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Pan Handle Angles

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2010

A well-positioned handle separates a top pot from a lesser vessel, but what handle angle is best?

A cooking surface that heats slowly and evenly is a must in any good saucepan or skillet. But a well-positioned handle also separates a top pot from a lesser vessel. Case in point: In our large saucepan testing, our Best Buy, the Cuisinart MultiClad Unlimited 4-Quart Saucepan, won testers’ raves not only for its cooking performance but also for its comfortable design. Most notably, its handle extends horizontally relative to its body. Better balance and weight distribution depend on the handle’s angle; when too acute, the pot feels considerably heavier than its true weight. The more parallel the handle is to the pot rim, the more leverage you have and the lighter the pan feels in your hand. Surprisingly, some of the priciest pots in the lineup didn’t get this consideration right. An overly steep handle angle made the already heavy $385 Mauviel M’Heritage 3.5-Quart Copper Saucepan feel like a dead weight, dragging it down to the bottom of the rankings.

GOOD ANGLE

The handle on our Best Buy, the Cuisinart MultiClad, is almost horizontal, giving it good leverage.

AWKWARD ANGLE

The Mauviel M'Heritage's sharply angled handle makes the pan feel even heavier than it is.