Measuring size, height & diameter of pan, pot & roaster correctly


When choosing the size of pans and pots, there are always questions and misunderstandings regarding the size specifications. Here you can find out what the specifications, e.g. diameter, height, base diameter and capacity, mean and how to measure correctly.


The most important specification: diameter = upper inner diameter


The diameter is the most important specification for the size of pots and pans. Measurements are taken up at the top inside, i.e. at the inside of the edge of the pan/pot; hence the designation of the upper inner diameter, which you will find in our article descriptions. So a 28 cm pan has a diameter of 28 cm from one inside of the rim to the other inside of the rim. This measuring method is international standard and decisive, unless expressly stated otherwise in the item description. The total diameter of the pan or pot depends on the thickness of the edge and is therefore unsuitable for size classification! Only by the classification according to the upper inner diameter it is at least approximately guaranteed that for example a 28 cm lid of "28 cm pan A" with thin edge fits also with a "28 cm pan B" with thick edge.

The most common sizes for pans and pots are 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 cm. Depending on the country, intermediate sizes such as 14, 22, 26 and 30 cm are also used.



Size of square pans & roasters


For square pans (e.g. many grill pans) and roasters, the size is indicated as the product of two lengths. This is done by measuring the upper part of the pan again, at the longest point which is usually in the middle. Many grill pans, for example, have a size of 28 x 28 cm.


Size of oval pans & roasters


Fish pans and roasters often have an oval shape. Here the longest inside dimension is indicated, as shown before for the square pans. Such a 38 cm fish pan therefore has an inner length of 38 cm on its longest side. In a right angle to it the short side of e.g. 24 cm. In the result, the pan would be declared as 38 x 24 cm.



Base diameter = contact surface


When we talk about the diameter of the base, we mean the diameter of the contact surface, i.e. the surface with which the pan, pot or roaster stands on the stove. What is not meant is the frying surface! The indication of the base diameter can be helpful when it comes to choosing a suitable hob for the cookware. The size of the hob and the diameter of the base of the cookware should match to some extent in order to avoid damage to the cookware and to ensure the best possible functioning of the cookware.

Base diameters, like cooking plates, are not standardized, so that the bottom diameter of "28 cm pan A", for example, can be 23.5 cm, while that of "28 cm pan B" can only be 20.7 cm.

ATTENTION, induction-suitable aluminium cookware: Please note that induction-suitable cookware made of aluminium / cast aluminium usually has a stainless steel disc attached to the base and that the diameter of which is smaller than that of the base (marked blue in the picture). Where this applies, you will find the corresponding information in our item descriptions.



Frying surface of a pan


You may also have noticed that pans of the same diameter have frying surfaces of different sizes. The frying surface describes the usable flat bottom surface of a pan without the curved pan wall. A 28 cm pan with a strongly curved side wall naturally has a smaller frying surface than a frying pan with a rather straight vertical side wall. It is unusual to state a specific size for the frying surface, also because the transition from the bottom to the side wall is often very smooth, making it difficult to specify the exact size. In most cases, however, you can simply orient yourself to the base diameter (the contact surface on the stove) of the cookware.


Height of pots and pans


Unless expressly stated otherwise, the height of a cookware describes the outer edge height, from the upper edge of the cookware perpendicular to the contact surface, without taking lids, handles, etc. into account.

The internal height (i.e. from the frying surface up to the edge) can be determined approximately by subtracting the bottom thickness from the height.



Capacity of a pot


There are often misunderstandings about capacity: The capacity of a cookware indicates the maximum capacity of the container. This always means an edge-high filling! This is an international standard. Please note that the usable filling quantity, depending on the liquid and cooking intensity, can be significantly lower!

An example from practical experience: Let us assume that we have a pot whose capacity is declared at 4 liters. For quiet simmering, this can perhaps be filled up to one thumb wide under the rim with e.g. 3.5 liters. The same amount is too much when cooking intensively, more than 3 liters would not be filled so that it does not boil over. And if the cooking water foams during pasta cooking? A filling of only 2.5 liters could be too much. So is it a 2.5 liter pot? Or a 3.5 liter pot? No, the only reasonable specification is the maximum capacity in the sense of edge-high filling. This is the only way to ensure comparability!

Pressure cookers: Please note that for safety reasons, the permissible filling quantity for pressure cookers is considerably lower than the capacity of the pot. A 6 liter pressure cooker usually has a maximum capacity of about 4 liters. Please note the information in the item description and the maximum marking, which you will usually find inside the pot.