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Saucepan vs. Saucier: What’s the Difference?

Should I buy a saucepan or a saucier? What’s the difference? Do I need both?

The main difference between saucepans and sauciers is the shape. Saucepans have a flat bottom and tall, straight sides, whereas sauciers have sloped walls and a wide opening. Both are ideal for boiling water and making sauces, but sauciers are better for recipes that require frequent stirring.

That’s the high-level difference, but there’s more to know.

In this comparison of saucepans vs. sauciers, I break down their similarities and differences and the factors to consider before choosing which to buy.

You’ll also learn which types of dishes are best cooked in each. 

So, if you’re shopping for cookware but can’t decide between a saucepan and a saucier, keep reading.


Use the links below to navigate this comparison:


What Is a Saucepan?

As the name suggests, Saucepans are designed specifically for cooking sauces, but they’re also suitable for deep frying, boiling water, and even braising.

Stainless steel saucepan
Stainless steel saucepan

They’re shaped like a cylinder with a flat bottom, feature high, straight sides, and a long handle. Unlike saute pans that have wide bases, saucepans are taller than they are wide.

The high sides ensure that sauces don’t spill over, and the flat bottom maximizes contact with the burner. Almost all saucepans come with lids for heat and moisture retention, perfect for cooking rice, steaming vegetables, and simmering sauces.

Along with frying pans, saute pans, and stock pots, a saucepan is a must-have kitchen staple, which is why they’re included in most cookware sets.

They range in size from one to four quartz.

What Is a Saucier?

Sauciers have the same primary purpose as saucepans — to make and reduce sauces — however, they feature a much different shape.

Stainless steel saucier
Stainless steel saucier

Sauciers have rounded bottoms, sloped walls, and rolled edges. At a glance, they look like bowls with handles.

Compared to saucepans, sauciers have a wider opening with shallower edges.

Due to the sloped sides, ingredients gently slide to the bottom, making whisking and stirring easier than with saucepans. This space also prevents burning and sticky clumps of food. 

If you need to stir the food frequently, as with custard and certain sauces, then a saucier is ideal.

Despite their name, sauciers are not limited to just making sauces. They are ideal for oatmeal, polenta, risotto, and other grains as well.

Sauciers were traditionally used by cooks — French cooks, to be specific — but they are becoming increasingly popular in home kitchens.

Like saucepans, sauciers come in several sizes, but the most common are one to four quarts.

Saucepan vs. Saucier: Comparison Chart

For a quick comparison of saucepans vs. sauciers, the chart below outlines the main differences. I’ll go into more detail in the sections below.

SaucepanSaucier
ShapeCylinder: small opening, straight sides, flat bottomBowl-like: wide opening, sloped sides, rounded bottom
PerformanceFast heating, prevents spillage, superior for steamingEasier to whisk and stir, faster evaporation rate
Construction and MaterialsStainless steel, aluminum, hard-anodized aluminumStainless steel and copper
StorageRequires more vertical clearance, easy to stackLarger footprint, wider opening to fit items inside
CleaningFood sticks along edges, difficult to clean in the cornersFood is less likely to stick, easier to clean
Price$-$$$$$-$$$
Main AdvantageContaining liquids, steamingCooking foods that require constant stirring, easier to clean, fast evaporation rate
Main DisadvantageDifficult to clean, food gets stuck in the corners, not suitable for whiskingSpillage, may not be compatible with steamer baskets

Shape

The most significant difference between saucepans and sauciers is their shape.

Saucepan versus saucier_shape
Saucepan (left), saucier (right)
Saucepan versus saucier_bottoms
Saucepan (left), saucier (right)

Saucepans have a flat bottom and straight sides, a narrow opening, and a long handle. They look like a cylinder with a handle attached. 

Most saucepans have straight rims to contain liquids, but some, such as the All-Clad Copper Core saucepan, feature flared rims for spill-free pouring.

Others take it a step further and have a pour spout; the Calphalon Classic saucepan is a good example.

Calphalon Classic Measuring Marks
Calphalon Classic pour spouts

Due to the high sides and narrow opening, saucepans have less cooking surface area.

Sauciers have a curved bottom, sloped sides, long handles, and a much wider opening than saucepans. They look similar to a large bowl but with thicker walls, a handle, and a lid.

They are shaped similar to a frying pan but with taller sides to accommodate more liquid. Compared to saucepans, sauciers feature a larger cooking surface.

Performance and Versatility

For the most part, saucepans and sauciers are somewhat interchangeable. They’re both suitable for sauces, rice, pasta, braises, and soups.

However, each has its advantages and disadvantages in the kitchen.

Saucepans are better than sauciers for boiling pasta and simmering sauces. The smaller opening and high sides help to contain liquids and prevent spillage.

They also heat up faster due to their flat bottoms, which maintain even contact with the heat source.

Saucepans are also superior when it comes to steaming. The tall, straight sides and wide bottom make it easy to fit a steamer basket and provide enough vertical space for the ingredients.

Sauciers are often too wide, and the sides are too short to accommodate a steamer basket.

Steamer basket is too small for the wide opening of the saucier
Steamer basket is too small for the wide opening of the saucier

However, this depends entirely on the size of the steamer basket and saucier. For example, my steamer basket fits perfectly in the Misen saucier, as you can see below.

Steamer basket in a saucier

Sauciers are better for meals that require constant stirring or whisking. The sloped sides make it easy to reach all areas of the cooking surface with a spoon or whisk. 

Alternatively, the bottom edges of saucepans, where the base and sides meet, can be difficult to scrape with larger utensils.

The saucier’s sloped sides also prevent food from getting stuck along the edges. If you’ve ever made rice in a saucepan, you know how easily the grains get stuck along the edges. You can limit that with a saucier.

Cooking polenta in a saucier
Cooking polenta in a saucier

Ultimately, sauciers make it easier to reach all the contents of the pan when stirring without having to drag your utensil around the bottom edges to ensure you’ve gotten everything. Simply put, if a recipe requires lots of stirring, a saucier makes it easier.

Another significant difference between saucepans and sauciers is their openings. Sauciers typically have much wider openings, which means they have a fast evaporation rate. In other words, sauciers can reduce sauces in less time than saucepans.

However, with many meals, especially soups and stocks, you may not want the liquid to reduce too quickly. In those culinary endeavors, you’re better off using a saucepan.

Construction and Materials

Another key difference between saucepans and sauciers is the materials and construction.

Saucepans are generally stainless steel, aluminum, or hard-anodized aluminum. While most have a stainless steel interior, many are coated with non-stick materials for easy cleanup.

Sauciers are most commonly made with stainless steel or copper. You can find non-stick aluminum sauciers, but they aren’t as common.

Copper and stainless steel sauciers
Copper and stainless steel sauciers

Both saucepans and sauciers can be constructed with most materials, including stainless steel, non-stick (ceramic and PTFE), cast iron, enameled cast iron, and hard-anodized aluminum.

The chart below shows examples of popular saucepans and sauciers and their material types.

MaterialSaucepanSaucier
Stainless SteelAll-Clad D3Misen
CopperMade InMade In
Non-Stick (PTFE)CuisinartCuisinart
Non-Stick (Ceramic)GreenPanGreenPan
Cast IronStaubLodge
Enameled Cast IronTramontinaTramontina

When shopping for a stainless steel saucepan or saucier, I highly recommend buying a fully-clad option, rather than one with an impact-bonded base.

Fully-clad means that bonded layers of steel and aluminum extend throughout the saucepan or saucier. With an impact-bonded base, the aluminum is bonded to the bottom only.

Why does this matter?

Steel, while durable and non-reactive, is a poor heat conductor. Aluminum, on the other hand, is not durable but offers excellent heat conduction.

By layering the two metals throughout the cookware, as is the case with fully-clad saucepans and sauciers, you get even heating throughout.

When the aluminum is only present at the bottom, you get hot and cold spots along the sides, resulting in uneven and inconsistent cooking.

Storage

Saucepans feature a uniform diameter from rim to base, so it’s easy to stack smaller ones within bigger ones.

Sauciers, however, have wider openings so you can store other cookware in them.

Ultimately, both are easy to store, but sauciers take up a larger footprint while saucepans require more vertical clearance with their taller sides.

Cleaning

Sauciers are easier to clean than saucepans for two reasons.

First, with their sloped sides, food is less likely to stick to sauciers.

Secondly, since sauciers have a rounded bottom, it’s easier to reach the entire surface with a sponge. It can be difficult to scrub burnt bits and stuck-on food from the inside edges of a saucepan.

With saucepans, ingredients tend to stay in place, which increases the risk of burning and sticking. If you’ve ever overcooked rice in a saucepan, you know what I’m talking about. 

Price

Since sauciers aren’t as common as saucepans, they are sold mainly by high-end brands and tend to be more expensive.

However, the price depends on the brand, materials, size, construction, and other features.

Below is a pricing chart so you can review the current costs of the most popular saucepans and saucers.

Click the price to learn more about each piece on Amazon.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Do You Need a Saucepan, Saucier, or Both?

The main difference between saucepans and sauciers is the shape.

Saucepans feature a flat bottom, tall, straight sides, and a long handle, whereas sauciers are shaped more like a bowl with sloped walls and a wide opening.

Both are ideal for boiling water, making sauces, deep-frying, and braising, but sauciers are better for recipes that require whisking or frequent stirring.

Saucepans do a better job at containing liquids and preventing spillage, but sauciers can reduce sauces quicker and are easier to clean.

Both come in a range of prices, but sauciers tend to be more expensive.

So do you need a saucepan and saucier? Or is one enough?

Ultimately, you can perform most of the same tasks with either a saucepan or saucier.

Having both is convenient; however, if you only have space or budget for one, I recommend a saucier. It can do almost everything that a saucepan can, but it makes stirring, whisking, and cleaning easier.

Plus, its faster evaporation rate saves you time when reducing sauces.

Saucepans’ main advantage over sauciers is that they reduce spillage, but you shouldn’t have to worry if you don’t overfill a saucier.

If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend the Misen saucier. It’s made with thick, fully-clad stainless steel with a sturdy riveted steel handle and boasts a sleek, brushed stainless steel exterior. You can check its current price on Misen.com.

If you’re willing to splurge, check out the Made In copper saucier. This visually stunning piece is made in France and composed of 90% copper (exterior) and 10% steel (cooking surface).

Copper has superior thermal conductivity, which means this saucier heats up fast and responds quickly to temperature changes. Although this piece is very expensive, it’s absolutely gorgeous and cooks as well as it looks. Check it out on MadeInCoowkare.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews
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Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for over a decade and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Contact Andrew at [email protected].

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