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What Is A Saucepan Used For?

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: October 26, 2023

Saucepans are stovetop appliances that can make for great additions to your kitchen if you do not already have them. With various sizes and uses, they can make cooking with liquids much easier, not to mention that you can cook various other foods in them too.

Generally, buying a saucepan set can be a good idea, since this can include a couple or more saucepans of varying sizes that you can use for different purposes.

To learn more about saucepans and what they are used for, you can go through the following primer on these effective utensils.

What Exactly Is A Saucepan?

A saucepan is a versatile kind of cookware that tends to resemble a pot since it has depth and tall sides. In size, it tends to be slightly smaller than a pot and much smaller in width than a pan, but there are actually various sizes of saucepans that can serve different purposes in the kitchen.

Typically, you can expect saucepans to be around three quarts or liters.

Usually, the saucepan comes with a handle and a lid that can ease the process of cooking. Moreover, considering the height of the saucepan, you can easily deal with the liquids or any other food inside without the risk of causing a mess, especially if you can manage to cover the top with a lid.

The small width can also be a good way for the heat to circulate throughout the contents of the pan in a uniform manner, ensuring that everything heats up and cooks properly.

Saucepans are mainly made from stainless steel, although aluminum and cast iron are pretty common as well.

what is a saucepan used for?

Some other materials that you might find saucepans in include copper, carbon steel, ceramic as well as non-stick materials, but stainless steel can be the ideal choice since it ensures uniform cooking, durability, prolonged heat and simple maintenance.

Common Uses Of A Saucepan

There are several ways in which you can make use of a saucepan in your kitchen. Let’s take a look at some of them in further detail below.


The most common and popular use of a saucepan is to boil, cook or simmer liquids. Quite simply, you can use the saucepan for boiling water or you can go some steps further and make some soup or stock.

If you want to make something just for yourself or for a couple of people, then you can also use the saucepan for making a meat and vegetable stew as long as you are careful that you do not end up stuffing more than what the saucepan can handle.

Making sauces, curries and gravies can also be a good use of the saucepan.

saucepans on the hoib


Saucepans are ideal for boiling your pasta and preparing it for cooking. Since the pasta will soften up, the size of the saucepan will not usually matter too much unless you intend to make a large quantity or your saucepan itself is already quite small.

In many cases, you can also make use of a smaller and bigger saucepan for all steps involved in making your pasta. For instance, you can use one saucepan for boiling, one for making the sauce and then simply add the cooked pasta to the sauce, provided that everything fits.


Braising is a way of cooking meat or vegetables that initially requires you to sear or cook the meat and vegetables in a pan until they brown up nicely. Once this step is done, you can prepare your saucepan by adding a small amount of braising liquid such as wine, stock, beer or others, along with the prepared meat and vegetables.

The moisture released from the meat and vegetables along with the braising liquid can make the cooking process much more thorough and even, especially in the saucepan.

Once again, you should note that this only applies to small quantities.


Apart from boiling water or liquids, you can also make good use of a saucepan to boil meat of various cuts as well as vegetables that you can then use for cooking.

For instance, boiling potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, beans, corn, broccoli and cabbage, among others, can soften them up in the saucepan and make it easier for you to carry out the rest of the cooking process.

saucepans can be used for so many things

Since saucepans are not typically large in size, you might have to limit yourself to a small number of vegetables at a time to ensure as much evenness as possible. Cutting them down into smaller pieces can help in this case.

You can also boil rice in a saucepan if you are cooking it in a limited quantity.

Deep Frying

Deep frying involves frying various kinds of foods in a pot or pan full of oil, turning the food brown and crunchy. Most commonly, you can do this with potato chips, chicken, churros, shrimps, tempura, fritters, croquettes, donuts and lots more.

If you want a quick snack or meal just for yourself or for one more person, then you can make excellent use of a saucepan to deep fry something. Just make sure you let the oil come to a boil and dip the food you want to fry in a flour mixture or some breadcrumbs.


Since saucepans are ideal for liquids, you can make the most of them and use them for making all kinds of beverages. For instance, you can make some tea, coffee, hot chocolate, mulled wine, flavored milk, Irish coffee, hot rum or cider.

You will, of course, need to gather all the ingredients required for each of these and ensure that there is no risk of boiling things over and having them spill out of the saucepan.

Using a saucepan for these will help ensure that they warm up in a uniform manner. You can then leave some of them to cool down if required.


Reductions and saucepans can go well together. If you want to reduce sauces, syrups, gravies, stocks, wine, broth, caramel or even jams, then you can easily carry this process out in a saucepan.

shellfish in a saucepan? why not!

While bigger saucepans are ideal for larger quantities, you can also simply use smaller ones to suit your purpose by carrying out the process in batches.

Some Limitations

As ideal as saucepans sound, there are several limitations and restrictions that you might encounter while dealing with them. This does not mean that you don’t use them entirely because they are still extremely handy, but simply that you should be cautious of how you use them and which kind of saucepan you buy.

Let’s take a look at some of these limitations here.

  • The main limitation or restriction here, as you might guess, is the size of the saucepan. Even with multiple sizes, a saucepan is not designed to be too big, which means that you can only cook small quantities of food in it.

For larger quantities, you might need to use it multiple times or simply make use of a bigger pot.

  • Regardless of what you cook or boil in the saucepan, you will need to keep constant watch over it, otherwise, you might risk burning the food or having it cling to the saucepan, especially the square corners. Make sure you use a ladle or utensil to stir the food or liquid around continuously.
  • In case a bit of the food ends up sticking to the saucepan or burning, you might go through a difficult time rinsing and cleaning it up, especially if the saucepan has some kind of layer or coating to it.

How To Find A Good Saucepan

There are several things you should keep in mind while looking for a good saucepan to buy. These include the following.

saucepan with a wooden spoon next to a bowl of fruit
  • Picking the right material is important. Go for metal as far as possible with stainless steel being the preferred choice due to the heat distribution, heat management and non-reactivity. This can make it possible for you to cook all kinds of things in the saucepan.
  • Check the label to see if you can clean the saucepan in the dishwasher. This can help you reduce the effort required on your part while also maintaining the safety and quality of the saucepan.
  • Ensure that you are getting the size that works best for you. Consider your requirements in this case, although the best thing to do can be to buy a saucepan set of different sizes so that you can cook the given quantities with ease and convenience.

It might be best to designate each saucepan for a certain purpose, such as one for liquids and beverages, one for cooking and braising and so on.

Final Remarks

To sum up, a saucepan is a kind of cookware that you can use for managing and cooking liquids as well as other kinds of cooking methods such as making pasta, braising, boiling meat, rice and vegetables, deep frying and making reductions.

Remember not to overfill the saucepan and ensure that you stir and watch over the food until it is done. You can then enjoy your drink or meal and clean the saucepan later with ease.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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