Saucepans are essential kitchen utensils that serve a variety of purposes.
But when space is limited, we must restrict ourselves to choosing only as many saucepans as we absolutely need.
So, what size saucepan do you need?
How to Choose the Right Saucepan Size?
The size of a saucepan is usually expressed in quarts, which is the capacity or volume it can hold.
Accordingly, there are four main sizes for saucepans: 1 quart, 2 quarts, 3 quarts, and 4 quarts.
Although other sizes may also be available, these are the most popularly chosen sizes.
Anything bigger than 4-quarts is a stockpot, not a saucepan.
To choose the correct saucepan based on size, consider what you will use it for. For instance, you will need a larger saucepan for soup than pasta. The saucepan size selection will also depend on how many people you are cooking for.
So let’s look at what size saucepans are best suited for different needs.
Saucepan Sizes for 8 Different Needs
When choosing saucepans for different needs, there are different factors to consider—how many people you will be cooking for, the type of dishes you cook, and whether the pan is big enough to hold the ingredients.
Let’s look at this in closer detail.
1. 1-Quart or 2-Quart Saucepans for Preparing Sauces
As the name suggests, the main use of a saucepan is to prepare sauces.
Nevertheless, you can use it for other needs as well.
If you intend to use your saucepan mostly for making sauces, the smaller ones should do.
A 1-quart or 2-quart saucepan is usually enough to prepare sauces for 3 to 4 people.
These will easily work for making dessert sauces, roux for pasta, and cheese sauce to finish off different dishes.
A saucepan with a lid would be extra-useful for making a sauce since you can cover and cook with it.
It will also be easier to store the sauce after preparation until serving time.
2. 3-Quart or 4-Quart Saucepans for Cooking Pasta
A large saucepan can make it a lot easier to cook pasta.
Although you can make pasta in pots with a deep base, it’s easier to use a saucepan because it has a handle.
This handle makes it easier to drain the pasta after cooking.
You can also use the same saucepan for preparing the pasta sauce.
When cooking pasta, the pan should be big enough for the pasta to spread out and expand without sticking.
A large saucepan is best suited for this purpose.
A 3 or 4-quart saucepan would be good enough for making pasta for three or four people.
3. 3-Quart or 4-Quart Saucepans for Cooking Grains
Just like pasta, most grains like rice, millet, corn, and wheat need to be submerged in water for proper cooking.
You can do this in a saucepan.
Add the grains to the water and let them cook on the stovetop until soft and done.
The water will boil, and the starch will rise to the top of the pan when cooking rice.
So the pan should have enough space for this without the water sploshing outside.
It’s best to choose a bigger saucepan for cooking rice and other starchy grains and cereals.
A 3 or 4-quart saucepan would be suitable for this task.
However, if you must cook for a large group, switch to a stockpot to make sure the grains cook properly and the water doesn’t spill and make a mess.
4. 4-Quart Saucepans for Making Soups
Saucepans are one of the best vessels to make soup since you can sauté the ingredients in the same pan before adding the stock or broth for cooking.
However, soups use more liquid than other types of dishes.
Hence, it’s necessary to choose a bigger saucepan that can hold the ingredients without crowding.
A large 4-quart saucepan should be sufficient to make enough soup for one meal.
It’s better if the saucepan has a lid so you can gently simmer the ingredients and cook them thoroughly to infuse the soup with maximum flavor.
5. 1-Quart or 2-Quart Saucepans for Boiling Milk and Making Custard
Saucepans are very handy when it comes to boiling milk and making milk-based desserts like custards.
The deep base has enough space to hold the liquid, and the high sides make it easy to stir the contents.
Additionally, you can comfortably use the handle to pour the liquid out of the pan.
Saucepans of all sizes are suitable for boiling liquids like milk and water.
You may want to choose smaller 1 or 2-quart saucepans for regular use for one or two cups of milk.
However, if you must prepare custard or boil milk for a large group, you can use a bigger saucepan.
6. Any Saucepan Size for Boiling or Steaming Vegetables
Although saucepans aren’t conventionally used for boiling or steaming vegetables, you can use them for this purpose.
You can easily boil or steam small amounts of vegetables in a small saucepan.
Larger saucepans that hold more content can be used for more vegetables.
The main benefit of using a saucepan for steaming or boiling vegetables is that you can conveniently cover it and let the vegetables cook without losing their nutritional benefits.
It’s also easy to drain the excess liquid by using the handle to transfer the contents of the saucepan into a colander after cooking.
7. 1-Quart Saucepans for Boiling Eggs
Saucepans are perfect kitchen equipment for boiling eggs conveniently.
The deep base allows you to immerse the eggs in enough water to cover them entirely.
The high sides of the saucepan will prevent the water from boiling over and messing up the stovetop.
You can also boil many eggs at once in a saucepan with a wide base and store it for later use.
You can use any saucepan size to boil eggs. A 1-quart saucepan is usually enough to hold six eggs at once.
Regardless of how wide or deep your saucepan is, ensure that the eggs are spread out evenly in a single layer and are not on top of each other to prevent them from cracking.
8. 2-Quart Saucepans for Reducing Sauces
Various recipes will require you to cook runny liquids and sauces till they thicken.
Reducing a sauce usually intensifies its flavors since the excess liquid evaporates.
You may or may not have to use a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch for the purpose, depending on the type of sauce.
Tomato-based sauces, for instance, aren’t usually mixed with a thickening agent since the acid in the tomatoes doesn’t work well with starchy ingredients like flour.
You can use saucepans to reduce sauces since you can conveniently cook runny liquids in them.
The high sides of the saucepan will ensure that the liquid doesn’t boil over.
You can also cover it and allow the contents to simmer till the liquid reduces, leaving behind a circle of residue around the pot.
A 2-quart saucepan is usually enough for sauce reduction when you are cooking for one or two people.
It will be deep and wide enough so it’s easy to stir the contents without lumping.
However, if you are working with a larger batch of liquid, you may prefer a large saucepan.
You can also use a large saucepan to reduce small amounts of sauce without affecting the flavor or texture.