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Mar 22, 2012 11:56 AM


I just started cooking and i am knew to the lingo of things. i have a recipe that says use a skillet,my pots and pans description does not say i have a skillet. i have a saute pan ....straight size,and 2 frying pans with slope low sides,nothing as far as skillet? of what i have what do i use.....making sloppy joe and later some other things but everything i have say to use a skillet. please some advice here? And when do u use which for what? NEWBIE in cooking... Also have something i found in the cupboard that looks like the saute pan that came with the set but instead of it having straight sides it is sloped a little, size wise it is big as saute pan .what would this be called?

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  1. A frying pan would work for sloppy joes. pots would as well. Just make sure all the ingredients will fit. If you're a newbie in the kitchen, don't fret over the resources that you have so much. Just start building your technical abilities. Once you start to master it, you can use different pots and pans to your liking as you understand the science behind it as well (or at least just have a feel for it.)

    You have so many questions that I'm not going to go through all of them.

    Different pots and pans have different specializations -- it doesn't necessarily mean it can only be used for one thing. If you don't have the right equipment, substitute it for another. Unless you're making something that requires amazing technical skills (sloppy joes do not), don't worry about it.

    1. I found this on

      I found this explanation from the American Heritage Dictionary, courtesy

      "The terms frying pan and skillet are now virtually interchangeable, but there was a time when they were so regional as to be distinct dialect markers. Frying pan and the shortened version fry pan were once New England terms; frying pan is now in general use, as is the less common fry pan, now heard in the Atlantic states, the South, and the West, as well as New England. Skillet seems to have been confined to the Midland section of the country, including the Upper South. Its use is still concentrated there, but it is no longer used in that area alone, probably because of the national marketing of skillet dinner mixes."

      However, the more culinarily inclined folk at seem to differentiate, to some degree. There's a "Tools of the Trade" article on skillets that states, "the word skillet is used most often as a generic umbrella term, a type of family name. If you think of the skillet as the mama of all low-sided pans, then you can think of frying pans and sauté pans as next of kin."

      They go on to differentiate skillets into frying pans and sauté pans - "a frying pan has gently flaring, often rounded sides, and a sauté pan has straight, noticeably higher sides, like a wide, sawed-off saucepan."

      So essentially, all frying pans are skillets, but not all skillets are frying pans.

      The epicurious article also discusses which types of pans are best used for what, so check it out if you're really curious. It tends to repeat itself though. Not sure if it's a publishing error or what, but most paragraphs appear twice.

      I'm sure it's all debatable (and probably will be.) Either your saute pan or your frying pan will do the trick- what your recipe is telling you that you need is a low wide pan with lots of surface space. Your straight sided pan might be a good start until your technique is good so you don't spill things over the sides of your flared frying pans.

      1. The common variables are:
        - overall volume; you need enough volume to hold what you are cooking

        - height to width ratio: for things that require a lot handling (turning, flipping etc), a shallow wide pan is nicer than a deep one. But for soups, pasta, ie. boiling water, a deeper one is usually nicer.

        - slope of the sides: steep sides can get in the way of a spatula when flipping things; but they contain liquids better when stirring.

        Something like sloppy joes could be made in any pan that is big enough. A wide shallow one will be better when first browning the ground meat (and onions) because there is more bottom area (where the frying occurs), but a deeper sauce pan will still work. Once you have added the liquid, the shape of the pan does not matter much.

        1. In the UK, these are all frying pans - some frying pans have sloping sides, some have straightish ones - but they're all frying pans. When I cook, I use the one that first comes to hand.

          1. Seriously? You amateurs don't have a dedicated sloppy joe pan?

            If what you want to fit in the pan will fit, it will work for the sloppy joes. I would prefer wider to narrower.

            I love some sloppy joes and prefer the Manwich above all. Along with a side of tater tots it is truly the food of the gods.