What Is A Saucepan?

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When it comes to cooking, many of us use the words of items in the kitchen interchangeably, and we’re wildly mistaken when it comes to certain things. 

Such mistakes are sieve and colander, large spoon and ladle, and of course, pot and saucepan. There’s nothing wrong with that, we’ve just heard it from somebody else and went along with it!

So, what exactly is a saucepan, and what’s the difference between a saucepan and a pot? This guide aims to differentiate between the two and answer any other burning questions you have about the items. So, let’s get cooking!

What Do We Mean By Saucepan?

Cookware can get confusing, but to make it more simple – a saucepan is a type of cookware that is often used to heat foods in a liquid form. 

They tend to be smaller but deep and have a handle that resembles that of a pan. It’s longer than a pot handle, but both have flat bases. 

Its design is to prevent spillage from the use of liquid foods like soup, sauces, curries, chilies, and broths. They come in a whole host of different materials and sizes. Some are deeper than others, some can hold more liquid than others. In terms of material, saucepans can be cast iron, stainless steel, or copper. 

What To Use A Saucepan For?

So, as we said – saucepans are mainly for liquid-type foods, but they do have other uses. They’re perfect for boiling a liquid, such as soup – but foods that require liquid to cook are also put into a saucepan. 

For example, if you are making pasta, you would put warm or hot water into a saucepan and place the saucepan on the stove burner for the water to boil. Once this water boils, you can place your pasta into it. 

The same applies to rice, beans, and other vegetables. Some people choose to use liquid stock instead of water or vinegar. 

A mixture of water and vinegar is the perfect solution for poaching eggs and a saucepan is the best cookware item for this. 

How Does A Saucepan Differ From A Pot?

Saucepans are generally much smaller than pots. Pots are large cookware items that are mainly used for huge amounts of liquid or to cook things for a longer period of time – or of course, for more people. 

Pots tend to be deep with small finger handles, and they are mostly in the shape of a cylinder. Both a saucepan and a pot can have similar uses, but it is the way you use them that makes them different. 

Due to their sheer size, large amounts of liquid like a stock can be prepared and cooked in them – along with sauces or stews. 

For many groups of campers, using a pot over a controlled fire is common to prepare things like stew, soups, or broths for many people they are with. 

Many people are often confused when it comes to a sauce pot. A sauce pot is in essence, a much larger and differently shaped saucepan, in that it has a similar use but for different quantities. In addition, due to the size – it’s perfect for slow cooking processes. 

One way that people use pots for slow cooking, other than this, is to place other pots on top of it which allows for a very slow warming process.

There are many foods that are best consumed after being slow-cooked – and this is one reason why the slow-cooker machine has become so popular. 

In essence, you can use a saucepan as a pot, but not the other way around. And due to this, confusion amongst kitchen enthusiasts makes sense. 

Simplifying The Differences 

We appreciate that with so much information, it can be more beneficial to simplify the points into handy chunks. So, with that said – here are the main differences you need to remember:


Pots are generally much larger than saucepans. Although it is possible to get saucepans and pots of different sizes, you will likely see a pot oversize saucepan. 

The Handles 

Handles on a saucepan are usually long and allow you to hold them with protective rubber. The reason for this is that the cooking process using a saucepan is typically much quicker and due to its lack of depth, will require consistent stirring. 

Frequent stirring is important when using a saucepan because you’ll likely have the burner on a higher heat than you would with a pot and the chances of a liquid getting stuck to the bottom are high. 

This can create a flavor of burnt food, not to mention the horrendous job of trying to clean burn marks off the bottom! A dishwasher simply won’t cut it!

Pots have often curved and much smaller handles which allow you to pick up their heavy weight. Pots typically don’t need moving during the cooking process and are left to cook on lower heat for a longer time. 

When soups or stews are made this way, they are typically left on the burner after it has been switched off, or slightly away from the fire. This allows hungry people to simply scoop or ladle their desired food into a bowl. 


Pots are more suitable for larger quantities of foods whereas a saucepan is usually for 1-4 people. When choosing a pot over a saucepan, you’d need to think about how many people will be eating and what you plan to make. 

A good idea is to use up all of your fresh vegetables and meat that is close to expiring and cook up a large, collective broth. This can then be cooled down, placed into bowls, and served or placed into freezer containers and saved for later. 


It’s often difficult to understand the difference between a saucepan and a pot, but when it’s simplified – it should be more manageable. We hope this guide has helped you out. 

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