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Mar 21, 2010 09:17 PM

What size saute pan works best for you?

What size is the most useful for a wide variety of purposes

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  1. How many people do you usually cook for? For me, most often cooking for two people, I think it's great to own at least 2 good 10" sautee pans. Technically, I guess I would say that what I like are the fry pans, with the slanted sides, rather than the sautee pan with the straight sides. If you are cooking for a 4 person family all the time, a 12" or even 14" would probably be best. I usually think that you want something large enough to fit a serving for everyone in, but not so large that it's hard/awkward to use for everyday purposes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jemon


      As you pointed out, the frying pans have a slanted/tilted sides. As such, a frying pan with a 12" top will only have a 10" bottom. In this sense, a 12" saute pan is actually larger than a 12" frying pan, which is why a 14" saute pan will be really huge.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Is that how they measure them? Either way, the heart of the matter is that a pan should probably be chosen for the size of the jobs that you need to use them for. It isn't that hard to go out shopping where you can look at them, pick them up and hold them. Even put things in them to mimic the cooking weight.

        1. re: Jemon


          I agree. Every person has different purpose and preference. A good way to go to a store, hold the pan, feel the weight and envision the cooking process with the pan.

    2. I think it's nice to have two saute pans: 10" and 12". The 12" for when you really need it, and the 10" for the other 80% of the time.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tanuki soup

        That's exactly what I have. The 10" gets almost everyday use, the 12" is for big jobs (the 12" holds nearly 1-1/2 times as much as the 10").

        1. re: BobB

          That's because 12 squared minus 10 squared is 44, which is approximately 50% of 10 squared.

        2. re: tanuki soup

          Yup...the 10" gets the lions share of work.

        3. I have a 12" sauteuse that I use constantly. I cook mostly for 2 people. I think it's really nice to have a large size with straight sides. But you know, I also have smaller pans. I don't think of it as much as finding the one pan that will work for everything, but rather having a few sizes that span the tasks that I want to accomplish. So I would say let your own workflow be the guide. i.e., what pans do you already have and what do you wish you had? There's your answer.

          1. Depends on what you are mainly using for and for how many people. Also, what are the other pans you have.

            I have no saute pan.
            I use my 12 inch frying pan for browning and 3.5 qt Le Creuset buffet/casserole for saute/simmer and short braising recipes.

            For a small amount, I use my 3.0 qt SS saucier (All-Clad's closeout with a loop handle just like a copper core version) for browning, saute, and simmer, too. This pan is an amazingly versatile tool. We are two people, so for the recipes I want no leftovers or only some, I use this pan.I do not make risotto many times, but if I do, I will use this pan.

            (I saw another thread by you, which is "Is a 12 inch Saute Pan too big" and try to answer to both of them here.


            Hope it helps.

            1. I have the AC 4qt. saute which is same inside diameter as the 3 qt. (10"+) so taller sides. I use it for frying as well and I'm happy with the results.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RichardM

                It's a nice pan. I have a 3 quart and I have to admit it gets a bit crowded sometimes making pasta. A 4 would be a tad better size for me