What is a Sauté Pan? The word sauté is derived from the French word sauté which means ‘to jump’. Therefore, it is inferred that a sauté pan is a pan that is used to sauté vegetables. To sauté food means to cook them rapidly in hot oil by flipping them around.
Are there differences between a skillet and a sauté pan? A sauté pan has a flat and wide bottom with high vertical sides. It usually comes with a cover. Ironically, a sauté pan is not ideal for sautéing food.
A skillet and a sauté pan are two cooking instruments that are used interchangeably in the kitchen. As a result, most people don’t know that there is a difference between them. The shape is the most prominent of the differences between a skillet and a sauté pan.
We all know what a skillet is, but some might not know what a sauté pan is. Before we delve into the difference between the two, let’s explore them a little.
What is a Skillet? A skillet, also known as a frying pan or fry pan, is a pan with a wide bottom and sides that slope outwards at an angle. A skillet is a very versatile cooking pan. It can be used to fry or sear meat or fish; reduce sauces and to sauté vegetables and meat.
Uses of a Sauté Pan and a Skillet
A sauté pan and a skillet are usually used interchangeably in the kitchen. Most times, food that can be prepared in a sauté pan can also be prepared using a skillet.
Ideally, however, a sauté pan can prepare certain meals better than a skillet and vice-versa. Here, we are going to highlight the proper uses of a sauté pan and a skillet.
Uses of a Sauté Pan
We have established that a sauté pan is not suitable for sautéing due to its vertical sides. When sautéing, you move the pan around in jerky motions that cause the food to fly out of the pan and flip itself.
The food has no slippery slope to guide it up in a sauté pan, which means you would have to constantly stir the food with a spoon or a spatula.
However, below are some of the things you can do with a sauté pan. You can:
- Sear big pieces of meat with ease
- Deep-fry food
- Prepare liquid recipes such as soups, curries, and chilies
- Prepare casseroles
- Finish off your cooking in the oven. A sauté pan is high-heat resistant, making it perfect to use to finish your food in the oven.
- Braised chicken in wine
Uses of a Skillet
On the other hand, a skillet can be used for virtually any type of frying, and browning of food. A skillet is also adept at searing meat. Here are some of the foods that can be prepared using a skillet:
- Breakfast foods; pancakes, omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, etc.
- Pan pizza
- Shepherd’s pie
- Corn tortillas
- Macaroni and cheese, etc.
- A sauté pan has high vertical edges while the sides of a skillet are angular, opening outwards from the bottom. If the diameter of the lip of the pan is larger than the diameter of the cooking surface below, then it is most likely a skillet, not a sauté pan.
- A skillet has just one long handle, while a sauté pan usually has a small handle placed on the opposite side of the long main handle.
- A sauté pan comes with a close-fitting lid, while a skillet does not.
Here are some of the differences between a sauté pan and a skillet
- Surface Area: The straight sides of a sauté pan guarantee that the diameter of the lip of the pan is the same as the diameter of the cooking surface. On the other hand, due to the sloping sides of a skillet, the diameter of its lip is not the same as the diameter of its cooking surface. As a result, a 12-inch sauté pan and a 12-inch skillet cannot have the same surface area for cooking. The sauté pan will have a cooking surface diameter of 12 inches, while the skillet will only have about 10 inches in diameter of the cooking surface.
- Volume: When dealing with liquid cooking, the capacity of the pan matters. The straight sides and firm lid of a sauté pan allow you to fill more volume of liquid for the same surface area. They also prevent splashing and sloshing of the food inside it. A sauté pan comes with a close-fitting lid that prevents splashes and spills, keeping the food contained in the pan. On the other hand, a skillet does not possess as much liquid capacity as a sauté pan.
- Weight: The sauté pan is typically heavier than a skillet due to its wider base. This makes it difficult for it to be handled with one hand, or by one handle. Therefore, a sauté pan has a smaller ‘helper’ handle on the opposite side of the main, longer handle, for ease of lifting. The lighter weight of a skillet makes it easier for it to be lifted and shook when sautéing food.
- Rate of Evaporation: The rate at which moisture evaporates from food prepared in a skillet is more than the evaporation rate of food cooked in a sauté pan. This is because of the shape of the pans. The vertical sides of the sauté pan, together with the close-fitting lid reduce the evaporation of moisture of food cooked in it. Moisture will evaporate faster from food cooked in a skillet due to its open, angular sides.
Now before you go shopping, you can tell clearly what is a Sauté Pan and what is a skillet and which one is best for your need. I hope you have found this article useful. To get more useful tips about food, and cooking arts, read How to Fry Bacon on a Griddle, How to Clean an Outdoor Griddle.