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May 6, 2011 12:24 AM

Sauce Pans (Lodge) and frying food questions (newbie)

So I decided to go with Lodge for cast iron cookware and bakeware to start my collection. But I see they are missing something that seems obvious (to me at least): sauce pans. Am I missing something? I know Le Creuset has cast iron sauce pans... why doesn't Lodge?

What company would you recommend for affordable 1, 2 and 4 quart sauce pans? All-Clad stainless steel seems like a good choice from but they are still on the pricey side.

Are there better bargains abound?

How can I fry foods? Can I cook them in a dutch oven with these deep fry baskets (that's what I am understanding from Lodge's site)...


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  1. short answer:

    Le Creuset is a French company. French steaks are tough horse meat that need sauce.

    Lodge is an American company. American steaks require no sauces because of their excessive levels of greatness. A sauce pan does not need to exist in Lodge's mind.

    Actual answer:

    I would pare it down so you can afford something better. wouldn't you rather have 2 nice ones than 3 crummy ones? 3 sizes seems like too many to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: j8715

      What are you talking about? If you were going to make a pan sauce for steak it would be in the pan the steaks were cooked in. No one cooks steaks in a sauce pan.

    2. I'm going to assume many people here will suggest cast iron is not a good material for sauce pan. It's difficult to heat up and cool down.

      As for budget stainless steel / aluminum cookware, you can check out restaurant supplies stores, like

      ... or Regalware looks good too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cutipie721

        Oh, I didn't realize that. Then why does Le Creuset offer sauce pans? Is it to heat up glazes or something?

        Would you suggest spending the extra money on All-Clad from the seconds store or from deep discounts on or eBay? Would 1, 2 and 4 quarts be all I need?

        1. re: cmm3

          I have 2 Le Creuset saucepans, they are not the best choice for things where you need precise heat control but they are great for anything that you want to stay hot while serving or until dinner is ready because cast iron retains heat so well.

      2. Cutipie took the words from my mouth. I agree. I think Lodge decision is correct. Cast iron is a very poor material for a sauce pan. There is no reason to make a sauce pan from cast iron when there are better materials. Le Creuset will sell all kind of cast iron cookware just because they can and people will buy them. Le Cresuset also sells enameled woks which is pretty silly to me.

        As for deep fry in a Dutch Oven, yes you can do it.

        20 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thank you!

          So stainless steel is best for sauce pans? What about stock pots -- I want a large pot for making stew for family & friends? Cast iron or stainless steel (I recently saw selling a LC stock pot for $50).

          Is frying in a dutch oven a bad idea? Are there better solutions? I won't fry often, but for the $15 it costs to buy the frying extension, it seems like a great purchase!

          1. re: cmm3

            The LC CI sauce pans aren't really sauce pans. They're more like one-handled dutch ovens.

            SS, aluminum, copper, etc. are all good materials for sauce pans and stock pots. The $50 LC stock pot is NOT cast iron, it is enameled steel. I have had so-so experience, however, using SS or any kind of disk bottomed pot for making stew, I always seem to get a hot spot & burnt food. The thing about stock pots (or any other pot that basically holds liquid) is that they get extremely heavy once liquid is in them. Hence, most people like the pot to be as light as possible.

            Frying in a dutch oven is ok. If I were you, I would buy one thing at a time and see how you react to the different types and materials. Agree that 3 sauce pans is a bit much for a beginner.

            1. re: E_M

              I just spoke to Lodge....

              Would you recommend the enameled products imported from China, or cast iron that I must put vegetable oil on before and after each meal? I don't think it is a big deal to do the latter, but would appreciate replies from more seasoned cooks. Colors are nice, but not necessary...

              So, for heating up half a jar of sauce, I would need 1 quart? So do you think a 1 and 3.5 quart sauce pan should be all I need? (for now)

              Finally, is it better to go with Lodge's Signature series so I can touch the skillets/dutch ovens without mitts, or should I skip it, use mitts always, and save the money?

              1. re: cmm3

                If you plan to use the sauce pan only for heating tomato sauces or other acidic foods, bare cast iron would not be a good choice. Take a look at some of the suggestions I made below for better sauce pan materials.

                1. re: cmm3

                  I'm sorry to say I think you're misinformed about cookware. Lodge's products are not "colored" or not, they are enameled or bare. Enameled and bare function differently. Acids can remove the seasoning on bare CI, but then again, bare CI can be non-stick.

                  I don't know how much a jar is, so I couldn't guess the volume capacity of a half of one. Most pre-packaged food can be heated up in anything. When you say "sauce pan" here people tend to think you are making an actual sauce, not re-heating prepackaged food.

                  Lastly, stainless steel handles are not cool, just coolER. You should always have mitts. I know this from experience. I am typing with one hand right now, in fact. Along similar lines, may I suggest your first kitchen purchase is a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit.

                  1. re: E_M

                    I think cmm3 understands the difference, given his/her comment about seasoning bare cast iron. I think he/she is looking on whether or not one is better than the other for his/her needs.

                    IIRC, the average jar of store-bought tomato sauce is about 24oz. Twelve ounces of sauce wouldn't require a very big pan at all.

                    1. re: hardline_42

                      It was using the vegetable oil before that gave me pause, as I felt one had to clarify that you need to use oil (or fat) in enameled CI as well.

                  2. re: cmm3

                    "Would you recommend the enameled products imported from China, or cast iron that I must put vegetable oil on before and after each meal?"

                    They are different and function somewhat differently. I have both the Lodge Color enameled Dutch Oven and the Lodge bare cast iron Dutch Ovens. I find the bare ones more useful, but many people find the opposite.

                    Stainless steel is poorer heat conductor compared to cast iron, so the stainless steel handle on the Lodge Signature is cooler to touch. I think it is really your choice here.

                      1. re: cmm3


                        It is really personal choice here. Bare and enameled cast iron cookwares have their distinct advantages. For bare cast iron cookware, they are 1/3rd to 1/10th the price as the enameled cast iron cookware. They need to be seasoned with oil and high temperature. Once it is seasoned, they are fairly nonstick. Acidic solution and repeat usage can deplete the seasoning surface and re-seasoning will be needed. They do provide dietary iron which is particularly helpful for most North Americans.
                        For enameled cast iron cookware, they are ready to go out-of-the-box. They are somewhat nonstick due to the enameled surface. They do not require the seasoning and re-seasoning process, and they can be used to cook acidic food without the possible metallic taste. However, the enameled surface is delicate. If the enameled cooking surface is cracked or chipped, then the whole pot may very well becomes useless. If you search around the CHOWHOUND topics, you will see many posts about chipped enameled cookwares. A $200 enameled cast iron cookware can be gone. There are two examples:
                        Ultimately, the enameled cast iron cookwares just require too much care and attention. Whereas the bare cast iron cookwares are nearly indestructible and the seasoned surface can be regenerated.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          So, perhaps it is better to go with the All-Clad "clad core" products instead, since it won't chip and works well (for at least heating sauce).

                          Is there something I am missing if I do indeed purchase All-Clad seconds from ?

                          1. re: cmm3


                            For a saucepan, sure, I think All Clad clad cookware is a better choice than cast iron or enameled cast iron. Now, for a grill pan, I think cast iron is better. Back to sauce pans, tinned copper saucepans are considered the best, but they are very expensive and they do take a bit more experience to take care of. As for cladded cookware, All Clad is the most famous one, but there are cheaper alternatives like Calphalon Triply and Tramontina brands.

                            As for what will you be missing for purchasing All Clad seconds... well, not much really, but some people like the new All Clad d5 series which is exclusive to Williams Sonoma. d5 is five-ply as opposed to three ply. More importantly, the handles on d5 are rounder and smoother, and that they have rolled lip for ease of pouring liquid. I don't expect you will find many d5 as seconds, but I could be wrong. For more information about d5.


                            P.S.: One thing which many people dislike about All Clad is its handle. I would strongly suggest you to try to hold an All Clad cookware in person in a store to see if you like the handle.

                            *Correction: there are seconds of d5.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Just adding that there are seconds of the brushed finish D5.

                              1. re: olympia

                                :) I didn't think so, but I guess I am wrong. Thanks for the correction.

                            2. re: cmm3

                              I'm not trying to tell you or anyone how to spend their money but I have super cheap, nonstick sauce pans that are old, i.e., 20 y.o. and they work fine. For me personally, I can see spending even seconds, All Clad money for sauce pans if price is any consideration at all. And as alanbarnes said, restaurant supply stores have quality products for a SMALL fraction of the price. I bought a fantastic 20 qt. stockpot at one for about 20% of what I would have paid for AC. Just my opinion.

                      2. re: cmm3

                        I personally refuse to buy cast iron, including enameled cast iron made in China.

                        As for sizes, I finally got the Le Creuset 1 1/4 quart saucepan a few years ago after a friend raved about having a small saucepan and I've been pleasantly surprised at how often I end up using that size. For years I thought 1 qt just seemed too small so I never bought one. I wish I got one sooner.

                      3. re: E_M

                        I generally fry in a DO and just use my spider for removing things. A cheap item and it allows me to let some things cook longer and just fish out the pieces that are done.

                      4. re: cmm3

                        For sauce pans, it depends on what level of control you need over the heat. A thick, copper sauce pan with tin lining is the "best" for many cooks because it provides excellent control. However, you can't throw it in the dishwasher, it will develop a patina on the outside (could be good or bad) and the tin lining requires maintenance.

                        Stainless steel is not a good material for cooking. I think what you refer to is "clad" cookware, which is a conductive material (copper, aluminum) clad in stainless steel. Depending on the quality and construction, a clad saucepan is the "best" all-around for both cooking and ease of use/maintenance. A lot of board members like the Tramontina line from Wal-Mart as a good starter set.

                        Frying in a dutch oven is a great idea. The cast iron changes temperature very slowly, which helps keep the oil at a constant temperature. The high sides also aid in catching hot oil splashes. Personally, I prefer a cast iron chicken skillet, which is deeper than a regular fry pan, but not as deep as a dutch oven (or as heavy).

                        1. re: hardline_42

                          Thanks. I don't mind buying quality if it will last...

                          Would you recommend All-Clad for making sauce (both tomato sauce and glazes for meats) in sauce pans? That's all I see myself doing at the moment.

                          Which All-Clad line specifically? I'd like to begin cooking!

                        2. re: cmm3


                          Most stainless steel cookware you see in stores are not pure stainless steel. Most are cladded cookware with stainless steel on the exterior and interior surfaces and an aluminum (or copper) core. All Clad is particularly famous for this triply and cladded technology:


                          As such, a triply stainless steel cookware is really trying to behave like an aluminum cookware in term of heat conduction. That is the goal, anyway.

                          For sauce pans, you would want something which conduct heat fast, so they can quickly respond to the heat source. Any cookware based on aluminum or copper is good because these materials conduct heat fast. This includes the so-called stainless steel cookware (which really are aluminum in the core).

                          There is nothing wrong with deep frying in a dutch oven. I cannot see anything wrong.

                      5. There is a certain over lap between dutch ovens and saucepans, but a DO has two short handles, a sauce pan one long one. And for similar volume, a DO is usually wider and shallower. And because of the 2 handles, it is practical to make DO in much larger sizes. 3qt seems to be the cross over volume. And a DO is more likely to have a lid and handles that are oven proof.

                        In sizes that fit my burners, I am quite happy with stainless steel, especially induction ready ones. I've found some good pans like this a TJMaxx.

                        Among Lodge cast iron (bare, not enameled) the common shapes skillets, camp ovens (dutch oven designed for use with coals), and in between a chicken fryer (a deep skillet or DO with long handle). Traditional campfire cooking also used a deeper style, sometimes called a bean pot.

                        1. Like others, I find that cast iron (enameled or not) is less than ideal for sauce pans. I have plenty (my wife had a bunch of LC when we got married) and use them often. But still...

                          Cast iron isn't particularly responsive. You turn up the heat and it takes forever to get hot. You turn down the heat and it takes forever to cool off. To all these conspicuous consumers who insist on gas burners and then cook with Le Creuset - hate to break it to you, but you've just defeated the purpose of gas's quick response.

                          More significantly, cast iron is a pretty rotten heat conductor. With a small flame, it'll get hot over the fire and stay cool at the edges. Cooking bacon on low heat in a cast iron pan is a recipe for burnt middles and floppy ends.

                          Then there's the fact that bare cast iron is reactive. Not a problem most of the time, but it can discolor acidic sauces (eg tomato sauce) and can give a metallic whang to things that have an even lower pH (eg, a deglaze that starts with lemon juice).

                          For sauces, you want something that (a) heats up and cools down quickly, (b) distributes heat evenly, and (c) is non-reactive. For thermal responsiveness, copper's the best, and aluminum and stainless steel do pretty well. For heat distribution, copper's great again, as is aluminum; stainless is terrible. For chemical neutrality, copper and stainless work well; aluminum is problematic.

                          So lined copper's the best, right? Maybe. But it's expensive and high-maintenance. You can get aluminum lined with a neutral coating - Teflon - for cheap. Something to consider if you're willing to forgo metal utensils.

                          But IMO the best performer for the price is a stainless saucepan with an aluminum or copper disc sandwiched into the bottom. All-Clad's nice stuff, but you're not just paying for a saucepan; you're subsidizing all the product placement fees they pay to cooking shows. A restaurant supply store will sell you something that performs just as well for a tiny fraction of the cost.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            This afternoon I roasted some tomatillos in a carbon steel pan. Now I have to reseason that pan - when I pulled the pan out of the oven the tomatillos were swimming in their acidic juices.

                            I finished the green chile sauce in a stainless steel sauce pan.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              I'll rebut the choice for disc bottomed over clad. If you have gas burners, you'll be far more likely to scorch your contents right above the disc bottom. This might not be so for larger sauce pans that cover the bottom. I can personally attest to scorching in disc bottomed sauce pans that are smaller than the burner.

                              There's a great tutorial on cookware materials and shapes on Egullet that I'd highly recommend.

                              1. re: olympia

                                Yes, cladware does a better job of distributing heat from a flame that's coming up the side of a pan. But most of the time you shouldn't have the flame coming up the side of the pan in the first place.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  Even the egullet piece which is very pro disc bottoms recommends clad for sauce pans smaller than (gas) burners. I'd personally never recommend small disc bottomed pans. Just my personal experience but I've been replacing all of my small disc bottoms because I've been so unhappy with them.

                                  1. re: olympia

                                    I don't have any disc-bottom pans that are less than about 6" across, so they work for me. But I can see how cladware might be better in smaller sizes.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      I think the worst was trying to do anything milk based that really scorched. The tiny ones 2 qts and less really were the worst. It all depends on how you're using them too. If you're mostly boiling veggies and hard boiled eggs then it's not a problem. Do you have a brand that you're partial toward for your disc bottoms? I've read that they can be great and have a much thicker base than the clad alternatives.

                                      1. re: olympia

                                        I don't know much about the various brands; I ended up with Vollrath because it was what was on the shelf at my local restaurant supply store. Not cheap, but incredibly well-made and a whole lot less than equivalent stuff from a department store.

                                        BTW, that eGullet article was very informative. Here's a link:

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Thanks for adding the link for the OP. I really should have it bookmarked! The author Steve has been very influential (and helpful!) to me. Reading his piece helped talk me into ordering SS lined copper - god help my wallet! I really only grew up with non-stick so I've been very pleased to learn about different materials. My collection is made up of clad SS, SS lined copper, CI, ECI and carbon steel. I love to have the variety and definitely appreciate the different materials. Each has its own learning curve.
                                          For the OP be sure to read up on how to use each of the materials as you get your new pieces. My first CI piece ended up rusting immediately and being left in a cabinet for a year. Since I've fixed it up and learned how to use it, it's been a joy.

                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                Currently, I do have a gas oven (I rent).... so do you recommend, even for skillets and dutch ovens, not to purchase Lodge, since it is cast iron?

                                1. re: cmm3

                                  If I were you I would buy lodge or other cast iron (enameled or bare) and for your sauce pans I'd do All Clad (hold the handles before you purchase - they are being redesigned which is why the triply line is on sale). I'd also recommend tramontina from Walmart as a more affordable alternative for the sauce pans. They're also triply and reported to be very good quality.