Saute Pan vs Skillet (Slight) Differences to Know

Posted on April 7, 2020.

You probably think that there is no difference at all in sauté pan vs skillet, but there are slight differences between the two. The differences aren’t about size or shape only, but they are also about the terminology being used. So, if you want to improve your efficiency around the kitchen, it doesn’t hurt to learn deeply more about the two types of cookware.

The Terms of Skillet vs Pan

sauté pan vs skillet

There are a lot of confusion about pans and skillet, and where should sauté pan fall into the category? Skillets are basically used to call frypans or frying pans. Pans, on the other hand, refer to more meaning and interpretation. Most cooks may refer to pans as sauté pans, but most people would call pan to all kinds of cookware. In general, people may call pan for roasting pan, sheet pan, crepe pan, and other things alike.

To add the confusion, pans and skillets are usually made in almost similar materials and also sizes. It is easy to find pans and skillets from non-stick coating, multi-ply construction, aluminum, or stainless steel, with diameters ranging from 8 inch to 12 inch. Since they are almost the same, they are often used interchangeably because they hold almost similar functions.

Skillets have sloped side shape and construction. A sauté pan has almost the similar design, but the sides are straight and tall, so there is a slight difference to the sides. A sauté pan usually comes with a lid and it has a bigger volume that allows it to accommodate more liquid. If you like braising (tender meats) or making tasty sauce, then the sauté pan would be a more ideal pick than a skillet.

If you have to conclude the whole thing, here are the general results about sauté pan vs skillet.

  • Skillets have sloped sides that make it super easy and convenient to turn, flip, and even pour
  • A sauté pan has high sides that enable you to contain more liquid
  • A sauté pan is often used for braising, so it generally comes with a cover or a lid – because it is a must have
  • If you like to sear quite often, the sauté pan may not be the best choice due to its straight sides
  • If you have to compare a sauté pan and the fry pan (with the same size), you can actually enjoy a more surface area with the first one than the latter.

The General Functions

Each of the cookware is designed for specific use although people often find their preferred use of their own. Sauté pans, for a starter, are great for sautéing veggies and meat. They are great for frying, braising, searing meat cuts and then developing pan sauces afterwards.  When using the sauté pan for sautéing, cooks need to do ‘jump’ movement. It means that they need to hold the pan’s handle and then toss the food.

sauté pan vs skillet

Can’t you sauté or fry with the frying pans? Well, you can actually do it with the regular frying pans. However, frying pans can’t be used to hold liquids. If you have to make only a small amount of liquid, frying pans are still okay. But if you have to make a lot of liquids, then you need to use the sauté pan. Braising can’t be done with the frying pan because it doesn’t have any lid. Feel free to find the fit lid, if you can, but if you can’t, then braising requires you to use the dedicated sauté pan.

Skillets are pans having slanted sides. These sides are constructed such a way to make it easy for you to move the ingredients or to do some stir frying methods. If you cook foods that immediately served from the pan, such as frittatas, then skillets would be the perfect option.

Conclusion

In the end, all of these cookwares can be used interchangeable, except for some certain cooking purposes or methods. Feel free to use the sauté pan or fry pan or skillets for sautéing. But for braising....you know that you can only use the sauté pan, especially if you don’t want to create a big mess in the kitchen. Hopefully, the facts about sauté pan vs skillet should clear things up about choosing the right cookware.

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