Difference Between a Frying Pan and a Skillet

Even though almost everybody loves food, few people are familiar with the terminologies used while cooking. Some people might not even be familiar with that numerous terminologies are very important to know if one wants the dishes to taste right.


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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 are the frying pan and the skillet.

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

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

Key Takeaways

  1. A frying pan typically has a flat bottom and shallow sides, while a skillet has sloping sides and a wider base.
  2. A frying pan is suitable for cooking delicate foods, while a skillet is ideal for preparing dishes that require high heat and browning.
  3. While both are used for frying and sautéing, a skillet can also be used for baking and broiling.

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 shallow.

Frying Pan vs Skillet 1

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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 on 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 for frying, searing, or heating 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, the same material used to make skillets. The early frying pans used in ancient Mesopotamia were 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 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 electric regulators in the frying pan.

Non-stick fry pans have a Teflon coating that prevents any substance from sticking to them, making them easy to clean and the cooking process less messy. 

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

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

frying pan

What is a Skillet?

A skillet is a round circular utensil used to fry food items or 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 a frying pan, usually more than 2 inches.

Skillets are mainly made of cast iron, but in some cases, they can also be made of aluminium or copper. A skillet also has flared rims which give the cook more accessibility while stirring or when the cook has to reach 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 accessible by the cook. So any food resting only on the skillet’s sidewalls 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, these utensils usually have more weight due to the larger depth, so they are not good when flipping food items while cooking.

Skillets usually come with a lid that covers them when cooking for a long duration. Covering the Skillet while cooking helps quicken the cooking process and conserve energy and gas simultaneously. 


Main Differences between Frying Pans and Skillets

  1. Frying pans are shallow, while skillets are relatively deeper, usually over 2 inches.
  2. Frying pans are not used with lids, while skillets have lids.
  3.  Frying pans are used for frying or searing food items,  while skillets 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 cast iron.
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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