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Sep 26, 2009 08:26 PM

Do you really need a 12 inch skillet if you have a 12 inch saute?

I have been thinking that I can get away with 4 pieces for most anything.

1. 10 inch skillet
2. 3 qt. saute also doubles as a 12 inch skillet
3. 2 qt. sauce pan
4. 3.5 qt. sauce pan

I truly think I can get away with most of my cooking with these 4. However I am a new cook and I really don't have the experience to know what the future will mean.

I am using allclad and have the 4 pieces above. When would I also need a 12 inch skillet in addition to what is above?

I also have a stock pot.

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  1. You'd need an extra skillet if you are preparing a lot of dishes, I suppose. If, at some point down the road, your family grows/you start throwing lavish dinner parties...then you could buy another pan.

    There is no way to tell what your cooking future may hold! A lot depends, of course, on what you like to eat. Myself, I found that I needed to buy a small 6.5 inch skillet for my morning eggs. Some call it an eggs for 1. It's tiny but I use it every day and it's so easy to clean.

    1 Reply
    1. re: E_M

      I love tiny pans like that. I have yet to find a pan that I liked for eggs so I just use the allclad stainless for now.

    2. How about adding a 12-inch *cast iron* skillet? A cheap workhorse for sure.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tanuki soup

        i had a cast iron but unfortunately I can't have iron in my diet any longer. good suggestions however.

      2. Depends on a lot of stuff. Might be OK if you're single - definitely not if you have 3 kids.

        You'll need a pasta pot.

        Consider one of the most basic meals - spaghetti & meat sauce, with broccoli. Pretty much need 3 saucepans to make that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mtlalex

          I have a 8 qt stock pot as well that I use. I have 2 kids.

        2. Make a list of all the meals that you cook for 1 week. Then write next to them all the pots, pans, and utensils you need for the job. Then go through a cookbook and pick 5 more recipes that you would like to add to your list. Next, make a list of all the pots, pans, and utensils for those.

          Whatever you don't have, go buy!

          5 Replies
          1. re: E_M

            Thats a good suggestion and I have been doing that mentally so I will now do that with pen and paper.

            But it still doesn't solve the question I keep asking myself. Most people have 12 inch and 10 inch skillets. I have a 10 inch and a saute pan that is larger than the 10 inch skillet so its close to a 12 inch. Would I still need another skillet on top of that? I mean don't most people multitask and use their saute also as a skillet?

            1. re: mmdad

              I have no idea what most people have. I suspect, however, that "most people" either don't cook often or don't cook well.

              When I get to the point where I need another pan, I am going to get the Demeyer multifunction pan. I can't wait! It looks awesome. You can saute, braise, roast, make a sauce... I figure a multiuse pan is a better secondary pan, rather than another one of narrower use.

              1. re: E_M

                Interesting. I love the look of the demeyere stuff. Since this is currently my only hobby I plan on getting some demeyere stuff. I did not know of this multifunction pan. I am off to google thanks.

              2. re: mmdad


                Absolute agree with you. There is not a huge difference between a skillet (fry pan) and a saute pan. The only difference is the rim or the side. I think it is slightly easily to use a saute pan to act as a skillet, than the other way around. So I think you are in a good position.

                Hundreds years ago people only have ONE pan per household. I am sure we can survive. What do you think?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  See thats why I like a smaller skillet like a 10 inch. And a Saute. I Like having the rim. Sometimes I think I might prefer 2 Saute pans. But you always need a quick little skillet.

                  I bought a lot of all clad recently and some are going back as I think I like the less is more approach. I feel more of a bond to use just a couple pans all the time than to reach into the cabinets to find a new pan that I haven't seen in the last few weeks. I think limiting myself to a pair of saucepans and a pair of skillets/sautes will allow me to bond with my cookware. Sounds corny but I think its true for me at least.

            2. i think you will be fine with the 10" skillet and the 12" saute. Judging by the size of your current pans, it looks like you cook smaller portions so a 10" skillet should work for most of your cooking.

              When you occasionally need a larger skillet, the saute pan should work. The only downside with using a saute pan for browning, searing or frying is that the higher sides hinders evaporation so some food items will steam instead of brown. I use my 12" skillet when I shallow fry flatter foods such as potato latkes. The larger size makes it easier to cook several at a time and for latkes, I really need the quicker evaporation. I don't shallow fry on a regular basis so most of the time the 12" skillet stays in the cabinet. I find my most used all-clad is the 12" saute/simmer pan. I use it for stir-fries and simple pasta dishes.

              Since you are still new to cooking, I think you should try cooking with what you have and assess your needs based on your daily cooking. When you are cooking, do you find wishing for a different size or shape pot? Slowly add to your collection based on your cooking style and your needs.

              I highly recommend adding a 5+ quart dutch oven before adding a 12" skillet. My round enamel dutch oven is another frequently used pot (more than my oval one). I use it for cooking soups, stews, braises, pilafs/couscous/grains and beans. My only complaint is that the light color enamel interior is terrible when it comes to searing and browning.

              4 Replies
              1. re: malisa0607


                Not sure if mmdad is new to cooking. I have one small disagreement with your assessment about the the higher side of a saute pan. Contrary to a common belief, a slightly higher side of the a saute pan is will have little effect on evaporation rate than a fry pan. They just aren't that different.

                I bet you that if you put two cups of water in the two pans, and bring the water to a boil, they will boil to dryness at the same time. The way I see it. An All-Clad skillet has the challenge of sauting because its edge angle is too shallow. Foods have a greater chance of getting tossed out during sauting. The challenge for an All-Clad saute pan to act as a skillet is that it is slightly difficult to move foods at the edge because the side raises up at a very steep angle. Think a typical dutch oven. It is slightly difficult to get to the foods on the side, especially if the foods is next to edge closest to you. Yet, it is easy to move foods in a wok because the shallow side allows your utensils to come in at a shallow angle. Thanks.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I would say I was a cook for many years but I did what most people tend to do. I mainly heated up things or warmed things up.

                  I recently remodeled the kitchen and became a parent twice. All in a short span of 2 years.

                  My wife is not really patient enough to cook. But I want my kids to grow up with healthy foods so I dumped the microwave. I bought a few pans and started reading and watching videos. I already knew the basics but started understanding more complex forms of cooking for me anyway like soups and stews and sauces and that kind of things. I now think I can make a great steak, great chicken, a few really good sauces like marsala, picatta, etc. i make good pasta,macaroni and cheese, hummus,pesto,mashed potatoes, I make really good home made polenta and home made tomato sauce. I truly only have about 10 recipes mastered. But my family is happy and I prefer eating at home now rather than a restaurant and that was not true 6 months ago.

                  I am a novice sure, I am still learning but its a hobby and its fun and my goal is that my kids grow up and say " I love my dads cooking, I can't wait to go home and have my dad cook".

                  So- just an explanation of me. Thanks for listening.

                  1. re: mmdad


                    When I wrote "Not sure if mmdad is new to cooking" to Malisa, I meant "I doubt he is new to cooking". Anyway, are you the one who said you want to avoid iron? Are you not supposed to avoid iron from foods? Beef (or any red meat) has more iron than white meats. Maybe you want to me a good cook, so your kids will love you more than your wife? Is that the secret plan? We won't tell.

                    1. re: mmdad

                      You may want to reconsider the microwave. It's a useful too for a child to use to heat something up, as opposed to the oven or stove. Also, it uses less energy and gives off less heat than an oven, which is wonderful when someone needs a quick bite on a 90 degree day.

                      I like Jacque Pepin's Fast Food My Way. It's a book and TV show. I like how he demonstrates "fast food" in a meal format, so you have a main course and two or three sides. Watching him put together a meal has been a useful source of determining how many, and what kinds, of pots and pans one needs.

                      As I said, (I am anal, yes!) when I began this I made a list of all the meals I cooked regularly, plus all the things I wanted to cook, and wrote down all the pots and pans needed next to them. I put it into a spreadsheet, with the pots and pans as row headings and the foods down the columns. I put an x under the pot/pan heading that corresponded to the food I could cook in it. It was easy to see then which pots and pans came up most frequently. Then I color-coded the pans based on need to make my shopping list. The little egg pan, used ever day, was red, meaning I needed it NOW. The fish pan is green, meaning I can wait.

                      Here is the Apollo multifunction pan: It comes in a 12" as well.