Saucepan vs Skillet: Which is Better for Your Kitchen?

Discover the differences between a skillet and a sauté pan and which is better for your kitchen. Learn more about the features, uses, and benefits of each type of cookware.

Are you a home cook or chef trying to figure out which type of cookware is the best for your kitchen?

Saucepans and skillets are essential pieces of cookware for any kitchen, but with so many different types and styles to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you.

In this article, I’ll help you make an informed decision by outlining the differences between saucepans and skillets. I’ll also look at what each is used for and when you should choose one over the other.

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to select the perfect cookware for your kitchen.

Definition of Saucepan and Skillet

A saucepan is a shallow-sided pan with a long handle. It’s typically larger than a skillet, perfect for slow-cooking sauces, stews, curries, and soups. Conversely, a skillet has short sides with a curved shape and a long handle. It’s perfect for quick-cooking techniques such as stir-frying and sautéing.

Difference Between Skillet and Saucepan: Saucepan vs Skillet

While both skillets and saucepans are used for cooking, several differences between them can affect how well they perform in different tasks.

Materials Used

Skillets and saucepans are usually made from stainless steel or cast iron. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Stainless steel is lightweight and easy to clean but doesn’t retain heat as well as cast iron. Cast iron is heavier and more durable but can rust if not cared for properly.

Shape and Size

Another key difference between skillets and saucepans is their shape and size. Skillets have short sides curved slightly outward, while saucepans have straight sides that meet the bottom surface at a right angle.

Skillets also tend to be smaller than saucepans, making them better suited for quick cooking techniques such as stir-frying. Saucepans are larger and can hold more liquid, making them perfect for slow-cooking sauces, stews, curries, and soups.

Temperature Level

Skillets are designed to heat up quickly and provide an even heat distribution throughout the entire pan. This makes them perfect for searing or sautéing meats or vegetables.

Saucepans take longer to heat up, but they provide more even heat distribution than skillets. This makes them better suited for simmering sauces or reducing liquids.

Features and Accessories

Most skillets come with a lid, while most saucepans do not. The lid on a skillet helps trap moisture while cooking which helps to keep foods moist and flavorful. Skillets also usually come with a long handle, making them easier to maneuver when moving food around in the pan while cooking.

Saucepans usually have shorter handles, making them more challenging to maneuver when stirring or stirring ingredients in the pan.

Saucepan vs Skillet

What is a Saucepan Used For?

Saucepans are great for slow-cooking sauces, stews, curries, and soups because of their larger size and even heat distribution. They’re also perfect for simmering sauces and reducing liquids such as stock or wine because of their low temperatures. Saucepans can also steam vegetables or prepare pasta dishes such as macaroni, cheese, or risotto.

What is a Skillet Used For?

Skillets are perfect for quick-cooking techniques such as stir-frying or sautéing meats or vegetables because of their smaller size and fast heating capabilities. They can also be used for searing steaks, fish, pan-frying eggs, or bacon because of their curved shape, which helps keep foods from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Skillets are also perfect for making one-pot dishes such as pasta bakes or casseroles because of their lids which help to trap in moisture while cooking.

Can You Use a Saucepan Instead of a Skillet?

The answer is yes! While skillets are better suited for quick-cooking techniques like stir-frying and sautéing due to their small size and fast heating capabilities, you can still use a saucepan instead if needed.

However, it may take longer to cook foods due to the larger pan size, which means it will take longer to heat up than a skillet would. Additionally, since saucepans don’t usually come with lids, you may need to improvise by using foil or another type of cover to keep moisture while cooking.

You can learn about Saute Pan vs Fry Pan – What’s the Difference?


Choosing between a skillet and a saucepan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! By understanding the differences between the two types of cookware, you can make an informed decision about which is best suited for your particular needs. Skillets are better suited for quick-cooking techniques like stir-frying or sautéing due to their smaller size and fast heating capabilities.

At the same time, saucepans are better suited for slow-cooking sauces, stews, curries, soups, simmering sauces, reducing liquids, steaming vegetables, or preparing pasta dishes due to their larger size and even heat distribution. Ultimately, the decision between a skillet and a saucepan depends on your needs, so make sure to choose the one that best fits your cooking style!


Can I use a skillet instead of a saucepan?

A skillet and a saucepan are different in terms of depth and design. A skillet is usually broad, circular, and has slightly sloped raised sides around 2-4cm high, while a saucepan is much deeper in relation to its base width. While they can be used interchangeably for some cooking purposes, a saucepan is better suited for retaining moisture, texture, and color to your cooked meal. A skillet is more likely to refer to cast iron skillets.

What is the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?

A skillet and a frying pan are cooking vessels used for frying or sautéing foods in high temperatures. The main difference is that a skillet has a deeper and larger surface than a standard frying pan. Skillets also have higher, curved sides compared to the flat, wide base and round flared sides of a frying pan.

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