What is the Difference between Deep Frying and Pan Frying?

December 20, 2022 3 min read

Atgrills saute pan bottom

Frying is a common method of cooking. It’s attained through various techniques such as deep frying, shallow frying, and pan frying.

So often, people tend to confuse these cooking techniques, yet they differ. But it’s because all use cooking oil and high temperature for cooking.

What is the difference between deep frying and pan frying?

In pan frying, you cook food using a minimal amount of oil that lightly coats the cooking surface area. In contrast, deep frying entails cooking food in a lot of oil and completely immersing it in.

More things distinguish the two methods as discussed below in this article.

Atgrills saute pan with lid from top

What is Pan Frying?

Pan-frying involves cooking foods on a hot pan and using small quantities of oil. Usually, the oil/grease aims to give a coat to the pan. Additionally, pan frying requires you to flip foods to attain a crispy and brown texture.

Pan frying requires you to use a frying pan or a skillet for the best results. However, there are other appliances such as electric and propane-generated pan fryers.

Among the foods you can pan fry are sausages, chicken, pancakes, fish fillets, thin cuts, vegetables, bacon, etc. Pan frying also requires you to use fats/ oils with a high heating point, such as peanut oil, canola oil regular olive oil.

What is Deep Frying?

Deep frying is a cooking technique that entails cooking foods wholly immersed in oil. What distinguishes deep frying from other frying techniques is the use of heavy quantities of oil.

Therefore, unlike pan-frying, deep frying is a quicker way of cooking foods. Additionally, deep-fried foods retain juices and have a crispy texture.

You can deep fry in a pan with high vertical sides (such as a saucepan or a sauté pan) or use a deep fryer.

A deep fryer is an appliance designed specifically for this kind of cooking and holds a significant amount of oil, and features a basket and a lid.

Among the foods suitable for deep frying are chicken, potato croquettes, Brussels sprouts, cheese sticks, seafood, churros, onion rings, French fries, etc. Generally, there are a variety of foods you can deep fry.

The Differences between Pan Frying and Deep Frying

By now, you can tell there are significant differences between deep frying and pan frying. Their differences are in various aspects, as highlighted below.


Pan frying is a cooking technique that uses a frying pan, while deep frying uses a deep fryer, sauté pan, or saucepan.

Amount of oil/fat

Pan frying requires a minimal amount of cooking oil, i.e., enough to coat the cooking surface. On the other hand, deep frying requires a high volume of cooking oil, whereby the entire food is immersed in it while cooking.

Cook Time

Pan frying takes longer than deep frying. Why? Deep frying does not expose foods to air, thus enhancing quick cooking, while in pan frying is exposed to air, therefore taking longer to cook.


While deep frying, the oil is heated between 350 degrees F to about 400 degrees F. In contrast, pan frying needs the oil to attain approximately 350 degrees F.


Deep frying gives foods a crispy texture and a juicy interior, while pan frying gives foods a browning effect on the exterior.

Which is the Best Method: Deep Frying vs. Pan Frying

Both of these cooking methods have their benefits and downsides. Therefore, there is no better method than the other. It all depends on the results you want to attain while cooking.

For instance, if you want to cook faster and attain a crisper texture on foods, deep frying is a method you should select.

Conversely, pan frying will work for you if you want to achieve brown and slight crispness on foods. Additionally, if you want a healthier cooking technique, go for pan frying.

Generally, choosing between deep frying and pan frying should be based on the foods you want to cook, the amount of oil you want to use, and how you want your foods cooked. It’s all about how comfortable you’re with either.

Bottom Line

The above comparison between deep frying and pan frying should help you decide on the cooking technique that works for you.

Now that you know their differences, don’t be limited to utilize any of them. Check out 316 Stainless Steel Saute Pan Deep Frying Pan to cook food on a deep frying pan.

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