Difference Between Skillet and Pan

Difference Between Skillet and Pan

We have to start by saying that the difference between a skillet and pan is not that transparent, but it is an important one, especially when it comes to shaping. Pan features flat and wide bottom as well as vertical and tall sides.

On the other hand, a skillet features sides that are flare outward, and it comes with an angle. Therefore, the critical question that you should remember is whether you should use a pan, skillet, or both of them.

The difference in shape will affect five significant factors such as volume, surface area, weight, evaporation, as well as tossing ability.

Differences and Similarities between Skillet and Pan

We decided to present you a guide that will help you differentiate these two:

Surface Area

The best way to measure pans is based on the diameter of the lip and not the cooking surface as other types of cookware. If you have a home burner, you will be able to use a pan that features 12 inches in diameter.

Since it has straight sides, the 12-inch pan will feature a large and wide cooking surface that will feature 113 square inches.

Using skillet means that you will lose an inch on each side, which means that it comes with ten inches wide active cooking area. It means that even though pan and skillet feature equal diameter, the skillet will have 30% less cooking area that the pan.

This is not insignificant, because you can place 12 pieces of chicken in pan, while in pan, you will have to make two batches at least.


Since the pan features straight sides, that will allow you an ability to place a higher amount of liquid into the same amount of oven space when compared with a skillet.

Straight sides will also mean that liquid will be much more problematic to splash out when you move it around and place it into the oven.

You can also place things that will fit, which will minimize evaporation. The additional volume that you will get will provide you an ability to handle numerous tasks such as putting a pan full of meatballs with plenty of oil, or chicken with wine as well.


Because it features a broad base, the pan is much bulkier than a skillet, which is similar in general. That is why most pans feature helper’s handle on the opposite side of the main stem that will help you move and lift it with ease.

Even though this particular weight is no problem when you place it in the oven or on the stovetop, have in mind that lightweight skillet is a much better solution for stirring and shaking so that you can promote even cooking of chopped meat and vegetables among other things.

Tossing Ability

A skillet is a much better solution when it comes to sautéing food than the pan, and that is ironic things since most pots are known as sauté pans. If you wish to do it properly, you have to cook small and medium-sized pieces of food in hot fat and use constant agitation.

At the same time, sloping sides of the skillet will provide you an ability to shake it quickly, which means that you will be able to maneuver and create jump-flip so that you can show off to friends and family while cooking.

It is the best way to distribute the food inside so that you can cook everything evenly based on your preferences.


Since the pan features square sides that affect how easily moisture goes off the food and how rapidly sauce will reduce along the way.

Skillet features sloped sides, which will help moisture to evaporate more rapidly than any other pot and type of cookware. Therefore, you will be able to sear with more efficiency in general.

Having a 12-inch skillet that features a 10-inch cooking area will allow you to seafood with more efficiency than the 10-inch pan. Of course, you will not be able to place the same amount of food, especially if you wish to do it over high heat.

Therefore, the large surface of pan will provide you a significant advantage over the skillet, but you have to cook the same amount of food without batches as you wanted in the first place.

The same thing works when it comes to reducing sauces because they will decrease with the same pace when compared the same sized skillet and pan.

So Which One Is Better?

Finally, we have to state that if you wish to enjoy in high-temperature searing, the pans are efficient as well as a skillet.

You will get additional benefit with skillet when it comes to sautéing, and pans feature advantages when it comes to moderate temperature searing, shallow frying and braising.

In the perfect world, you should have both pieces, but if you have to pick one, we recommend you to go for the skillet, because you will have additional versatility.

Things to Consider When Buying a Pan

Triple-Layer Construction

Have in mind that triple-layer products tend to feature two layers of stainless steel and one layer of aluminum in between. Aluminum is excellent because it transmits the heat rapidly, while stainless steel can heat slower, but it can maintain the temperature of cold foods when you place inside. When you combine these two features, you will get a pan that retains its heat and heats evenly so that you can enjoy in searing and sautéing.

Avoid Disk-Bottomed Pans 

We are talking about stainless steel pans that feature aluminum disk at the very bottom. Even though in theory, it should work amazingly, you will get the same efficiency as clad products. The main problem is lousy construction of disks, which means that it will fall out after a while and it cannot distribute heat to the sides the same way as other solutions.

Do not Buy Nonstick

If you wish to purchase the first pan, you should avoid nonstick because it is more versatile. Even though nonstick pans are great for pancakes, eggs, and fish, stainless steel counterparts are more efficient because you will be able to sear with ease and can maintain the heat for a while. It is a perfect solution if you wish to create sauces that will provide your family enjoyment along the way.



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