Sauté Pan vs Skillet vs Fry Pan: Differences, Similarities Explained

Sauté Pan vs Skillet vs Fry Pan

Saute pan, skillet, and fry pan are all common cooking materials. A saute pan comes from the French word saute and it is used for cooking a larger amount of ingredients without overcrowding the pot while frypan and skillet are often used for small cooking. There are several types of pans and pots in the market that choosing one can be quite overwhelming.

It is okay to be confused when it comes to choosing between a saute pan, skillet, or frying pan. You need to take into account what you are cooking before choosing any of these kitchen appliances.

A versatile kitchen appliance is an important tool in any home. While a saute pan can be used for all kinds of cooking, it might not be the ideal appliance for those who are new to cooking.

Understanding the difference and similarities between a saute pan, skillet and fry pan will enable you to choose one that best suit your kitchen. There are definitely some pans and pots you need in your kitchen. Read on to get a better understanding of skillet, saute pan and fry pan.

What Is A Saute Pan?

T-fal B36290 Specialty Nonstick 5 Quart Jumbo Cooker Saute Pan with Glass Lid, Black

Saute pan is a combination of a saute pan and a frying pan and it’s one of the most common pans in the kitchen. A saute pan comes from the French word ”Saute” which means ”to jump”. This pan has straight sides with a larger surface area and it’s a versatile pan worth having in the kitchen. Due to the shape of the saute pan, it can hold a large quantity of liquid and this means it can be conveniently used in braising, poaching, searing, and shallow frying.

Foods cooked on a saute pan are believed to develop a unique taste and the cooking process browns the surface of the food as well. Saute pans are incredibly versatile and can be used for different varieties of food without worrying about your food touching the sides of the pan.

What Is A Skillet?

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 10.25", Black

A skillet is another very common kitchen utensil worth investing in. The surface area of a skillet is smaller compared to a saute pan but it is also extremely versatile. You can easily make dishes like stir fry, omelets, crepes, and many more with a skillet.

In addition to that, a skillet can be used to cook almost anything that needs to be cooked on a stove. Skillets are often designed with a flat bottom, flared sides that may be slightly curved and often round in shape as well.

The word skillet is commonly used to refer to cast iron skillets and it can also be called cast iron frying pan since it can be used for shallow frying.

What Is A Fry Pan?

T-fal Dishwasher Safe Cookware Fry Pan with Lid Hard Anodized Titanium Nonstick, 12-Inch, Black

A frying pan can be found in almost every household and although this is a lot similar to a skillet, chefs insist they are not the same. A frying pan is used for frying foods over moderate to high heat. They come in different sizes and materials but they need to be thick enough to conduct high heat. It is often designed as a flat metal pan with a long handle.

Saute Pan Vs Skillet: Differences And Similarities

Differentiating between a saute pan is not as confusing as it sounds since a skillet comes in a different shape to a saute pan. Although a saute pan is the combination of a saucepan and a frying pan which means it can do more frying and cooking compare to a skillet. A skillet is multipurpose cookware but is often used for shallow and deep frying.

A saute pan is ideal for searing meat and it has a larger surface area compared to a skillet. Both saute pan and skillet are usable kitchen cookware but there are a few notable differences between these two pans.

Saute Pan

  • Due to its large surface area, it is heavier compared to skillet and frying pans.
  • Saute pan is designed with a lanted side for larger cooking and makes food difficult to toss around.
  • Saute pans come with lids.
  • A 12 inch saute pan has more space than a 12-inch skillet and the large surface area prevents overcrowding your food.


  • A skillet is a more lightweight option compared to other pans.
  • Food can be easily tossed around.
  • A skillet has a slanted side that makes it better for tossing foods like omelettes.
  • Due to the slanted sides, a 12-inch skillet has about 10 inches of space and this design doesn’t help reduce sloshing.

Skillet Vs Fry Pan: Differences And Similarities

When it comes to skillet and fry pan, there isn’t much difference between this two. A skillet is a shallow cooking vessel just like a frying pan. Although there is no real difference between these two but chefs insist that skillets are deeper than a frying pan. Another subtle difference between this two is that fry pans are often made from nonstick material while skillets are made out of cast iron. Skillets are often used for sauces hence some brands are made with lids.

While a frying pan is often used for frying and searing, a skillet can be used for sauteing, grilling, roasting, stewing and it is also great for shallow and deep-frying just like a frying pan. Skillets are the common cookware for making sauces than a frying pan.

A french skillet though is very different from a frying pan. This cookware will cook food rather than fry it and they are slightly bigger than a regular skillet and fry pan.

Saute Pan vs Skillet vs Fry Pan: Compared Side By Side

There aren’t many differences between a skillet and a frying pan but with a saute pan, there are notable differences that set them apart. To make cooking fun and interesting, it is important to choose cookware that makes all cooking easy. So while a saute pan, skillet, and fry pan are all great and worth having in your kitchen, below are the notable differences and similarities between them.

Saute Pan

  • Saute pan has straight sides and a larger surface area.
  • Best for deep frying but also suitable for shallow frying.
  • Comes with a lid.
  • Saute pan is incredibly versatile and can be used for fast cooking.


  • Skillet has slanted sides and it is often used in reference to cast iron skillet or cast iron pans.
  • Suitable for shallow frying but can be used for deep frying as well.
  • Not all brand comes with a lid.
  • Skillet is used in the preparation of sauces and it’s versatile as well.

Fry Pan

  • A frying pan is a flat bottomed pan that is quite similar to a skillet but designed with less flared and more vertical sides.
  • Designed only for shallow frying.
  • Comes with no lid.
  • A frying pan is best suited for searing, frying and browning foods.

Final Thoughts

Take note that the main difference between a saute pan, skillet, and fry pan is the shape and what they can cook. This article is worth a perusal if you can’t decide which one you what between a saute pan and a skillet although the two can come in quite handy.

A frying pan can serve as a skillet as well hence you can go for either one of the two. Skillets and frying pans happen to be the most widely used cookware today but the saute pan is considered better at cooking more things one at a time and it also keeps splashing to a minimum.

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