What is the Difference Between a Skillet and a Frying Pan?

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When you’re shopping for new pans, how do you know whether you’re looking at a skillet and a frying pan? It can be confusing trying to figure out the differences between a skillet and a frying pan because quite a few people swap the terms. In contrast, other people think they are entirely different.

The main difference is that frying pans are shallower than skillets. Another difference is that skillets are used mostly for braising curries and making thick sauces, so they often come with lids. They come in a wide variety of materials, the most frequently bought being cast iron.

Understanding which pan is best for sauteing, frying, or braising can be crucial to preparing restaurant-worthy cuisine. That’s why the best steaks are prepared in cast-iron skillets!

Frying Pan vs. Skillet – What’s the Difference?

Many people believe that frying pans and skillets are not the same thing. But they’re very similar and are pretty much the same thing.

The only difference between them is that frying pans are a bit shallower than skillets, and they tend to come with lids.

They’re available in a variety of materials, but the kind you’ll find most on the market is cast iron.

Frying pans have a flat bottom and are for frying, searing, and browning food. They don’t typically have lids, so they’re preferred for shallow and deep frying and grilling on high heat.

There are no official definitions of what a frying pan and a skillet are, but a comparison can be made between a frying pan and a French skillet, the latter being more spacious with higher sides.

To summarize, there are no major differences between a frying pan and a skillet. You can use both for roasting, stewing, frying, braising, and grilling, and ultimately, they cook the same way. So, if you want to know if you can use a skillet in place of a frying pan, the answer is probably yes.

Why Do People Get Them Confused?

So, a skillet and frying pan are the same things, so why do people often get the two pans confused?

The confusion comes in when a sauté pan comes into play.

What is a Sauté Pan?

There are many differences between a saute pan and a frying pan, but the straight sides, height, and lid are similar to a skillet. So, how does it differ from a skillet?

The word “sauté” is the French word for “to jump,” which explains why a saute pan’s sides are vertical and the bottom is flat. A skillet is similar in size, but its sides flare outward.

Additionally, sauté pans hold more volume than skillets, making them a good choice for sauces instead of meat.

Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Characteristics of a Frying Pan and Skillet

A skillet’s defining trait is the slanted sides of the pan. The cooking surface can be smaller than that of a sauté pan, but a skillet is more versatile than a sauté pan because you can use it to cook just about anything.

Skillets and frying pans are made from a variety of materials, including:

Cast Iron

The most common skillet you’re going to find is a cast-iron skillet because they’re durable and robust. With the right maintenance and care, cast-iron skillets can last for years.

Although you need to season them to prevent food from sticking to them, they’re straightforward to clean after using.

Aluminum with Non-Stick Coating (i.e., Ceramic)

Aluminum frying pans are best for quick cooking foods that use low heat, such as eggs and bacon. They don’t handle high heat very well because the non-stick coating develops hot spots over time.

Non-stick pans can last years when properly cared for. One of the best ways to care for your non-stick pan is to ensure that you never put it in the dishwasher because it can destroy the non-stick coating.

Frying pans made from aluminum are budget-friendly and widely available.

Stainless Steel

Frying pans made of stainless steel are used by most professional chefs. So, if you are serious about cooking, you should get a stainless steel frying pan.

They’re highly durable, can take on high temperatures, and are easy and quick to clean. Keep in mind that there are several stainless steel grades, so if you’re going to invest in a frying pan made of stainless steel, make sure to invest in one that’s of good quality.

Final Thoughts

A frying pan and skillet do the same thing. They just look a little different. The only difference is that skillets have slanted sides and are deeper than frying pans. They’re more commonly used for sauces and curries, so they often come with lids. They come in a variety of materials, but the most common is cast iron.

A frying pan has a flat bottom and is great for searing, frying, and browning food at medium to high temperatures.

People confuse skillets and frying pans because of sautéing pans, which look like skillets but have vertical sides and a flat bottom. They hold more liquid than a skillet, which makes them better for making sauces.

A frying pan is perfect for cooking food that doesn’t need to be flipped or stirred frequently. Plus, they cook food faster because they tend to be larger.

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