What's The Difference: Frying Pan Vs. Skillet

These are not the same kind of pan.

IMAGE Shutterstock

Frying pans are one of the key items in your kitchen. It's one of the workhorses of your stove! You can fry tilapia, fried chicken, sear beef burgers, and if it's nonstick, make a giant pancake just for you. 

What kind of pan do you have in the kitchen? Is it stainless steel, have a nonstick coating, or made with cast iron? These are all different kinds of frying pans but there is one kind of pan that you might see recipes that may have you confused. 

Do you know what is a "skillet" and how it's different from a typical frying pan? A skillet is a frying pan but it has a few key features that make it different from the usual pan you have in your kitchen. Here are those key differences: 

These are nonstick frying pans.
Photo by Shutterstock
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1 A frying pan can be made of any cookware material. Skillets are usually made from cast iron or carbon steel.  

If you take a look at the history of the cast iron pan, you'll see that it's most associated with cast iron pans. That's because cast iron pans were called skillets. The material of these skillets are cast iron so it does need daily maintenance. Cast iron skillets are commonly used for frying but also for other frying and even baking applications, too, since there are no parts that will melt when placed in an oven. 

Carbon steel is a kind of metal that is usually used for woks. This kind of material is fantastic for skillets since it will be easier to handle when needing to flip food in it. This is where weight becomes an issue for cast iron since it's much heavier than your usual frying pan but there the carbon steel skillet wins over the cast iron version. 

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Frying pans in general are pans that are made to fry in. These included simple frying in as little as a drop of oil to as much as half way up the sides of the pan so you can deep fry food in it. The material of the frying pan is usually based on how you want to use it. The nonstick pan is the universal favorite since it removes the danger of food sticking to the pan. However, this coating that makes it so nonstick does degrade over time so it's common to need to buy a new nonstick pan ever year or so depending on usage. 

The other kinds of frying pans are made of stainless steel which are the most durable of cookware materials. These don't rust, are hard enough to resist warping, and are easy to clean and maintain.   

A cast-iron pan and a carbon steel pan used to be called skillets.
Photo by Paul Heubusch from Pixabay
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2 A frying pan usually has straight sides. A skillet has slanted sides. 

The biggest difference between these two pans is the sides of the pan. If you take a look at the sides of your nonstick pan, you'll notice that the sides go straight up. A skillet would not go straight up. Instead, the pan's sides will angle out. This is because the skillet was originally intended to be a pan that you can easily use to toss ingredients in. With straight sides, this is harder to do since the food is not encouraged to slide out. With the slanted sides, the food is more easily flipped and tossed in and out of the pan. 

Are you looking to buy a skillet or a frying pan? Read more to find out if it's worth the price tag plus learn ways to use it that you might not have thought of trying before: 

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