Compatibility with other appliances
  • Materials that may leach into food 

Ssauté pans and saucepans come in various materials, including nonstick, cast iron, stainless steel, copper, carbon steel and ceramic. Each of these materials has a different level of heat conductivity, maintenance and ability to use in the oven, broiler and other kitchen appliances. For example, if you make a meal that requires a sauté pan, choosing a nonstick coating may not be the best choice because it cannot go in the oven

With pure ceramic cookware, you can use your sauté pan and saucepan in many ways, including the oven. All-ceramic cookware, which contains no PFAS, PFOA or sprayed-on coatings, is a nontoxic way for you to maximize your cookware. Pure ceramic cookware is also more sustainable than nonstick and prevents harmful chemicals from leaching into your food. 

Do You Need Both Forms of Cookware? 

Everyone has different cooking preferences. For instance, you might have a tried-and-true Dutch oven that you love to use at home for every meal, but perhaps you want to improve your recipes by using the correct cookware. So, how do you decide? Do you buy both? Get one? 

While it's not entirely necessary to get a sauté pan and saucepan for your kitchen, having both allows you to cook to your best ability and create delicious meals for your family. Ultimately, if you only have one of them, you might find your sauce gets too overheated in your sauté pan, while trying to cook down vegetables in your saucepan takes too long because there's not enough room. Consider sauté pans and saucepans as teammates in your kitchen. 

Upgrade Your Kitchen Game With All-Ceramic Cookware From Xtrema

Upgrade Your Kitchen Game With All-Ceramic Cookware From Xtrema

All-ceramic cookware is a worthwhile investment if you want to up your game and notice a difference in your recipes. Cooking with the proper tools can make being in your kitchen a much more convenient and enjoyable experience. Say goodbye to poor heat conductivity or wasting time waiting for your veggies to cook perfectly. 

At Xtrema, we know how vital it is for you to provide healthy, hearty meals to your family and avoid excess toxins that seem to be in everything these days. That's why we created our all-ceramic line of cookware and bakeware. We want to provide our customers with high-quality, dependable and sustainable artisanally crafted cookware. As a family-owned business, we dream of seeing our handmade items in your kitchen, where you can pass our products down to future generations. If you want to enjoy maximally healthy cooking, browse our ceramic cookware collection today or read more about our approach to cooking on our blog!

about the author

Erik Bergstrom

Erik Bergstrom

Erik Bergstrom is the Digital Media Manager at Xtrema Cookware, and he oversees the online presence of the company! Erik has personally seen family members struggle with chronic illness, and it fuels his passion for helping others understand the importance and value of cooking clean. Erik enjoys cooking, educating, and creating healthy meals for his friends and family. He is always seeking out new information from wellness professionals to grow his knowledge of what toxins do to the human body and the value of cooking without them!

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Traditions Saucepan


Say so long to cooking with harmful chemicals, and hello to our non-toxic 100% ceramic Traditions Saucepan. Ceramic from surface to core, never worry about metals and toxins leaching into food. Our Traditions Saucepan is perfect for sauces. But that’s not all. This stylish and functional pan masterfully cooks rice, pasta, grains, and more. Available in four sizes. *Featured image is the 3.5 quart Traditions Saucepan (largest size) for reference.* 

  • includes saucepan and ceramic lid