Skillet vs. Frying Pan – What’s the Difference?

Skillets and frying pans

Skillets and frying pans are two of the most widely used pieces of cooking equipment around the world nowadays.

Frying pans and skillets are great tools to have in the kitchen. However, you may wonder what the difference is between them and which one you should buy. Well, I am here to help.

As a person who loves a bacon sandwich and owns both a skillet and a frying pan, I am going to take you on a journey through skillets and frying pans and tell you which one may suit your style of cooking better.

Frying pans and skillets look very similar and have very similar uses, so you could be forgiven for thinking they’re the same thing.

Both are round and have sloped sides, unlike sauté pans which have straight sides. However, there are several differences between skillets and frying pans that are worth noting before you buy one or the other.


Difference between a skillet vs. a frying pan

The main difference between a skillet and a frying pan is that a skillet is deeper than a frying pan

Here’s a summary of the differences between skillets and frying pans.


  • Usually made of cast iron
  • Usually oven safe
  • Deeper (at least 2 inches deep) and thicker than a frying pan
  • Slower to heat up

Frying pan

  • Often have a non-stick coating
  • Often not oven safe
  • Shallower and thinner than a skillet
  • Quicker to heat up



Empty cast iron skillet

A skillet is typically made from cast iron, but some skillet makers do use other less-traditional materials too like carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminium and even copper.

However, for skillets, I love a cast iron one. A cast iron skillet heats up really nicely and evenly and the there is no non-stick coating to worry about.

If you have been exploring our site for any length of time, you’ll know that non-stick coatings peeling off is a big concern to a lot of people and non-stick coating can peel very easily when heated to high temperatures. So, with a cast iron skillet, there is nothing to worry about. Sure, you have to season a cast iron skillet, but there is zero risk of contamination from a coating.

Of course, if you do buy a cast iron skillet, you can take advantage of it being oven-safe too. Pretty much every cast iron skillet available is oven safe because they have cast iron handles too. Also, a cast iron skillet has fantastic heat retention, and they are nice and heavy too.

If you look after a cast iron skillet, chances are, it will outlast you! My father has owned a cast iron skillet for about 35 years, and it is still going strong!

There is something lovely about using a cast iron skillet for cooking meat, fish and veg. The sear marks that add a lot of flavours, the primal smoking of the seasoned pan as it heats up, using a skillet pan is an event, and a pleasure and that means that a skillet pan is a real asset to any passionate chef.


Frying pan

Ceramic non stick frying pan

Frying pans can be your best friend in a kitchen as they have so many uses. To start with, a frying pan offers fast cooking.

Because frying pans are shallow and have a reduced thickness compared to a skillet, they heat up a bit quicker. This means that heat is spread quickly and evenly across the pan and your food.

Also, because a frying pan heats up nice and quickly, the flavour is locked in.

Plus, because of the shape of a frying pan, they can actually be used to cook a lot more than a skillet can.

Frying pans usually have a non-stick coating so you can use less oil, resulting in a healthier dish.


Which should you buy?

In most of these battles between cooking equipment, I would say that it depends on your cooking style and what you want out of your cooking equipment.

While this is certainly true in the skillet and frying pan debate for most cooks, this is a topic some feel very passionate about.

We all know how good frying pans are and their many uses make them a must-have in the kitchen. However, there’s something special about cooking with a cast iron skillet too.

As I said earlier, cooking with a skillet feels like an event. It feels special and sometimes, you want your meals to be special.

So, if you want to have the most versatile of the two, get a good quality frying pan. If you want a pan that will serve a specific function, get a skillet.

If you want to have the versatility and a pan that you can pull out on special occasions and make everyone a very fancy and amazing meal, get both!



Well, I didn’t exactly end the debate between skillets and frying pans there, but it is a tough choice. I really think that the passionate home cook should have all of the tools they need to create stunning dishes and frying pans and skillets are both important! If you want to look for a frying pan or a skillet (or both) while you’re here, check out our lists of the best. Happy cooking!