Skillets, frying pans, whatever you may call it, you have seen at least one in any kitchen. Often these terms are used interchangeably, and some people even think of this as two different pieces of cookware.
But is there any real difference between them, or are they one and the same? It seems like there is a lot of confusion and debate on this subject.
In essence, though, they look the same and work pretty much the same way. What you cook in a skillet, you can cook the same in a frying pan.
In this article, we will dive deep into this very subject and try to uncover whether there are any difference between skillet and frying pan. So, without further ado, let us get started.
What Is A Skillet?
Although skillets are used interchangeably with frying pans, they were originally deep, like saucepans.
Having slanted sides is what makes a skillet. Furthermore, there is confusion over the term frypan being used for this pan.
This pan is ideal for stir-frying since the sides are slanted. Also used for quick-cooking techniques, such as moving ingredients around in a pan a lot. Additionally, it is great for pan-fried foods like frittatas.
It is because these frying pans can really be used interchangeably that they get so much confusion. The metals they are made from are the same.
The diameters are the same as well, so the only real difference is the shape of the sides. Certainly, one pan may be more suited to certain tasks, but that doesn't mean the other cannot do those same tasks.
Sounds confusing, right? Don’t worry. Once you know about frying pans, you will quickly realize that there isn’t that much difference between the two.
What Is A Frying Pan?
Fry pans are shallow pans with long handles that are used for frying. You cannot slow cook or braise in these pans. As a result, they do not require lids since there is no need to seal in juices as there would be for a slow cooker.
These pans have flared sides but a shallow height. It should not be too heavy for you to pick up or move around the frying pan. The handle should stay cool so that when you are cooking you feel safe.
For searing, browning, and bringing down the temperature of your food quickly, the frying pan comes in handy.
Which One Do I Need Between Skillet or Frying Pan?
Modern frying pans have moderately high sides with flared edges. Throughout history, people have mixed the two together. A pan-fryer is useful instead of a deep-fat fryer for any type of frying.
In addition to cooking food such as pork chops, soft-shell crabs, and potato pancakes, these pans are also best for frying onions and peppers.
Sautéing can also be done in a frying pan. By frying in a little fat, and then adding other ingredients to the pan, this can be accomplished quickly. Nonetheless, a seasoned sauté pan with straight sides is best for this technique.
For frying large amounts of the same items, a skillet between 10 and 12 inches in diameter is convenient. In addition, an extremely heavy pan that conducts heat well can be used for stir-frying.
The 7- to 8-inch skillet is a multipurpose pan that you can use for cooking omelets or scrambled eggs, sautéing garlic, or cooking vegetables.
Sauté pans have straight sides. With its larger surface area, it can be used for tasks such as searing meat or reducing sauces in a pan. It also prevents things from sliding over the side.
Similarities Between Frying Pand & Skillet
It is because these frying pans can really be used interchangeably that they get so much confusion. The materials used to construct them are the same. Both are available in the same diameter, so the only real difference is how they are shaped on the sides.
Certainly, one pan may be more suited to certain tasks, but that doesn't mean the other cannot do those same tasks. Choosing between a skillet and a frying pan can be a confusing process. We recommend going with the skillet first.
While the surface area is decreased, you can make up for it by buying a slightly larger size. With sloping sides, this skillet makes food easier to reach and makes it more versatile.
When to Use a Frying Pan?
Despite their shape, sauté pans can hold liquids well. So, they can also be used for a braise, poach, shallow fry, searing, and pan-frying if they don't involve flipping any ingredients frequently.
The size and weight of sauté pans, however, prevent them from being used to flip and shake food. Cooking in sauté pans is faster, and more efficient because they are bigger.
Sauté pans are ideal if you will be making a dish that is liquid-heavy and does not require much stirring, such as falafel or braised lamb shanks.
Why You Should Use a Skillet?
In fact, skillets are perfect for sautéing and stir-frying, as opposed to what many people expect. They are light in weight and have sloping sides, which help distribute the food evenly and return them back to the bottom of the pan.
It is also easy to stir ingredients with the wide opening, as it allows access to the cooking surface. Searing meat and pan-frying in skillets are popular cooking methods.
The skillet shines, however, when it comes to fast-cooking dishes. For example, dishes that require constant flipping or stirring, such as spinach mushroom omelets or beef stir-fries.
What Is The Difference Between A Skillet And A Frying Pan?
None, actually. A skillet and a frying pan are essentially the same pieces of kitchen utensils. The term “pan” refers to a wide range of cooking utensils. There can be a sauté pan, frying pan, and even a boiling pan. In essence, a frying pan is the same thing as a skillet.
Taking a close look at a frying pan, you will notice that it is a shallow cooking surface with raised sides.
The sides are slightly sloped, and you use it to “fry” different types of food. A skillet is pretty much the same thing both in terms of design and function.
Both of these tools are used for shallow frying, stirring, flipping food, grilling meat, or even high-heat searing.
Skillets and frying pans typically can withstand very high temperatures; otherwise, they will not work well for frying food.
Why The Confusion?
If the skillet and the frying pan are essentially the same, you might be wondering why there is so much confusion around it. Well, we believe the issue comes from the generic use of the phrase “pots and pans.”
However, if you go to any proper kitchen with chefs and full-on kitchen staff working full-time, you will see them use the proper terminology for their utensils.
In a kitchen, the term pan usually refers to the Sauté pan. A frying pan is almost always called a skillet there to avoid any confusion.
Apart from the frying pan and sauté pan, you can also find Bundt pans, roasting pans, cake pans, and many other utensils for the kitchen to cook different types of food.
Types Of Skillet/Frying Pan
As you can see, there is virtually no difference between frying pan and skillet. However, when you are buying one for yourself, you will find different types of it.
Skillets or frying pans are manufactured with different materials these days, and their performance can vary depending on the material.
The four most common materials used to make frying pans these days are stainless steel, cast-iron, aluminum, and nonstick.
Each material has its distinct strength and weakness that we will discuss in the following section of the article.
Stainless Steel Skillet
Stainless steel might be the most popular choice in any kitchen cookware. So it is no wonder that stainless skillets are such a great choice for almost any kitchen.
Usually, this type of skillet has a stainless-steel body with a copper or aluminum core. Because of this design, the pan can dissipate heat efficiently and can be used in any oven or cooktop.
However, the cooking surface of these pans can cause the food to stick. So, it can be difficult to keep them clean. This type of skillet is great for cooking almost any type of food.
The best part of aluminum skillets is their price. Besides, aluminum is a good conductor of heat. As a result, a frying pan made using this material will dissipate heat quite efficiently.
You can also find some hard-anodized aluminum skillets in the market that are even stronger and can disperse heat better.
However, if you use an induction cooktop, aluminum skillets might not be an option for you.
Another major disadvantage to this type of pan is that they are not very durable. Some aluminum can also leave a metallic aftertaste in your food. This, however, is quite rare with better quality aluminum skillets.
Cast-iron used to be a popular choice for making kitchen cookware. However, after stainless steel arrived in the market, most people migrated to the newer material.
Still, there are many who still keep cast iron griddle/skillets in their kitchen because of their excellent quality and performance. This type of skillet is extremely durable and can be used in the oven without any issues.
However, you cannot put cast iron skillets in the dishwasher. You need to wash them by hand and thoroughly dry them before storing them away. Otherwise, it will get rusty after a few months of use.
Nonstick skillets are a good option for those who are on a tight budget. Despite its lower price tag, it comes with many advantages over other materials.
For instance, nonstick skillets, as the name implies, come with a nonstick coating that enables easy food release.
The major flaw with this material is that it is not very durable. Using metal utensils is the quickest way to ruin this type of frying pan.
You also need to keep the heat at low or medium if you are using a nonstick skillet. Too much heat and the coating will melt away from the skillet.
Other Types of Skillets
There are also a few other materials that are used to make skillets these days. However, they are quite rare, and unless you need them for a specific purpose, you will never use them.
Still, it is worth knowing about it before you decide on a particular frying pan.
➥ Copper Skillet
Copper cookware used to mean class and elegance, being the most popular choice by many chefs even to this day. It conducts heat perfectly, allowing you to cook anything.
However, the material starts rusting over time unless you periodically polish it. It also leaves a metallic taste in your food.
➥ Ceramic Skillet
Ceramic skillets are also an option if you are not cooking acidic food. This material is also safe to use in the dishwasher.
However, since ceramic is a brittle substance, if you drop it once, you will break it.
Typically, you cannot find ceramic skillets without investing in a complete ceramic cookware set.
➥ Carbon Steel Skillet
Finally, we have the carbon steel skillet, which, to be honest, is quite rare to find in a casual kitchen. This skillet type works on any type of cooking surface, including an induction cooktop.
You can also use them in the oven. However, carbon steel skillets are not a good choice for cooking delicate or acidic food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few queries that people often have regarding a skillet or a frying pan.
#1. Are a skillet and a sauté pan the same?
Sauté pan is another utensil that often gets confused with a skillet. However, there are some pretty striking differences between them. For instance, skillets come with sloped sides, whereas a sauté pan has straight sides.
As a result, you get a larger cooking surface with a sauté pan. However, this also means that a sauté pan is considerably heavier than a skillet.
Flipping or stirring food is also much easier to do on a skillet than on a sauté pan because of the angled sides.
#2. When should I use a skillet instead of a sauté pan?
Since a sauté pan has many similarities with a skillet, you can make a lot of the same dishes in both utensils. However, there are instances where you would have a better experience using a skillet instead of a sauté pan.
The easiest way to tell whether a skillet is better for the job is to think about whether you need to flip the food using a spatula. If the answer is yes, you want to use a skillet.
Because of the angled sides of a skillet, handling the food with a spatula is a lot easier.
#3. What type of skillet is best for frying?
Well, the best type of skillet often depends on the preference of the user. Some might prefer aluminum or anodized aluminum pan, whereas others may want to use a nonstick skillet for frying. So, there is no definitive answer to this question.
However, stainless steel is a great choice for frying for most people. It conducts heat quite efficiently and is also quite durable.
And any seasoned cook should be able to take the food out of a stainless-steel frying pan without too much hassle.
As you can see, a frying pan is no different from a skillet. So, if someone asks for a skillet, you can simply hand them a frying pan.
We hope our article could help eliminate any confusion you might have had about the difference between a skillet and a frying pan.
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