When it comes time to buy either a frying pan or skillet, you will want to know the specifics of these cooking vessels.
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Are skillets and frying pans the same?
There are no distinguishable differences between skillets and frying pans. The only difference is the name of the cooking device. Pan is a general term given to a variety of cooking vessels. With that, a frying pan is a shallow cooking vessel used to fry up foods.
A skillet has the same functionality and design as a frying pan. Some cooking professionals are more likely to use the term "skillet" for cast iron skillets. Skillets and frying pans are two terms that are often used interchangeably, and in most cases, they refer to the same type of pan.
Both skillets and frying pans feature flared sides, flat bottoms, shallow depths, and no lids. When you need to flip food, high sear, grill meat, or shallow fry, then the skillet or frying pan is an excellent vessel for the job.
Why the confusing terminology?
If skillets and frying pans are the same vessels, why is there confusion between the terminology? Much of the confusion between these terms lies with the generic phrase "pots and pans." Along with skillets, there are saute pans, sheet pans, roasting pans, saucepans, and bundt pans. In most kitchens, the word "pan" is a general term that refers to not just a frying pan but a saute pan.
Skillet and frying pan materials
There are several types of materials that you can use for a skillet or frying pan. Here's a brief look at the different kinds of materials:
Cast iron is usually what you think of when you mention the word “skillet.'' Cast iron is heavy, and it can be hard to maneuver in the kitchen. However, many people love cast iron because it can retain heat. Newer pans will need to be seasoned with a light coating of oil. After the pan is seasoned, cast iron has excellent non-stick abilities.
Carbon steel is becoming a chefs' favorite choice in the kitchen. These pans heat up quickly and evenly. This material is an excellent choice for non-toxic cookware. It is lighter and less clunky than the heavy cast iron. Carbon steel actually contains more iron than those cast iron skillets. This type of material is versatile, and you can use it for all kinds of cooking.
Stainless steel is another popular material. You have even heat retention in the frying pan or skillet with this type of pan. These pans are a good choice for boiling, baking, and sauteing. Plus, stainless steel is easy to clean. Just take some soap and water to wipe it down. This material gives you more versatility in the kitchen. You can find stainless steel in many different grades. If you want to choose an excellent frying pan, make sure to choose one that has 18/10 stainless steel.
Related: Stainless Steel VS Copper Cookware
Aluminum pans tend to be more economical than other options. You can find skillets with anodized aluminum. With that, the metal has been bonded with oxygen to make a stronger surface. Most aluminum pans have a smoother surface than other types of materials, making them a good non-stick option. Aluminum pans are typically resistant to corrosion and abrasion
What is a saute pan (and what is different about it?)
Like a frying pan or skillet, saute pans can be used for stovetop use. However, there is one difference: a saute pan is deeper than a frying pan or skillet. The saute pan has vertical, straight sides designed to prevent spills and hold more ingredients. Saute pans also have a long, single handle, and sometimes, there is a small side handle to help with the additional weight of the ingredients. Plus, saute pans come with a lid to hold in the moisture which makes it perfect for cooking sauces.
Related: What To Cook With Your Roasting Pan
When to use a skillet?
You want to match the pan to the job to get the best results in the kitchen. Skillets and saute pans are versatile, and they can handle most types of cooking methods. However, it is best to choose the suitable pans for your recipe. Take time to assess whether a saute pan or skillet is the right choice.
The speed and temperature of the cooking, along with the liquid used, should help with your decision. Those slow-cooking recipes for sauces and liquid broths will benefit from a saute pan's depth and large surface. For those recipes that need meat grilled or seared at high heat, you might want to consider a frying pan. The sloped side of the skillet also makes it a great candidate for stir fry. But if you want to achieve the perfect finish for stir fry, a wok would be the best choice.
Skillet vs. Fry Pan: The Bottom Line
Skillets and frying pans are basically the same types of pan. When it comes time to create a delicious meal, you want the right cooking instrument for the job. Skillets are great for shallow sauces and searing meat, while saute pans can hold a large volume of ingredients. In the end, it is your kitchen and your choice - cook with whatever you want. However, using the right pan for your recipe ensures that you will have a smoother time making those delectable at-home meals.
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