in search of a great saute pan

gellchomJanuary 18, 2006

I long for a great, big, honking saute pan. Probably 5 quarts? I want a large diameter (like to put in lots of pieces of chicken); do you think 12" is as big as I should go without sacrificing even-ness of heating? I had read that nonstick is not good for those times you want to deglaze "goodies" from the pan, but one of my pickiest foodie friends told me not to worry about that; do you agree? Are straight sides important?

I don't care about being able to put it in the dishwasher. Anything that big takes up too much space to be worth it, in my opinion, so I'll just wash it by hand.

And of course -- what brand(s) do you recommend? I'd like to avoid spending too much, of course -- and truly, I don't need the "Rolls Royce" of pans; I am not that great a chef, and I don't really want the responsibility of owning a pan so expensive I feel like I have to take care of it like sculpture! But is that a mistake? Is the difference really worth it to an ordinary cook? What brands would you consider preferable, acceptable, and unacceptable choices? For example, the "foodie friend" says she thinks the Calphalon Essentials that they sell at Target for about $80 (but you can get it cheaper on Ebay, of course) looks fine (at least for ME -- I'm not sure whether she'd buy it for herself). Consumer Reports seems to like Anolon at least as well. But I want to know what the REAL experts -- YOU -- have to say.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on what is probably a question you're already sick of hearing!

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Our "big" sauté pan is a 12" Farberware Classic SS pan (not non-stick). We bought it at a garage sale with no lid, but a 12" heavy duty aluminum lid from the restaurant supply place fits perfectly. I've seen the same pan new for less than $50. The only thing I don't like about it is that the plastic handle means we can't put it in a hot oven, so we use our 11-1/4" cast iron skillet when we want to do that.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 1:17PM
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I have a 12" Calphalon Tri-Ply Everyday pan that I use for a sauté pan. It has a lid and can also go in the oven.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Kris zone6, how do you like that 12" everyday pan, i bought one but it hasnt left the box yet, what your opinion, I accuially was going to use it as a presentation pan, not really use it to cook in. does it cook well for you? JerryMB

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 5:10PM
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I really like the Wolfgang Puck stainless chicken fryer I got at TJM.

Mine is 10 inches, but I have seen it bigger.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 5:30PM
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Jerrymb, I love the everyday pan. Tonite I browned some chicken, sauteed some onion, mushrooms & celery, added rice, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and put it in the oven - 1 pan for everything and it cleans up beautifully. I use it for frying a lot. Really glad I have it, the size is good for browning - nothing is crowded.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 10:05PM
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thanks Kris, its at a good price point

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 10:37PM
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I've been using a nonstick 12" pan I bought at Costco in 1999. Looks exactly as this Kitchen Essentials Calphalon (except mine is blue) and performs beautifully. I use this pan daily. It browns very well and heats up evenly. Costco doesn't carry it anymore, unfortunately. When it's time to replace this pan, I'll probably get one of the Calphalon pans.

I also have a 12" SS pan. I like it but don't use it as much as the nonstick pan. Does it brown better? Maybe but the difference is minimal. The SS pan has a long handle and is a lot heavier than the nonstick pan. I guess I prefer the nonstick pan because it has two loop handles, isn't heavy, browns nicely and cleans in a breeze.

Re: deglazing, I agree with your foodie friend.

Are straight sides important? Yes. Straight sides help contain splattering. Most saute pans have straight sides.

I feel like I have to take care of it like sculpture! But is that a mistake? Is the difference really worth it to an ordinary cook? No.

Your foodie friend is giving you good advice, IMO.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:30AM
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Thanks, everyone! This is really helpful.

Mercedes, your pan's sides aren't quite straight (or at least, the similar pan pictured in the link doesn't have completely straight sides). Do you wish they were, or is this straight enough?

Target has two pans that seem so similar to me, but the prices are $20 different. What do you think of these?

#1: Kitchen Essentials Calphalon Hard Anodized 5 Qt Saute Pan with Cover
Hard-anodized exterior
Non-stick interior
Riveted, stay-cool handle for comfortable stove top cooking
Includes glass lid
Hand wash

#2: Kitchen Essentials Calphalon Utility 5 Qt Jumbo Saute with Cover
⢠From the Kitchen Essentials from Calphalon collection
⢠Nonstick lining
⢠Hard-anodized exterior
⢠Three heat-free handles
⢠Tempered glass lid
$59.99 (only available on line)

Is a "nonstick lining" different from a "non-stick interior"? In a way I should care about? They both have three handles; the cheaper model's handles are black.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 7:34PM
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I don't understand how you all manage with only a 12" pan! My favorite-in-the-whole-world saute pan is a 14" heavyweight number from a restaurant supply house. I use it constantly, and I am only cooking for 3 or 4 people! I hate having to cook multiple batches of chicken breasts - and especially when they are pounded flat, they take up a lot of room...

My advice if you want a "honking big" pan is to find a 14"-er!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:21PM
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try the 7 qt "one" every day pan by calphalon

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 11:13PM
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Re: my pan, the sides are straight enough.

The $79.99 pan has metal handles, the other one doesn't. Plastic handles melt in hot ovens.

Is a "nonstick lining" different from a "non-stick interior"? Probably not but "nonstick interior" sounds more expensive, doesn't it? ;)


I cook for two people. IME, two 12" saute pans perform better than one 14" pan when I need to cook for more than two.


The Calphalon One 7 Quart is a neat pan, indeed.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 12:07AM
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If I were choosing between the two at Target or the 7qt Calphalon One at the price quoted, I would definitely do the Calphalon One. I don't believe you can compare that hard anodized surface with non-stick.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 7:31PM
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My favorite piece of cookware is a an All-Clad LTD 6 qt deep saute pan (10" diameter). I think the only place that carries it is Williams-Sonoma. They want $160 for it and I think that's a steal. The 3 qt saute pan costs more than that.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 9:28PM
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Hi all, first off i would only get that pan at a Marshals or a TJMax for the best prices, I just saw a 3 qt Calphalon one saute pan for #58 dollars, I didnt buy it because i already have 5 saute pans, but the point is you can get alot of pan cheap, Bed, Bath and beyond has the 20% off coupons and the best buy is the Calphalon triply 12" everyday pan with the glass top, this is the one we were talking about earlier, i have nit seen this pan at a for mentioned stotes but i have seen the standard Tri ply saute pan and it was cheap

    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 12:18AM
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I found this one on the QVC site. They call it "Technique Hard Anodized 14" Everyday Pan by CooksEssentials," and they say it retails at $49.75 and they sell it for $28.98.

What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your opinions and advice.

Here is a link that might be useful: big pan

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 9:27PM
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Two of my friends (including the aforementioned foodie) got me the Calphalon One 7-qt (14 1/2") Sauteuse (the one to which mercedes_stewart provided the link) for my birthday last month. Wasn't that incredibly nice of them? I know they used their coupon at what we like to call Bloodbath & Beyond, but that still had to cost them $80, unless it was on a special sale. They knew I wanted a huge pan, but I had told them the same thing I posted above -- I DIDN'T want a very expensive one. I never even mentioned Calphalon, let alone that this exact one was my DREAM pan -- I had been lurking on eBay for months waiting for a good price.

Thanks for all your advice. I can't wait to cook for a crowd!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 6:19PM
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gellchom, Happy Belated Birthday and enjoy your new pan.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 8:58AM
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I recently purchased the Calphalon Kitchen Essentials 12" Jumbo Fryer (Target $49.99)and am absolutely thrilled with it. Suits me as an all around saute/fry pan.



Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 4:51PM
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