What is a saucepan? A saucepan is simply a circular pan that has high sides and a long handle. With such a broad definition, this piece of cookware has quite a few features with multiple options for versatility. Learn about the size, shape, and construction of saucepans so you can choose the best one for your kitchen.
Generally recommended for small cafes and delis, though it can be kept on hand by large institutes for whipping up a small specialty meal. Can be used for individual servings without fear of cross-contamination.
Medium is just the right size to handle a substantial amount of food without being overly large for its purpose. All establishments from large to small should have a medium-sized saucepan since it provides such flexibility in the kitchen.
Large pans are ideal for cooking in bulk as the size is only applicable for creating food en masse. Casual to upscale restaurants, pizzerias, and catering companies will definitely benefit from having a large saucepan on hand and ready to tackle meals for many people at once.
Extra Large Capacity
Especially ideal for eateries that serve one or two main dishes, extra large saucepans are great for cooking food for a lot of people, or for cooking a portion of a meal, like a pasta sauce, that will be used in many dishes. Cafeterias, hospitals, and schools will benefit from the extra large size of these saucepans, but typical restaurants will also benefit from being able to cook one or two bulk specialty foods that sell quickly in these large pans.
Since the bottom of a saucepan is in direct contact with the heat source, having a narrow diameter means that less food will be touching this hottest part of the pan. As a result, these pans are better for cooking food when retaining moisture is a concern.
Having a greater surface area allows wide pans to heat more quickly and evenly. The bottom also acts as a large cooking surface when food needs to touch the pan itself, so wide pans are perfect for braising or for making a delectable custard.
Ideal for more versatile cooking, straight-sided pans provide better heat conduction and are great for reducing sauces and cooking vegetables. This pan is perfect for pairing with a lid to accelerate cooking.
The flared sides give a tapered pan a shape ideal for stirring, so it is great for making desserts or cream soups that need to be stirred more frequently. Use this pan to cook food that needs to be at a low temperature for an extended time.
With a standard silver color, aluminum pans are a popular economical option perfect for start-up restaurants, cafes, and diners.
Stainless steel pans also have that standard silver color while adding extra durability and weight that aluminum pans simply can't compete with.
Most often used for display cooking, copper saucepans have a distinctive orange-red color. They will occasionally have a stainless steel handle to ensure reliable transportation.
These saucepans are made of stainless steel but have a few millimeters of aluminum permanently adhered to the bottom to better distribute heat.
Just the opposite of aluminum-clad pans, stainless steel-clad means the pan is made of aluminum and there is a few millimeters of stainless steel on the bottom of the pan.
With its main feature obviously being a non-stick surface, these pans typically have a black interior for easy identification. This interior is a coating of PTFE, or Teflon®.
Tri-ply means that there are three layers of material: the outer two layers made of stainless steel and the interior layer, or "core," made of aluminum. Some saucepans only have the tri-ply construction on the bottom, the rest of the pan having a typical single-layer construction, while other pans have the tri-ply design on the bottom and sides.
Usually connected by 2 or 3 pieces of hardware, or rivets, this handle provides an excellent connection between the handle and pan. However, these rivets can easily catch or hold food, which makes cleaning more difficult. So while riveted handles are the most sturdy option, it is less sanitary than a welded handle. It is suggested to choose this type of handle for your heavy pans.
This handle is melted or welded to the pan during construction to provide a sturdy connection. The process results in a completely smooth interior on the pan and no space or crevices for food or bacteria to get stuck. It is ultimately less sturdy than a riveted handle, but it's more sanitary. It's best to choose these handles for medium- to light-duty pans.
A helper handle is a loop handle placed opposite the long handle on a pan. This extra handle lets you steady a pan during transport to put less strain on the main handle as well as less strain on your chef's wrist. Since it's designed to help carry heavy foods, you will primarily only see this handle on larger pans.
Air is one of the best insulators out there - hollow handles take advantage of this by creating a hollow tube that stays cool much longer when connected to a saucepan. These handles are better insulated than the typical solid metal handles you'll see. Likewise, they are lighter in weight and so contribute to an overall lighter pan.
The weight of a pan relies on:
Getting a lightweight pan is great for your chefs and dishwashers as the lighter pan is easy to maneuver, even when filled with food. The trade-off is that lightweight pans tend to have a thinner construction, which is easier to bend or ding. In some cases, if the rim is bent a lid will no longer fit on the pan.
However, a heavy saucepan will not be easily dented so you can count on long-lasting durability. The compromise here is that chefs may struggle to lift and carry heavy pans filled with heavy foods around the kitchen. To help with this, try getting a pan that has a helper handle to help offset the weight while carrying.
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