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Small Saucepans

Published January 2020
More on the Best Saucepans
We also love the larger versions of the All-Clad and Tramontina saucepans. Our full review of saucepans with detailed brand comparisons is available here.

How we tested

A large saucepan is a core piece of equipment that every well-stocked kitchen should have. We use ours, along with its lid, for cooking grains, making macaroni and cheese, steaming vegetables, making soft- and hard-cooked eggs, and more. Both our winning and Best Buy large saucepans, from All-Clad and Tramontina, respectively, make smaller versions in a couple of different sizes and shapes. We wondered if these smaller pans would be useful for cooking one or two servings or tackling smaller-volume tasks. We chose the 2-quart version of each pan because we found this size was small enough to differentiate from our large 4-quart winner and it had an appealing shape—narrow with tall, straight sides that would give us enough room to stir while still fitting a reasonable amount of food. 

To see how well these two pans performed, we put them through a set of tasks, evaluating the food they produced as well as how easy they were to use and clean and how durable they were. We made browned butter, cooked mashed potatoes for one, sautéed onions, boiled water, and steamed eggs and white rice. After each test, we scrubbed the pans by hand. To test the pans’ durability, we banged each pan against a concrete ledge three times, and then heated it to 500 degrees before plunging it into an ice bath, checking afterward for warping and loose handles. 

In the end, each of the pans performed well, closely mimicking their larger siblings’ performances in our previous testing. Both pans are made from our preferred fully clad construction—three layers of metal sandwiched together, with aluminum in the middle and stainless steel on either side. But we found the All-Clad pan to be more durable: It emerged from our abuse testing looking almost brand-new, whereas the Tramontina pan suffered some light denting from the concrete (though remained otherwise unscathed). We slightly preferred the All-Clad’s narrower, scooped-out handle to the fatter, round handle of the Tramontina; the All-Clad handle felt more secure in our palms, especially when we were holding the pan aloft (to scrape out cooked rice, for example). The Tramontina’s handle also got hot after some time on the stove, while the All-Clad’s did not. 

All that said, both pans accomplished their cooking tasks well and were reasonably easy to handle. Both earned our approval. We highly recommend the All-Clad (around $100) and recommend the Tramontina (around $50) as an excellent more-affordable option. We think either of these small pots would be a surprisingly useful addition to any kitchen’s cookware collection. 


Methodology

  • We tested the 2-quart All-Clad saucepan (about $100) and Tramontina saucepan (about $50), the smaller versions of our winning large saucepans

  • Make browned butter

  • Make mashed potatoes for one

  • Sauté onions

  • Boil 1 quart of water

  • Make Easy-Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs

  • Make Fluffy White Rice for Two or Three

  • Scrub by hand after each test

  • Bang against a concrete ledge 3 times 

  • Heat to 500°F on the stove, then plunge into bucket filled with ice 


RATING CRITERIA

Performance: We boiled water and made browned butter, hard-cooked eggs, mashed potatoes for one, and white rice, looking for even cooking, within stated recipe times, throughout. 

Ease of Use: We evaluated each saucepan’s shape, weight, balance, handle design, and lid, as well as how easy it was to lift, pour from, and maneuver.

Cleanup: We washed each saucepan and lid by hand after each use, noting whether any model trapped food or required more-thorough scrubbing.

Durability: We subjected each saucepan to thermal shock by heating it and plunging it into a bucket of ice and then checked for warping. We also struck each saucepan against concrete three times, noting any dents, scratches, or loosening of handles.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*