We've spent hours slaving over a hot stove, reviewing the best saucepans that will help you cook up a storm in the kitchen
Our saucepans are among the most important items in our kitchens. We use them day in, day out. They help us rustle up simple homemade fare in a hurry or cook up feasts for our dinner guests, so it’s well worth getting good pans that cook well and clean easily. The expense is worth it for something that gives so much pleasure over such a long period of time.
Do I need new saucepans?
You may want to upgrade your pans if they’re scruffy or you need different sizes, but the main reason to buy a new set is their performance. New pan sets combine multiple metals to get the best of both worlds: the sturdy, low maintenance of stainless steel combined with the fast, even cooking of aluminium.
How much should I spend on a saucepan set?
Budget at least £100 for a set of good-quality saucepans. Beyond that, it’s a question of how many pans and what size. More money buys quality and quantity, but if you get the sizes right then you only really need three or four saucepans and a frying pan – you’ll save money and storage space.
1. BergHOFF Eclipse three piece saucepan set – best for combining usability and colour
We tested a three-piece pan set that consisted of a 16cm saucepan for everyday cooking, a 20cm stockpot for big stuff and a versatile 26cm sauté pan. Three pans doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you get the sizes right – as BergHOFF has here – it can be enough. The soft green finish on the outside of the pans looked superb (they’re also available in grey). They all had PFOA-free non-stick inners, glass lids and phenolic handles. Interestingly, the black handles gave the otherwise contemporary-looking pans a slightly old-fashioned look.
The combination of aluminium and stainless steel is practical and induction-friendly. We found it light in the hand and enjoyable to cook with (in part because we loved the green colour). Food heated up quickly and evenly and it was easy to see progress through the glass lid. The handles stayed cool to the touch but meant finishing in a hot oven or grill wasn’t an option. The Eclipse is a cute saucepan set that we enjoyed cooking with.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
2. Tefal Ingenio 13 piece set – best space saving saucepans
We tested the Ingenio ’13-piece’ Tefal saucepan set but don’t expect 13 pans. It is in fact just five pans, plus glass lids, airtight plastic covers for storing leftovers in the fridge and two removable handles. With the handles off, the pans stack ingeniously (hence the name) inside each other, so you can store five in the space usually taken up by just a couple of pans We’ve tested both the stainless steel and non-stick induction versions of the Ingenio. Both are induction-friendly.
The three saucepans (16, 18, 20cm) in the stainless steel set are built with titanium to make them even tougher and have graduations inside to indicate capacity. The two frying pans (22,26cm) in the set are non-stick inside and have a Tefal Thermo-Spot that changes colour at the optimum frying temperature. The non-stick induction set has a titanium pro non-stick coating on all pans, inside and out. We found it to be hardwearing but over the long term it does get scuffed around the rim, where the handle clips on and off.
Both saucepan sets come with superbly built handles that clip on and off very securely. Remove them and the pans are oven-safe to 260°C. Ingenio is also available in smaller saucepan sets and in other finishes, including enamel and “essential” (a more affordable non-stick set that isn’t induction-compatible). Ingenio saucepans are pricey but beautifully made and a great space-saver.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
3. Judge Classic five piece set – best value for money
The JPC1 five-piece saucepan set costs around £100. That’s impressive for a set of five good-quality pans. You get a 14cm milk pan, 24cm frying pan and three saucepans (16, 18 and 20cm). The three saucepans come with toughened glass lids and the frying pan has a non-stick inner. There are internal graduations to indicate capacity and each pan’s base is encapsulated to combine even heat distribution with induction-friendliness. We found that the pans cooked evenly and came up to temperature quickly.
Build quality is surprisingly good for the price. The saucepans are light in the hand but the construction feels like professional cookware: aluminium handles are riveted on. The use of metal handles means you can use the saucepans in the oven too, up to 240°C. The handles can get hot to the touch though. The design is timeless but the pans are curvy and mirror-finished so they don’t look cheap or industrial, simply elegant.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
4. Morphy Richards Special Edition three piece saucepan set – best for style
We tested the four-piece Special Edition saucepan set in the ‘sand’ colour and fell in love with the unusual contemporary design. The exterior has a matt cream finish. The three saucepans (16, 18, 20cm) have brushed stainless steel inners, while the 24cm frying pan is non-stick. All four pans are lidded in tempered glass with steam vents. The bonded encapsulated base contains a 4mm aluminium disc to aid heat distribution for even cooking.
What’s really striking, though, is the use of brown silicone on the underside of the saucepan handles and in a ring inside the handles of the glass lids. These make them more comfortable to use, even when hot. The saucepans performed well. We liked the fact that they all came with lids and that the frying pan is large and a good shape – more a sauté pan really. The combination of sizes is great to cook with. But most of all, it was the stylish design that won our hearts.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
5. GreenPan Venice Pro four piece saucepan set – best eco friendly saucepans
This four-piece ceramic non-stick saucepan set features a 16cm milk pan and three saucepans (16, 18 and 20cm). The saucepans range in capacity from 1.5 to 3.1 litres and come with glass lids.
The saucepan set’s big selling point is that they’re non-stick without the need for chemicals. GreenPan’s ceramic coating is made from natural materials: sand enhanced with diamonds for hardness. The result even looks good; the interior is grey and has a subtle sparkle. They are not in the least bit bling.
The exterior is anodised matt black and looks superb in a subtle, neutral kind of way. The pans are induction-friendly and oven-safe to 220°C thanks to metal handles. We liked the look and feel of the saucepans. They’re light and have curved handles that sit comfortably in the hand. We were also pleasantly surprised by how effective the ceramic non-stick coating was and how easy it was to clean.
Our only complaint: the milk pan being the same size as the smallest saucepan seems daft. Surely a frying pan or a larger saucepan would have made more sense?
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
6. Stellar 6000 five piece saucepan set – best for keen chefs
The Stellar 6000 Hard Anodised five-piece pan set comprises a 14cm milk pan, three saucepans (16, 18 and 20cm) and a 26cm frying pan. That’s a good range of sizes to suit any cook – or chef for that matter, because despite being keenly priced they have a professional feel. If you’ve ever worked in a professional kitchen, you’ll love these saucepans. The design is simple but not fanciful, the build quality is impressive, and they just feel good in the hand.
But where pro saucepans are usually stainless steel that kitchen porters can scrub to within an inch of its life, these are made from aluminium for good, efficient heat distribution, but with encapsulated bases to make them induction-friendly. The exterior of the saucepans is anodised in dark grey and they have a non-stick coating inside.
The saucepans are therefore very easy to clean, inside and out.Aluminium handles mean these saucepans are oven-safe to 240°C, but the handles will get very hot. There are aluminium lids too, but only for the three saucepans. Great quality saucepans and surprisingly affordable.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
7. Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron three piece set – best for longevity
We tested the Signature Cast Iron three-piece saucepan set in Satin Black, one of Le Creuset’s new ‘taste of the city’ colours. Signature Cast Iron saucepans are available in a wide range of bright colours and neutrals. The set includes three saucepans (16, 18cm and 20cm) all with lids – the lids fit tightly and don’t have vents. They’re coated in vitreous enamel, inside and out. The ones we tested were an attractive, almost matt black on the outside and a rich, creamy coffee colour inside.
Cast iron is naturally induction-friendly. Their iron handles are integrated and the lids have stainless steel knobs, so the pans are oven-safe at all temperatures. The saucepans are also described as fridge-and freezer-safe (we’re not sure how many people would want to put their pans in a freezer).
This saucepan set is, frankly, very expensive but they have a lifetime guarantee and the idea is that they should genuinely last a lifetime, and maybe even be passed down future generations. So if you typically replace worn-out saucepans once a decade, the cost of Le Creuset is less off-putting.
Cast ironware offers certain pros and cons. It’s heavy and heats up slowly but cools down slowly too. They’re perfect for cooking up a stew or casserole and finishing them in the oven. And their heat retention makes them fantastic for serving food to the table: it keeps warm for ages. But their slow start makes them frustrating if you just want to boil an egg.
We found the weight to be more problematic than expected. For example, draining hot water from boiled spuds in the 20cm pan was a challenge because of the extra weight. We were also scared of dropping them and chipping our induction hob’s glass top.
Cooking was impressively even though, with no hotspots. The coating isn’t non-stick but it cleans well enough. These are fantastic, beautiful pans built to last a lifetime, but they’re best for slow-cooked dishes. While we love them, you’d want a couple of other pans in your arsenal, too.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What size saucepans do I need?
Saucepans measuring 16, 18 and 20cm are good standard sizes to aim for. Then optionally a larger stockpot for big dishes. The other size worth considering is a 14cm milk pan; these tend to have pouring spouts but no lids, perfect for sauces, gravy, custard, hot chocolate and more.
What are the other main features of a good saucepan?
- What are the pans made from? Materials-wise, most modern pans use a combination of aluminium and stainless steel. The stainless steel is durable and low maintenance while the aluminium (usually a disc of it, encapsulated in the pan base) is light and spreads heat quickly and evenly. Meanwhile, cast iron is tough and induction friendly but takes a long time to heat up (and cool down).
- Should I go for non-stick coatings?Non-stick coatings are easy to clean and tougher than they used to be, but they do wear over time. Ceramic pans are an alternative that avoids the chemicals in traditional non-stick coatings made using Teflon and PFOA.
- What style of pan handle is best? Phenolic (black, plasticky) handles are cooler to the touch, so you can handle pans and lids without resorting to oven gloves. Metal handles and knobs get hotter but they’re oven-safe to higher temperatures. Basically, if you like to finish dishes in the oven or grill, go for metal. If not, weigh up the practicality and looks of both options. The trend is currently more for metal handles.
- What other extra features are handy? Nice extra features include graduations for measuring quantities and lid materials – metal is tough and easy to clean; glass lets you keep an eye on cooking without lifting the lid. And if you’re short of storage space, look out for pans that stack well or fit inside each other neatly.
Will my saucepans work with induction hobs?
All the pans featured here are induction-friendly. Cast iron pans and some stainless steel pans work with induction. But if you have an induction hob, do check first because some types of stainless steel don’t.If you’re buying a pan made of a different material – such as aluminium or copper – definitely check. The base needs to contain a magnetic material so the pan works with induction. If you have a saucepan in front of you and want to check, simply hold a fridge magnet to the base of the pan: if it sticks then the pan will work with induction.
Are they dishwasher safe?
Most pans (and all the ones featured here) call themselves ‘dishwasher safe’ but the care instructions usually suggest hand-washing is better for them in the long term. It’s your call, but you won’t do them major harm by using the dishwasher.