Difference Between a Frying Pan and a Skillet

Even though almost everybody loves food yet not many people are familiar with the terminologies that come into use while cooking. Some people might not even be familiar that there are numerous terminologies that are very important to know if one wants to get the dishes to taste right.

These terminologies might come in many forms and factors, such as names of sauces, types of herbs, types of cutlery, names of spices, etc. Two of the most common types of utensils used for cooking is the frying pan and the skillet.

These utensils are so common in use that many do not even know the difference between these two. Many people often interchange these two terms without knowing the proper difference between them.

Both skillets and frying pans are used to fry food items or sear them. Both of these are also used to saute vegetables.

Frying Pan vs Skillet

The difference between a frying pan and a skillet is that a skillet is slightly deeper than the frying pan while the frying pan is actually shallow.

Frying Pan vs Skillet 1

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFrying PanSkillet
DepthFrying pans are shallow.Skillets are deep, and usually more than 2 inches.
LidFrying pans do not have any lids.Skillets have lids.
UseUsed to fry or sear items.Used for thickening sauces, gravies, etc.
HeatCooking is done in high heat.Heat is kept at medium or low.
MaterialUsually stainless steel.Generally made of cast iron.

What is a Frying Pan?

Frying pans are shallow circular utensils with curved edges that are used to fry, sear, or heat food items. Originally frying pans were found to be used in ancient Mesopotamia, they were also used in ancient Greece where they were called the patella.

The word Pan has been derived from the Old English word Panna.

Even though frying pans these days are made using stainless steel, earlier they were made using cast iron, which is the same material that is used to make skillets these days. The early frying pans that were used in ancient Mesopotamia was made using copper.

Sometimes Aluminium is also used to make frying pans too.

In this modern-day and age, there are different types of frying pans, electric fire frying pans, and non-stick frying pans. The electric frying pan basically works by using a coil to generate heat and this heat helps to cook the food which is put in the frying pan.

One advantage of electric frying pans over thermostatic frying pans is is is that we can control the temperature at which the food is cooked and for how long that temperature should be maintained. This is possible due to the presence of electric regulators in the frying pan.

Non-stick fry pans simply have a Teflon coating over them which prevents any substance from sticking to it and this makes it easy to clean and the cooking process becomes less messy. 

Any form of cooking usually done in a frying pan usually involves a high amount of heat. Frying pans do not come with a lid and are shallow and depth, and because of this they are ideal for heating things fast, or saute them.

Saute is a process of lightly frying vegetables or meat, or even rice while stirring it with a spoon or a ladle. 

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What is a Skillet?

A skillet is a round circular utensil that is used to fry food items, or used to thicken gravies or sauces. Skillets are very similar to frying pans.

However, the main difference between these two is that skillets have more depth than frying pan which is usually more than 2 inches.

Skillets are mainly made of cast iron, but in some cases, they can also be made of aluminum or copper. A skillet also has flared rims which give the cook more accessibility while stirring or when the cook has to reach to a particular area to remove a lump are anything similar to that.

However, one big disadvantage of flared rims is that since it is read out in nature so the actual cooking area of the skillet is less than the top area which is accessible by the cook. So any food which rests only on the sidewalls of the skillet will not be in direct contact with the heat.

This might lead to undercooking and hence the food not being delicious enough.

Due to this particular reason, skillets are preferably used to prepare sauces and gravies. Also due to larger depth, these utensils usually have more weight which is why they are not a good utensil to be used in case of flipping the food items while cooking.

Skillets usually come with a lid that covers it when cooking stuff for a long duration. Covering the Skillet while cooking helps quicken the cooking process and conserve energy and gas at the same time. 

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Main Differences between Frying Pans and Skillets

  1. Frying pans are shallow while skillets are relatively deeper, usually more than 2 inches.
  2. Frying pans are not used with lids, while skillets have lids.
  3.  frying pans are used to fry or sear food items,  while skillets are used to thicken gravies and prepare sauces.
  4. Cooking is usually done in high heat in frying pans, while cooking is done in low or medium heat and skillets.
  5. Frying pans are mostly made out of stainless steel material while skillets are usually made out of cast iron material.
Difference Between a Frying Pan and a Skillet


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/504325
  2. https://patents.google.com/patent/US2262538A/en
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Last update on 2022-12-03 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API