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The best saucepan sets for cooking up a storm

From casserole dishes to non-stick frying pans, we’ve tried and tested some top-notch saucepan sets

Jessie Johnson
Tuesday 09 January 2024 09:29 GMT
<p>The best sets will cook food quickly and evenly, with few or no hot spots and little burning at the base</p>

The best sets will cook food quickly and evenly, with few or no hot spots and little burning at the base

Our Top Picks

Our pans are shapeshifting vessels for our everyday lives, from quick porridge breakfasts and scrambled eggs for lunch, through to dinnertime when we reach for our favourite big pan for family-sized stews, chillies and casseroles.

It’s usually later rather than sooner that we spot the faults and flaws in our trusty cookware; time-worn scratches, rust, chips and hot spots that begin to take the shine, and taste, out of our day-to-day cooking rituals. Luckily, if you’re looking to overhaul your kitchen kit, there’s a raft of saucepan sets on the market.

So, what to consider before you buy? For starters, space is key. Many saucepan sets will stack up in a neat-ish nest (though not with lids), but it’s worth considering just what kind of pans you need – or want – in your kit.

The classic three-piecer will usually include a 16cm, 18cm and 20cm saucepan that will take you from boiling an egg and warming milk to a pan big enough to cook pasta for three to four people. Bigger pan sets often include a 14cm milk pan, a 24cm frying pan, and further to that pans such as stock pots, shallow casserole dishes or an extra, bigger frying pan.

It’s essential to find a saucepan set that’s suited to your hob – manufacturers will always make a point of specifying the hobs that are most compatible. Gas hobs will suit any pan, while ceramic hobs aren’t compatible with stainless steel or copper. For testing, we worked on an induction hob with which all the sets below are designed to be compatible. If you do have an induction hob, be mindful that pure aluminium and copper-based pans are not a good match.

Then, work out how much you are willing to shell out. When it comes to long-lasting, high-quality saucepans, you get what you pay for and sets offer the chance to get a good bargain when buying in bulk. While some of the best sets in our class break down to around £40 to £50 a pan, they’re up there for good reason, boasting cutting-edge manufacturing, starry eco-credentials or classic design.

Thanks to impressive, baked-in guarantees, ranging from three years to a lifetime, you also have the reassurance of servicing or replacement pans as you cook through the years, too.

How we tested

We put all our pans through the same cook-offs: porridge for smaller pans, basic vegetable boiling for the middle-sized pans, and pasta and small vats of chilli for larger saucepans – while frying pans saw to our fried eggs and brunches.

We drilled down on the differences in raw materials and weigh up the pros and cons of stainless steel, non-stick aluminium and hard-anodised pans, which all bring something different to the stovetop.

We were also looking for pans that cooked our food quickly and evenly with little or no hot spots or burning at the base, keen to test the popular non-stick properties that today come as standard – and just how easily would they clean up after use.

The best saucepan sets for 2024 are:

  • Best saucepan set overall – Ninja Foodie zerostick vivid three-piece saucepan set: £119.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best range of pans – ProCook professional anodised six-piece cookware saucepan set: £189.99, Procook.co.uk
  • Best sustainable saucepan set – Prestige Earth pan three-piece non-stick saucepan set: £135, Prestige.co.uk
  • Best for cutting-edge technology – Hexclad 13-piece hybrid cookware saucepan set: £729.99, Hexclad.co.uk
  • Best for a solid all-rounder – Lakeland classic five-piece saucepan set: £149.99, Lakeland.co.uk

Ninja foodie zerostick vivid three-piece pan set

ninja saucepan set .jpg
  • Best: Saucepan set overall
  • Pans included: Three lidded saucepans
  • Non-stick: Yes
  • Colours: Vivid red
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

This lidded saucepan trio (16cm, 18cm and 20cm) from Ninja came out tops in the testing rounds. Here, zerostick is seemingly the new non-stick; these pans stay flake and peel-free thanks to a unique plasma ceramic bonding over hard-anodised aluminium that’s also free from harmful chemicals. It’s the closest we’ve come to cooking with our eyes closed. After browning mince for a chilli con carne and adding the essentials, we simply popped the lid snugly on our 20cm Ninja and left it bubbling for over 30 minutes – with not a scuffed piece of mince in sight.

The sturdy, cool-touch silicone pan and lid handles offer peace of mind when things heat up, and the pans can withstand temperatures of 200C when you need a quick transfer to a hot oven. Ninja’s five-piece pan set (£175.99, Ninjakitchen.co.uk), which also includes a milk pan and frying pan, is even better value for money, while the cookware bundle (£219.99, Ninjakitchen.co.uk) – a comprehensive seven-piece kit boasting two frying pans, a milk pan and a shallow saute pan in addition to the standard pans – will see you through Ninja’s 10-year guarantee and most likely, beyond.

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ProCook professional anodised six-piece cookware set

ProCook professional anodised 6-piece cookware set .jpg
  • Best: Range of pans
  • Pans included: Two lidded saucepans, one stockpot, one casserole dish, and one frying pan
  • Non-stick: Yes
  • Colours: Gun metal grey
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

If you’re trying to work out just how many pans to splash out on or where best to spend your budget, ProCook has a raft of saucepan set options that are all competitively priced. The six-piece anodised set covers all bases, featuring 14cm, 16cm and 18cm saucepans plus a 20cm stockpot, 24cm shallow casserole dish and 24cm frying pan. The pans can be used on all hobs and, like the Ninja, the set can be transferred from hob to oven to dishwasher with no hitches.

We whipped up a summer soup in the shallow casserole pan and were impressed at the quick and even cooking of the sofrito. The triple-layer non-stick coating also means you can use less butter or oil, earning brownie points for a healthier cooking experience. Pans are free from harmful PFOAs, and the 25-year guarantee equates to mere pence for the use of each pan over a quarter of a century of service. A quietly brilliant all-rounder.

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Prestige Earth pan three-piece non-stick saucepan set

Prestige earth pan 3-piece non-stick saucepan set .jpg
  • Best: For sustainable saucepan set
  • Pans included: Three lidded saucepans
  • Non-stick: Yes
  • Colours: Grey
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

For anyone looking to take their eco-habits further than the recycling bin, manufacturer Prestige has left no stone unturned in its quest to create a range of planet-friendly cookware that stands alongside some of the leading saucepan brands on the market.

Made in Italy, this three-piece non-stick saucepan set (16cm, 18cm and 20cm) is a great entry point. The body of each pan is made from recycled aluminium, while the black handles are made from recycled plastic bags that would have otherwise been destined for landfill. Prestige’s green promises run from production (pans are made using limited CO2 emissions) to its 100 per cent recyclable packaging (they’re all nestled in paper and cardboard to keep each safe in transit).

We were also reassured by the toxin-free ceramic coating, which creates an effective non-stick surface when cooking at high temperatures and makes washing up a breeze. The 20cm gives you that extra reach when you need to boil a vat of spuds for family roasts, and each pan feels a safe, solid choice on all types of stovetop. While the set sits at the splashier end of the price spectrum, we think these are worth every penny, especially given the five-year guarantee.

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Tala performance classic five-piece cookware set

Tala performance classic 5-piece cookware set .jpg
  • Best: For old-school reliability
  • Pans included: Three lidded saucepans, one milk pan, and one frying pan
  • Non-stick: Only the frying pan is non-stick
  • Colours: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Established in 1899 and loved for its classic bakeware kit, including measuring cups and icing syringes, Tala has branched out with a sleek line of cookware forged in Portugal from high-quality, mirror-polished steel. This five-piecer is everything you want in a classic pan set. We put each pan through its paces over a fortnight of morning breakfasts, from a milk pan’s worth of porridge to weekend brunches, when the frying pan (which is 24cm and helpfully non-stick) whipped up pancakes, eggs and bacon with ease, and was easily wiped down with kitchen roll between cooking stages.

Free from harmful chemicals and toxins, each pan has a thick impact-bonded base, which means heat is distributed evenly and quickly – something that was evident in the cook-offs. The oven-safe promise meant we could keep food warm while waiting for the crowds to gather, and all were easily cleaned either in the dishwasher or with a few warm, soapy suds at the kitchen sink. Tala’s 25-year guarantee is a reassuring bonus at the checkout. If your budget has stretch room, we think this is a worthy investment.

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Hexclad 13-piece hybrid cookware set

Hexclad 13-piece hybrid cookware set .jpg
  • Best: For cutting-edge technology
  • Pans included: Three lidded pans, three lidded pots, and one wok
  • Non-stick: Yes
  • Colours: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Dubbed “the Rolls Royce of pans” by its ambassador Gordon Ramsay, our expectations for this premium set of saucepans – freshly landed in the UK from the States – were higher than our hard-working hobs. Luckily, we weren’t disappointed. The frying pan cooked our bacon and several stir-fries to perfection, and it’s not an exaggeration to say these pans feel like a new frontier for home-cooking.

Hexclad pans, which launched in 2017, hold a robust weightiness about them and deliver exceptional results due to the clever sandwich formation of stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron in the main body of the pan. What looks like a bee-hive formation on the pan’s surface is actually a series of carefully lasered hexagons; the raised peaks are made from stainless steel (heat-protecting while helping to aid searing), and the non-stick properties of the valleys between mean less need for greasing agents.

Even at high temperatures, the handles remained cool, and the pans withstood much poking around from a mix of metal and wooden utensils, cleaning up quickly in warm, soapy water. Both oven and dishwasher-safe, the Hexclad is suitable for all stove tops, too, and the lifetime guarantee is proof in the pudding. It’s worth noting that despite the description for a 13-piece, this collection is actually seven pots and pans plus six lids, but still, for a high-quality pan set to pass down through the generations, this takes some beating if you have the extra cash to splash.

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Samuel Groves three-piece classic stainless steel tri-ply saucepan set

Samuel Groves 3-piece classic stainless steel tri-ply saucepan set  indybest.jpg
  • Best: For stovetop finesse
  • Pans included: Three lidded saucepans
  • Non-stick: No
  • Colours: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: No

Made in England and boasting a lifetime guarantee, Samuel Groves feels like the jewel in the crown of British cookware – something that is tangible just from opening each of the pans’ hessian bags. Similar to Hexclad in its raw base materials, a layer of aluminium sits at the core of the pans, sandwiched between high-quality stainless steel. This set of three (measuring 16cm, 18cm and 20cm) nestles nicely into one another without lids, and we put them to the test with ingredients, ranging from basic gravy making to poaching eggs and cooking up a hot pot from scratch.

The time-honoured science behind the pans (Samuel Groves has more than two centuries of cookware manufacturing experience behind it) means the vessels react best to low to medium heat, which feels like a sensible way to cook. These pans really hold their own on a stovetop and look like the kind of cookware you’d see in a royal kitchen, with elegant, ergonomic handles that provide great comfort during cooking and serving, and stainless steel lids that sit tightly and securely. The price point won’t suit all budgets, but these pans would make an excellent gift for newlyweds and special occasions or for seasoned home cooks looking to elevate their cookware range.

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Lakeland classic five-piece pan set

Lakeland classic 5-piece pan set .jpg
  • Best: For a solid all-rounder
  • Pans included: Three lidded saucepans, one milk pan, and one frying pan
  • Non-stick: Yes
  • Colours: Black
  • Dishwasher safe: No

Compared with other sets included in this class, the Lakeland classic gives a lot of bang for your buck, offering five of the most well-used saucepans (16cm, 18cm and 20cm saucepans plus 14cm milk pan and 24cm frying pan) for £129.99. Lakeland has always had a solid grasp of a home cook’s needs, and we were impressed by the attention to detail in this set that makes all the difference at busy family dinner times, from the slightly oversized rubberised lid handles for easy manoeuvring to the clever double-sided draining holes which make straining rice, noodles and vegetables a cinch, doubling up as an escape route for excess steam.

The aluminium, non-stick body of the pan is married with a stainless steel base that cooked on our induction hob with ease, and all are suitable for all other hob types. The pans are oven-safe at temperatures up to 180C, and Lakeland advises washing by hand, rather than a dishwasher, to preserve the non-stick coating. Together with a three-year guarantee, this is a great buy if you’re looking to update your pan collection without breaking the bank.

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The verdict: Saucepan sets

With so many top-notch saucepan sets, it was hard to choose a winner, but we were super impressed by the Ninja Foodie zerostick trio for its outstanding performance, user-friendly design and bold colourway. The Prestige Earth pan set was hot on its heels for consistent eco-values, together with Lakeland for an essential pan range at a decent price point.

Sizzle up a feast with the best non-stick frying pans for pancakes, stir-fries and more

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