What is the difference between a skillet pan, a frying pan and a sauté pan?

Do you ever get confused when trying to figure out the difference between a skillet, frying and sauté pan?

Maybe you have read in a recipe that you need a skillet pan for this or a saute pan for that.

Well, we are going to address this issue in this article.

If you read on you will find out what are the differences are and when you should be using a skillet, frying or saute pan.

What is a skillet?

one of the defining characteristics of a skillet is the fact that the sides are slanted. While the overall surface areas of cooking is a bit smaller than the same sized the saute pan it comes with a number of advantages.

You have better access to what you are cooking and this makes them very useful for cooking things like stir-fries and other types of frying where you need to be moving it around a lot.  Skillets are particularly good for frittatas which are served from the pan.

Skillets are also known as frying pans or fry pans which can complicate things a little for those that new to cooking.  You get many types and the material that they are made from will vary. Here is a breakdown of the material they are made from and what these materials are good for.

Aluminum (with a nonstick or ceramic coating) – these are not great for high-temperature cooking but are best suited for things like cooking eggs and bacon. You can find a lot of budget options with these types. In recent years the technology has developed to produce pretty decently made cookware such as scan pan . These tend to be a lot safer . Products that are made with Teflon need to be used with care. (check out our article on the dangers of Teflon)

Stainless steel – This is a firm favorite among professional chef and those who take their cooking seriously. If you learn the techniques associated with cooking with stainless steel you can really belt out some amazing food. Stainless steel is robust and long lasting making it perfect for commercial environments.

NOT ALL STAINLESS STEEL IS EQUAL! be aware of the quality of the stainless steel cookware, there are different grades of stainless steel

Cast iron skillets – Loved by many, cast iron is robust and extremely long lasting and those that buy into it swear by it. You will need to season them from time to time and they do require the most maintenance out of all the cookware. If you season them right they get a pretty decent non-stick coating

What is a sauté pan?

Saute pans tend to have sides that are straight up. They have been designed like this because they are better suited to making sauces  and, as the name suggests sauteing

Because they are generally used for cooking things at lower temperatures they often come with nonstick coatings.

These are small differences but they are important and will affect the outcome of the dish that you want to cook. For example, you would neve want to make an omelette in a saute pan. We, in fact, talk about omelette pans in this article.

If you are cooking a sauce for a pasta dish then this is the pan that you would be using.

 

What is a frying pan?

You are going to be using a frying pan to fry foods and is essentially the same as a skillet. I suspect that the difference is one of branding rather then functionality.

Cast iron pans are often called skillets while nonstick ones are called frying pans. It might also differ depending on where in the world you are.

No matter.

Just remember that if the sides are slanted then it is a frying pan or a skillet

Skillet vs frying pan

Question: What is the difference between a Skillet and a frying pan?

Answer: The simple answer to this is that there is no real difference between these two. from my research it seems that the answer lies in the type of cookware that you are using. For example,  it does not seem right to call a cast iron skillet a cast iron frying pan and equally for ceramic or nonstick cookware you are more likely to call it a frying pan.

The only other real difference that I have come across is that skillets are slightly deeper than frying pans as they are often used for making sauces and therefore may also come with a lid. At the end of the day, you can pretty do the same thing with both.

sauté pan vs skillet

Question: What is the difference between a Sauté pan and a skillet pan?

Answer:  It is all in the sides, a skillet will have slanted sides, better for flipping something that you are frying (think of omelettes). Saute pans are more for making sauces so have more vertical sides better for keeping the sauce in and heating it.

What does sauté mean?

Saute is a French word and it literally means “to jump”. It refers to the action of moving food around in the pan while you are cooking. when you ssauté you are often cooking (at least int he beginning) something like unions in a little bit of oil. as they are cooking you have to move them around quickly so that they don’t burn hence the word sauté

What is a french skillet?

French skillets are essentially similar to skillets or frying pans. They differ slightly in design in that they are usually a little bigger the skillets and a little deeper, giving a deeper and wider cooking area. Think of them as a cross between a sauté pan and a skillet.

Because of this, you can really use this for both types of cooking.

French skillets will cook the food rather than fry it as ( like a sauté pan) it keeps the oils food and liquids altogether. Frying pans and skillets cook better when the food is more open and so moisture escapes and you fry the food… Yes, there is a difference between cooking food and frying it.

In conclusion

While the differences between a sauté pan, a skillet and a frying pan are small they can have a big difference in how the food you are cooking comes out. It is important to remember that you cookware are tools and like any other tool, the one that is best suited for the job will help you achieve the best results.

It is important to remember that you cookware are tools and like any other tool, the one that is best suited for the job will help you achieve the best results.

If you have been reading this then it is fair to say that you are at least quite passionate about cooking and making fine food. knowing these subtle differences is what you are cooking with will go a long way in helping you cook the best meal that you can.