Monica Hewitt is an accomplished chef with an extensive background in setting up kitchens around the world. From selecting kitchenware and kitchen utensils to menu planning, Monica has been responsible for establishing complete restaurants from the ground up. As the Kitchen and Cooking Expert at Homesthetics, Monica is in charge of reviewing and curating all cooking and kitchen-related content on the platform. In her free time, Monica is a good sport, enjoying critiquing our homemade meals around the clock and telling us what could have been improved in sandwiches.
A cast iron frying pan is usually called a skillet, while nonstick ones are simply called frying pans.
A pan is a type of metal cookware with a long handle used to cook food conveniently. A frying pan’s specifically designed with a flat bottom, wide base, and rounded flared sides.
Frying pans are shallower and thinner because frying requires faster heating.
These frying pans have a non-stick chemical coating that prevents food from sticking to the bottom when cooking or frying.
A nonstick pan is more affordable, easy to clean, and convenient to cook with. It’s particularly useful for sautéing more delicate food like eggs, vegetables, and fish.
What I like
Does not easily scratch
Thinner, shallower, and more lightweight
Requires less oil
What I Don’t Like
Can easily burn food
Usually not oven-safe
Needs more attention
A cast iron pan and a carbon steel pan are called skillets.
A skillet is usually made of iron, alloyed with a small amount of carbon for hardening. It is a pan designed with a flat base, sloped or slanted sides, and a handle.
A cast iron skillet is deeper, much like a sauté pan. Its sloped sides help redistribute the food. Although skillets take longer to get hot, they retain heat for longer.
This quality makes them a good tool for searing a steak or cooking meat at high heat. They’re ideal for stir-frying and fast-cooking dishes that need constant stirring or moving around the cooking surface.
Most skillets also come with a lid. They’re put to good use for braising, which is the combination of pan-searing and slow-cooking in a sauce until the whole dish is tender.
You might also want to consider a broiler pan for your kitchen.
Here are the 3 common types of skillets according to their material:
Cast Iron Skillets
This is perhaps the most popular type of skillet. They’re durable and long-lasting.
A cast iron skillet, however, requires seasoning to prevent food from sticking.
Aluminum skillets are perfect for cooking low-heat quick foods like bacon and eggs.
An aluminum skillet lasts longer when they’re given a non-stick or ceramic coating. However, they’re not suitable for extreme heat cooking since the coating can create hot spots.
They’re not meant to be used in a dishwasher either, as dishwashers can damage their coating in the long run.
Stainless Steel Skillets
Stainless steel pans are popular among professional chefs. They are easy to clean and very durable. Plus, they can stand extreme temperatures, depending on their steel grade.
If you’re considering the culinary arts as a career or are a hero in the kitchen, you better get a stainless steel skillet!
What I like
Great heat retention
Comes with a lid
Thicker and deeper
Non-toxic and non-stick
Durable and long-lasting
What I Don’t Like
The handle can heat up fast
Some don’t have a non-stick coating
Cast iron requires more maintenance
Frying Pans vs Skillets (Cast Iron) : Head-to-Head Comparison
When it comes to frying pans vs skillets, there’s not much to argue. The only real difference is that skillets are not shallow. They’re usually deeper than frying pans by about 2 inches and come with lids.
French skillets are even often mistaken as frying pans because they look very similar. But these skillets just happen to be a little more spacious and have higher sides.
You can cook the same dishes in both options. But if you’re keen, check out these comparisons.
Investing in durably made pans and skillets is the best way to go. They’re often made with stainless steel, nonstick surfaces, ceramic, cast iron, and aluminum.
Nowadays, hard-anodized aluminum is the better option. But the difference in quality isn’t too far from stainless steel.
Go for tri-ply or five-ply combinations of stainless steel and aluminum. These have excellent heat retention, heat distribution, and safety, whether you’re using a skillet or a frying pan.
Stainless steel and aluminum skillets and pans.
2. Handle Construction
Pan-fried dishes often need to be shaken and flipped when stir-frying. Therefore, frying pans need longer handles for better tossing ability.
Plus, with the help of a wooden spatula, you’ll have a pleasurable time in the kitchen!
Skillets tend to be used for more ingredients. So a sturdy handle is a must-have to carry the weight.
Ideally, both pans and skillets should have stay-cool handles that are securely riveted to their base.
Tie! Both cooking tools have sturdy handles.
3. Cookware Size
Skillets and pans are available in 3.5-inch to 17-inch diameters. The most popular are 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch diameters.
The ideal size will depend on how many people you’re cooking for and the type of meals you make.
A smaller pan or skillet is great for one- or two-person meals and quick bites.
An 8-inch frying pan is great for whipping up quick breakfast scrambles or a pan-fried fish with some vegetable sides.
Larger skillets are great to use for family-size portions and full-pan meals like stir fries and noodles.
8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch Pans.
Again, your choice will depend on your recipes, cooking methods, and needs.
A frying pan and skillet are both lightweight. They’re not difficult to move across a stove.
Tie! Whether you’re using a pan or skillet, they come in roughly the same weight.
5. Design and Purpose
Since fry pans areflat-bottomed and don’t have a lid, they work well with shallow frying, searing, andhigh-heat grilling.
Thanks to the tall and straight sides of frying pans, they’re the tool to use when making eggs, pancakes, frittatas, and dry stir fry.
The vertical sides of sauté pans mean it’s easier to pour liquid from them. They can be used to cook thick sauces, curries, and stews.
But the thin angled-out sides and flat bottom of skillets can cause a mess when cooking with a ton of liquid and ingredients, even if they’re deeper than a frying pan.
A skillet is better than a sauté pan when cooking fewer things due to its smaller cooking area. But its even heat distribution is a great compromise!
Pans and Sauté Pans.
6. Evaporation Rate
Being able to control the moisture in your meal is key to excellent-tasting meals.
If you want faster thickening and cooking down of sauces, skillets will get the job done faster than a sauté pan.
That’s thanks to the flatter and wider surface of skillets and pans. Sauté pans, on the other hand, have a larger surface, so it’s harder to lose moisture.
If you plan to cook juicy and tender dishes, a sauté pan is the better option.
What Is a Sauté Pan?
The word“sauté” is a French word meaning “to jump.” But when it comes to food, it refers to cooking food with direct heat from the pan.
Sauté pans generally have a wider surface area with straight sides. Their shape makes them suitable for holding soups, stews, and curries.
Because these dishes are often cooked under lower temperatures for a long period, most sauté pans come with non-stick coatings.
If your recipe needs a good amount of liquid ingredients and not much stirring, like when cooking sauces for pasta, a sauté pan is perfect for the job!