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Pots and pans

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Cook up a storm.

We've tested a range of frying pans, saucepans and induction saucepans. Use our test results and buying advice to find out which type and model is right for you.

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From our test

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Our saucepan test

Our test assesses each saucepan’s evenness of heating, comfort of handling and ease of cleaning.

  • We cook white sauce to assess evenness of heating, checking the sauce for brown spots. Next we cook scrambled egg to test whether any sticks to the bottom of the saucepan.
  • We check how hot handles and lid knobs become during cooking and how secure the handle attachments are. We also assess how comfortable the saucepans are to hold and pour from without dripping.
  • After our cooking tests we check how easy to clean each saucepan is.

Our frying pan test

Our test assesses each non-stick frying pan’s surface, heat distribution, durability and ease of use.

  • To assess evenness of heat distribution, we cooked a pancake in each frying pan on an electric ceramic cooktop and a gas cooktop.
  • We assessed each pan’s “non-stick-ability” on a ceramic cooktop. First we fried 1 egg in the pan without any oil. Then we fried 4 eggs 1 at a time, using a quarter of a teaspoon of oil at the start of frying but not adding any extra oil for the later eggs.
  • The frying pans were scrubbed up to 10,000 times with a small section of scouring pad (we used a 10kg weight to simulate the pressure of a human arm).
  • We assessed how comfortable the handle was, the pan’s balance and weight when it was lifted, and how easy the pan was to clean.

Our induction saucepan test

Our test assesses each saucepan’s evenness of heating, heating speed and comfort to use.

We cooked an omelette to assess evenness of heating, checking the omelette for brown spots and for any egg stuck to the bottom of the saucepan. Next we checked how quickly each saucepan took to boil 1 litre of water.

We assessed how comfortable the saucepans are to hold and pour from without dripping – and we checked how hot the handles and lid knobs became during cooking.

After our cooking tests, we assessed how easy to clean each saucepan was.

Buying a non-stick frying pan

If you're choosing a new frying pan, here's what to consider:

  • Thick, heavy-base: This will evenly distribute heat.
  • Size: Will the pan fit easily in your kitchen sink for cleaning?
  • Weight: Can you lift the pan off the element when it’s full?
  • Handle: Make sure the handle’s comfortable.

Buying a saucepan

Choosing a new saucepan or induction saucepan? Here's what to consider:

  • A saucepan should be the same size as the element it sits on, especially if you have a ceramic or induction cooktop. They should also fit into your sink for cleaning. If you have an induction cooktop your saucepans must also have a ferrous metal base (a magnet will cling to it). All the saucepans in our test are suitable for induction cooktops.
  • Feel the weight: if a saucepan is heavy when empty, it’ll be a strain on your wrist when it’s full.
  • A rim with a curved edge reduces the chances of the contents dripping on to the bench or table when you pour.
  • A heavy base helps with heat distribution and evenness of cooking. Stainless steel is strong, hard and non-corrosive but it doesn’t conduct heat well. So it’s often combined with aluminium and copper, which are better at conducting and dispersing heat.
  • A glass lid lets you keep an eye on the cooking without lifting the lid (which wastes heat). You can also see when your pot’s about to boil over.
  • The handle should be securely attached and stay cool to the touch. A support handle helps with lifting – but this can get hot so you’ll need to use an oven mitt for it.

Tips for care and use - saucepans

Follow these tips to keep your saucepan in top condition.

  • Manufacturers recommend washing your pot in warm soapy water before use.
  • All the saucepans in this test are dishwasher safe. However, constant cleaning in the dishwasher can dull the shiny exterior of a stainless-steel saucepan – so some manufacturers recommend washing their pans by hand.
  • Letting your saucepan cool before putting it in water will prevent the base from warping.
  • Add salt after the water gets to the boil – otherwise there’s a risk that the base will become pitted.

Tips for care and use - non-stick pans

How you use and care for your non-stick frying pan will determine its usable life.

  • Before using: Manufacturers recommend washing the pan in warm soapy water to remove any manufacturing residues. Some also suggest conditioning the pan before the first use by wiping vegetable oil on to the non-stick surface and removing any excess with a paper towel.
  • Avoid non-stick cooking sprays: These can burn at low temperatures and leave behind an invisible residue that affects the non-stick surface.
  • Use on low-medium heat: Unless you’re bringing liquid to the boil, never use high heat. Extreme heat can cause the non-stick surface to bubble and blister – so you risk destroying it. And if the pan’s been manufactured using PTFE, using extreme heat can release harmful toxins.
  • Use only wooden or silicon utensils: Even though some manufacturers claim that metal utensils are OK, using wooden or silicon utensils will prevent scratching.
  • Cleaning: While some pans are dishwasher safe, a dishwasher’s detergent can be too harsh for the non-stick surface. It’s better to hand-wash in warm soapy water – and to use a soft sponge (not a harsh scourer) for cleaning. Never rinse a hot non-stick frying pan in cold water: this can damage the non-stick surface and can make the base of the pan buckle.
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