Kitchen Battle 3 Vs 3: Skillet Vs Frying Pan Vs Sauté Pan – Who Will Win The Culinary Crown?

Have you ever wondered about the differences between a skillet, a frying pan, and a sauté pan? 

These three kitchen essentials may seem similar, but they each have their unique features and purposes.

In this guide, we’ll break down the distinctions between them in simple terms, so you can navigate your way through the world of cooking with ease. 

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced chef, understanding the uses and benefits of skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans will help you make informed choices in the kitchen. 

So, let’s embark on this culinary journey and unravel the secrets of skillet, frying pan, and sauté pan!

Skillet Vs Frying Pan Vs Sauté Pan

Skillet Vs Frying Pan Vs Sauté Pan

Skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans are all versatile cookware options with slight differences in design and functionality. Skillets have curved or sloped sides and are ideal for dry heat cooking methods like pan frying and sautéing. Frying pans and sauté pans, on the other hand, have straight sides, with sauté pans being deeper and better suited for cooking with liquids and using lids.

Before we jump into the details, let’s define what skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans are. 

  • Skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans are all types of cookware used for sautéing, frying, searing, and more. 
  • They have distinct features and are designed to excel in different cooking tasks.

Choosing the right cookware is crucial as it affects the cooking process, heat distribution, and the outcome of your dishes. 

Understanding the differences between skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans will empower you to make informed decisions in the kitchen.

Also Read – How Many Quarts In An 8×8 Pan?

What Is A Skillet?

  • A skillet is a versatile and essential piece of cookware found in most kitchens. 
  • It typically has a flat bottom and moderately high sides. 
  • Skillets come in various sizes, ranging from small ones for individual portions to large ones for family-sized meals.
  • Skillets are known for their even heat distribution, which allows for consistent cooking. 
  • They are perfect for frying, sautéing, searing, and even baking. 
  • Their size and shape make them ideal for dishes that require flipping or tossing, such as pancakes or stir-fries. 
  • The sloped sides also make it easy to access the food with a spatula or turner.

Our Recommended Skillet – Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Skillet

Also Read – How Many Quarts In A 9×13 Pan?

What Is A Frying Pan?

Frying Pan
  • A frying pan sometimes referred to as a fry pan, shares similarities with a skillet but has its unique characteristics. 
  • It typically features a flat bottom and low sides. 
  • Frying pans are designed to heat up quickly and evenly, making them excellent for cooking delicate foods like eggs, fish, or crepes.
  • Frying pans are often used for shallow frying, where food is partially submerged in oil or fat. 
  • They provide ample space for food to spread out, allowing for efficient frying. 
  • The low sides make it easy to flip or turn food with a spatula, promoting an even browning.

Our Recommended Skillet – CAROTE Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet

Also Read – How Many Quarts Are In A 9×9 Pan?

What Is A Sauté Pan?

Sauté Pan
  • A sauté pan is a versatile cookware item commonly found in professional kitchens. 
  • It features a wide, flat bottom and straight, high sides. 
  • Sauté pans are specifically designed for sautéing, which involves cooking food quickly over high heat while stirring or tossing.
  • The high sides of a sauté pan help contain the ingredients while allowing for easy stirring or flipping. 
  • They also prevent splattering and make it convenient to add sauces or liquids to the dish. 
  • Sauté pans are often used for recipes that require deglazing or simmering after searing or sautéing.

Our Recommended Skillet – T-fal Specialty Nonstick Saute Pan

Also Read – Why Do Ceramic Pans Lose Their Nonstick Properties?

Differences between Skillet, Frying Pan, and Sauté Pan

While skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans share similarities, they also have distinct differences that set them apart. Let’s explore these differences:

1. Size and Shape Variations

Skillets and frying pans come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to choose the one that suits your cooking needs. Skillets can range from 8 inches to 16 inches in diameter, while frying pans are generally smaller, ranging from 8 inches to 12 inches.

On the other hand, sauté pans are typically larger and deeper compared to skillets and frying pans. 

They provide ample cooking surface area, making them suitable for preparing larger quantities of food.

Also Read – How To Tell If A Pan Is Oven Safe?

2. Handle Types and Their Impact on Cooking

Skillets and frying pans usually feature a single long handle, while sauté pans often come with two loop-style handles. 

The single handle of skillets and frying pans allows for easy maneuvering and flipping of food. The two handles on a sauté pan provide stability when cooking and pouring liquids.

The choice of handle type may depend on your cooking preferences and the dishes you frequently prepare. 

Consider whether you prefer one-handed control or two-handed stability when deciding between skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans.

Also Read – How To Clean Burnt Hard Anodized Cookware?

3. Heat Distribution and Retention Capabilities

Skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans vary in their heat distribution and retention capabilities. Skillets and frying pans are designed to distribute heat evenly across the cooking surface, ensuring consistent results. 

Their thick bottoms help retain heat, allowing for better searing and browning.

Sauté pans, with their larger cooking surface area and straight sides, provide better heat retention. 

This makes them ideal for dishes that require longer cooking times, such as braising or simmering.

Also Read – How To Clean Burnt Calphalon Pans?

Comparison Chart Between Skillet, Frying Pan, And Sauté Pan

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans:

SkilletFrying PanSauté Pan
DesignCurved or sloped sidesCurved or sloped sidesStraight sides
LidRarely comes with a lid.Rarely comes with a lidAlways comes with a lid
MeasurementDiameterDiameterVolume (quarts or liters)
Cooking MethodsPan frying, sautéingPan frying, sautéingDry heat, liquid cooking, sautéing
Cooking SurfaceSmaller flat surface.Smaller flat surfaceLarger flat surface
PriceGenerally more affordable.Generally more affordableUsually more expensive
Material OptionsVarious materials.Various materials.Various materials
Recommended UsesPan frying, stir-frying, high-heat searingPan-frying, stir-frying, high-heat searingFrying, braising, poaching, cooking with liquids
Handle OptionsSingle long handle.Single long handle or two short handlesSingle long handle or two short handles
CapacityN/AN/AVolume (quarts)
Cooking Surface AreaSmaller compared to sauté pans of similar sizeSmaller compared to sauté pans of similar sizeLarger compared to skillets of similar size

Also Read – Difference Between Hard Anodized Vs Non-Stick Cookware

Which One to Choose?

When deciding between a skillet, frying pan, or sauté pan, it’s essential to consider your cooking preferences, needs, and the types of dishes you frequently prepare. 

Here are some factors to help guide your decision:

  1. Cooking Techniques:
    • Think about the cooking techniques you use most often.
    • If you enjoy flipping and tossing food, a skillet with its curved or sloped sides is a great choice.
    • If you frequently shallow-fry delicate foods like fish or eggs, a frying pan’s flat bottom and flared sides work well.
    • If you often sauté or cook dishes that require deglazing, a sauté pan’s straight sides and lid come in handy.
  2. Size Requirements:
    • Assess the quantity of food you typically cook.
    • If you often cook for a large family or entertain guests, a sauté pan with its larger capacity is more suitable for accommodating larger portions.
    • However, if you typically cook smaller portions or individual meals, a skillet or frying pan will suffice.
  3. Budget And Durability:
    • Consider your budget and the quality of cookware you desire.
    • Skillets and frying pans are generally more affordable compared to sauté pans.
    • Skillets are available in a range of materials and price points, making them accessible to different budgets.
    • Sauté pans, on the other hand, often feature higher-quality materials and craftsmanship, which can come at a higher price point.
    • Consider your budget and prioritize the durability and longevity of the cookware you choose.

Ultimately, the choice between a skillet, frying pan, or sauté pan is a personal one. Assess your cooking habits, preferred techniques, and the dishes you commonly prepare to determine which type of pan will best suit your needs. 

Remember, having a combination of these pans in your kitchen can provide versatility and flexibility in your cooking endeavors.

Also Read – How To Get Sticky Residue Off Non-Stick Pans?

What Is A Sauté Pan Used For?

  • A sauté pan is a versatile cookware item that is primarily used for sautéing, but it can also be used for various other cooking techniques. 
  • Sautéing involves quickly cooking ingredients over high heat, typically in a small amount of oil or fat, while continuously stirring or tossing them in the pan. 
  • The straight sides of a sauté pan make it well-suited for this cooking method as they prevent spills and allow for easy movement of ingredients.
  • In addition to sautéing, sauté pans are suitable for other cooking techniques such as frying, braising, poaching, and cooking with liquids.
  • The deeper design of a sauté pan compared to a skillet or frying pan allows for the addition of sauces, broths, or liquids, making it ideal for dishes that require simmering or slow-cooking. 
  • The included lid in sauté pans helps to trap heat and moisture, aiding in the cooking process.

Whether you’re preparing a stir-fry, browning meat, simmering a flavorful sauce, or cooking a one-pot meal, a sauté pan is a versatile tool that can handle a wide range of cooking tasks. 

Its ability to combine dry heat and liquid cooking methods makes it a valuable addition to any kitchen.

Also Read – Does Enamel Cast Iron Chip?

Is A Sauté Pan Better Than A Frying Pan?

The question of whether a sauté pan is better than a frying pan largely depends on the specific cooking needs and preferences of the individual. Both sauté pans and frying pans have their unique features and are suitable for different types of cooking.

  • A sauté pan, with its straight sides and deeper design, offers advantages for certain cooking techniques. 
  • It is particularly well-suited for sautéing, frying, braising, poaching, and cooking with liquids. 
  • The straight sides help contain ingredients and prevent spills, while the included lid allows for simmering and slow cooking. 
  • If you frequently prepare dishes that require simmering sauces or cooking with liquid, a sauté pan may be a better choice.

On the other hand, 

  • Frying pans, also known as skillets, have curved or sloped sides and are designed for dry heat cooking methods such as pan frying and sautéing. 
  • They are versatile for tasks like pan frying, stir-frying, and high-heat searing. 
  • Frying pans typically do not come with a lid and have a shallower depth compared to sauté pans. 
  • If you prioritize shallow frying delicate foods or quick cooking techniques that require frequent tossing and stirring, a frying pan may be more suitable.

Ultimately, the choice between a sauté pan and a frying pan depends on your preferred cooking techniques, the type of dishes you frequently prepare, and personal preference. 

Many cooks find value in having both types of pans in their kitchen arsenal, as they serve different purposes and complement each other in various cooking scenarios.

Also Read – Does Vinegar Ruin Non-Stick Pans?

What Are The Two Types Of Saute Pans?

Saute pans come in two main types based on the handle design: those with a single long handle and those with two short handles.

  1. Saute Pan With A Single Long Handle: This type of saute pan features a long handle similar to a skillet or frying pan. The long handle provides a comfortable grip and allows for easy maneuverability while sautéing. It is commonly used in home kitchens and professional settings.
  2. Saute Pan With Two Short Handles:
    • This type of saute pan has two short handles, one on each side of the pan.
    • These handles are often made of the same material as the pan itself, such as stainless steel or cast iron.
    • The two short handles provide stability and balance when lifting and carrying the pan.
    • This design is commonly found in traditional French saute pans and is favored by some cooks for its balance and control.

Both types of saute pans have their advantages, and the choice between them depends on personal preference and cooking style. 

Some cooks prefer the convenience and maneuverability of a single long handle, while others appreciate the stability and control offered by the two short handles. 

Consider your cooking needs and comfort when choosing the type of saute pan that suits you best.

Also Read – Best Cookware For Electric Stoves

Can You Use A Fry Pan For Anything?

Absolutely! A frying pan, also known as a skillet, is an incredibly versatile kitchen tool that can be used for a wide range of cooking tasks. It’s flat bottom and flared sides make it well-suited for tasks such as frying, sautéing, searing, and browning food to perfection.

  • When it comes to frying, a skillet allows you to achieve that coveted crispy texture on foods like chicken, fish, or potatoes. 
  • Its even heat distribution ensures that your food cooks evenly and develops a delicious golden crust.

Sautéing is another technique where a frying pan shines. Whether you’re tossing vegetables, browning meat, or creating a flavorful sauce, the wide cooking surface of a skillet provides ample space for ingredients to cook quickly and evenly.

Furthermore, a skillet is an excellent choice for searing meats. The high heat retention and even distribution of a quality frying pan help to achieve that desirable caramelized exterior while sealing in the juices and flavors of the meat.

But the uses of a frying pan don’t stop there. It’s also a handy tool for making omelets, pancakes, and frittatas. The low, slanted sides of a skillet make it easy to flip and slide delicate foods without any hassle.

Additionally, you can use a frying pan for stir-frying, creating quick and flavorful meals with a variety of vegetables and proteins. 

Its wide surface area allows you to cook ingredients rapidly over high heat, preserving their color, texture, and nutrients.

Some frying pans are even oven-safe, which means you can use them for baking certain dishes like frittatas or even finishing off a steak in the oven for a perfect internal temperature.

Whether you’re a beginner cook or a seasoned chef, a frying pan is essential in any kitchen. Its versatility, durability, and ability to handle various cooking techniques make it a reliable and go-to tool. 

From breakfast to dinner, a frying pan is there to help you create delicious and satisfying meals with ease.

Also Read – How to Season a Nonstick Pan for First Time?

Can You Fry In A Skillet?

Absolutely! Skillets are commonly used for frying and are well-suited for this cooking method. Frying is one of the primary techniques that skillets are designed for. Skillets, also known as frying pans, have flat bottoms and curved or sloped sides, which make them ideal for shallow frying.

  • When frying in a skillet, you typically heat a small amount of oil or fat over medium to high heat and add your ingredients to the hot pan. 
  • The flat bottom of the skillet allows for even heat distribution and efficient cooking. 
  • The curved or sloped sides make it easy to toss and flip the food while it fries, ensuring even browning and crispiness.

Skillets are versatile and can be used for frying a wide variety of foods, such as eggs, bacon, chicken, fish, vegetables, and more. 

They are particularly useful for recipes that require browning or achieving a crispy texture. With proper heat control and suitable cooking oil, you can achieve delicious fried dishes using a skillet.

So, whether you’re frying up some crispy bacon for breakfast or preparing a batch of golden-brown chicken cutlets, a skillet is a reliable and handy tool for frying in the kitchen.

Also Read – How To Clean Burnt Calphalon Pans?

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance and care are essential to extend the lifespan of your cookware. Here are some tips for maintaining skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans:

  • Cleaning: Wash your cookware with warm soapy water and a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials that can damage the cooking surface.
  • Seasoning: For cast iron skillets or pans, regular seasoning helps prevent rust and improves their non-stick properties. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for seasoning.
  • Storage: Ensure your cookware is completely dry before storing it to prevent moisture-related damage. Stack pans with care to avoid scratches or dents.
  • Maintenance: Check for any signs of wear and tear regularly. Replace cookware with damaged or compromised surfaces to maintain optimal cooking performance.

Also Read – Why Does Food Stick To My Enamel Cast Iron?


Choosing between a skillet, frying pan, or sauté pan may feel overwhelming, but understanding their unique features will help you make an informed decision. 

Skillets are great for dry heat cooking, frying pans are versatile for shallow frying, and sauté pans offer flexibility for both dry and liquid cooking. 

Consider your cooking preferences, techniques, and the dishes you often make to determine which pan suits you best. 

By having the right pan in your kitchen arsenal, you can confidently whip up delicious meals and explore the joy of cooking.

Also Read – Why Do Metal Handles Of Pans Get Hot?


  1. Can I Use A Skillet Instead Of A Frying Pan?

    Yes, you can often use a skillet in place of a frying pan, as they share similar functionalities. However, be mindful of the size and shape differences that may affect the cooking process.

  2. What Is The Main Difference Between A Sauté Pan And A Skillet?

    The main difference lies in the design and purpose. A sauté pan has higher sides and is better suited for sautéing and simmering, while a skillet has lower sides and is more versatile for various cooking techniques.

  3. Are Non-Stick Versions Available For All Three Types Of Pans?

    Yes, non-stick versions are available for skillets, frying pans, and sauté pans. Non-stick coatings make cooking and cleaning easier, but they may require extra care to maintain their non-stick properties.

  4. Is A Sauté Pan The Same As A Skillet?

    While sauté pans and skillets share similarities, they have distinct differences in their design and functionality. Sauté pans have straight sides and come with a lid, making them better suited for cooking with liquids, while skillets have curved sides and are primarily used for dry heat cooking methods like pan frying and sautéing.

  5. Can I Use A Skillet As A Sauté Pan?

    While skillets and sauté pans have overlapping uses, they are not interchangeable in all cases. Skillets lack the straight sides and lids that sauté pans possess, which can affect their performance when it comes to cooking with liquids or simmering sauces.
    However, for certain sautéing or pan-frying tasks, a skillet can be used as a substitute for a sauté pan.

  6. What Do I Need A Sauté Pan For?

    Sauté pans are versatile kitchen tools that are ideal for sautéing, frying, braising, poaching, and cooking with liquids. Their straight sides and included lid make them well-suited for simmering sauces and slow-cooking dishes.
    If you enjoy preparing a variety of recipes that involve cooking with liquids or need a pan that can handle a range of cooking methods, a sauté pan is a valuable addition to your kitchen.

  7. Can I Use A Frying Pan For Deep-Frying?

    Frying pans are not typically designed for deep-frying due to their low sides. It’s safer to use a deeper pot or a dedicated deep fryer for deep frying to prevent oil splatters and accidents.

  8. Which Type Of Pan Is Best For Searing Meat?

    A skillet or frying pan with a flat bottom and excellent heat distribution is ideal for searing meat. The high heat retention allows for a perfect sear, locking in juices and flavors.

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