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Frying Pans

Frying Pans

Frying Pans
© Denzil Green

Frying Pans are wide, shallow pans with a long handle and sloping sides.

If the sides are straight, it's a sauté pan. The idea behind the slanted sides is to allow steam to escape so that frying and searing can happen.

That being said, a Frying Pan can be used for sautéing or frying or steam-frying, though not for deep-frying or stir-frying.

Frying Pans come in varying widths. 8, 10 and 12 inches (20, 25 and 30 cm) are the most common. The problem with 12 or 14 inch (30 or 35 cm) frying pans can be that burners on most home stoves aren't big enough to properly heat it evenly.

Very wide ones often have a small helper handle on the other side.

Frying Pans are usually round, sometimes square. Occasionally, you'll see square cast iron ones divided into compartments, usually 1/2 and 2 quarters. These are meant for bacon in one part, eggs in another, or something like that.

Stainless Steel with copper bottoms

Stainless Steel with copper bottoms
© Denzil Green

They can be made of stainless steel, aluminum, copper, anodised aluminium, ceramic, silicone, pyrex, enamelled cast iron, or non-stick coated metal. Pans that are all metal (with metal handles, and no nonstick coating) can be used for baking in the oven. Cast iron also becomes a non-stick surface. Aluminum frying pans stick a great deal, but often used for camping as they are very light to carry.

Some lighter-weight metal ones can warp, getting a slightly-raised dome in the middle of their bottom if they are used over heat that was too high for them.

Not all Frying Pans come with lids. If your frying pan doesn't have a lid, but you want one for it, you can often find generic-sized ones sold at some stores (though they won't necessarily match in colour and quality.)

History Notes

Early Frying Pans could have rounded or flat bottoms, because they would be used in hearths, New cookstoves with flat cooksurfaces (called "dampers") available in the mid to late 1800s meant the demise of rounded bottom frying pans.

Literature & Lore

"...but when he's gone, me and them lonesome blues collide; the bed's too big the frying pan's too wide...'

-- Joni Mitchel. "My Old Man". 1971.

Language Notes

In French, a Frying Pan with straight sides is called a "sautoir"; with sloping sides, a "sauteuse."

"Frying Pan" used to be the term in New England; "Skillet" was the term in the American south.

See also:


Aebleskiver Pans; Appachatti Pans; Appakarai Pans; Broiling Pans; Cast Iron; Chafing Dish; Crêpe Pans; Electric Frying Pans; French Roasting Pans; Frying Pans; Kanom Krok Pans; Meatloaf Pans; Non-Reactive Pans; Non-Stick Pans; Omelet Pans; Paella Pans; Pans; Quiche Pans; Roasting Pans; Sauté Pans; Self-Basting Roasters; Spiders; Wok

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Also called:

Skillets; Poêle (French); Bratpfanne, Gußbratpfanne (German); Padella, Tegame (Italian); Patella, Sartén (Spanish); Frigideira (Portuguese)


Oulton, Randal. "Frying Pans." CooksInfo.com. Published 03 July 2005; revised 08 December 2009. Web. Accessed 03/20/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/frying-pans>.

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