Skillet vs Saucepan: What’s the Difference?

Skillet vs saucepan: what should you choose, and what are the differences? The right cookware is one factor that makes cooking efficient. If you use the wrong tool, do not expect to get the best results.

Today, we will discuss the differences between a skillet and a saucepan.

Read on to understand more about these handy cookware!

Skillet vs Saucepan: What is the Difference?

To start, let’s first discuss the difference between a skillet vs saucepan.

A skillet is a semi-flat pan that you use for frying and other cooking styles. You can grill on it and sauté vegetables, too. A saucepan is something that you use to cook dishes with lots of water—like recipes for sauce or soup.

You can use both skillets and saucepans in an oven—it all depends on what the recipe calls for. However, not all of them are made for oven compatibility, so be careful of what you buy. Some skillets and saucepans have handles that will burn in an oven.

A skillet is low, while a saucepan is deep. Skillets also have an open view, while saucepans have a lid. As such, the skillet has a larger surface area than a saucepan—thus making it a good companion for recipes that call for an open surface.

What is a skillet?

In order to deepen your knowledge on the topic of “skillet vs saucepan”, it is crucial to understand what exactly is a skillet.

A skillet is not a frying pan, but many people confuse the two. A frying pan is made specifically for frying, but the skillet can do more than that.

Unlike frying pans, the skillet has slanted sides. What they do is to give you enough surface for stir-frying food. Frying pans are designed to hold oil—but then you have no room to move the food around.

Skillets have a large base, and they are not meant to carry huge volumes of liquid. The sides are not as tall as the sides of a saucepan.

By design, the heat is concentrated at the bottom of the skillet. It is designed this way to help cook big items like steak faster—at an even rate of heat. As such, it also helps prevent undercooking of food.

The sides of the skillet merely serve as a barrier, so the food does not fall. Skillets also have no lids. And even if they did, the heat would not spread evenly, making it an inefficient tool for boiling water or making broth.

What is a saucepan?

In this discussion so far on the topic of “skillet vs saucepan”, we have explained what a skillet is. Now, what is a saucepan?

A saucepan is deep cookware. It was designed to have a narrow base and flat vertical sides. It is made for food that requires lots of liquid. The sides also help disperse heat faster, making it efficient cookware for noodles and broth.

A saucepan comes with a cover. The handle and diameter are also designed for balance. You can lift that handle with both hands, and the entire saucepan will not flip over. It is because saucepans are narrow.

With the lid, the vapor of what you are cooking stays in the pot—making it possible to retain flavor and moisture of the food. Because of the saucepan’s design, it can cook large volumes of liquid without wasted energy or heat.

saucepan vs skillet

Skillet vs Saucepan: When to Use Which

So, when should you use a skillet, and when should you use a saucepan? In this section, we will provide you with answers on when to use a skillet vs saucepan.

1. Liquid volume

Ask yourself, how much liquid does the food need? If it is only a little sauce, then you need to use a skillet. If the dish calls for broth, then you need a saucepan.

Saucepans are designed for recipes that need lots of liquid. They are deep, and their sides are tall. They also have lids to prevent spillage.

Any recipe where you need a large volume of liquid calls for a saucepan. The skillet may work, but it is dangerous. Once you lift the handle off the stove and the skillet has a lot of water, there is no balance, and it will flip to the side.

2. Flipping and Searing

If the food you are cooking needs flipping and searing, use a skillet, not a saucepan. Since the surface area of a saucepan is small in circumference, it was never really designed for maneuvering a large cooking spoon.

For example, it is not wise to use a saucepan for an omelet, steak, or salmon. The skillet is the best cookware for that. However, if you boil an egg, the saucepan is the right tool.

3. Stir Frying and Sauteing

For frying and sauteing, skillets are the most suitable cookware to use. For example, if you will stir-fry vegetables with mushrooms, then the skillet is your friend.

However, the saucepan is what you use if you want to blanch vegetables. In addition to this, you can also use a saucepan if you need to do deep-frying.

Skillet vs Saucepan: Best Picks

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet Check on Amazon


By far, this is one of the best skillets money can buy. It is a cast-iron skillet that the manufacturer already pre-seasoned—something that you rarely find for products like it. At 10.25 inches in diameter, it can accommodate a lot of recipes that call for a large skillet.


  • High heat retention makes heat evenly distributed
  • Pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil
  • Works excellent for induction cooking devices


  • The finish is not smooth; it is coarse like sandpaper
  • No silicone rubber holder

Just because it works great for induction stoves does not mean it does not work for others. We can say through experience that this also works for baking and the typical fire stove. You can also use it for a campfire cooking activity.

Get this skillet if you need something for searing, sauteing, broiling, and frying. It also works best for grilling ad braising. If what you need is a multi-purpose skillet, then this brand and model is the best one you must get for your kitchen.

Farberware Covered Saucepan Check on Amazon

We recommend this model as the manufacturer stuck with the classic stainless steel. The finish is mirror satin, so it gives your kitchen that really clean and professional look. The capacity is 1.89 liters.


  • Made of stainless steel
  • It has a thick aluminum core that allows rapid heating
  • Made of durable material; designed to last
  • It has a comfortable handle
  • The lid snugs fit

Buy this if you are looking for a saucepan that is also safe for the oven and the dishwasher. You can bake it up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

With more than 11,000 positive reviews on Amazon, you cannot go wrong. Those who have used it, including us, were simply amazed at its simplicity and functionality. It is a dependable saucepan you can use.

Summary: Skillet vs Saucepan

In summary, regarding when to use a skillet vs saucepan, a skillet is cookware where you fry and grill. It is also where you sauté items. On the other hand, a saucepan is deep cookware where you make sauces—liquids that you want to get thick as a topping for a dish.

Use a skillet for frying and grilling—like cooking an egg or a fresh cut of salmon and steak. Use a saucepan for food or dishes that require boiling, like sauce and soup.

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