If you’ve spent time in a kitchen you’re probably familiar with a Windsor pan, especially when making or thickening sauces. You’ve probably also used a saucier pan, pronounced as “soh-see-ay”. Understanding their main design differences and specific uses can dramatically improve the foods you create with each of them. What are the main differences between Windsor pans and sauciers?
These are the differences between Windsor pans and sauciers:
- Sauciers are curvier
- Windsor pans cook slower
- Sauciers have more surface area
- Windsor pans have a longer handle
- Sauciers make it harder to burn food
- Windsor pans can go in steaming basket
- Sauciers are easier to clean
If you want to learn even more about Windsor pans and sauciers, including their differences, you’ve come to the right place!
What Is a Windsor Pan used for?
The Windsor pan–also known as the fait tout pan–is a type of saucepan with straight sides and a base that becomes gradually smaller as you reach the bottom.
What does this saucepan do?
The flared design of a Windsor pan also makes it an excellent choice for thickening sauces, especially hollandaise or maybe a nice red pepper coulis to serve with crisp, cooked chicken breast.
Windsor pans have excellent heat distribution, which means from now on, your fish fillets or steaks won’t come out burnt in some areas due to hot spots.
Some people think of the Windsor pan as the OG and the saucier as the newer and improved version, but Windsor pans are still great in their own right.
Admittedly, they’re not the most popular kitchen tool, and so finding one at a store might be a bit difficult. There’s always the Internet though, where Windsor pans of all shapes and sizes abound.
Windsor pans are made from a variety of tough materials, from copper to mirror-polished steel and cast iron.
The long handle of a Windsor pan–which is ideal for gripping without putting your hand too close to a heat source–is usually made of a material that doesn’t heat easily. If not, then it has a cool-grip feature so it doesn’t become hot as you hold it.
Some Windsor pans include a lid, which can further enhance the heat distribution potential of the pan.
Most Windsor pans are dishwasher-safe, but double-check that yours is before you toss it in there.
What Is a Saucier Used for?
That brings us to the saucier, which is often called a saucier pan to differentiate it from the cooking role of saucier or sauté chef.
If a Windsor pan can do it, then so can a saucier. That includes thickening sauces and reducing liquids as well as preparing risotto, polenta, or oatmeal.
If you have a sauce or custard recipe that calls for stirring a lot, a saucier pan is the tool for the job.
How is a saucier handy for so much? Well, as you’ll recall from the last section, it’s thought of as the Windsor pan 2.0. That’s for good reason.
A saucier is much curvier just about anywhere. It has a wide mouth that enhances its ability to reduce sauces fast. That bigger opening increases the volume of a saucier, especially compared to a Windsor pan.
The rounded corners of the pan prevent risotto or oatmeal from getting stuck and eventually burning.
Sauciers are durable pans too. Some are fully-cladded with aluminum and steel layers that alternate throughout. Others have a disc bottom, which refers to a saucier where the bottom is fully clad but the sides aren’t.
The range of materials for Windsor pans is often available for sauciers as well. Some heavy-duty sauciers are made of cast iron and then finished with a layer of enamel to maintain luster and quality.
Sauciers feature a handle that’s moderately shorter than that found in most Windsor pans. The handle will be coated with plastic or another material that doesn’t overheat so you don’t have to worry about burning your hands on hot metal.
Windsor pans might not be very popular, but to the public, saucier pans aren’t either. Restaurateurs and chefs know these pans very well though, as they’re found in the kitchens of many restaurants.
The Differences Between a Windsor Pan and a Saucier
Now that you know the basics of Windsor pans and sauciers, I want to take this section to cover the differences between the two saucepans per the intro.
Sauciers Are Curvier
If you hold a saucier and a Windsor pan side by side, you should now be clearly able to differentiate them.
To recap, Windsor pans feature straighter sides. Their profile is squared and their bottoms flat. Sauciers have no flat, straight edges, but curves everywhere. From the bottom to the sides, this is one rounded pan.
Windsor Pans Need Longer to Cook
The squared shape of a Windsor pan gives this saucepan a narrower opening. If you put the two saucepans to the test to determine which would reduce liquids faster, it would be the saucier every time, and that’s due to its wide mouth.
That’s far from the only instance in which the sizable opening of a saucier will come in handy. When simmering a sauce to thicken it or making a treat like oatmeal, the cooking times are shorter.
You’re not at a serious disadvantage if all you have is a Windsor pan rather than a saucier, but a disadvantage, nonetheless.
Sauciers Have More Surface Area
Score another point for the saucier. The curved sides increase the surface area of the saucepan, which means a saucier has the capacity for more food than a Windsor pan.
If you’re cooking a big family meal or prepping a nice sit-down dinner for a group of friends, you’ll appreciate the additional volume of a saucier.
Windsor Pans Usually Have a Longer Handle
Between Windsor pans and sauciers, the former has a clear advantage when it comes to the handle.
I will say that handle lengths for either type of saucepan vary by brand, but for the most part, a Windsor pan will have a longer handle.
I’ve even seen some chefs call a saucier’s handle stumpy. That should tell you enough.
Of course, both handles are clad in plastic or have heat-proof features to prevent overheating, but it’s clear that a longer handle is going to protect you better from heat sources than a short one.
Saucier Pans Make It Harder to Burn Food
Don’t you hate it when you’re cooking and food gets stuck in the corners of the pan? You try to scrape them out, but they don’t want to budge. That portion of your meal can end up burnt.
The straight edges of a Windsor pan make the above situation a reality you could face more often than you’d prefer. The wider, curvier shape of a saucier won’t trap food in the corners and burn it. Your smoke alarm will be a lot quieter!
Windsor Pans Can Fit in a Steaming Basket
If you’re a fan of steaming baskets, you might prefer the Windsor pan just slightly more.
Why? The shape and profile of that saucepan are more compatible with a steaming basket than a saucier.
It’s not a huge loss if you can’t use a steaming basket with a saucier. After all, the whole point of a steaming basket is to hasten your cooking time, and that’s something a saucier does over a Windsor pan anyway.
Sauciers Are Easier to Clean
Let’s go back to the scenario from a bit earlier. You’re cooking a meal in a Windsor pan and the food in the corners burns.
Not only do you have to deal with the acrid stench of burnt food (and your smoke alarm going off), but you have to sit and painstakingly scrape the burnt bits of food off your pan. What a pain!
Not so with a saucier. You can skip those hours of using a plastic spatula or a metal butter knife to get all the burnt food residue off the pan. This can preserve the look of your pan too, as you don’t have to worry about accidentally scratching it with a metal knife.
Windsor Pan vs. Saucier – Do You Need Both?
Your new knowledge of saucepans has caused you to reevaluate your cookware. You’re thinking you’ll pick up a new saucepan, but should it be a Windsor pan or a saucier? Perhaps even both?
The more versatility you have in the kitchen, the better, at least usually. This is one of those cases though where there’s no need for both pans.
Sauciers can do almost everything a Windsor pan can and more. They’re easier to clean, they reduce the risk of burnt food getting trapped in the corners, and they cook faster too.
My tip? Look for a saucier with a longer handle so you don’t have to get your hands too close to open flames!