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May 24, 2010 09:47 AM

What size saute pan should I buy? Your opinions?

I am currently in the market for a new saute pan, and would like to get everyone's opinion on saute pan sizes. I am a little desirous of a 6qt saute pan, because it seems like it would be so useful for cooking for more than two people -- dinner parties, holidays, big batches of sauce, etc. But, I wonder if I should, for the short-term stick with a 4qt or 3qt. I am considering All-Clad, the d5 from Williams Sonoma.

If you could write back with what saute pan size you prefer, and what you cook and how many you cook for, that would help me so much. Thank you!

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  1. Are you cooking on gas or electric?

    If electric, then I would aim for a nice match between element and saute pan bottom.

    Looking at the d5 line at WS, both the 3 qt and 4 qt have the same base size with the 4 qt being about an inch taller. I have a 3 qt and would prefer the 4 qt based on it's ability to hold more leafy vegetables that cook down such as spinach.

    1. Agree with first poster - if you are using electric then your pan base cannot be larger than the element.

      1. the 6 quart will be huge, and think of how heavy it will be full. I'd go with the 4

        1. I'd be more concerned with how many people you're normally cooking for. Assuming by "saute pan" you mean the kind with perfectly straight sides about 3" high, I have two. One is 10" in diameter and is a real workhorse for everyday cooking - but we're empty nesters so I'm mostly cooking for two (and allowing for some leftovers).

          I also have a 12" that is great when we're cooking for company, I can easily make enough of something like osso buco or stuffed peppers in it to serve eight.

          As long as the pan has a reasonably heavy bottom to distribute the heat the issue of electric burner size is not that significant. Obviously you don't want to put a 12" diameter pan on a 6" burner, but a heavy 12" pan on a 9" or 10" burner will do fine.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BobB

            I agree with Bob.. I have a few all clad pans that are a couple inches larger than my burners.. however, they conduct the heat throughout the pan quite well.

            1. re: BobB

              2nd vote for Bob. Agree with grnid. 10 ish for more daily workhorse and 6qt (12 inch) for entertaining as we are only two people.

              Also, if I buy 6qt, I will buy a one with two short handles, not with a long handle and a short helper handle, like these. Maybe it is my personal preference but to me they are easier to manuver especially if you want to use it in the oven, too.



              1. re: hobbybaker

                Yeah - good point. I have the 6 qt All Clad with the long handle and I have to set the oven rack all the way down to get the handle to fit the oven.

                I had a gas stove when I first bought it and now am in a place with an electric - no doubt about it that the heat doesn't get all the way out evenly - I have to keep moving the pan around a bit. But it's certainly workable, and it is still my favorite pan, even though I'm also cooking for less people these days. I'd get the big one if you have the need, even occasionally.

                Oh, for that gas stove!