Skillet vs Frying Pan

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The difference between a skillet and a frying pan can be quite confusing

While some people use the words interchangeably, others believe the two are actually different. Whether you’re a veteran cook or a novice, chances are you’ll encounter both types of utensils in your kitchen.
Knowing which one is best for braising, roasting, or sautéing is crucial to preparing delicious dishes that taste great.

There’s a reason why a juicy steak dripping with sauce is best cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

However, many people get confused between skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans when it comes to cooking. But are they really all the same thing, or are there clear distinctions?
Well, let’s find out!

What is a skillet?

One of the distinguishing marks of a skillet is the fact that the sides are sloped. Whereas the total cooking area is a bit smaller than the equivalent sized sauté pan, this comes with several benefits.
You have greater access to whatever you’re cooking, and this makes them extremely handy for preparing foods like stir-fry and other kinds of roasting where you have to do a lot of moving it around. Skillets are particularly well suited for frittatas, that are served out of a skillet.
Skillets may also be referred to as frying pans or roasting pans, which can make matters a bit tricky for anyone who is a novice to the cooking process. Many kinds are available and the material they are made of varies. Below is a rundown of the material they are made from and what they are good for.

  • Aluminum (with a non-stick or ceramic finish) – these are not great for cooking at higher temperatures, they’re most suitable for such things as cooking eggs and bacon. In fact, you can get plenty of budget choices from these types. In the last couple of years, the technology has developed to create fairly respectably made cookware like scan pans. Those are inclined to be much safer. Products that are made using Teflon have to be used with care.
  • Stainless Steel – This is a solid favorite of professional cooks and people who are serious about their cooking. Once you get to know the proper cooking skills associated with stainless steel, it is possible to produce some really stunning meals. Stainless steel is sturdy and long-lasting, which makes it a perfect fit for commercial settings.


Be sure to look at the quality of the stainless steel cookware, there are several types of stainless steel
Cast Iron Pans – Beloved by most, cast iron is sturdy and ultra-durable and those who opt for it swear by it. They do need seasoning occasionally and need the most maintenance of any cookware. When you season them right, they get a reasonably decent non-stick finish.

What is a frying pan?

You will use a frying pan to cook food, and it is basically just the same thing as a skillet. Our suspicion is that the difference is more about branding than practicality.
Cast iron pans are commonly called skillets, whereas non-stick ones are known as frying pans. It might also vary based on wherever you are located in the world.
It really won’t make a difference.
Simply keep in mind that if the sides are sloped, it is a frying pan or a skillet.

Frying pans vs. skillets: What’s the confusion about?

A lot of the confusion between frying pans and skillets is from their names. Skillets, by way of example, are also known as frying pans or fry pans. In addition, the word “frying pan” is commonly applied in relation to cast-iron skillets, regardless of whether or not they are in fact cast-iron skillets.

Pans are open to even more definitions. While most chefs consider a pan to be a sauté pan, the word frequently applies to all kinds of cooking utensils. The phrase “pots and pans” is used interchangeably to refer to general cookware, and “pan” is commonly used when talking about other items – crêpe pan, sheet pan, frying pan, and the like.
Moreover, pans and skillets are available in quite comparable sizes (typically 8-, 10-, or 12-inch diameters) and types of materials (stainless steel, aluminum, multi-layered, and non-stick).
Whereas frying pans and skillets are commonly confused with each other – and can be substituted for each other if necessary – the real cookware items do have their distinctions.

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

A skillet and a frying pan are commonly associated with various cooking methods, as they both feature different properties making them more specialized for particular kinds of food.
It’s worth mentioning that a skillet is supplied with a cover, whereas a frying pan is not.

Once you are aware of this, let’s have a look at the difference in features.

  • The shape of the pan

A skillet resembles a frying pan very much. This is what puzzles a lot of people!
Usually, you can distinguish the two based on an assisting grip. A skillet comes with an assist handle, whereas a frying pan has none.
Regarding shape, a frying pan has sloped sides sloping outward more than a skillet, which causes a frying pan to appear more round when compared to a skillet.

  • Capacity

Skillets are usually bigger and capable of taking more food compared to a frying pan. But the size of the pan differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, yet characteristically, a 12-inch pan can contain approximately 3 quarts of food, whereas a 9-inch pan can hold approximately 2 quarts of food.
Even though a frying pan appears wider in the images, it is flatter than a skillet, which affects the capacity significantly.
This implies that a skillet can hold approximately 2 quarts, whereas a frying pan of the same size can only hold approximately 1.5 quarts. Thus, a frying pan has a decreased capacity of approximately 25% in comparison to a skillet.

  • Rate of evaporation

The rate of evaporation refers to the speed at which the liquid evaporates on the cooking surfaces.
Since skillets and frying pans have different uses, the rate of evaporation varies for every kind of cookware.
But the key distinction is that frying pans have a higher evaporation rate than the skillet. The reason for this is that frying pans normally have sloped sides that slope outward more significantly compared to a skillet. This means it has more exposure to the air than the flatter sides of a skillet, so it evaporates faster.
That is one of the primary factors why skillets are commonly used for dishes that need more moisture, including sauces and certain kinds of meats.

  • Simmering capability

The more typical way of cooking is always performed in cast iron skillets, like in a lot of Asian countries like Japan or China. This is due to the fact that the cooking material holds heat and allows food to be cooked uniformly, while still offering the option of simmering the food.
The ability to simmer is the primary factor that makes cast iron pans so incredibly versatile because they hold heat quite effectively and enable uniform cooking.
But with new technologies, non-stick pans got popular since skillets have a tendency to get stains quite easily, thus making it challenging to cook vegetables safely avoiding them from burning.

  • Frying area

The frying surface of a skillet will be larger compared to a frying pan if you are going to make a comparison between the two pans that have the same size.
The size of the surface impacts the way you can cook in the pan since you have more space for your meal and utensils.

In addition, bigger surfaces usually hold heat more effectively, so your food won’t get chilled too much during cooking.

But smaller surfaces aid in quicker cooking, allowing you to get things browned more quickly, meaning reduced time spending on cooking your food.

stainless steel frying pan

  • Material

A skillet is usually made from cast iron since a cast iron skillet is sturdy, long-lasting, can handle hot temperatures, as well as having great heat retention for consistent cooking. Making it ideal for stewing sauces, simmering vegetables, or even baking.
While on the other hand, a frying pan is constructed from a more characteristic material like steel, aluminum, or copper. This is due to the fact that it is less pricey, becomes simpler to clean, and also heats up much faster.
Most likely, if you hear anyone mention “cast iron frying pan”, they are going to be talking about a skillet and confusing the terms.

  • Cooking times

Cooking times are different for skillets and frying pans.
The cooking times for a cast-iron skillet tend to be higher than those for frying pans due to the fact that they feature a thicker bottom and sides, thus making them harder to heat.

In addition, they are made of cast iron, a material that needs more time to heat up.

Regarding baking, the cooking period will be just under 5 minutes for a frying pan, while a frying pan that is roughly the same size and shape as a skillet might need double the time to bake.
The reason for this is due to how flat frying pans are and the materials they are typically made with, it normally requires around 30-45 seconds to achieve a temperature of 500-550F. with a frying pan, yet with a skillet, there will be approximately 2-3 minutes to achieve this temperature.

  • Easy handling

Because skillets are normally bigger than frying pans, they are much simpler to use to sauté or even sear big quantities of meat at one time.
A skillet is extremely convenient to use and particularly due to its size, it can be used as an extension of yourself. This isn’t the situation with a frying pan. Due to their small surface area, it means that moving a frying pan is a lot trickier than moving a skillet.

  • Price

A skillet’s price is commonly more expensive as it is of better quality than a frying pan. A skillet is most often made from cast iron, which takes more material and time to produce the skillet. But in some specific cases, skillets might actually be less costly than frying pans!
A cast-iron skillet typically ranges in cost from $50-$100, whereas a frying pan usually costs from $10-$30.

  • Oven suitable

The shape and material of a cast-iron skillet signify it is oven-proof. A frying pan, on the other hand, lacks this feature because of the shape and lack of material. Meaning that most of them will not be oven-proof unless you come across an oven-proof cast iron frying pan or any other frying pan which uses oven-proof materials.

  • Matters to keep in mind

Skillets and frying pans need particular materials based on what kind of cooking you are going to do with them. A skillet needs to have excellent heat retention, that’s why they are made from cast iron, whereas frying pans should have a non-stick surface material to prevent food from sticking.

The best type of frying pan

Iron skillets

Iron skillets are shaped by a number of processes – they may be forged, turned, or cast – but they’re all usually costly and need upkeep. But don’t let that scare you away: they are among the most diverse, long-lasting, and enjoyable utensils you can have. The experts agreed that although a cast-iron skillet isn’t exactly one-size-fits-all, it is unbeatable for specific purposes.

Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

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  • Durability.
  • Use on stove, BBQ, or open fire.
  • Precision heat distribution.

Non-stick frying pans

Non-stick frying pans feature a man-made or ceramic coating on the surface of the pan that keeps food from sticking. The finest non-stick pans are able to decrease the volume of oil used, resulting in a more healthful food experience. Similar to cast iron, pans need to be carefully cared for to stay effective.

T-fal Nonstick Fry Pan

T-fal Nonstick Fry Pan

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  • Dishwasher safe.
  • Hard-anodized construction.
  • PFOA, Lead, and Cadmium free.

Stainless steel frying pans

Why pick stainless steel? They are tough, long-lasting, and more affordable than iron, for starters. Stainless steel pans retain heat nicely, leading to uniform cooking. The iron in the steel also means they are appropriate for induction cooking.
Stainless steel pans are more affordable than iron, yet still sturdy and durable, but they are not a great conductor of heat, which is why the pan needs to be coated with a layer of copper or aluminum, otherwise, it will take more time to get hot.

All-Clad Stainless Fry Pan

All-Clad Stainless Fry Pan

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  • Tri-Ply stainless steel.
  • Compatible with all cooktops including induction.
  • Oven- and broiler-safe up to 600 degrees F.

Different types of frying pans

No matter if you call them griddles, skillets, sauté pans, or frying pans, they come in a wide range of types, and all of them are fascinating. They range in size from being just big enough to fry an egg, to big enough to cook for a whole army. So what types of frying pans are available?

Non-stick frying pan

You use a non-stick pan when preparing foods that are prone to sticking.
Non-stick pans have some kind of internal layer like Teflon or PTFE that keeps food from sticking while cooking. They work best for foods such as pancakes, eggs, fish, or crêpes that need low or medium heat with little or no oil. It makes them perfect for managing weight since you can use them for cooking low-fat foods.
Non-stick pans are lightweight and heat up very fast. They perform best at low heat and should be never exposed to high temperatures. They can also be scratched by metallic utensils, therefore it is recommended to use plastic or silicone cooking spoons all the time.

Ceramic frying pan

A ceramic frying pan is also non-stick, but in contrast to conventional non-stick pans which are coated with a chemical substance, ceramic pans are covered with a silica gel composed of sand or ceramic stone.
Ceramic pans are also lightweight and cannot be exposed to high heat. It is recommended not to use them with metallic utensils and they can be used on a stovetop surface only.

Hard anodized frying pans

Hard anodized frying pans are made from aluminum that has been processed to become tough and long-lasting. They also have a non-stick coating, however, unlike the above two first types of non-stick pans, they can endure high temperatures with no damage. They are heavy and will not be scratched when used with metal utensils.
They are obviously costlier compared to other non-stick pans, but they will also last longer. Therefore, if you are looking for a frying pan that will hold up for a long time, consider getting a hard-anodized pan.

Stainless steel frying pans

Frying pans made of stainless steel are lightweight but long-lasting. By itself, stainless steel is not a very effective conductor of heat.
Stainless steel pans are non-corrosive, so they do not interact with food and cause it to leach. They may, though, stick to food if it is cooked with no oil. They work well for sautéing, frying, searing, stewing, and roasting meats, along with oven use.

Stainless steel frying pans also have induction capability. This signifies that they may be used on an induction stove, which utilizes magnetic energy to heat the pan straight.

Cast iron frying pans

Cast iron is already being used for cooking utensils since the 7th century. It is thick and weighty and extremely multipurpose. You can use it for cooking eggs, roasting chicken, stir-frying, slow-cooking, stewing, and baking.
Cast iron pans are slower to heat compared to steel and aluminum pans, particularly if they are heated too quickly. But they can hold extremely high temperatures, spread the heat evenly, and hold it longer. Cast iron frying pans are available either bare or coated.
Bare cast iron pans have no coating and are thus prone to corrosion. To avoid this, they may be lubricated with oil, which seals the pores and keeps them from coming into contact with water. Once oiled, cast iron pans do not need to be rinsed with soap and water after every use. Just wipe the pan with a pot. When the pan is heavily soiled, it may be washed, but then it must be resealed.
Coated cast iron pans are coated with an enamel glaze. As a result, there is no need to re-season and it makes them easier to keep clean. It also keeps iron from leaching into the food. But, enameled cast iron cannot resist baking as well as seasoned, bare cast iron. It also will not withstand burning heat and may easily chip if it falls.

Carbon steel frying pans

Carbon steel pans are thinner and more lightweight compared to cast iron pans. Although they will heat up quite fast, they lose their heat equally quickly. Also like cast iron pans, these can be seared to become non-stick. They disperse heat equally and are suited for oven use. However, their principal downside is that they can easily rust if they are not maintained appropriately.

Aluminum frying pans

Aluminum represents one of the most easily accessible natural elements, therefore frying pans made from aluminum are fairly inexpensive. It is an outstanding conductor of heat and warms up more quickly when compared to stainless steel. Indeed, aluminum has sometimes been added to stainless steel pans to enhance their thermal conductivity.
Aluminum is lightweight yet sturdy and does not deform when subjected to extreme heat. Since they conduct heat so well, aluminum pans are excellent for frying and sautéing food. The greatest drawback of aluminum is that it will interact with alkaline and acidic foods. As a result, this leads to corrosion and leaching of the metal into the food, giving the food a metallic taste.

Copper frying pans

Copper is a great conductor of heat, so copper frying pans will heat up pretty fast, but they will lose heat just as quickly. This keeps the food from further heating up and burning, even after the heat source was removed. These are the complete opposite of cast iron. They also are less heat stable than cast iron and stainless steel. Everything over 450 degrees is definitely off-limits.
Since they conduct heat so effectively, copper pans are great for sautéing, preparing desserts, sauces, and delicate foods such as fish and seafood.

Types of skillets

Skillets: the type of heavy metal that anyone would treasure – particularly when they make your favorite pork chops or soft scrambled eggs. In a well-equipped kitchen, you’ll find a number of different kinds of frying pans, among them cast iron, stainless steel, and non-stick.

Cast Iron Skillet

Made from: Iron that warms gradually but steadily and remains red-hot.
Most suitable for: Browning a lovely crust on meats, like chops and steaks (not appropriate for acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, because the iron may react and give a metallic taste).
Method of cleaning: Cleaning agents will strip away the seasoning. Wipe or scrub it with hot water instead. If stuck, give it a rub with 1/2 cup kosher salt, followed by a rinse.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Deep Skillet

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Deep Skillet

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  • Unparalleled heat retention and even heating.
  • Great for induction cooktops.
  • Longevity & durability.

Stainless steel skillet

Made from: Stainless steel, an alloy that does not crack, rust, or interact with food. It will heat moderately, rapidly, and consistently.
Most suitable for: Day-to-day cooking: stir-fry, all types of vegetables and sauces, and meats (unless you already have cast iron). Stainless steel also creates a pretty respectable crust.
Method of cleaning: For burnt-on spots, boil two cups of water and one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar in the pan for 20 mins, and then scrub.

Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Skillet

Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Skillet

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  • Safe to 500°F and compatible with all cooktops including induction.
  • Dishwasher safe.
  • 5 layer metal base.

Non-stick skillet

Made from: Aluminum which heats and cools fast, covered with several layers of a non-stick polymer commonly referred to as PTFE (which is less poisonous than Teflon).
Most suitable for: Preparing delicate foods like eggs, fish fillets, battered chops, pancakes, and crêpes.
Method of cleaning: Use a plastic brush to scrub, which will not cause scratches. Apply 1/2 teaspoon of oil before cooking to maintain the non-stick coating.

ESLITE LIFE Nonstick Skillet Set

ESLITE LIFE Nonstick Skillet Set

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  • Sturdy reinforced die-casting aluminum body.
  • Ergonomic bakelite handle.
  • Suitable for gas, ceramic, electric, halogen.


Therefore, does a skillet differ from a frying pan?
Yes, a skillet is way unlike a frying pan, as you can clearly understand from the above.
The key issue why people are getting mistaken between frying pans and skillets is that skillets are members of the frying pan family. It all goes back to the name
While some people are going to take the time to get to know it, it is essential that you know the difference by the end of the day when you want to achieve flawless tastes in your food.

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Steve Toomey

The main inspirer and creator of this resource. In passion about gardening, home decor & interior. Also, likes to DIY projects and interesting in house gadgets. Moreover, he likes to find out how to make cooking easier and simple with kitchen gadgets. Read More.

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