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Figuring out the difference between a frying pan and a skillet may be fairly difficult at times.

Others feel there is a distinction between the two concepts, despite the fact that some individuals use the phrases interchangeably. Both of these categories of cookware are likely present in your kitchen, regardless of how long you’ve been in the kitchen or how recently you started cooking.

The only significant distinction between a skillet and a frying pan is the depth of the cooking surface; skillets are typically about an inch deeper than frying pans. Because thick sauces and curries are often braised in a pan, the utensil typically comes equipped with a cover. They may be purchased in a variety of materials, but cast-iron is by far the most prevalent option.

To cook food that has a pleasant flavor, it is essential to have a firm grasp on the proper way to braise, fry, or sauté the ingredients. There is a good reason why a steak with a luscious sauce that drips all over it should be cooked on a cast-iron pan.

When it comes to cooking, though, many individuals get skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans confused with one another. But are all of them the same, or can we discern any distinctions between them?

Let’s find out!

Skillet Vs. Frying Pan – Are They Different? 

There are a lot of individuals who argue that frying pans and skillets are two separate things. In point of fact, though, they share a number of characteristics that very nearly render them interchangeable with one another.

The main significant distinction between the two is that skillets are often made to have a deeper interior than frying pans. Because thick sauces and curries are often braised in a pan, the utensil typically comes equipped with a cover.

They may be purchased in a variety of materials, but cast-iron is by far the most prevalent option.

On the other hand, the base of a frying pan is flat, and this kind of pan is used mostly for frying, browning, and scorching food. Because it does not have a cover, it is best suited for frying at both deep and shallow depths, in addition to high-heat grilling.

Most often, one may get a frying pan made of aluminum, stainless steel, or a mix of these two metals.

It is not easy to come up with a clear distinction between a skillet and a frying pan. The only genuine parallel that can be established is between a frying pan and a French skillet. The first option provides greater space and has sides that are taller.

To boil things down, there aren’t really any major distinctions to be made between the two. For grilling, braising, frying, stewing, and roasting, you may use either a skillet or a frying pan. Both can perform these functions interchangeably. Both of these ingredients may be prepared in quite similar ways when it comes down to it. The answer to the question “can I use a frying pan instead of a skillet?” is going to be yes.

You should refer to each piece of cookware by the proper word for that piece of cookware. For instance, you are more likely to call a piece of cookware that does not need greasing a frying pan rather than a skillet.

In a similar vein, “a cast-iron frying pan” is an uncommon word since this cooking utensil is more usually known as “a cast-iron skillet.” A skillet and a frying pan are identical in every other respect, with the exception of this one distinction.

Now that we have this figured out, let’s move on to the underlying reasons for, and specific locations of, the misunderstanding.

So, Where Does the Confusion Arise? 

Skillets and frying pans are, as far as we are aware, the same thing.

To a person who is not familiar with cooking, every single pan will seem to be the same. Professional cooks are the only ones who will know for sure whether to get a pan or a skillet for the next supper.

Even though a skillet and a frying pan are essentially the same thing, there is still a great deal of confusion that has to be cleared up.

The source of the misunderstanding is the third kind of cookware, which is called a sauté pan.

What is a Sauté Pan?

There is a clear distinction between a sauté pan and a standard frying pan.

Although it is somewhat similar to a skillet, it is immediately distinguishable from other cookware in the same category. A sauté pan is a kind of cooking vessel that differs from a skillet in that it does not have curved edges and comes with its own cover.

What Makes It Unique in Comparison to a Skillet?

The term “sauté” is typically derived from the French word “to leap,” which is why a sauté pan has a horizontal bottom and vertical sides. A skillet is the same size as a regular pan, but its edges are angled outward to create a flared effect.

When compared to a skillet, a sauté pan has a greater capacity for holding liquid, which not only makes it good for serving sauces over delicate slices of meat but also makes it suitable for other applications.

Defining the Characteristics of a Skillet 

The fact that a skillet has sloped sides is the primary characteristic that sets it apart from other cooking vessels. Even though a skillet’s cooking surface is somewhat less than that of a sauté pan, this cooking vessel is far more flexible and may be utilized for a variety of tasks.

In addition to being readily accessible, they are versatile cooking vessels that accommodate a wide variety of foods.

Skillets may provide a superb surface for tasty cooking, and this is true whether you are frying meat, scrambling eggs, or stir-frying vegetables. Skillets have the ability to retain an incredible amount of heat and are also fantastic for cooking steaks and sauces. If you wish to prepare frittatas, you should choose a skillet that allows the patties to be removed from the pan without much difficulty.

The following is a rundown of the many materials that may be used to make skillets, starting with those that are most often used.

Cast-Iron Skillets 

Cookware made of cast iron, which is known for its extreme durability and longevity, is the kind of skillet that is used the most often. Cast-iron is readily capable of functioning as a one-time investment provided it is cared for and maintained appropriately.

Despite the fact that you will need to season them on a regular basis to prevent food from adhering, they are really simple to use and clean. Skillets made of cast iron often have longer handles but also need the greatest upkeep out of all the materials.

Aluminum with a Ceramic or Non-Stick Coating 

The next item on our list is a frying pan made of aluminum, which is ideal for low-heat cooking of speedy items like bacon and eggs. They do not perform very well in conditions of intense heat due to the coating’s tendency to produce hot spots.

If you take good care of your non-stick cookware, it might last you a lifetime. A useful piece of advice in this situation is to remember that you should never put them in the dishwasher since the harsh conditions inside might damage the coating.

When it comes down to it, aluminum frying pans are not only cheap but also quite easy to come by.

Stainless Steel 

Last but not least, we have frying pans made of stainless steel, which are an outstanding favorite in the culinary world. Purchasing a pan made of stainless steel is a smart idea if you take your culinary endeavors seriously.

It can withstand high temperatures, is simple to maintain, and can be cleaned in a short amount of time. Because stainless steel comes in a variety of grades, you need to be sure that the one you choose is of the very best quality.

Now that we are familiar with the fundamental characteristics of a sauté pan and a skillet, let’s move on to the most significant distinctions between the two that may have an impact on the food you prepare.

Weight of the Cookware 

The base and diameter of a sauté pan are both larger than those of a standard skillet, which results in the sauté pan being heavier. Because of this, in addition to the primary handle, they include something called a “assist handle” that may be used to move and raise the pan while it is being moved around the stovetop.

Skillets are lightweight and feature only one long handle. On the stove, they do not pose any danger and are simple to maneuver. As long as the pots and pans are just sitting on the stove, the weight isn’t really an issue.

On the other hand, if you need to whisk or shake the sauces, you will find that a pan is of much more use.

A skillet is the best choice to use if you want to ensure that the meat and vegetables in your dish cook at the same rate. On the other hand, if you want meat dishes to be tender while retaining all of the sauces and flavors they were cooked in, a deep sauté pan is the ideal option.

The capacity of the Cookware

The vertical sides of a sauté pan make it possible to add more liquids to the pan. Consequently, a sauté pan is ideal for use while you are preparing dishes such as curries, soups, stews, and thick sauces.

When using a pan that has straight, high edges, there is a reduced risk of fluids leaking out or splashing, which may happen when using a skillet.

When using it to make a sauce over a pan, it may generate spillage because to its flat bottom and thin sides that slant outward. When you’re doing shallow frying, the additional space provided by a sauté pan comes in quite helpful.

Despite the fact that you will only be using a few tablespoons of oil, the larger capacity of a Dutch oven will guarantee that your meat cooks evenly despite the fact that it is just as excellent as a skillet.

Skillets, on the other hand, have their own set of benefits. It is recommended to use a frying pan for the preparation of pancakes, eggs, dry stir-fry, and frittatas. It has a tendency to retain less oil, and the uniform distribution of heat will result in delicious food being produced.

Surface Area of the Cookware 

The surface area of the pan is mostly determined by the diameter of the rim that surrounds it. A sauté pan with a diameter of 12 inches will, of necessity, also have a larger surface area on which to cook food.

Skillets have a width that is an inch and a half less than sauté pans. Simply put, this indicates that the total surface available for frying on a pan is 20-30% smaller.

Therefore, if you want to braise some chicken thighs in wine, you should consider using a sauté pan as your cooking vessel of choice. Skillets are perfect for use when there are less items to be cooked at the same time. Use a sauté pan to prepare the meat all at once so you don’t have to worry about cooking it in separate batches.

Tossing Ability 

The absurdity of the situation is that, when it comes to sautéing and moving food about in the pan, a skillet performs significantly superiorly than a sauté pan in its own right. A skillet has walls that slope downward and are broader in the middle, which enables the food within to swerve about without falling out.

That can’t be done with a sauté pan since its walls are completely vertical and unbroken.

Skillets provide a better capacity to throw food about, which is useful whether you’re trying to demonstrate a “chef-style” action or you’re just trying to change things up.

Foods that need infrequent and gentle stirring, such as a Béchamel sauce or a chicken and noodles soup, are best prepared on a sauté pan since it has a higher surface area. When stirring, it is important to make sure that you are using a wooden spatula so that the surface of the pan does not get scratched.

Rate of Evaporation

The key to successful cooking is mastering the art of moisture management in the meal you’re preparing. The composition of a pan may have a direct impact on the amount of moisture that is retained by the meal. A sauce may be reduced more quickly using a heating surface that is larger and flatter, such as the one provided by a pan.

Even though a sauté pan has a wide surface area, it is not the best option for evaporating liquids since it cannot reach high enough temperatures. On the other hand, you will want a sauté pan in order to prepare saucy recipes in which you like the food to be juicy and soft.

If you know the differences between your various pieces of cookware, you may produce cuisine that is worthy of a chef in no time. Now that you’ve gained this valuable knowledge about the distinctions between a frying pan, a skillet, and a sauté pan, be sure to pass it along to your loved ones and close friends!


Are skillet and frying pan the same?

A skillet is a kind of pan that is shallow and has sides that are sloped at an angle. It is also commonly referred to as a frying pan or a frypan. Stir-frying and sautéing are two terms that refer to the same cooking process in which components are cooked rapidly in a little quantity of oil or fat, often over a reasonably high heat. Skillets are widely used for both of these methods of cooking.

Is a skillet better than a frying pan?

Because they are less heavy, you will have an easier time moving them about on the stove. Skillets, on the other hand, will prove to be more useful than frying pans in situations in which it will be necessary to shake or still the sauces. Skillets are the best option to choose if you want to ensure that your meats and veggies are cooked uniformly.

Why is a frying pan called a skillet?

To this day, frying pans and skillets are used interchangeably; yet, initially, skillets were much deeper, similar to saucepans. A pan is considered to be a skillet if its sides are sloped. In addition, there is some ambiguity over the meaning of the name “frypan” when used to this pan. The sloped edges of this pan make it particularly well-suited for stir-frying.

Which is also known as skillet?

You might alternatively refer to a skillet as a “frying pan,” and in many areas of the English-speaking globe, people really do call it thus. Fry food in a pan, but you may also sauté, sear, brown, and scramble in a skillet. The most common usage for a skillet is to fry food.

Can you fry in a skillet?

You can cook just about anything in a pan made of cast iron, but be warned that it may leave a greasy mess on your stovetop. You’ll need a pot with a deep, heavy bottom that’s large enough to immerse food without causing the oil to go over the sides. Do not use a pot with a nonstick surface since it cannot withstand the high temperatures that will be reached during cooking.