Caramel is a delicious treat that can be used in all sorts of desserts, including as a topping for ice cream. The key to making the perfect caramel is using the right pan. This article will go over some tips on how to find an appropriate pan so you can make your own batch of delicious caramel at home with ease!
While there is a dry and wet way to caramelize sugar, I have found that the wet method is easier to fine-tune. This is kept in mind when choosing the right pan.
Important! Making caramel requires temperatures up to 350°F so potential splatter should be avoided with long sleeves, an apron, and heat-resistant gloves. Keep a close eye on them during the caramelization stages.
Things to look for in a pan for making caramel
The first thing that you need to look for when buying a new pan is a nice heavy-bottom thickness. You want it to be capable of holding/spreading heat evenly across its surface.
An overly thick or thin pan might heat up too quickly, making it easy to burn your caramel or have hot spots, making uneven caramel batches.
#2: Size and Depth
For home use, a 2-quart size is sufficient for most hobbyist needs. Any size bigger such as 4 quarts and up is best for bigger scale production of caramel (or other forms of cooking with sugar).
The walls of the pan should be high enough to avoid potential splatter from the sugar boiling over. Even more so if you plan to add cream or milk to the caramel (for making sauces
#3: Heating Conductivity
Copper is a finicky material for making caramel because it conducts heat evenly yet very quickly. However, copper is also a little more expensive and difficult to maintain in comparison to stainless steel which can be found almost anywhere at an affordable price-point.
With copper pans, be careful about adding anything acidic. While copper is a great conductor of heat, it is reactive with some ingredients. However, most copper pans are lined with a layer of stainless steel or tin to prevent these reactions.
For the best control of cooking temperature, unlined copper is unmatched. Because it heats up so fast and efficiently, clumping during the caramelization process is pretty much gone. From caramels to hard candies to frostings, unlined copper sauce pans are perfect for confectioners.
It is important to remember that unlined copper cookware should only be used for sugar products as it is highly reactive with most other ingredients. Guess that’s the cost with specially designed cookware.
Mauviel’s copper sugar saucepan is the perfect tool for cooking sugar. This saucepan conducts heat efficiently and evenly while its narrow spout makes it easy to pour syrup and caramel without spilling.
The handle is made of copper so be careful when handling it while you’re cooking sugar. Have some oven mitts ready!
Aluminum is a good all-rounder material for caramelizing sugar. Like copper, aluminum cookware is a great conductor of heat.
The great thing about aluminum is its wide range of price points. Just about any aluminum saucepan is good enough to make caramel. Keep in mind that general-use aluminum pans will make it harder to control the cooking temperatures.
Stainless steel is a that can be found at almost any price point. It will not react with acidic ingredients like lemon juice, cream of tartar, or even caramel itself!
However, stainless steel does not conduct heat as evenly as copper or aluminum. For the best quality caramel, stainless steel pans should be built with a copper or aluminum bottom or layer as this helps to evenly heat the pan. Here is stainless steel saucepan that I use for easy-to-clean sugar projects.
The AVACRAFT Stainless Steel Saucepan is a multipurpose kitchen tool and an excellent addition to any cookware set. Constructed from tri-ply stainless steel, the saucepan provides even heat distribution and superior heat retention. The saucepan features two side spouts for pouring and easy serving, as well as an ergonomic handle that is comfortable to hold while cooking. The AVACRAFT Stainless Steel Saucepan is dishwasher safe and backed by a lifetime warranty.
While it does not have the heating speed and precision of copper, this is a great all-around saucepan to add to your collection.
Can you use a non-stick pan to make caramel?
I would avoid using non-stick pans for making caramel as very high temperatures are required, enough to damage the non-stick coating. The last thing you want in your caramel is bits of Teflon.
What is the best pan to melt sugar?
The best pan to melt sugar is a stainless steel one that has no non-stick coating.
What type of material should the caramel pans be made of?
Caramel pans should have thin walls and preferably be made out of copper or aluminum since they can conduct heat well without being heavy, but are usually more expensive than other materials like stainless steel or cast iron.
Can you make caramel in a copper pan?
Yes, unlined copper pans are best for making caramel and other sugar confections due to their high heat conductivity and even heating.
Cookware Safety. Clemson College of Agriculture. hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/cookware-safety/