What is the Difference between a Frying Pan and a Sauté Pan?

ਅਗਸਤ 03, 2021 4 min read

Atgrills saute pan

If you’re a veteran or a newbie in the world of cooking, you’ve probably heard of terms such as frying pan, skillet, and sauté pan. In some instances, you’ll hear some people use them interchangeably. It could be one of the reasons, buying any of this cookware is, at times, confusing to many.
What is the difference between a frying pan and a sauté pan? The difference between these two types of pans is surfaces and sides. A sauté pan has straight and deeper sides, while a frying pan has slanted and shallow sides. Also, a frying pan is mainly used for frying and searing foods, while a sauté pan is best for sautéing foods. This post is all about the differences between the two cookware. Keep reading for a better understanding.

Frying Pan vs Sauté Pan

As outlined above, a frying pan is different from a sauté pan based on several aspects such as shape and uses. However, it’s also important to note that people often use the terms skillet and frying pan interchangeably. This is because the two terms tend to refer to cookware with the same features and design whereby the Britons refer to as a frying pan, and Americans call it a skillet.

What is a frying pan?

A frying pan or a skillet is a shallow round pan with sloped/angled sides, a flat bottom surface, and a long handle. It’s usually 8-12 inches in diameter. Also, some frying pans may have a small grab handle on the opposite side of the long handle.
Depending on the manufacturer, frying pans may have either have a lid or lack one. However, a lid may not be necessary if your recipes require frequent adding, stirring, and shaking ingredients while cooking.

Woman holding a frying pan 

It’s worth noting that there are less common types of frying pans/skillets designed with two short handles. Usually, they are slightly deeper than typical long-handled frying pans. These kinds of pans are called sauteuse, rondeau, or brasier.
Frying pans are used for frying, browning, and stir-frying. Usually, it involves cooking ingredients on high heat and a small amount of oil for relatively a short time.
Below are the benefits/ advantages of frying pans:

  • Conducts heat easily and holds heat for long
  • Easy to stir and flip ingredients due to the lightweight of the pan
  • Maintains the authentic taste of foods since frying pans offer quick and even cooking
  • Easy to maintain

Woman cooking eggs on pan

What is a Sauté Pan?

A sauté pan is a round pan with straight sides and a flat bottom. It also has large surface areas, a long handle, and a lid. Additionally, sauté pans are designed with an additional small handle on the opposite of the longer handle. Basically, it’s a hybrid version of a saucepan and a frying pan.
A sauté pan is often used for sautéing, shallow frying, braising, poaching, and searing. Suppose you want to cook a recipe that involves liquids; a sauté pan is the best choice because its deep wall and lid hold it very well. They are often used to make saucy dishes and sear meat.
Additionally, sauté pans are used in the oven cooking.

Silver steel saute pot

Unlike frying pans, sauté pans are suitable for both short and long cooking periods depending on your recipes.
What are the benefits/ advantages of a sauté pan?

  • Allows cooking of larger batches of food
  • The deep vertical sides prevent spillage of liquids while cooking
  • It heats quickly and is suitable for high heat cooking.

Frying Pan vs. Sauté Pan: Comparison Table

Factor/Type of Pan  Frying Pan Sauté Pan
Shape Flat round bottom, shallow sloping side, and a long handle.
Handles may be riveted/screwed or rivetless.
Flat round bottom, deep vertical sides, a long handle, and a small helper handle.
Handles may be riveted/screwed or rivetless.
Construction It’s made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or anodized aluminum.
Some skillets/ frying pans are made of cast iron material.
Also, there are ceramic frying pans.
It’s made of aluminum, copper, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel.
Lid Most frying pans don’t use lids Have a flat lid that properly fits the sauté pan’s upper open side
Size Frying pans are between 7 inches to 14 inches wide and have a depth of ½ inch to 2 inches Sauté pans are between 8 inches to 12 inches wide.
Some sauté pans may have a capacity of up to 15 quarts
Weight It weighs less than a sauté pan. It does not have a lid and extra handle Heavier than a frying pan since it’s designed with an additional short handle and a lid cover.
  • Frying foods
  • High heat searing
  • Sautéing
  • Best for tossing foods
  • Shallow frying
  • Braising meat
  • Best for cooking methods that need ingredients covered with a lid (simmering and poaching)
  • Finish cooking food in an oven

Frying Pan vs. Sauté Pan: Which is better?

Both of these cookware are excellent selections. However, each has its advantages and limitation. Therefore choosing solely depends on your cooking needs.
In this case, if your ingredients need frying on a small amount of oils within a short time, a frying pan is the best choice. Additionally, it will easily allow you to toss the ingredients.
On the other hand, a sauté pan is necessary if your ingredients require high heat and need to be covered while cooking. It’s also suitable for ingredients that have a liquid.
However, a sauté pan is more versatile cookware than a skillet. It can handle most of what a skillet can do. Check out Atgrills saute pan to cook food on a non stick deep frying pan.


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