Difference Between Skillet And Frying Pan: Which Should You Buy?

Have you ever wondered whether there’s any difference between a skillet and a frying pan? You might have also concluded that there’s no difference between them considering their similar uses, and you won’t be faulted for holding such a view. Although they both look alike in many ways, they have their differences, albeit a few. As a chef, you want a piece of cooking equipment that is perfect for the food you’re cooking.

The surface of a skillet is slightly deeper than that of a frying pan, making it ideal for braising curries and thick sauces. The surface of a frying pan, on the other hand, is shallow and is mainly used for frying, searing, and browning food.

We know opinions are a bit divided regarding the similarity or difference between skillet and frying pan. In this article, we will help you understand how both pieces of cooking equipment differ from the other.

Difference Between Skillet And Frying Pan

Major Differences Between Skillet and Frying Pan

Below, we will do a rundown of the key characteristics of a skillet and a frying pan. These characteristics tell the differences between the two pieces of cooking equipment.

Skillet Frying Pan
Non-stick coating is absent Usually has non-stick coating
Usually oven safe Usually not oven safe
Deeper and thicker Shallower and thinner
Slower to heat up Quicker to heat up
Usually has a lid Lid is absent

What is a Skillet?

A skillet is characterized by slanted sides with a surface deep enough for sauces and braising. The deep surface also allows great access for cooking stir-fries and other types of frying that requires frequent movements. The average skillet also comes with a lid for covering the surface.

A skillet is typically made of cast-iron. However, some manufacturers use other materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and even copper. But most users understandably prefer cast-iron skillets because they heat up evenly and nicely. Cast-iron is also oven safe, meaning you can use it in the oven without any concern about damage. Apart from that, a cast-iron skillet offers exceptional heat retention, and you can count on its durability.

Using a skillet to prepare a meal always comes with a nice feeling for every passionate chef. When you use it to cook fish, meat, and vegetable, you feel all the goodness of an excellent piece of cooking equipment.

Factors to consider before buying a Skillet

Certain factors determine a good skillet. Below are the most important factors to look out for buying one:


Skillet manufacturers use different materials in making the cooking equipment. As mentioned earlier, these materials include cast iron, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. The material used in making a skillet determines a lot of things about it. For instance, a skillet made of stainless steel offers resistance to rust and is safe to wash in a dishwasher. If you want those qualities in a skillet, you’ll need to go for a brand made of stainless steel. But if you want durability, your best bet is the robust cast iron.


Before spending your money to buy a skillet, you should ensure it has the right balance. You want it to be heavy for excellent heat retention but it shouldn’t be too heavy. When you get a skillet with the right balance, you’re able to carry and cook with it easily.


These are very important in every cookware. A skillet can be made of the best material and still be almost useless if it has bad handles. A good skillet features sturdy and comfortable handles.


This is another factor that determines whether a skillet is good for you. Some like their skillet small, while others prefer it large. Thankfully, both sides have options to choose their preferred sizes from. The most common sizes are 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches. If you’re looking for a skillet to prepare family recipes, the 12-inch option is the best for you. But if it’s for personal meals, the 8-inch variant can serve you.

What is a Frying Pan?

Just like a skillet, a frying pan has slanted sides but has a shallower surface. A frying pan is typically used to fry, brown, or sear foods. With this piece of cooking equipment, you have a versatile friend to help with a wide variety of fast cooking. Thanks to a frying pan’s shallower surface and thinner surface compared to a skillet, it heats up quicker. This means that the heat is spread evenly and quickly across your food and the pan.

Besides, a frying pan’s shape allows it to be used to cook much more than a skillet. An average pan has a non-sticking coating, allowing you to use less oil in cooking, thus resulting in healthier meals.

Factors to consider before buying a Frying Pan

Below, we will discuss the most important factors you should consider before buying a frying pan:


The size of a frying pan is important because it determines the quantity of food that can be fried in it. When you have a small-sized pan, you have limited space to fry foods. Frying pans are measured by diameter and they come in three popular sizes: 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches.


Just like in a skillet, there are four popular materials used in constructing a frying pan. These materials include cast iron, copper, aluminum, and carbon steel. There are also new materials like ceramic. Aluminum material resists corrosion and rust and creates exceptional heat conduction. Likewise, copper and carbon steel materials create great heat conduction. The carbon steel material is also induction-ready. These are all excellent materials, you’ll have to make a choice based on your preference.

Handle Types

There are two popular handle types when it comes to frying pans: riveted and rivetless. Riveted handles are permanently attached, making them the sturdier handles. But they require a more thorough cleaning to prevent bacteria buildup. Riveted handles, on the other hand, provide less interference from rivet heads and enhance the frying pan’s durability and strength.

Non-Stick or Natural Finish

Frying pans are more known for their non-stick finish. While non-stick pans seem attractive, pans with natural finish are also great for preparing your foods. Maintaining non-stick pans can be quite demanding. It’s up to you to make a choice based on your preference.

Skillet and Frying Pan: Which Should You Buy?

Now that we have established the difference between skillet and frying pan, you must be wondering which is the better option to buy. You should make a choice based on your cooking style and your needs.

While it usually feels special to prepare meals with a skillet, a frying pan also offers exceptional service. If you want the more versatile of the two cooking equipment, you should go for a high-quality frying pan. If you want a piece of cooking equipment that will serve a specific function, you should get yourself a skillet.

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Even though some people might find it a bit difficult to spot the difference between skillet and frying pan, both pieces of cooking equipment are different. However, they both get the job done nicely when used in the right manner. Your choice of either cooking equipment should be determined by the meals you’ll be cooking.