A good sauté pan is every chef’s key ally in the kitchen. It’s unbeatable for cooking vegetables, shrimp, or small pieces of meat with little fat, but you’ll also be able to prepare numerous other healthy dishes. Some models are also oven safe, so transferring from the stove to the oven is safe and easy.
Below we detail what is needed for a pan to be considered a best sauté pan. If you’re in a hurry, though, then the best sauté pans are:
- Cuisinart Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Pan—Best Stainless Steel Sauté Pan
- All-Clad Dishwasher Safe 3-Quart—Best Heavy-Bottomed Sauté Pan
- T-fal Specialty Non-Stick 5 Qt. Jumbo Cooker Sauté Pan—Best Non-Stick Sauté Pan
Want to know more… read on:
What Is a Sauté Pan?
Sautéing comes from the French word sauter, which means “to jump.” It refers to cooking small pieces of vegetables or meat on a pan with a small amount of oil by moving them around.
Also, a sauté pan has a large bottom surface area to prevent the food from steaming, a long handle, and straight sides. The greatest sauté pans include a helper handle at the other end to make the pan easier to carry. Good saute pans also have great heat distribution and cook your food evenly. Some may even be oven safe!
Note that sautéing is a healthy way to cook since you’ll use less oil than if you were frying.
What Is the Difference Between a Sauté Pan and a Frying Pan?
Skillet pans, or frying pans, are very similar to sauté pans, and they can often be used interchangeably. The difference between them is that these have slanted sides, while sauté pans are straight along the edges, preventing any spillage.
Pans for frying are great when you want to move around larger pieces of food, such as meat or chicken. They’re also good for omelets since they’re easier to turn and serve thanks to the sloped sides.
What is a Sauteuse Pan?
A sauteuse pan is like a deep sauté pan but usually has higher sides, a lid and two handles on each side. It’s especially great for making stews, soups and other dishes that incorporate more liquids.
Types of Sauté Pans
The top everyday-use options for sauté pans are:
- Stainless steel: This type is heavy but highly resistant to corrosion and heat. They can often handle a lot of mistreatment and look like new, but the food does stick to the bottom easily. Many of this type can also go in the oven.
- Non-stick pans: Ideal if you want to reduce the amount of oil you use. They’re also thicker and take a moment to heat up, but there’s some concern about whether the non-stick coating can peel off and be ingested, but they’re safe to use.
Tip: Remember to never use metallic utensils when cooking with a non-stick pan. You should opt for wood, silicone, or plastic to avoid harming the surface.
How Do You Sauté?
- Heat your pan to about 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Check if the pan is heated by pouring a spoonful of water onto it. If it sizzles and evaporates quickly, you’re good to go.
- Add your oil or butter and then your vegetables or meat. Make sure you don’t add too much to make the food cook over vapor but aim to cook it with dry heat to get the right texture.
- Depending on what you’re cooking, you may want to let it sit for a little while before turning it. Let it get golden brown and move it around every once in a while.
Check out this video on how to sauté here.
Is It Better to Sauté in Butter or Oil?
Oils generally have a higher smoke point, which is the temperature at which they burn. This is why they’re better suited for meat, which requires a higher temperature.
Butter is often used for sautéing vegetables to give them a nice taste. For fish, you can use either, depending on your taste.
If using oils or butter isn’t recommended by your doctor, you can limit them and try to use a couple of tablespoons of water or broth instead.
What Size of Sauté Pan Do I Need?
This depends on the size of your family and your habits:
- 3-quart pan: If you only want a maneuverable everyday pan for a single person or small family.
- 5-quart pan: If you’re looking for a large saute pan to do food prep for an entire week or have many people to cook for.
What Is the Best Stainless Steel Sauté Pan?
The best stainless steel sauté pan in our review is the Cuisinart 733-30H Chef’s Classic. It’s of a professional quality, won’t break the bank, and can be maneuvered easily, despite its big size.
What Factors Drove Our Ratings
- Value: A lower price for higher quality.
- Durability: The top pan will give you a lifetime of use.
- Versatility: How easy it is to use on different dishes.
Our Top-Rated—Best Stainless Steel Sauté Pan
Cuisinart 733-30H Chef's Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Pan
- Metallic lid
- 5 qt saute pan
- Professional quality
- Suitable for induction stoves
- Long, riveted handle
- Tapered rim
- Helper handle
This large sauté pan has a professional look and finish, and will likely last you for years. 79% of customers have given this product a 5-star rating as of the date of publishing. It has a lifetime warranty from the company.
The heat distribution is quick and even, and if you use the pan correctly, you shouldn’t experience sticking, either. However, if your food does stick, the finish allows you to clean it efficiently without fear of staining.
It has a long, riveted handle that doesn’t heat up even after long use and makes it easy to handle. Also, the pan’s rim is tapered to help you pour liquid from the pan without dripping.
Our Top-Rated—Best Heavy-Bottomed Sauté Pan
All-Clad 4403 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe 3-Quart
- Tight-fitting lid
- 3 qt saute pan
- 3-layer construction
- Works on induction stoves
- Dishwasher safe
- Helper handle
- Stick-resistant surface
This All-Clad pan is a great, professional-level pan for everyday use that will likely last you a lifetime. Constructed in three layers, with the outer layers in stainless steel and the inner of pure aluminum, it’s heavy but still manageable. 75% of customers have given this product a 5-star rating as of the date of publishing.
This 4-pound, heavy-bottomed pan is dishwasher safe, but handwashing will help keep it shiny for longer. It’s also oven safe for up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our Top-Rated—Best Non-Stick Sauté Pan
T-fal Specialty Non-Stick 5 Qt. Jumbo Sauté Pan
- Tempered glass lid
- 5 qt saute pan
- Safe for use in an oven up to 350 degrees
- Nonstick coating
- 4-pound maneuverable weight
- Thermo spot indicator
- Helper handle
It’s easy to see why this sauté pan with lid is a favorite in many homes. It’s very affordable and convenient, and if you treat the non-stick layer with care—no metal utensils!—it’ll give you many years of use. 73% of customers have given this pan a 5-star rating as of the date of publishing. This model also has a limited lifetime warranty.
The 5-quart capacity is enough for most home cooking, and the pan isn’t too heavy to maneuver. Also, you’ll only need a touch of oil for this pan, and the Thermo spot in the middle indicates when your pan is preheated so you can start cooking.
We like how the tight-fitting, tempered glass lid allows you to see your food without removing the lid, so you can keep the heat and vapor in for stir-frys. It’s also dishwasher safe, but the non-stick layer may last longer if you wash it by hand.
These handy accessories will complement your new sauté pan nicely:
- Barkeeper’s Friend for easy cleanup of stainless steel.
- Home Hero Silicone Cooking Utensils help protect your non-stick pans.
The Best of the Best
After careful research, we found the Cuisinart 733-30H Chef’s Classic Stainless Sauté Pan to be the top sauté pan you can find. It’s not too expensive and will give you a great return on your investment.
While stainless steel may cause your food to stick to the pan if you don’t use it properly, it can handle more mistreatment without being permanently damaged. This also makes it a great option if you’re looking for a pan to start teaching your kids to cook.