Skillet vs Frying Pan – What’s the Difference?

Frying pans and skillets, two of the most bought and widely used types of pans and cookware items of today.

This is why naturally, such questions arose in the minds of people; how are the two differentWhich is worth buying and using? Which pan is used for which particular purpose or cooking technique?

Well, not to worry if you are one of those people. Because today, we are to focus on the two pans, their differences, what they’re used for, and which is the best among the two widely used kitchen cookware.

The two have their similarities and function pretty much the same, but at the same time have several specific differences that make them distinct from one another, which is what we will discuss mainly in this article in our series.

Skillet vs Frying Pan

Skillets, deeper than frying pans, are often used for braising dense sauces and curries, which is the reason why they come with a lid. On the other hand, frying pans are flat-bottomed and are utilized for frying, browning, and searing food. Because of not having lids coming with them, it is used for grilling along with deep and shallow frying.

When it comes to characteristics that would help you determine which, the main ones for skillets are that they have slanted sides, while the defining attributes for frying pans are that they are shallow and long-handled.

While skillets are the perfect kind of pan to use when making frittatas that are served in the pan itself, frying pans are useful for cooking things like stir-fries because it gives better access to people to what they are cooking.


Skillets are made of cast iron, but they can also be made of aluminium or copper. Skillets made by using copper are incredibly receptive to temperature changes, so you can efficiently manage the heat as you cook.

Originally made like saucepans, skillets are heavy pans with wide, round bottom and high, flared, and slightly curved sides. Because of them being heavy, some skillets tend to have two handles. Not only that but also because of them being relatively thick, they provide excellent heat retention, allowing you to be able to cook slowly.

Any food which rests on sidewalls of skillet cannot be in direct contact might lead to undercooking and food not being cooked good enough, due to this reason skillets are preferably used to prepare sauces and gravies as skillets come with a lid that covers them when cooking is done for long durations. Covering the skillet helps in the cooking process and conserve energy and gas at the same time.

You can use Stainless steel spatulas for cast iron skillets as it is strong, durable and reasonably lightweight. Silicone spatulas are also a good choice for skillets, as the soft material won’t cause any damage to the cooking area of the pan.

Types of Skillets:

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Stainless Steel Skillet
  • Nonstick Skillet

Key Features:

  • Short walls
  • Short, curved, and smooth sides
  • Flared rims
  • Wide opening
  • Sloped edges


The word Pan has been derived from the Old English word “Panna.”  

A frying pan is the cooking utensil to go for when you want to bring the heat down quickly after browning and searing something fast. These flat-bottomed pans used for searing, browning, and frying food tend to have long handles, low, round, and flared sides, as well as wide flat bases, but do not have lids because when cooking with them, you do not need to ensure that the juices of what you are cooking, are sealed. You can use plastic (without sharp edges), wooden spoons or temperature-resistant silicone utensils, spoons, and spatulas in non-stick frying pans.

Types of Frying Pans:

  • Ceramic frying pans
  • Non-stick frying pans
  • Stainless steel frying pans
  • Hard anodized frying pans
  • Cast iron frying pans
  • Carbon steel frying pans
  • Electric fire frying pans
  • Thermostatic frying pans

Key Features:

  • Shallow height
  • Not too heavy to lift or move around
  • Long handle that stays cool to ensure your safety while cooking
  • Relatively thin 
  • Sloped sides


The differences between a frying pan and a skillet are:

While skillets usually come with lids and are about two inches deep, frying pans do not come with lids and are shallow in height.

And when it comes to cooking techniques, frying pans can be used for slow cooking, whereas skillets can be used for sautéing and grilling.

When talking about benefits, the benefits of both of the pans lies in their design. While frying pans are shallow, have straight walls, and slanted sides, which ensures you get fast and evenly cooked food, skillets are more in-depth and thicker, have straight sides, and sloped edges that help transfer the food from the pan to the plate, way more manageable.

While skillets are the cookware item you should turn to experiment making curries, pasta, noodles, skillet pies, anything that you’ll have to stir-fry and saucy recipes with, frying pans are the ones you could pull off making anything that requires you to fry, sear or grill, like frittatas, omelettes, and mixed rice.

Let’s compare both with a table

Comparison in terms ofSkilletFrying Pan
DepthSkillets are deep, usually more than 2 inches.Frying Pans are shallow.
LidSkillets come with a lid.Frying pans do not have any lids.
UseUsed for curries, gravies, thickening sauces, etc.Used for frying and sautéing food items.
MaterialGenerally made of cast iron.Usually stainless steel.
HeatHeat is kept at medium and low.Cooking is done on high heat.

Which one is best?

You might be wondering which one is best for cooking; my answer to this would be that you first consider thinking and questioning; what kind of dish you are going to cook? If you are going to cook dishes that require high heat and will need grilling, shallow frying, or sautéing, you will want to consider buying a frying pan. And if you’re going to cook dishes with thick sauces while making sure no steam escapes, you will have to consider purchasing a skillet.

In my opinion, both are the best, but you must keep in mind your preference, cooking method, and dish, so you’ll be at ease when cooking, and also your food will turn out great, look and taste-wise.

If the method is stir-frying, braising, or a technique that requires steaming or evaporation, then you’ll have to go with a skillet, and if the procedure is either sautéing, grilling, searing, or browning, then a frying pan is the one you should turn to.

Roasts, stews, fricassees, pancakes, and dishes similar to them can be cooked in skillets, dishes that don’t require sauces and preservation of moisture, are cooked in frying pans, like eggs, frittatas, and dishes similar to them.

Whether you want to feel at ease when it comes to navigating through your kitchen or are new to the kitchen vocabulary, it is necessary to know the difference between a skillet and a frying pan, so you can avoid mistaking one for the other, be able to differentiate between the two, and use them for their actual purposes.

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Steve here! I like to research and write about best kitchen and home appliances. If you are on the hunt for the best products, quick hacks, and interesting food options, my writing will surely help you out!