Sauté Pan vs. Frying Pan

We hear the terms skillet, frying pan and sautéing pan. What’s the difference? The side of pan answers that question. A frying pan, also known as a skillet, has slanted sides. A sautéing pan has straight sides.

The curved or sloped side of the skillet works well for stir-frying and other cooking where you are moving ingredients around in the pan.

The straight side of the sauté pan gives it a larger surface area against the heat, perfect for searing meat. Sauces and other liquids stay in the pan better due to the straight sides. This pan often comes with a lid.

Five factors are affected by the pan you choose:

  • Surface area: pans are measured by the diameter of the lip. With a skillet’s smaller diameter of the bottom of the pan, you’ll have a smaller area on the cooking surface. You should take into account the diameter of your stovetop eyes when choosing the size of frying and sautéing pans.
  • Volume: a higher volume of liquid fits into the sauté pan.
  • Weight: a sauté pan is heavier than a frying pan because of the wider base. This is why a sauté pan may come with a second handle.
  • Tossing ability: have you been practicing tossing or flipping your food like you see on TV? A skillet works best for this skill. Actually it’s the most effective way to evenly distribute your ingredients in the pan. Plus it’s fun!
  • Evaporation: as long as you leave space between the meat that you’re sautéing or pan frying, evaporation will occur. Use a bigger pan than you need or split the amount to keep your food from becoming soggy.

The pans can be used interchangeably with Fork & Leaf Sauteing Oil. Both work well for eggs and grilled cheese. Options vary in size, material and construction – which we’ll get into in a later article.

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