Cooking has a long, storied history. Over the years, people have come up with increasingly complex ideas for delicious dishes. This advance in culinary creativity has driven an equally impressive surge in cookware innovation. We’ve come up with so many types of tools, utensils, and containers that it’s tough to keep track of them all.
The Windsor pan is one of the more useful types of specialty pans you can own. Despite this, it’s not commonly talked about. Windsor pans are medium-sized saucepans that feature straight, angled sides. They’re somewhat reminiscent of a small wok with a lid, although they’re used for a totally different purpose. The angled sides of Windsor pans increase the effective surface area, making them ideal for reducing sauces, gravies and the like.
We’ve reviewed some of the best Windsor pans available today. If you’d like to take your gravy or sauce game to the next level, here are some of the best products you can choose from.
This All-Clad Windsor pan is made in All-Clad’s classic style. The sloped walls and base feature tri-ply construction that sandwiches an aluminum core between two layers of stainless steel. This gives the pan great heat conduction and weight (due to the aluminum) while keeping it durable and totally food safe.
Performance-wise, there’s not much more you can ask for. This All-Clad Windsor pan heats up pretty quickly and stays even throughout. You’ll probably notice a small improvement in how long it takes your sauces to reduce with the sloped sides of this pan. A well-fitting lid and long handle ensure that things will simmer just the way you want them too.
There is one downside to this pan, of course. Like other All-Clad products, this Windsor pan is fairly pricey. Personally, I’m always on the fence when it comes to All-Clad. On the one hand, I know that I’m getting a high-quality piece of cookware with strong manufacturer support. I also understand that the all-metal construction of this cookware means that it’ll probably last me for the rest of my life.
On the other hand, All-Clad’s cookware costs a lot of money, and Windsor pans don’t necessarily get used every day. While I think this is one of the best Windsor pans available, I definitely understand if you want to save some money and go for a cheaper pan.
While it’s not necessarily labeled as one in the marketing material, this 3-quart Cuisinart saucepan definitely fits most of the criteria. It’s arguably a hybrid of a saucier and a Windsor pan due to the slight curve in the sides where they meet the base. No matter what you choose to call this pan, however, it’s a pretty solid addition to any kitchen.
Cuisinart’s Chef’s Classic line is a direct answer to All-Clad’s signature tri-ply construction. This pan features the same sort of steel-encapsulated aluminum that you see in All-Clad pans. As a result, it’s got all of the usual benefits — it’s got fairly good thermal conductivity, it’s quite strong and durable, and it’s pretty easy to clean.
Windsor pans are usually used for reducing liquids on the stove, so they don’t need to get too hot. There’s not a big need to be concerned with cleaning, either. Nevertheless, the metal handle on this pan ensures that it’s oven safe to at least 500 F. Cuisinart is also happy to advertise this pan as dishwasher safe. Like other fine cookware, however, you should use caution when you load this pan in the dishwasher and handwash when possible.
There’s a metal lid packaged with this pan that you can use to reach simmering temperatures faster. Overall, it’s a pretty solid competitor to the All-Clad pan above. It’s a bit bigger and arguably not a true Windsor pan, but it’s close enough for most home use. You’ll be able to reduce sauces a little bit faster with the extra surface area provided by the sloped sides.
Like the Cuisinart above, this Calphalon pan is marketed as a “chef’s pan” instead of a Windsor pan. Again, there’s not too much of a difference in practice. You might make the argument that this shares some characteristics with a saucier, however. Luckily, Windsor pans and saucers are used for a very similar set of tasks, so the difference doesn’t matter too much.
Overall, this Calphalon is very similar to the Cuisinart above. The biggest difference most people will notice is the glass lid. While Cuisinart elects to include a metal lid for high-temperature oven safety, this Calphalon pan comes with a glass lid that lets you monitor your sauces without removing the cover. There’s no steam vent, however, which can get a bit awkward when you’re simmering a pot full of liquid.
This pot shares the same multi-ply steel and aluminum construction as our other picks. It’s got great performance as far as heat is concerned, is fairly easy to clean, and is dishwasher safe. Like other stainless steel cookware, you’ll need to keep an eye on your cooking temperatures with some dishes to prevent food from sticking. Still, you should be able to clean up most mild mishaps with a scrubbing pad and some dish soap.
If you’d prefer to have a glass lid instead of a metal one, this Calphalon chef’s pan is an ideal choice. It’s very comparable to the Cuisinart option in pretty much every way and is a great low-cost alternative to the All-Clad Windsor pan above. Don’t start any arguments over what kind of pan it is, however. You’ll probably wind up frustrated and confused.
The Best Windsor Pan
The Windsor pans above represent some of the finest cookware manufacturers on the market. All-Clad makes a strong showing with its true Windsor pan, while Cuisinart and Calphalon produce a slightly modified version of the classic Windsor that’s just as effective in the kitchen. All of these pans are durable, easy to clean, induction-compatible, and perfect for making sauces and gravies.
So which one should you choose? In this case, I’m inclined to suggest that you pick a favorite based on either online sales or which one matches your existing cookware best. All three pans are similar enough that you’re perfectly safe to simply choose the cheapest option. You’ll get a great, high-quality pan no matter which option you choose.