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Sep 23, 2008 08:59 AM

Saute vs frying pan/skillet?

What is the difference? Looking for a 10 " pan, non-stick. Does anyone have recommendations. What I'd like is a bargain, but that's probably hoping for too much. Thanks.

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  1. A frying pan/skillet has gently sloped sides. A saute pan has higher, straight sides. If you can only afford one, get the saute pan. It is more multifunctional, since you can fry in it and also pour in stock or other liquids for braising or to make a sauce. The fry pan leaves you less room for liquid. The downside is with a saute pan, you need to lift out whatever is cooking. With a fry pan, you can slide it out.

    Recommendations wise, there are 2 ways to go. All-Clad makes a great one, it's not cheap, but it cooks better and will last 10 times longer than most other manufacturers. All non stick pans (even moderate to expensive) lose their non-stick eventually (mostly from scratches, though my Scanpan -- which claims to be metal utensil safe -- simply stopped being non-stick for no apparent reason). So if you don't want to pay for All-Clad, get a cheap one like Circulon or Anolon (for about $30), and use it till it's wrecked.

    1. I would seriously consider a cast iron skillet. Lodge sells pre-seasoned skillets (10" for under $15). Once they are properly seasoned, they are virtually non-stick. They can also go into a hot oven for finishing off certain dishes. And, they will last forever and just get better with use.

      1. As another poster said, a frying pan (skillet) has flared sides, making it easier to use with a spatula. However, for non-stick I see absolutely no need to go with expensive stainless. The interior surface, which is what counts, is non-stick in either case.

        I mostly use carbon steel for fish, steaks, etc. For eggs and the like I have a 23-buck aluminum Vollrath that I got from a mail-order restaurant supply outlet (Surfas); it works fine..

        You might want to check out Vollrath; you can get both types of pan for the price of one All-Clad.

        1. I disagree with the All Clad recommendation for a non-stick pan. Go cheap -- nearly disposable, actually. Low end Circulon and T-fal are perfect. If you want "better" (which is debatable), Calphalon has a set out there right now with two pans for about $50. You'll be tossing the pan as the coating wears off in a few years anyway, so skip the All Clad and other pricey alternatives when you are looking for a skillet. BTW -- skillets have low sides partly to prevent steam from building up in the pan and increasing your ability to crisp pan-fried food.

          A saute pan, however -- that is an investment pan and should NOT be non-stick, or you won't get the results you need when making pan sauces. I have several high end brands, including heavy duty copper, for this pan. It typically has deeper sides, so you don't use this for pan frying becauce it retains some steam and things don't crisp as well. That would be a good pan to purchase from All Clad or one of the other good manufacturers.