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Skillet vs. Frying Pan: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
A skillet typically has slanted sides, often cast iron; a frying pan (or frypan) has flat, wide bottoms and shallow sides, usually lighter materials.

Key Differences

A skillet is often heavier due to its common construction from cast iron, providing excellent heat retention, ideal for searing or frying. In contrast, a frying pan, especially those made of aluminum or stainless steel, is generally lighter, facilitating quick maneuvers and even heating for tasks like sautéing.
Skillets often feature a slight slope to their sides, allowing for easier access with utensils when turning food, making them versatile for various cooking methods. On the other hand, a frying pan characteristically has more vertical sides, providing a larger flat surface area perfect for browning and crisping.
Skillets, particularly cast iron ones, are celebrated for their natural non-stick properties developed over time through seasoning, and they're suitable for oven use. Conversely, frying pans may come with non-stick coatings like Teflon, making them great for cooking delicate items like eggs or fish with minimal oil.
Due to their heavy-duty nature, skillets are perfect for recipes that require transferring from stovetop to oven, and they excel in heat distribution. Frying pans, with their responsive conductive materials, offer precise temperature control, especially beneficial for recipes needing quick heat adjustments.
While skillets are traditionally associated with rustic, homestyle or outdoor cooking due to their rugged build, frying pans are a staple in modern kitchens, indispensable for everyday quick cooking tasks, from searing to stir-frying.

Comparison Chart


Often cast iron
Aluminum, stainless steel, or coated


Slightly sloped
More vertical, wider bottom



Heat Distribution

Excellent retention, good for oven use
Even heating, responsive to changes

Common Uses

Searing, oven recipes, homestyle cooking
Quick sautéing, frying, delicate foods

Skillet and Frying Pan Definitions


A skillet often features sloped sides for easy food flipping.
She effortlessly flipped pancakes in her large skillet.

Frying Pan

A frying pan has a wide, flat bottom and shallow sides.
He spread the chicken pieces out in the large frying pan.


Skillets are known for their excellent heat retention.
Using a preheated skillet, he reduced the sauce efficiently.

Frying Pan

Frying pans are commonly made from aluminum or stainless steel.
The stainless steel frying pan heated up quickly on the stove.


Skillets develop non-stick surfaces with proper seasoning.
Her well-seasoned skillet made cleaning up a breeze.

Frying Pan

A frying pan is a flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods.
She heated oil in the frying pan before adding vegetables.


A skillet is a heavy frying pan often made from cast iron.
She cooked the steak in a cast iron skillet for a perfect sear.

Frying Pan

Frying pans often feature a non-stick coating.
The eggs slid right off the non-stick frying pan.


Skillets can be transferred from stovetop to oven.
After browning on the stove, he placed the skillet in the oven.

Frying Pan

Frying pans are ideal for quick cooking with precise temperature control.
Lowering the heat, she gently cooked the fish in the frying pan.


See frying pan. See Note at andiron.


Chiefly British A long-handled stewing pan or saucepan sometimes having legs.


What is a skillet?

A heavy, often cast iron, frying pan with slanted sides.

Can you use a skillet in the oven?

Yes, especially cast iron skillets.

Can frying pans go in the oven?

It depends on the material and handle, but generally, they're less suited than skillets.

Are skillets good for searing meat?

Absolutely, they retain heat well.

Do skillets need to be seasoned?

Yes, particularly cast iron skillets.

Can I cook acidic foods in a skillet?

It's not recommended for seasoned cast iron skillets.

What's the best frying pan material?

Subjective, but stainless steel and aluminum are popular.

Do frying pans need special care?

Yes, especially non-stick ones; avoid metal utensils.

Can a skillet go from fridge to stove?

Avoid sudden temperature changes, especially with cast iron.

How do I maintain a non-stick frying pan?

Use wooden utensils, gentle cleaning, and avoid high heat.

Are non-stick frying pans safe?

Generally, yes, but avoid high temperatures for Teflon-coated ones.

Is a skillet the same as a griddle?

No, a griddle is larger, flatter, and often used for grilling.

Is a frying pan good for deep-frying?

Better to use a deeper pan for safety.

Why is my skillet sticky after seasoning?

Likely due to excess oil; it needs to be heated longer.

Can frying pans be re-coated?

Generally, no, they're replaced when the coating wears off.

How often should I season my skillet?

Whenever it loses its non-stick properties or appears dull.

Why is my frying pan warping?

High heat or sudden temperature changes can cause this.

Can I use metal utensils in my frying pan?

Not recommended for non-stick frying pans.

What is a frying pan?

A pan with a flat bottom used for frying and sautéing.

How do I clean a skillet?

Warm water, mild soap (optional), and a soft sponge.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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