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11 or 13 inch frypan?

  • c

I'm somewhat new to cooking for myself; I'm trying to eat out less.

Is there any reason I should not get a 13 inch frypan? When I cook chicken breasts, for example, I fill my frypan with them, I usually can get two or three breasts in a 12" frypan. But is this the way you are supposed to cook? Or should I only fry one breast at a time (even if I'm cooking a total of three breasts)? I'm a strong guy so the extra weight of the 13 inch frypan doesn't bother me...

In short, I want to know if there's a reason I shouldn't get the largest frypan that Sitram offers. This may be a silly question...

I'm planning on buying the Sitram catering line (copper core and dishwasher safe)...

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  1. Hi, cmm3:

    Not a silly question.

    The biggest reason not to get an oversize frypan is that you are asking for trouble with heat evenness. The Sitram Catering pan is a very good pan and mitigates this to some degree, but the issue still exists.

    Another reason might be the thermal mass of the food you're hoping to fill that oversize pan with. Flopping four cold chicken breasts into one pan is going to suck more heat out of the pan right away and take the pan (especially a clad pan) longer to recover. It's the same hob under the pan, regardless of the pan, after all. Sizing pans to portions is an undersung talent.

    I would only get this size if you know your hob is very even (?), the pan is very conductive (check), and you normally make preparations the portions of which won't fit in a 10-12" pan (?). Personally and for the way I cook, if I was frying 4 large chicken breasts, I'd do them 2 at a time, and finish them in the oven rather than shuffling them around in one enormous frypan.

    Here's another suggestion: Consider a saute pan instead. They maximize floorspace relative to hob size; frypans minimize it.

    Have Fun,

    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks Kaleo! I appreciate your frankness. Could you please tell me what a hob is? I didn't understand from your last post.

      Also, I have a 3qt All-clad SS saucepan. Would you recommend another size? I don't cook soups much, so I haven't gone larger, but now that the holidays are coming up, people are asking me what I want and cookware is high on my list...!

      I do have a Kirkland saute pan that I like. Once you tell me what hob means, I can better understand your last suggestion...

    2. You need to found out the size of your stove, and see if the 13" can match the diameter of the stove. 13" really refers to the top (opening) of the pan. What you want to know is the bottom -- the cooking surface. Most like the 13" fry pan has a 11" diameter cookware surface.

      If your stove is close to 11", then you are fine. If not, then the fry pan is too large for your stove.

      1. Depends on the size of the bottom surface.

        No, don't do one breast at a time.

        1. To agree with the " experts" Kaleo and Chem, match the pan to the stove.

          I say this because as a new REALLY EXCITED about home cooking, I spent a ton on cookware that never worked with my dinky 70s isn stove. The burner was at most 2 inches in diameter. My 10 inch pan was a challenge. I think that's how I wound up ruining my Le CRueset (a very hot spot with ensuing burning and tears and unable to remove it easily coupled with pregnancy hormones at the time).

          It's your call, but I would personally do the smaller pan, partially cause you already have a 12 inch if you need to cook in batches for more servings.

          2 Replies
          1. re: autumm

            <I say this because as a new REALLY EXCITED about home cooking, I spent a ton on cookware that never worked with my dinky 70s isn stove>

            I think you are correct. Some say that the most economical way to improve the cooking performance is through the stoves, not the cookware. The cookware, in many ways, are simply tools to transfer the heat from the stoves to the foods.

            If you have a slow reacting stove (like electric coil), then the cookware will also be slow. If you have an uneven heating stove, then there is only so much the cookware can even this unevenness out.

            A good cooktop is probably no more costly more than an expensive set of cookware anyway.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks for Understanding CHem: The old stove just was under powered. Even at high, it took 30 minutes to get a simmer on my Le Crueset. It was hard to spend the money to replace something that "worked" but didn't

              We were able to upgrade our range about a year ago for around $900. I've had to learn to cook again as the burners are the correct size for my pans. Could have updated for less, but I really wanted the convection option. Now learning how that works too.. .

          2. A 10 inch skillet is too small for me and will not fit two normal size hamburger patties. My 12 inch Lodge cast iron skillet is just right for two hamburger patties or reasonable sized chicken parts (thighs, breasts, leg quarters, etc.).

            My 32cm Country Pan is one of my most used pseudo-skillets. When I use it on a small electric coil, I just turn my meat part way through the cooking process. Generally, I just heat the pan empty and throw the meat down for a good sear.

            De Buyer Mineral pans are an excellent choice for general use. Properly seasoned, they work similar to "Teflon" pans and have the heat retention properties of Lodge cast iron with a better (smoother) surface and handles that are easier to work with.

            Fit as much food in whatever pan you buy without crowding it. If you preheat your pan and add room temperature meat, the heat loss is reduced and the pan/stove will recover quicker.

            1. I recently bought a 14-inch frying pan and I love it. Yes, it's larger than the burner but I have a Blue Star and can certainly crank up the heat. I use it for browning meats, blanching vegetables and cooking down large quantities of cabbage and kale. I found it in a second-hand shop so the price was right. Wish I'd bought one a long time ago.

              1. Thanks all! I do have a gas stove that's within the last 10 years. I rent so I can't upgrade it, but it's a pretty good stove for Boston standards (and it's rare to find a gas stove in Boston!). I ended up choosing the 11 inch model. I hope it serves me well!

                I have a 3 qt sauce pan from All-Clad SS line. Would I be well served purchasing a larger one (or smaller one) from Sitram? Amazon has good prices on their Catering sauce pans.

                Thanks again!

                15 Replies
                1. re: cmm3

                  So much depends on what you cook, but I would say that if 3 qt is the largest sauce pan you have then you might want to consider something larger. However, that larger piece may or may not be a sauce pan. You may want to opt for an enameled cast iron dutch oven in the 5.5 to 7.5 qt range. These are very handy for stews, soups, brazes, pot roast, etc. I use one quite often for the items above, they are great for dishes that start on the stove top and finish in the oven.

                  1. re: mikie

                    I have the costco 8 qt dutch oven already...

                    1. re: cmm3

                      Great, you've got that covered then. I'll assume you have some sort of large pot to boil pasta, or you don't eat pasta. Because other than that, I don't see much need for say a 4 or 4.5 qt sauce pan and a pasta pot would be larger than that anyway. I would get more milage out of a 2 qt sauce pan that would be good for a number of cooking opportunities.

                      1. re: mikie

                        yes, i have a pasta pot from Kirkland's SS collection. Is that a good pot or should I replace it with a copper core pot?


                        1. re: cmm3

                          Your Kirkland pasta pot is perfect. No need to pay big bucks for this item.

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            Is it worthwhile to buy an 8" skillet too? When would I use something so small?

                            1. re: cmm3

                              Perfect. Fried. Egg.

                              Of course, you can use a larger pan. It's also good for a veggie toes for one, searing a burger, lots of little things. Edit

                              Edit - Excuse me. Veggie TOSS. Yeah, that's it. :)

                              1. re: cmm3

                                It depends on the person, of course. All I can say is that an 8" fry pan will not be very useful for me.

                                1. re: cmm3

                                  I use one pretty often for smaller dishes.

                                  A dab of olive oil, some crushed garlic until it's toasty, add a fresh ripe tomato, then two fresh room temperature eggs ... yummmmmm!

                                  Diced meat for an omelette or pizza or taco salad .... fried smelt ..... let your imagination run WILD!

                                  1. re: Sid Post

                                    Says the man with the biggest honking pan in the world. ;)

                      2. re: cmm3

                        If you can get a great deal on Sitram Catering saucepans, I'd get a 2Q and a 5Q to go with your 3Q. Mikie's advice about a 5.5 DO is good, too.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          What would I use a 2qt and a 5qt sauce pan for? thanks!

                          1. re: cmm3

                            Hi, cmm3:

                            A 2Q is very versatile for the home cook--sauces among other things. The 5Q would be as versatile as the 5.5Q round oven, provided it fits in your oven. I also use this size to boils small quantities of pasta, blanching veggies, and reducing larger quantities of stocks. Works for popping corn, too.


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              +1. Cooking for 2-3 people, my most-used pans are my 4.5Q and 2Q saucepans. The 4.5Q is the most versatile by far. I do all the things that Kaleo mentioned, and even bake bread in it. It's also the perfect size for soups, now winter is coming.

                              I grab my 8Q DO/stockpot 1-2x a month. The 4.5Q is used
                              4-5x a week.

                          2. re: kaleokahu

                            What would I use a 2qt and a 5qt sauce pan for? thanks!