Skillet vs Frying Pan: Everything You Need To Know

Although it’s commonly believed that skillets and frying pans are the same pan, they are actually different. Just take a quick look at them both on amazon to see.

The definition might mean they are the same, but companies are producing skillets as individual products to frying pans. Times are changing in the cooking world. So what’s the difference between them now?

In this article, I’ll be talking about how and why skillets and frying pans are two different pans, and I’ll be introducing their close relative, the sauté pan.

What’s the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?

Even though a skillet by definition is exactly the same as a frying pan, companies are now creating differences between skillets and frying pans, which is actually causing a lot of confusion.

For example: If you go to amazon and search “Skillet” and then search “Frying pan” You’ll clearly see they are completely different. So what is a skillet and how are they different from frying pans?

Well, a skillet is a cooking utensil that has straight flared sides, flat bottoms, a moderate depth, and come with helper handles. Frying pans have rounded flared sides, flat bottoms, a shallow depth and they don’t come with helper handles (due to being lighter)

Skillets are typically made from cast iron because they are primarily used for foods which need intense heat which can be maintained consistently to be cooked properly and cast iron is a prime candidate for this style of cooking. You can find skillets in different materials, however the majority are always cast iron, and whenever I refer to a skillet, it’s always a cast iron skillet.

Frying pans are made from various materials, typically materials that can heat up fast with non stick capabilities, whether that’s aluminium with a non stick coating, cladded stainless steel or even pure ceramic, it simply doesn’t matter, they all are designed for the same task, quick, convenient shallow frying.

Why the confusion?

As we know, frying pans, fry pans and skillets are all terms that get used interchangeably, and by definition, they are all the exact same pan.

But we understand that companies don’t adhere to this definition, and they create skillets which are their own design, and frying pans which are a different design. So the definition goes against what’s sold on the market, and that’s the primary reason for the confusion between skillets and frying pans.

However, there is another reason as “SkabobDK” on reddit pointed out. And that’s the etymology of the word, where a skillet is from Old French and a pan is from Old English

Because of the different etymologies, this has helped contribute to the confusion.

Now I hate to add to the confusion, but to keep in the spirit of sharing knowledge, there is a relative of skillets and frying pans that’s extremely similar. And that’s the sauté pan.

What is a sauté pan?

Sauté pans are relatives of frying pans and skillets. They differ from the others because they have one of the largest surface areas out of all three pans. The large surface area is specifically used for sautéing, because to Sautee properly, you can only have one layer of food in the pan.

Sautéing is a cooking technique that’s used to brown foods whilst keeping it’s texture, moisture and flavor. It’s basically where you cut up food into small pieces, add some oil to the sauté pan, and add the food into one layer. This allows the steam from the food to escape, which helps create the browning. Whilst the food is cooking, this is when you “Saute” and that’s basically where you keep tossing the food to brown it evenly.

Sauté pans are typically made from stainless steel, aluminium or copper. This is because they are light, so it’s much easier to keep tossing the food without your arm getting tired.

What’s the difference between a saute pan compared to a frying pan and skillet?

Well Sautee pans as mentioned above have large surface areas, but they also have straight, vertical sides that are quite low. This is for two reasons, they have vertical sides to stop food escaping whilst sautéing, and low sides to allow steam to escape faster which speeds up the browning process (Crucial for a good sauté). Funnily enough, this allows them to reduce sauce quite well, just like a saucepan (Which is why some saucepans have low vertical sides)

Why should you get a sauté pan?

The only reason you should get a sauté pan, is if you want to learn how to Sautee, so I’d recommend having a look at some Sautee recipes, and deciding if that’s your preference of food. If it is, then definitely get one and give it a try.

Can I use a frying pan instead of a skillet?

You can use a frying pan instead of a skillet, however since skillets are designed specially to sear and braise meat, you won’t be able to get the same flavor out of your recipes from a frying pan when searing or braising in it. So for professional chefs, you can’t use both, but if you are a home cook, then it’s acceptable.

Inexperienced cooks will typically start off using a frying pan, and only a frying pan, simply due to how easy they are to cook in and clean. As they become more experienced, they learn the differences between a skillet and a frying pan and this leads to them using both.

If you use both, and you use them properly, you will get more flavor from your food, especially when searing meat in skillets. But to some people, they don’t mind the reduction in flavor that comes from cooking in a frying pan, so it’s more down to preference on your taste whether you have both, or just a frying pan.

To clarify, if you only have the budget for one, go for a frying pan, as it’s more of an all-rounder, where as a skillet is more of a specialised cooking utensil.

Skillet vs frying pan

Although it’s commonly believed that skillets and frying pans are the same pan, they are actually different. Just take a quick look at them both on amazon to see.

The definition might mean they are the same, but companies are producing skillets as individual products to frying pans. Times are changing in the cooking world. So what’s the difference between them now?

In this article, I’ll be talking about how and why skillets and frying pans are two different pans, and I’ll be introducing their close relative, the sauté pan.

What’s the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?

Even though a skillet by definition is exactly the same as a frying pan, companies are now creating differences between skillets and frying pans, which is actually causing a lot of confusion.

For example: If you go to amazon and search “Skillet” and then search “Frying pan” You’ll clearly see they are completely different. So what is a skillet and how are they different from frying pans?

Well, a skillet is a cooking utensil that has straight flared sides, flat bottoms, a moderate depth, and come with helper handles. Frying pans have rounded flared sides, flat bottoms, a shallow depth and they don’t come with helper handles (due to being lighter)

Skillets are typically made from cast iron because they are primarily used for foods which need intense heat which can be maintained consistently to be cooked properly and cast iron is a prime candidate for this style of cooking. You can find skillets in different materials, however the majority are always cast iron, and whenever I refer to a skillet, it’s always a cast iron skillet.

Frying pans are made from various materials, typically materials that can heat up fast with non stick capabilities, whether that’s aluminium with a non stick coating, cladded stainless steel or even pure ceramic, it simply doesn’t matter, they all are designed for the same task, quick, convenient shallow frying.

Why the confusion?

As we know, frying pans, fry pans and skillets are all terms that get used interchangeably, and by definition, they are all the exact same pan.

But we understand that companies don’t adhere to this definition, and they create skillets which are their own design, and frying pans which are a different design. So the definition goes against what’s sold on the market, and that’s the primary reason for the confusion between skillets and frying pans.

However, there is another reason as “SkabobDK” on reddit pointed out. And that’s the etymology of the word, where a skillet is from Old French and a pan is from Old English

Because of the different etymologies, this has helped contribute to the confusion.

Now I hate to add to the confusion, but to keep in the spirit of sharing knowledge, there is a relative of skillets and frying pans that’s extremely similar. And that’s the sauté pan.

What is a sauté pan?

Sauté pans are relatives of frying pans and skillets. They differ from the others because they have one of the largest surface areas out of all three pans. The large surface area is specifically used for sautéing, because to Sautee properly, you can only have one layer of food in the pan.

Sautéing is a cooking technique that’s used to brown foods whilst keeping it’s texture, moisture and flavor. It’s basically where you cut up food into small pieces, add some oil to the sauté pan, and add the food into one layer. This allows the steam from the food to escape, which helps create the browning. Whilst the food is cooking, this is when you “Saute” and that’s basically where you keep tossing the food to brown it evenly.

Sauté pans are typically made from stainless steel, aluminium or copper. This is because they are light, so it’s much easier to keep tossing the food without your arm getting tired.

What’s the difference between a saute pan compared to a frying pan and skillet?

Well Sautee pans as mentioned above have large surface areas, but they also have straight, vertical sides that are quite low. This is for two reasons, they have vertical sides to stop food escaping whilst sautéing, and low sides to allow steam to escape faster which speeds up the browning process (Crucial for a good sauté). Funnily enough, this allows them to reduce sauce quite well, just like a saucepan (Which is why some saucepans have low vertical sides)

Why should you get a sauté pan?

The only reason you should get a sauté pan, is if you want to learn how to Sautee, so I’d recommend having a look at some Sautee recipes, and deciding if that’s your preference of food. If it is, then definitely get one and give it a try.

Can I use a frying pan instead of a skillet?

You can use a frying pan instead of a skillet, however since skillets are designed specially to sear and braise meat, you won’t be able to get the same flavor out of your recipes from a frying pan when searing or braising in it. So for professional chefs, you can’t use both, but if you are a home cook, then it’s acceptable.

Inexperienced cooks will typically start off using a frying pan, and only a frying pan, simply due to how easy they are to cook in and clean. As they become more experienced, they learn the differences between a skillet and a frying pan and this leads to them using both.

If you use both, and you use them properly, you will get more flavor from your food, especially when searing meat in skillets. But to some people, they don’t mind the reduction in flavor that comes from cooking in a frying pan, so it’s more down to preference on your taste whether you have both, or just a frying pan.

To clarify, if you only have the budget for one, go for a frying pan, as it’s more of an all-rounder, where as a skillet is more of a specialised cooking utensil.

What Is A skillet? And What Is It Used For?

what is a skillet

You’ve probably come across a skillet and wondering what it is, and how it’s used, maybe because you are thinking of buying one as an addition to your kitchen.

Well skillets are a piece of cookware very similar to a frying pan, and they are specifically used to sear meat.

In this article, I’ll be talking about what a skillet it, and everything you need to know about skillets.

What is a skillet?

A skillet is a cooking utensil that has been primarily used in preparing food either on the stovetop or in an oven but could also be used outdoors. It is extremely similar to the shape of a frying pan.

Skillets are designed with rounded edges that allow food to be cooked in a single layer without spilling over onto adjacent pans or counter surfaces. They are also designed with 2 handles, the main handle which you will be familiar with on cookware, and a helper handle, this is because skillets are typically heavy due to being made from cast iron.

A variety of materials can be used to make the skillet including cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum. The material for the skillet will sometimes include some type of nonstick surface coating, for example you can commonly find enameled cast iron skillets.

What is a large skillet?

Sometimes recipes can call for a large skillet, so you may be wondering what exactly does a large skillet mean?

A large skillet is typically a skillet that has a diameter that is about 12 to 16 inches, and is designed for use in preparing larger portions of food. They are commonly used for recipes such as making casseroles and roasting poultry.

What is a small skillet?

A small skillet is typically a skillet that has a diameter of 8 inches, and is designed for use in preparing smaller portions of food. They are commonly used for recipes such as boiled fish, omelettes, smaller casseroles and much more.

What is an electric skillet?

An electric skillet is a cookware that has a heating element and a lid, the heating element is used for cooking food on the stovetop or in an oven. They typically have a non-stick coating on the inside as well as adjustable temperature settings. Electric skillets simply plug in to the wall, and heat up using electricity rather than gas.

The reason people love electric skillets, is because they can set the exact temperature they need, and keep it consistent. This is very beneficial for the less experienced cooks.

What is a skillet made of?

Cast iron is one of the most common metals used to make skillets, this is because cast iron can reach very hot temperatures, and it retains it’s heat very well. Not only that, but you can season them and create a very good non stick surface on cast iron, which prevents sears from sticking and increases the longevity of the skillet.

What is a skillet used for?

The most common use for skillets is to sear food, this is because they are made from metals that can reach high temperatures, such as cast iron or stainless steel. However, they can also be used for various cooking techniques such as grilling, saute, roasting and baking. Skillets also are used for various other purposes such as making cookies, cheesecakes and other desserts.

What is a skillet food?

A skillet food is simply specific foods that can be cooked in a skillet, some foods shouldn’t ever be cooked in a skillet, for example tomatoes.

This is because tomatoes are acidic, and this acidity causes iron to leech into the tomato, and ruin it’s taste. If you cook tomatoes in a cast iron skillet, it will taste metallic.

This also applies to some other foods, so if you are ever reading a recipe, and it’s calling a food a skillet food, it means it’s ok to cook it in a cast iron skillet.

What is a skillet meal?

A skillet meal is a meal that can be cooked in a skillet, sometimes recipes require specific ingredients to be cooked in other cookware, such as woks are sauce pans.

A skillet meal means you can cook all the ingredients in the skillet.

What is a skillet breakfast?

A skillet breakfast is just like a skillet meal, it means you can cook the entire breakfast in the skillet. For example bacon and eggs is a skillet breakfast, as both can be cooked with eachover in a skillet.

What can you cook in a skillet?

Skillets are great for a lot of different foods, and some they are not so great for. So whether you need a skillet realistically depends on what food you like to cook the most.

Here is a list of foods you can cook in a skillet:

  • Eggs – eggs are one of the most popular foods to cook in a skillet, there are various different ways you can cook eggs depending on your preference, but the most common way to cook an egg in a skillet is to fry it.
  • Bacon – another popular food that people love cooking in skillets is bacon, because it gets crispy very fast.
  • Steaks – you can prepare delicious steaks using a skillet, if you feel like spoiling yourself or family for dinner then a good steak could be just what you need.
  • Mushrooms – mushrooms are a fantastic addition to any meal and can be prepared in a skillet, the great thing about this is they only take a few minutes to cook.
  • Chicken – chicken is also easy to cook in a skillet and can be seasoned before hand with herbs or spices.
  • Pancakes – if you have been craving pancakes but don’t want to go through the trouble of making them on your stove top then you can create them in a skillet. You are able to create some of the fluffiest pancakes possible, while still being able to enjoy the delicious taste of a traditional pancake.

You can also make a variety of different desserts in a skillet, some of the most popular desserts are:

  • Cheesecake – you will need a large skillet for this, and you will need to make sure it is oven safe. To create this delicious dessert you will need; eggs, cream cheese and sugar.
  • Cookies – cooking cookies in your skillet is also easy if you have the right recipe, cookies are one of the most popular desserts made in skillets because they only require using a few simple ingredients. You will need; butter, white sugar and chocolate chips to create these delicious cookies.
  • Cakes – cakes are one of the most popular desserts cooked in skillets, they can be prepared very quickly, and only need a few ingredients. Making cakes in your skillet will require; butter, flour, eggs and some type of sweetener.

How do you know if a pan is a skillet?

Skillets can normally be identified two ways, the first is by the helper handle, skillets will have helper handles, which is a second handle opposite the main handle that you hold. This is because skillets, especially cast iron skillets are very heavy, so you need two hands when picking it up, especially when it’s hot.

The second way to identify a skillet is by checking if it comes with a lid. Although this isn’t a guarantee, most skillets come with a lid to expand the recipes they can cook.

What is the difference between a skillet and a frying pan

Well the main difference between a skillet and a frying pan is a skillet is used to braise sauces, cook vegetables, bake, roast or even broil.

A frying pan is used to shallow fry, sear meats, brown foods, sautéing and even stir frying. Don’t be so quick to rush off your feet though, because there are more crucial differences.

You can often use them interchangeably, as they are very similar, but if you are wanting the specifics, that’s the main differences in terms of usability.+

Conclusion

Skillets, frying pans, and saute pans all belong to the same family, however they are all different, even if the definitions for skillets and frying pans are the same.

If you are looking to up your cooking skills and produce some quality flavors from your recipes, then getting one of each pan is the best route.

However, if you are on a budget, then your best option would be to get a frying pan, it might not be able to sear or braise as good as a skillet, and it might not be able to sauté like a sauté pan, but it will certainly cook foods that require those techniques to a moderate standard.

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