12 best saucepan sets
Consider size, weight, handles and coating
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Buying a set of pans – as opposed to one-offs – means you get consistency both with quality and aesthetics, and it often saves you money too. And with some of the more upmarket sets, you can treat them as a starter pack, adding individual pans from the same range as and when you can afford (or need) them.
Aluminium is among the most common type of saucepan. These have an enamel coating on the outside and are non-stick on the inside. They tend to be durable and easy to clean, but you can’t use them on induction hobs. If you’re happy to spend a bit more, consider hard-anodised aluminium pans, which have been electrochemically treated to give a hard finish that’s resistant to chipping or peeling. But again, you can’t use them on induction hobs.
Stainless steel pans are also on the pricey side, but should last you a long time and they are dishwasher safe. On the downside, food can stick and you can get hot spots, although the addition of copper or aluminium layers sandwiched between the stainless steel layers can help.
Cast-iron pans can be really heavy and aren’t the quickest at heating up, but (just like a cast-iron bath) they retain the heat well and are particularly suitable for range cookers.
Finally, copper pans (lined with tin or stainless steel) are even more expensive, but should last you a lifetime. However, they don’t work on most glass-topped hobs or halogen, electric radiant and sealed plate hobs.
Don’t forget to think about size (saucepans are measured by diameter – the smallest tend to be 14cm) and weight (remember it’s not just the cast iron ones that can be a nightmare for those with weaker wrists).
Do the lids fit well and do you want them to be glass so you can monitor cooking? Do you want a pouring lip? And what about an inbuilt strainer in the lid to save the need for a colander? Are the pans oven-safe (if so, check the maximum temperature)? What about stay-cool handles? And if you’re cooking on an electric hob, you’ll also need to check if the pans have a flat base.
Finally, how effective is the non-stick surface, if there is one, and how do they wash?
Tefal Ingenio 13 Piece Set, Stainless Steel: £199.99, Amazon
If you’re short on storage space but need a lot of pans, this versatile set (which is also available in non-stick and with different numbers of pans) will do you proud. Not only do the pans nest inside one another, but they have stackable lids and easily detachable handles that are really sturdy when clipped on and which can be easily transferred from one to the other when cooking. You can bung them in the oven up to 250°C and they’re suitable for all hob types including induction and they can go in the dishwasher. With titanium bases to ensure they last you years and years, this is a practical option for big families, although the biggest isn’t huge so you might need to buy one or two extra jumbo pans to add to your collection.
Le Creuset Toughened Non-Stick 3-Piece Saucepan Set: £249, Amazon
These smart looking saucepans are seriously durable and they cook evenly (including right up the sides) on any heat source, with absolutely no cold spots, while the thick glass lids are great for checking on proceedings. The non-stick coating has to be seen to be believed – you’ll need the tiniest, if any, amount of oil - but they are heavy and can chip a bit over time if you use metal utensils. They are dishwasher-friendly and if you’re not happy with them after 90 days, you get your money back.
Argos Home 3 Piece Aluminium Pan Set: £18.99, Argos
If you don’t have more than twenty quid to spend (off to uni, perhaps?) or you want very lightweight pans, this set of three in a retro-looking red design are a good buy. While they’re not going to set the world on fire with whizzy features or durability, they do their job well and the handles stay cool even when the pans get really hot. We also like the glass lids, with a handy air vent. But they don’t suit induction hobs and the non-stick surface is prone to scratching if you wash them up too haphazardly.
Lakeland Hard Adonised Bell Shaped 5 Piece Pan Set: £153.99, Lakeland
This comprehensive set (which includes milk pan, three saucepans and a frying pan) gets the thumbs up from us for their bell shape, which look good and have wider bases than their predecessors. They’re oven-friendly up to 180°C – a boon for one-pot cooking or browning something off before serving. Other plus points include the genuinely non-stick surface, speedy heat-up time, robust glass lids and the fact that they come out sparkling from the dishwasher. An excellent mid-range set to suit all needs from a company with great customer service and that never quibbles about returns.
Robert Welch Campden Cookware Set 7 Piece: £390, Robert Welch
This brand is better known for its top-quality knives and cutlery, but they’ve come up trumps with their pans and we don’t think it will be long before they’re just as renowned for these. The comprehensive seven-piece set is brand new for the summer, a welcome addition to their smaller sets of beautifully stylish pans that work on all hob types and which boast a thick base made up of copper sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel to ensure even heat distribution across the whole base. The frying pan (included) is award-winning and the handles stay cool so no need for burnt hands.
Green Pan Venice Pro 3 Piece Saucepan Set with Lids: £72, John Lewis
We dropped one of these saucepans not once, but twice, and there was still nodents. Seriously durable, they stand out for other reasons too including very even and quick heat distribution and the non-stick coating – even scrambled egg and home-made caramel sauce left no trace during our tests. You can put them in the oven up to 220°C, they’re dishwasher safe and you can add to the set with other types of pan, too. They work on all hobs, but they are heavy and could be better balanced. They’re currently less than half-price, so a real bargain for professional-standard pans.
Judge Radiant Non-stick 5 Piece Pan Set: £74.99, Wayfair
If a silver or black pans just seem rather dull, then check out this affordable vibrant red set that will add a splash of colour to your kitchen. They have Teflon’s newest non-stick three-layer surface – we won’t bore you with the science, but ferrous particles mean even heat throughout the pan. There’s a thick aluminium body for quick heat-up, peep-through glass lids with silicone edging to act as a drainer, soft-grip handles and a hard-wearing, chip-resistant surface. They’re suitable for all hobs, but they are only oven safe to 150°C.
Circulon Ultimum 4 Piece Pan Set: £199.99, Lakeland
Most people who use Circulon stick with Circulon. Having created the first ever hard-anodised, non-stick cookware back in the 1980s, its pans still come with a professional spec, including a thick aluminium base for even heating and an impressively non-stick surface, even when you use metal utensils. This set, which includes three saucepans and a frying pan, have stylish stainless steel lids, suit any hob type and are dishwasher safe. But we didn’t find them quite as quick to heat up as some.
Stellar Stay Cool 4 Piece Draining Saucepan Set: £124.31, Amazon
Another professional-level set for the keener cook, the glass lids make draining a breeze and we also like the internal measuring guides so you don’t have to pour everything into a measuring jug first. The handles never get even remotely warm (as you’d hope, given the name) and there’s no non-stick surface to chip or lose its efficiency over time. Suitable for all hob types and dishwasher and oven safe to 180°C, these pans should look as good as new even years down the line.
ProCook Elite Tri-Ply Saucepan Set 4 Piece: £179, ProCook
More serious cooks will think all their Christmasses have come at once with these hardwearing pans that heat up instantly and which have litre marks for adding ingredients mid-cooking. They clean more easily than any other set we tried and are really robust without being too heavy, while the cool touch handles mean you don’t need to bother with oven gloves. They on all hob types and can go in an oven up to 260°C (probably hotter than your oven will even go) and they’re dishwasher friendly, but it’s a shame they don’t have the easy-pour lids that other ProCook sets do. Available in other sizes too.
Dunelm Essentials 5 Piece Aluminium Pan Set: £30
For those on a budget, this set of five non-stick pans is fantastic value. Don’t expect anything heavyweight – either literally or in terms of professional cookware – but for a simple set that distributes heat more evenly than you might expect and which work on all hob types, they get the seal of approval from us. With three saucepans with glass lids, a milk pan and frying pan, there’s enough to suit most people’s needs and the handles stay true to their promise of staying cool. They can go in the oven up to 180°C, but do wash them carefully to avoid chipping.
Analon Advanced 3-Piece Glass Lidded Saucepan Set: £149.99, Amazon
We love the snazzy silver-bronze look of these slightly flared pans from Analon, a brand known for their quality professional and home cookware. At fifty quid each, they don’t come cheap, but for keen cooks with a sense of style, these thick-based pans are outstanding, with heat distribution that puts most other pan sets to shame and whose non-stick coating doesn’t chip and lasts years, with barely any need for oil when cooking. The trade-off for this kind of quality non-stick is often that you can’t put the pans in the dishwasher, but that’s not an issue with these and they can go in the oven up to 200°C too. It can be a little tricky to drain water as the rim is quite slippery, but that’s not an uncommon problem. You can use them on any hob and you get a lifetime guarantee.
The Verdict: Best saucepan sets
The Tefal Ingenio 13 Piece Set is both comprehensive and innovative, as well as being highly practical. We also love Le Creuset Toughened Non-Stick 3-Piece Saucepan Set which is a dream to use on every level, if you can afford the steep price tag.
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