Skillet vs Frying Pan – Which One Should You Buy?

By Heloise Blause Updated September 27, 2021
Skillet vs Frying Pan – Which One Should You Buy?

Have you ever come across recipes that call on you to use a skillet for this dish or a frying pan for that dish? It can be a little perplexing. There is an open-ended debate about skillets and frying pans.

Frying pans and skillets seem similar, but it turns out that there may be a difference after all. Using the correct item can make a big difference in how your meal turns out.

So, this article will take a comprehensive look at the differences between a skillet and a frying pan so you don’t have to.

Frying Pan vs Skillet Is There a Difference?

A frying pan is a cooking utensil with slanted sides. A skillet has a similar design and purpose, but is commonly made of cast iron and often has no handle. Flat bottomed frying pans and skillets feature flared sides, are shallow and generally have no lid.

Skillet vs Frying Pan Comparison Chart

ProductCast-iron Skillet Frying Pan
Check Price
Check Price
About 2 inches deep
Shallow base
Roast, bake, sear, fry, broil
Fry, sautés, sear, grilling

Two: enameled and non-enameled
A variety of frying pans

Oven Safeyes
Not all pans
Dishwasher safeno
Some pans are

What Is a Skillet?

One defining characteristic of a traditional skillet is the sloped sides and the single casting of the pan and handle.

And although a skillet is typically made from cast iron, there are skillets made from stainless steel, aluminum, carbon steel, and even copper. But the most common and traditional of all makes is cast iron.

This is why we’ll focus on cast iron skillets’ characteristics in this article.

What Is a Frying Pan?

A frying pan is the most used pan of all the varieties of pans we own. Frying pans have a flat bottom, 8 to 12-inch diameter, low sides, and a long handle. Generally, frying pans come without accompanying lids.

Is a Frying Pan Different From a Sauté Pan?

Yes, it is. If it looks like a frying pan but has deep vertical sides and a lid, it’s a sauté pan.

A sauté pan, in contrast to a frying pan, has a flat bottom with high straight sides. A sauté pan allows delicate but quick cooking of chopped vegetables in a back and forth motion.

A sauté pan is excellent for braising chicken thighs and preparing delicious stir-fries. It also retains sauces without fear of spillage.

In-Depth Feature Comparison

Skillet Vs Frying Pan

Skillets and frying pans are different kitchen tools. But they also have similarities. Let’s get through all of them.

1. Shape and Weight

The first difference between a frying pan and a skillet is the shape. As explained, a skillet has curved sides whereas a frying pan has low sides.

Plus, a skillet has a handle that is not separate from the pan itself. So you should be very careful since the entire skillet will be hot to the touch. So unlike the frying pan, you need to use an oven mitt to cook with a skillet. This is also the reason why most cast iron skillets are sold with a handle cover.

There is also a significant weight difference between a standard frying pan and a skillet. Heavy items used under extreme heat require caution on the part of the user.

For example, this Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet weighs 8.25 pounds whereas this Blue Diamond Frying Pan of Blue Diamon Cookware weighs 2.2 pounds.


A frying pan is easier to operate thanks to the cool-to-touch handles and lightweight.

2. Usage

Cast-iron skillets are versatile enough to be used for a variety of cooking techniques.
You can use it for searing, sautéing, roasting, braising, pan-frying, baking, broiling, and more. Professional chefs use a cast iron pan for cooking meals that involve high heat temperatures.

Plus, you can use a skillet on the stove, over an open fire, and in an oven. So there is no worry about transferring your pan from one heating method to another to complete your meal.

On the other hand, a stainless steel pan is ideal for searing meat, frying, and browning. It’s an excellent choice for recipes that begin on the stovetop and progress to the oven.

And for flipping food like pancakes, frying sausages, and cooking eggs, a frying pan with a non-stick coating is ideal. It’s great for cooking delicate foods that could stick to the pan.


A skillet can be used for more cooking techniques than a frying pan. Only certain types of frying pans can go in the oven.

3. Non-Stick Coating

Most frying pans come with a nonstick coating. The nonstick coating helps prevent food from sticking to the surface and makes cleaning a frying pan much easier.

Plus, a nonstick frying pan needs only a small amount of oil or no oil at all. This reduces your chances of developing health issues related to using too much fat and means fewer calories in the meal.

A skillet made from cast iron also means that, when correctly seasoned, the surface is non-stick. The only need is regular seasoning(1) to keep your cast iron skillet in tip-top shape. Just keep in mind that the surface is greasy.


Most frying pans have a nonstick coating whereas a skillet needs regular seasoning.

4. Heat Capability

A cast-iron skillet is slow to heat up but retains heat well(2). It can also withstand high temperatures. This, in turn, promises an even cooking experience while simmering your food at the same time. Plus, due to its fantastic heat retention qualities, some restaurants also serve meals in cast iron pans to their customers.

A frying pan can cook meals faster. The reduced density and the shallow design of a frying pan ensure that you can cook your food quickly and evenly.

Due to a frying pan heating up much quicker, it can lock in flavor. The taste of your dishes is sealed in and ready to eat in no time.

But most frying pans are not oven-safe. These frying pans will warp and become distorted when exposed to high levels of heat. Plus, non-stick pans containing PTFE (Teflon) that are overheated, over 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius), can be hazardous and emit toxic fumes(3).

And due to the speed of cooking when using a frying pan, food can easily burn. Using your frying pan at a high temperature can easily scorch a frying pan. The stainless steel variety can lose its color and be difficult to clean if this occurs.


Skillets win this battle thanks to its heat retention and resistance capabilities.

5. Maintenance

A cast-iron skillet is not dishwasher safe. In fact, you should never put it into a dishwasher. A dishwasher will remove the seasoning on the skillet and will cause it to rust. So make sure to clean your skillet by hand immediately after use.

Most frying pans are oven safe and dishwasher safe — but not all. Always check the user guide before putting it in your dishwasher.

Plus, cast-iron, if not seasoned regularly, will rust. Once rust starts to form, it can be difficult to eliminate. Sadly, even a well-seasoned pan can rust. But if you leave your skillet soaking in water and allow it to air dry, it will end up rusting.

On the other hand, a frying pan is really easy to clean. Especially if it has a nonstick coating. All you have to do is to wash it with water and soap and let it dry.

However, most frying pans need to cool down before you can clean them. Removing a frying pan from the heat and immediately adding cold water can cause it to distort and warp.


Frying pans are easier to clean than skillets. Skillets aren’t dishwasher safe and can easily lose their seasoning.

Which One Should You Buy?

Both a skillet and a frying pan can sear a steak and a chicken breast to perfection.

You can use a skillet pan to braise in sauces, bake, broil, and roast, and it can be transferred easily from hob to oven. Whereas a frying pan can fry, sear, crisp, sauté and brown your food fast.

Ask yourself if you’re looking for a pan that is easy to clean and care for? Can it go in the oven? Is it dishwasher-safe?

Think carefully about what you cook regularly and what you are looking for in a pan. The fundamental difference between a skillet and a frying pan is how your food will turn out and how long it will take to cook.

There is most certainly a difference. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to technique and preference.

Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of both a skillet and a frying pan— the choice is yours to make. What is your opinion on both kitchenware items?

Heloise Blause

About the Author

Heloise Blause

Since always, I am passionate about food; I enjoy writing and want to share my passion and offer quality articles to my readers. On Homekitchenland, I like to research, review, and compare kitchen appliances, write product reviews, and develop recipes.

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