Can You Use a Saucepan as a Frying Pan?

Saucepan on gas hob

Using a saucepan as a frying pan may seem like a bit of a cooking faux pas, but is it really that bad? After all, if a saucepan will get the job done, surely that’s all that matter?

Well, in this cooking article, we’re going to look at saucepans and why they shouldn’t be used as frying pans.

This isn’t to do with a cooking code or rulebook, and it certainly isn’t because we are cooking snobs. This is because saucepans were designed for certain cooking tasks. They are great at those tasks, but really not suited for replacing a frying pan.

What’s the Difference Between Saucepans and Frying Pans?


Woman placing steel saucepan on gas hob

A saucepan is an excellent tool. Every kitchen should have at least one, but three is better. Here are some of their key features.

  • Tall walls – Saucepans have tall walls that allow you to boil water, slowly reduce sauces, heat soup and a lot more.
  • Lid – They also have a lid to trap moisture and ensure that your sauces do reduce nicely and slowly and so on. Saucepans are perfectly designed to heat liquid and hold it in.

The tall sides mean even small amounts of liquid are kept in very well. However, this means that a saucepan is perhaps the worst pan to use in replacement of a frying pan. When frying food, you want the moisture to escape. Otherwise, you will end up boiling your food rather than frying it.

Frying pans

Frying vegetables on ceramic hob

“To fry” essentially means to cook in oil, and this explains why frying pans have different features to saucepans:

  • Wide base – Frying pans have a wide base. The wide base means that the cooking surface heats up quickly.
  • Short sides – While there isn’t too much difference with the base of a saucepan and a frying pan, you’ll notice the sides are designed for opposite effects. A frying pan has short sides to allow water to evaporate quickly. This ensures that meat and veg cooked in a frying pan can get nice and crispy. Saucepans, on the other hand, have sides that keep water from evaporating too quickly. This means that veg, rice and the like, won’t dry out too fast.


Why You Shouldn’t Use a Saucepan as a Frying Pan

Saucepans don’t make good frying pans because they are designed to be the exact opposite of a frying pan. With a frying pan, you want moisture to escape; with a saucepan, you don’t.

So, if you’re thinking about using a saucepan as a frying pan, perhaps you should take a look at our frying pan reviews and lists.

We recommending investing in the right cookware, and getting a few different saucepans and frying pans. That way, you can cook your meals perfectly and never have soggy bacon again!

Explore our website for all the best cookware (including saucepans and frying pans) in the UK right now.