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May 30, 2012 10:09 PM

What is more useful for you? Saute pan or Frying pan?

This is a question I have for awhile, and I think it can be interesting to hear from all of us.

If you only get to use one of the two, then which would you opt for? A saute pan like this?

Or a frying pan like this?

Alternatively, if you have both styles of cookware, which one do you actually use more often?

Feel free to elaborate your reasoning.

I understand there are various definitions, but I believe the above is the more common understanding of a saute pan vs a frying pan.

I am not asking about the cookware material or dimension, just the shape and style. To make this simple, let's not discuss other cookware like skillets, karahis, woks..etc.

For me, if I only get to have one cookware, then I would pick a saute pan because I can use it as a shallow sauce pan. However, as this question stands, if I get to pick one of these two but not limiting on other cookware, then I rather have a frying pan. So my answer is the frying pan. How about you?


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  1. I probably use my saute pan more these days, BUT the one pan I like more then either of them is my calphalon 12" everyday pan in the picture below. It has an inch more in diameter at the surface than my al-clad 12" fry pan and the same as my saute pan, the sides are taller and steeper but not straight like a saute pan, and it doesn't have a long handle making it easier to put in the oven. It is a great hybrid between the two and the handles make it better for the oven. I have even done roasts in it because the top rounds and gives nice clearance.

    2 Replies
    1. re: smkit

      I second this. I don't have a frying pan like the one pictured in the OP, other than 2 very small ones for omelettes and other similar small dishes. To me, "frying pan" means a square-sided flat-bottomed pan, and I suppose that's because it's the type of pan that I use the most, for dinners. It holds more, and I prefer the flat-bottom for even cooking. However, I did recently buy a Calphalon everyday pan like the one above (although mine is non-stick) and I do use it quite a bit for certain dishes that work better in a non-stick pan.

      1. re: smkit

        Amen. I wore out a ten inch Calphalon version of this and replaced it with a ten inch All Clad petite braiser. It is a multi-use pan.

      2. Depends on whether you have other pans (saucepans, stockpots, etc) or if the saute/frying pan is to be your only cooking vessel.

        If it is to be my only vessel, a large saute pan is more useful for the reason you listed - it more easily holds and heats liquids and larger volumes of food.

        In practice, given other pans in my kitchen, I use a 12 inch frying pan a little more than my large saute pan, and I use both more often than my smaller frying pan.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cowboyardee

          <Depends on whether you have other pans (saucepans, stockpots, etc) >

          You can have other pans, stock pots, saucepans, woks... you name it.

        2. Frying pan.

          Because I have a wok, and anything I need to do in a saute pan, I can do in a wok.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            <Because I have a wok, and anything I need to do in a saute pan, I can do in a wok.>

            In your thinking, does the reverse holds. That is, can a saute pan do anything a wok can? My experience and my theory is "no"

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              In your thinking, does the reverse holds. That is, can a saute pan do anything a wok can? My experience and my theory is "no"

              For a typical home cook, if you are just doing simply things like stir-fry veggies or fried rice, then yes, a saute pan would suffice. Is it a perfect sub? No, but it'll do.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                We used to have a steel wok. We never had a gas burner on which to use it however. We used it for a few years on our electric coil stove and then stopped using it because that just was not working. Then I did a few 'stir fry' recipes I saw on ATK using a nonstick 12 inch skillet and that's how we've been cooking stir fry ever since. Of course we only cook that way about once a month.

          2. I use my frying pans more than my sauté Pans. I find that my 12 inch all-clad fry pans are more nimble than my 3qt sauté. I tend to only use sauté when I know that I'll be simmering in liquid and covering the dish at some point. Otherwise, for general pan frying or sautéing veggies, I find the fry pans to be easier to maneuver and get into with turners and spatulas due to the slopes.

            1. I have both frying and saute pans.
              For small size portions or single and up to two person meal, the frying pan is more convenient for me. Otherwise, the saute pan is my go to vessel.