HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


3 qt saute, 5 qt saute, or 12" skillet (all stainless steel) to brown 1 pound of ground beef?

Assuming minimal or no other ingredients added (not a lot of liquid)....

Don't 3qt sautes have same cooking surface area as 12" skillets?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My 3 qt sautes are 10".

    1. Depends. As Junes said, my 3qt pan is 10.5", so not the diameter of your skillet.

      My preference would be a saute pan. I don't want stuff to fly out when I'm breaking up the ground beef. I'm messy like that.

      1. I know the bottom of a 3 qt saute is 10" or approx 10" but the actual cooking surface of a 12" All Clad skillet, for example, is 9 3/4 inches. (The sloped sides account for some of the 12 inches.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: kimbers324

          Looks like you knew the answer to your question before asking it. As for which pan is best, it makes no real difference which you use - all of them are fine for the job.

        2. CI compared sauté pans last year. Cooking surface ranged from 9" to 11".


          1. A 3 qt sauté is plenty large enough. Mine (All-Clad) is about 10 inches diameter. The 4 qt is the same diameter but a little deeper.

            1. I've got a 3 qt saute and a 6 qt saute, they are about 11 inches and 13 inches respectively. A 12 inch skillet will not have that much bottom area. The 3 qt saute is plenty for a pound of ground beef.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mikie

                My Demeyere 5Star skillets are a dream to use for this type of thing as is my my old school Lodge cast iron. They are larger size for size then the Lodge CI equivalents.

              2. Hi, kimbers:

                I hope you've not been waiting all day for this answer.

                It doesn't really matter, any of the 3 will work. If it's very wet *thawed* burger, I'd choose the largest effective diameter, the 5Q saute.


                1. <Don't 3qt sautes have same cooking surface area as 12" skillets?>

                  I have no idea how your 3 quart saute is made. Most likely they are similar, however, you need to appreciate the fact that 3 quart is "volume", while 12" (diameter) is surface area.

                  If your 3 quarts has the same cooking surface as a 12" pan, then go for it.

                  1. I would use whatever is handy, and brown the meat in batches if necessary.

                    1. Thanks everyone! I have been clearing out/replacing cookware over the past few months and want only what's necessary for common tasks - otherwise, too much clutter in the cabinets! I have several cast iron pieces but was missing a large stainless steel pan of some sort - think SS is easier to lift and it seems to work faster so definitely wanted to include that. I settled on the 3 qt saute b/c the higher sides will help reduce splatter all over my stove! And, I think it is more versatile. I do have a very good 10" SS skillet and the current 12" Tramontina 18/10 open fry pan (unfortunately the one reviewed by CI is sold out everywhere) - the small surface area there was disappointing, though! Thanks again.