Grill Pan vs Skillet: Which Cooking Tool Is Right for Your Kitchen?

The argument over which type of cooking tool is better, a grill pan or a skillet, can get heated.

In the kitchen there are so many different pieces of equipment that have been designed to make your life easier and more efficient. If you’re in need for anything from an oven-safe frying pan to grilling utensils then you know how confusing it can be when trying decide what kind will work best for your needs!

Some people swear by using only one type while others will tell you they use both.

But is one really better than the other? That’s what I wanted to find out!

What is a grill pan?

A grill pan is a cooking tool that has raised, narrow ridges. It’s often used for searing meat or vegetables because the ridgeline lets fat drip away from food as it cooks.

What are the advantages of a grill pan?

Grill pans are designed with a unique shape that allows them to cook food evenly on any type of heat source, including charcoal, gas, or electric. A grill pan also has deep enough ridges to collect and retain juices from food, creating a flavorful sauce. They are also lightweight and easy to clean.

Another advantage of using a grill pans is the size of the cooking surface, which is larger than a skillet, allowing you to cook more food at once.

The last advantage is a combination of the two above, because grill pans have a large cooking surface with ridges, you can cook multiple foods at the same time, and the juices from each food won’t mix with each over, allowing you to retain all the flavour of each food individually.

What are the disadvantages of a grill pan

Grill pans are a relatively new product that have been introduced to the market in recent years. They were created as an alternative to traditional grilling because they provide for a clean and healthy cooking experience. However, one big disadvantage to using a grill pan is you won’t be able to get a great sear on your food, as the ridges are the only part of the grill which come into contact with the food.

What is a skillet?

A skillet is a cooking pan that typically has high, sloping sides. It’s often used for frying or sautéing food with oil or butter because it can retain lots of heat and has a big cooking surface.

Advantages of using a skillet

The most obvious advantage of using a skillet is that there’s no need for additional utensils. With a skillet, it’s incredibly versatile so you can easily cook up delicious meals without the use of any other cooking tools.

Skillets are typically made from cast iron which allows them to retain heat extremely well, this enables you to be able to control the temperature cook food evenly.

Another advantage to using a skillet is their ability to sear, because of how hot cast iron can get, skillets are great for searing meats and most professional chefs tend to use cast iron skillets for their searing.

And the last major advantage is a skillet has a flat bottom, which allows fats/oils to evenly distribute allowing you to fry foods evenly with ease.

Disadvantages of using a skillet

There are quite a few disadvantages to using a skillet, and what’s more interesting is these are not so obvious to home cooks.

The first major disadvantage is the weight, cast iron skillets are really heavy, and trying to carry them with one hand is difficult. Because of this they often come with a helper handle so you can carry it easier, but this still becomes a pain when trying to transfer the skillet from the stove top into the oven, or even when storing your cast iron skillet.

Another disadvantage to skillets are cleaning and maintaining them, cast iron requires extra care, such as the inability to soak it due to rust, which makes cleaning a pain, and maintaining it’s seasoning which gives it a non-stick coating. Over time, this can become really inconvenient for those who love quick cooking with little effort of cleaning and maintaining.

What is the difference between a grill pan and skillet?

The main difference between a grill pan and a skillet is a grill pan has ridges which hold the food above the cooking surface, whilst a skillet does not. The ridges on the grill pan allow the fat to drain from the foods which prevent the food from retaining fat, whilst the flat surface of a skillet allows the food to cook in it’s own fat and reabsorb some of it. This means food cooked in a grill pan won’t be as juicy as cooking it in a skillet, but it will be healthier due to containing less fats.

But let’s take a look at the differences more in-depth.

Cooking surface

In terms of the cooking surface, grill pans have ridges which as mentioned before, allow for fat from the food to drain down into the bottom of the grill pan, whilst the skillet has a flat cooking surface which spreads the fat evenly and allows the fat to help cook the food. Some meats cooked on a grill pan may have a dry texture due to losing too many fats, and this is when you would typically use a skillet instead, a burger being a prime example.

Also, because the ridges on the grill pan drain the fats, you can cook different foods together, such as chicken and steak, and the juices from the steak won’t come into contact with the chicken, allowing each to hold their unique flavours without being contaminated by the other food. This is great when cooking multiple recipes at once or a recipe that contains many different foods that needs to be cooking individually.

Lastly, grill pans typically have a much bigger surface area than skillets, so if you love cooking lots of food at once, and love it to be convenient, then this is where the grill pans really shine over skillets.

Material

The cooking surface of a grill pan is typically from a highly conductive metal which is usually aluminium, with a non stick coating on top. This allows for fast heating and fast cooling, whilst being easy to clean afterwards. Where as a skillet is usually made from cast-iron and this allows the pan to reach extremely high temperatures to help with searing, but it will take longer to heat up and cool down and not to mention, make it harder to clean and maintain.

Portability

In terms of portability, grill pans will be the easiest to move around, but not necessarily the best to store. The light weight of aluminum that the grill pans are made out of, make it extremely light to carry, however due to their size if you have small cupboards in your kitchen, you may not find a place to store them.

Skillets on the other hand are the complete opposite, they are extremely heavy to carry around, but due to being smaller, they are much more likely to fit in small cupboards.

FAQ

Can you use a skillet instead of a grill pan?

You can use a skillet instead of a grill pan, however you definitely won’t get the same flavour out of the food. Grill pans and skillets are so different from each over that they create completely different flavours when cooking the same food. When cooking food correctly in a skillet, you’ll end up with much more rich tasting food that’s juicier due to the searing and retained fats. Whilst on a grill pan you’ll get food that’s a bit dryer with less flavour, but definitely healthier.

Can you use a skillet on the grill?

You can use a skillet on the grill providing it is not too deep and has an oven safe handle. If the skillet has a handle which is not able to tolerate direct heat, such as plastic, then you won’t be able to use it on a grill.

Which is better: a skillet or a grill pan?

A skillet is better for cooking foods like chicken, fish, and vegetables. A grill pan is better for grilling meats like beef, pork, and lamb. In essence, if your recipe calls for a skillet, then use a skillet, and if it calls for a grill pan, use a grill pan. And if you want to eat healthier, then also use a grill pan.

What is the difference between a grill and an oven?

A grill is a type of cooking device that typically consists of an upright, box-like structure with horizontal openings on all four sides designed for cooking meat, fish, or vegetables over direct heat.

An oven, on the other hand, is a cooking appliance that typically consists of an enclosed chamber used for cooking food. The oven uses heating elements and fans to circulate air inside the chamber.

Which grill pan material is best?

The best grill pan material is probably cast iron. Cast iron is the most durable, withstanding high temperatures and retaining heat well, so it can sear food quickly. However, cast-iron pans tend to be heavy, difficult for amateur chefs, and hard to clean. So most grill pans are made from aluminum which is still a great choice if you are not familiar with cast iron cooking.

Can I use a grill pan for frying?

No, using a grill pan for frying is not recommended because it’s not able to fry foods. The ridges drain any oil and fat which prevents the frying process from taking place. For frying, you will need a skillet.

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