June 25

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Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan? The Differences Explained

By trk

June 25, 2018


If you're in the market for a new frying pan, you're probably asking yourself that age-old question:

Should I get a skillet or a sauté pan? 

Which is better?

Is there even a difference?

The answer is that, yes, even though the two pans are similar, there are important differences in design and function, and those differences matter to the type of cooking you're doing.

Read on to find out more--and to learn which pan best suits your cooking style.

SEE THE DEMEYERE PROLINE SKILLET ON AMAZON

SEE THE ALL-CLAD D3 SKILLET ON AMAZON

What Is a Skillet Pan? What Is a Sauté Pan? (The Differences)

Skillet Vs. Saute Pan


Skillet/Frying Pan



Saute Pan

Skillet pan/skillet and frying pan are synonyms. But a sauté pan is different:

  • Skillets/frying pans have curved or sloped sides and rarely come with a lid (though some do). 
  • Sauté pans have straight sides and always come with a lid. 

Despite these differences, you can use the pans for similar tasks, including sautéing, pan frying, high-heat searing, and other stovetop cooking. (Click here for more about sautéing and pan frying.) 

You can find both pans in all types of cookware material, including clad stainless, nonstick, glass/ceramic, aluminum, copper, cast iron, and carbon steel. 

Similar as sauté pans and skillets/frying pans are, the shapes are different enough that they are distinct pans, each with its own pros and cons.

What Is a Skillet Pan?

A skillet pan is shallow, with curved or sloped sides that rarely comes with a lid.

You use a skillet, AKA skillet pan or frying pan, for stove top tasks such as pan frying, stir frying, and sautéing. Skillets are typically sold without lids because they're designed primarily for tasks that do not require covering. 

However, people often do want to cover a skillet to reduce evaporation or to let food cook through after it's browned, so lids are often sold separately, and occasionally come with the pan. (You can also buy generic lids to fit pans of specific sizes, or universal lids which lay flat and so fit nearly any sized pan.) 

Types of Skillet Pans

Some skillets have sloped but not curved sides, like a Lodge cast iron skillet; this is still considered a skillet, not a sauté pan, because of the sloped sides and lack of a lid:

Skillet Vs Saute Pan Lodge skillet

A French skillet may have slightly higher sides than a regular skillet pan, but its sloped sides put it firmly in the skillet camp. The higher sides and lack of a lip are what make this a French skillet:

Skillet Vs Saute Pan French skillet

Most skillet pans have one long handle and perhaps a helper handle on the opposite side if larger than 10 inches:

Skillet Vs Saute Pan

Less common are skillet-type pans with two short handles. Short-handled skillets are often a little deeper than long-handled skillets, making them usable as small roasting pans: 

Short-handled skillet

Technically, a shallow pan with two short handles is called a rondeau, brasier, or sauteuse pan, but it is essentially a short-handled skillet pan that goes in the oven easily. (Don't get too hung up on these unfamiliar names, as they can vary among makers and get confusing. "Short-handled skillet" is the best way to think about these guys. The point to remember is that if you do a lot of oven roasting, a short-handled skillet pan can be useful.)

And of course, nonstick skillets are great for eggs and fish (though not good for other things primarily because they're not great at creating fond, which limits how much flavor you can get out of your food).

Should I Buy a Skillet or a Saute Pan , All-Clad nonstick skillets

How Skillet Pans Are Sized

Skillet pans are sized by the diameter of the rim in either inches or centimeters:

The most popular sizes for all-around cooking tasks is 10-inch and 12-inch, but skillets can be as small as 6-inch or as large as 17-inch

Most burners work best with pans that have a bottom diameter of 10 inches or less.

Cooking Surface

Note that the official size of a skillet pan is not equivalent to the amount of cooking surface it has: a 10-inch skillet pan does not provide 10 inches of cooking surface.

Depending on how sloped the sides of a skillet pan are, the flat cooking surface can be close to the rim diameter or considerably smaller. For example, a 10-inch skillet can have a cooking surface as large as 9 inches or as small as 6 inches.

The curve or slope of a skillet can vary from fairly straight, like the Demeyere Industry 5 pan, below left, to extremely sloped, like the Anolon Nouvelle nonstick skillet on the right:

DemeyereIndustry5Skillet

Slightly sloped sides = large cooking surface.

analon skillet

Sharply sloped sides = smaller cooking surface.

The more sloped the sides, the less flat cooking surface there is. This is important because it affects the overall usability of the pan. In other words, if you want a skillet with more flat cooking surface, buy one with fairly straight sides (or go with a sauté pan--though this is not a no brainer decision, for reasons we'll get to in a minute).

So Which Skillet Pan Is Best?

What if you could have only one skillet? We think a 12-inch clad stainless skillet is the best choice for an all-around pan. Clad stainless is the most versatile, usable for everything from eggs to searing steaks, and the 12-inch size accommodates most cooking tasks. Clad stainless pans are durable and non-reactive, don't require seasoning, and will last for decades.

This All-Clad tri-ply skillet pan with a lid is a great option. 

However, no pan is good at everything, so a lot of cooks have more than one type and size of skillet pan. 

In fact, most serious cooks own a number of skillets (and sauté pans too) in various sizes and styles. For example, they may have an 8-inch skillet for small jobs, a nonstick skillet for sticky and delicate foods (eggs and fish), a 10- or 12-inch clad stainless for general pan frying, and a cast iron skillet for high heat searing and deep frying. 

As your interests and skills grow, you can add more specialized pans and styles to your collection or upgrade to better quality. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different pans in the skillet pan/frying pan category, including sauté pans, chef pans, woks, crepe pans, and more. (We discuss some of these skillet-like options below in more detail.) 

What's the best general purpose skillet pan?

This can be different depending on your situation, but our recommendation for a general purpose skillet--one you can use for everything--our recommendation is a 12-inch clad stainless skillet.

What Is a Sauté Pan?

Should I Buy a Skillet or a Saute Pan, skillet with callouts

A sauté pan (pronounced "sautee pan" or "saw-tay pan") has straight sides--that is, sides at a right angle to the cooking surface. It always comes with a lid. The sides are typically shallow, though often slightly deeper than most skillets.

You use a sauté pan for sautéing and pan frying (just like a skillet), but you can also use it for liquid cooking methods and those that require a lid: think poaching, braising, and cooking down batches of greens. 

Yes, you can use a skillet for these tasks too--IF it has a lid--but the sauté pan lends itself particularly well to them: the straight sides provide slower evaporation and are also safer because cooking liquids are less prone to slosh over the sides. 

Types of Sauté Pans

There aren't nearly as many variations on sauté pans as there are on skillet pans. 

The deep sauté pan has taller sides than a standard sauté pan. Here is the All-Clad tri-ply 6qt deep sauté pan:

Skillet or Saute Pan, All-Clad deep saute pan

Note the helper handle, which is more common on sauté pans than skillets in general because they're bulkier and a little harder to maneuver. 

Sauteuse Pan: Sauté pans, like skillets, can also have one long handle or two short handles. If a sauté pan has two short handles, it often has a domed lid and is called a rondeau, brazier, or sauteuse pan (yep, just like short-handled skillet pans--another reason not to get too hung up on the name): 

ACCopperCoreSauteuseWDomedLid2_500px

How Sauté Pans are Sized

Sauté pans are sized by volume rather than diameter--another hint that they're designed for cooking with liquids (while skillet pans are not).

In the US, the volumetric measure is usually quarts.

A 3- or 4-quart, shallow-sided sauté pan is roughly equivalent in size to a 10-inch skillet, while a 5- or 6-quart, shallow-sided sauté pan is roughly equivalent in size to a 12-inch skillet. 

This is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison as far as cooking surface, which we talk about more below. But here's the thing: the lid to your 3- or 4-quart sauté pan (or 6-quart deep sauté pan) will probably fit your 10-inch skillet. And the lid to your 5- or 6-quart shallow sauté pan will probably fit your 12-inch skillet. 

In other words, if you own a sauté pan and a skillet pan of roughly the same size, you may already own a lid you can use with your skillet. 

It's also just helpful to know which sizes of sauté pan correspond to which size of skillet because it will help you determine which size you want.

Cooking Surface

Because the sides of a sauté pan are vertical, the entire bottom of the pan is cooking surface. Thus, a sauté pan of roughly the same size as a skillet is going to have more flat cooking surface. 

So you get more bang for your buck with a sauté pan. But that doesn't always make it the better choice. (More on this below.)

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When to Use a Skillet Pan/Frying Pan

Use a skillet pan/frying pan:

  • For high-heat searing
  • For general purpose sautéing, pan frying, and stir frying
  • When you're using a "dry heat" method (small amount of liquid/oil) or very little liquid (like a pan sauce)
  • When you want to do the "chef toss" to move food around the pan
  • When you don't need a lid.

If you do a lot of shallow dry heat cooking--that is, using small amounts of oil to sauté, stir fry, or pan fry--a skillet/frying pan is an excellent choice. 

If you like to do the chef toss, a skillet is the only way to go. Here's Jamie Oliver teaching the chef toss:

(see this video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZiv2xX8hiQ.)

If you don't do the chef toss, opting instead for a utensil to move food around in the pan, a skillet is great for that, too. The shallow sides facilitate flipping food over more easily with a turner (as you would do for pan frying fish, chicken thighs, burgers, etc).

The sloped, shallow sides also facilitate rapid evaporation. This is optimal for high-heat searing and producing a nice crust, which is dependent on the water being driven out of the food quickly. 

SEE THE DEMEYERE PROLINE SKILLET ON AMAZON

SEE THE ALL-CLAD D3 SKILLET ON AMAZON

Summary: A skillet is the best choice for pan frying, stir frying, sautéing, and high-heat searing. It's also the best option for doing the chef toss and when you don't need a lid.

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When to Use a Sauté Pan

Use a saute pan:

  • For high-heat searing
  • For general purpose sautéing, pan frying, and stir frying
  • For both dry and wet heat cooking (e.g., small amount of liquid/oil or large amount of liquid/oil)
  • When you need a lid (for simmering, poaching, braising, reducing greens, etc.).

If you do a lot of sautéing and pan frying but also want a pan you can use for braising, poaching, deep frying, and other things that involve a lot of liquid, a sauté pan is the more versatile choice.

A sauté pan is not the best choice for stir frying, where you use high heat and continually move small pieces of food up the sides of a pan to control temperature. Stir frying is best done in a skillet, chef's pan, or wok.

Summary: The straight sides and lid make a sauté pan great for cooking with liquids: simmering, poaching, braising, and even deep frying. It also works for sautéing, searing, and pan-frying but is not quite as optimal as  a skillet. 

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So Should I Get a Skillet or a Sauté Pan (If I Can Only Have One)?

Here's the deal.

A sauté pan is a skillet, but a skillet isn't a sauté pan.

What this means is that you can pan fry, sear, and in a pinch, even stir fry in a sauté pan. But you can't braise, poach, or reduce greens in a skillet. 

Because a skillet doesn't have a lid.

Which makes the sauté pan the more versatile pan. Which is absolutely true. 

However: while this is true, most cooks prefer using a skillet when possible and a sauté pan when necessary. 

Why? Mostly because of maneuverability

The sloped sides of the skillet pan make it less bulky and easier to move around than comparably sized sauté pans.  

So. Here's our recommendation:

If you could only have one pan, you should get the sauté pan for its versatility (and its lid). But if you're like most cooks, you'll probably prefer using a skillet for everyday sautéing and pan frying.  

Luckily, for most of us it's not an either/or. You can have one of each or even a few of each. You can have a 10-inch nonstick skillet for eggs, a large cast iron skillet for frying chicken and searing steaks, a 10- or 12-inch tri-ply stainless skillet for daily use, and perhaps a 3-quart Copper Core sauté pan for its superior evenness and responsiveness for special tasks. 

If you're adding to your collection and are trying to decide what to get, think about what you're missing: Do you need a large pan to cook for guests? A small pan because you're tired of washing bigger pans for small jobs? A crépe pan? A wok for stir frying? A higher quality all-purpose, daily use skillet? A cast iron pan for searing steaks? A copper skillet pan for its performance (and just to add beauty to your kitchen)?

Figuring out where your gaps are will help you decide what to buy--as will knowing your preferences. Do you, like most people, prefer the maneuverability of the skillet? Or would you rather have the greater versatility of the sauté pan?

It's really up to you.

Another pointer is to shop what's on sale. Maybe you're not sure exactly what you want, you just know that you need a bigger pan or a smaller pan or an extra pan of some sort. If you find a good price on a pan that will fit your needs, don't worry about whether it's a skillet or a sauté pan (or even something else). 

Buying the best deal that will work for you is a smart way to shop.

To keep up with the best online sales and deals, like and follow The Rational Kitchen on Facebook

If you can have only one pan, the sauté pan is the more versatile of the two. However, most cooks prefer using a skillet (AKA frying pan) for its lighter weight and greater maneuverability. 

Accomplished cooks usually own a few skillets (in different sizes and styles) and at least one sauté pan. 

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Other Options

You don't need to stick to skillet pan or sauté pan; there are as many types of pans available as you could possibly need to round out your collection. You can find other, similar pans that might serve you just as well, if not better. Here are a few options.

Chef's Pan

ACCopperCoreChefPanWLid2_500px

A chef's pan is so called because it is the favorite choice for many chefs for its versatility. It's large--usually 4 quarts or more--and has long sloped sides and a lid, so it's great for sauteeing, stir frying, sauce making, and simmering. 

Wok

Wok2_500px

A wok is a large, slope-sided pan with a very small flat bottom or even a completely rounded bottom (no flat cooking surface at all). It is specialized for stir-frying, which uses high heat to quickly brown and cook small pieces of meat and vegetables. The steep sides are used to move food away from the heat source while other food cooks. Woks are the original one-pan meal pan.

If you do a lot of stir frying, or want to start, a wok is an excellent and fairly inexpensive pan, although you can achieve similar results using a large skillet. 

Woks are not good for pan frying (that is, sautéing large pieces of fish, chicken, burgers, or other meat) because of their limited flat cooking surface. They're also not good for tasks beyond stir-frying because of their specialized shape and lack of a lid.

This makes a wok a quite specialized pan, so you only need one if you like to make stir fries. The good news is that you can pick up a carbon steel wok (the most common material) for a very reasonable price. It's an inexpensive way to expand your cooking techniques.

Deep Sauté Pan

AllCladDeepSautePan2

The deep saute pan is perhaps the most versatile pan you can have in your kitchen. You can use it for everything, from deep frying to making soup. 

It looks like a large sauce pan, and you can use it as one; a large one. But it is also wide enough to function as a frying pan, and big enough to use as a small stock pot. 

It's great for making soups and stews because you can sauté the mirepoix and/or proteins easily, then add the stock and other ingredients for stovetop simmering. 

The sides are a little too tall to easily flip pan-fried meat (chicken, pork chops, burgers, fish). But it'll work in a pinch. 

The All-Clad deep sauté pan shown here is as versatile as the chef's pan discussed above. It may not be a pan you hear about often, but it's a favorite here at the Rational Kitchen. 

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Is Cast Iron a Good Choice?

Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan (Or Both)?--Lodge cast iron pan

Cast iron is actually a very good choice for a skillet pan. A lot of people actually prefer cast iron to clad stainless for their all-purpose pan; the fact that it can stand in for nonstick, too, sweetens the deal even more.

Cast iron is durable, inexpensive, and the top choice for searing and deep frying--tasks that require a pan to hang onto heat very, very well. 

see lodge cast iron skillets on amazon

Cast iron does have some drawbacks, though, and they are that it's heavy, it heats slowly and unevenly, and bare cast iron reacts with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste. (You can solve this problem by buying enameled cast iron.)

The dark surface can also make it hard to tell when browning has taken place and when a good fond is formed. 

If you don't mind the weight and that it takes longer for cast iron to heat evenly throughout (it can take several minutes), cast iron is a good, inexpensive option for a skillet pan; it's also a decent option for a sauté pan, as the sides are usually a little deeper than those on other types of skillet pans--this is especially true if you can find a lid that fits it.

Is Nonstick a Good Choice? 

Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan (Or Both)?

The short answer? No: nonstick is not a good choice for an everyday, general purpose skillet pan or sauté pan. 

A lot of people keep a nonstick pan for their eggs and other delicate foods, which is great. But it's not a good idea to use nonstick pan for a general purpose pan.

Nonstick coatings are fragile. They require that you use medium or low heat, and you have to baby them to help the nonstick coating last as long as possible (which is usually less than 5 years, even with the best possible care). This severely limits the pan's versatility.

Worst of all, the slipperiness of nonstick makes it difficult to build up fond--those browned bits of goodness that add flavor to your food. 

A well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan is almost as good as bona fide nonstick pan, and about 100,000 times more durable. 

And please, stick to nonstick for a skillet or sauté pan only. You do not need an entire set. Yes, it's cheaper than clad stainless cookware, but you'll have replaced it 5 times before your clad stainless set even starts showing any wear.

So even though more expensive up front, the clad stainless is a much better way to go.

To read more about nonstick cookware, see our Cookware archives.

Don't buy a nonstick skillet or sauté pan for everyday use. Just don't do it! Save it for eggs and other delicate foods, or consider using a well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan instead: they're almost as nonstick, and much more durable. 

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Our Favorite Skillet Pans and Sauté Pans

Here we share some of our favorite pans in several different categories. 

While you have to decide for yourself which skillets and/or sauté pans work for you, we will offer this one bit of advice: Your skillet and skillet-like pan gets the hardest use of any pan in your kitchen. It must withstand hot grease, sharp temperature shifts, scraping with utensils, and scrubbing with harsh cleaning products. Therefore, your skillet should be the one pan you are willing to invest in. A top quality skillet or sauté pan will last for decades of hard use--so even though you may spend more up front, your cost-per-year-of-use will be small. 

For more on choosing pans, see The Best Cookware Set for Every Budget or our Guide to the Best Induction Cookware. (Note: you don't have to have an induction cooktop to read this article; it has a lot of great general purpose information.)

If you only invest in one top quality piece of cookware, it should be your skillet pan (or your sauté pan if that is your preference).

Top Quality Clad Stainless Skillet: Demeyere Atlantis Proline

Check it out on Amazon

DemeyereProlineSkilletCropped

If you're looking for top-of-the-line, look no further. The Demeyere Atlantis Proline Skillet is of exceptional quality and durability. It has welded handles, giving you a rivetless cooking surface, and has a special finish (called "Silvinox") which makes it easier to clean than other stainless cookware (although don't expect nonstick).

With its heavy construction, the Proline is practically indestructible. It is designed for use with induction, but unlike most induction cookware, which has a layer of magnetic steel on the pan's exterior, Demeyere protects the more corrosion-prone magnetic steel by sandwiching it between two layers of rust-free 18/10 steel. 

The Proline has a 3.7mm layer of aluminum, which is almost twice that of All-Clad's tri-ply, and even more than their MC2, which is all aluminum with a stainless cooking surface. This means the Proline has better heating properties and way better heat retention than All-Clad tri-ply (the standard by which all clad cookware is measured).

The pan also has a great shape: fairly steep sides that make for a large cooking surface, and a rolled rim for drip-free pouring. 

The Demeyere engineers thought of everything when they made this pan. It has only one drawback: it's heavy. So if weight is an issue, don't get this pan--or get the small one. 

Oh, and it's expensive. But in our opinion, worth every penny.

Features
  • 7-ply clad aluminum construction
  • 4.8mm thick, with 3.7mm of aluminum interior (almost twice that of All-Clad!)
  • "TriplInduc®" technology sandwiches magnetic steel between more durable 18/10 steel
  • Super heavy construction won't warp under any conditions
  • Welded handles for rivetless cooking surface
  • Rolled rim for drip-free pouring
  • Silvinox finish for long-term luster and easy cleaning
  • Induction compatible but excellent for use on all cooking surfaces
  • Made in Belgium.
Drawbacks
  • It's heavy, so get the 9.4-inch, not the 12.6-inch.
  • Expensive.

Buy this pan if: You want top notch quality clad stainless, induction compatibility, dishwasher safe, and don't mind the weight.

See the Demeyere Proline on Amazon now:

DemeyereProlineSkilletCropped_140px
ACD3Skillet2

All-Clad is considered the gold standard in clad cookware. It's high quality, has a nice, thick layer of heat-spreading aluminum, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is made in the USA. 

When people think of All-Clad, they generally think of D3, or tri-ply, the original clad stainless cookware with a layer of aluminum sandwiched between durable stainless steel. Tri-ply is great quality cookware, with a 1.7mm layer of aluminum and a total thickness of 2.6mm. That's less aluminum than the Proline (above), but it still provides top notch heating properties while being much lighter weight and easier to handle.

Features

  • 3-ply clad stainless with 1.7mm aluminum layer
  • Thick enough to have great heating properties, lightweight enough to be easy to handle
  • Rolled rim for drip-free pouring
  • Induction compatible
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in USA.

Drawbacks

  • Expensive.

Buy this pan if: You want great quality, induction compatibility, dishwasher safe, and don't want a heavier pan like the Proline (above).

See the All-Clad D3 Tri-ply skillet on Amazon now:

ACD3Skillet3_140px

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Excellent Non-Induction Skillet: All-Clad MC2 Skillet Pan

Check out the MC2 skillet pan on Amazon

See our Ultimate All-Clad Review

ACMC2Skillet

The lesser known star of the All-Clad lineup is their Master Chef 2 (MC2). This line has a thick aluminum exterior with a stainless cooking surface. It has the most aluminum of any All-Clad line (except LTD2), and thus has the best heating properties; it is also the least expensive of all the All-Clad lines.

Some people dislike how the aluminum wears, as it's softer metal than stainless and scratches more easily. Scratching does not affect the cookware's usability but it does affect the appearance.

Being aluminum, the MC2 skillet is not induction compatible, and you can't put it in the dishwasher.  

Because of these drawbacks, MC2 is a less popular line of cookware than it deserves to be. So if you don't need induction compatibility, don't mind a patina that comes with regular use (as well as a few scratches), and don't mind washing cookware by hand (which you should be doing with all your good quality cookware anyway), the MC2 is one of the best deals on the market for high-end cookware.

Features

  • 2-ply construction with stainless cooking surface bonded to aluminum base
  • With almost 3mm of aluminum, has the thickest aluminum layer of all All-Clad lines
  • Rolled rim for drip-free pouring
  • Lifetime warranty
  • All-Clad's most affordable line
  • Made in USA.

Drawbacks

  • Not induction compatible
  • Aluminum exterior scratches more easily than stainless (but this does not affect usability)
  • Not dishwasher safe.

Buy this pan if: You want excellent performance, don't need induction compatibility, and don't mind the exterior getting scratched up (aluminum is softer than stainless steel).

SEE THE ALL-CLAD MC2 SKILLET PAN ON AMAZON NOW:

ACMC2Skillet3_140px

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Great Nonstick Skillet Pan: Analon Nouvelle Copper

Check out the Analon Nouvelle Copper nonstick skillet on Amazon

analon skillet

The Analon Nouvelle Copper nonstick skillet pan is one of the best deals around. It's made of hard anodized cast aluminum attached to a base with an aluminum-copper-aluminum construction encapsulated in induction compatible stainless steel. The base has an astonishing 4mm of aluminum and just over a half-centimeter (0.6mm) of copper in the center. Wow!

At an economical price point, the Analon Nouvelle offers astonishing performance. It's probably the best nonstick cookware on the market right now, at any price. It's nonstick, so it's not going to be an everyday pan (nor should it be), and it's not going to last a lifetime. But if you're in need of a nonstick pan for eggs or other sticky jobs, this is about the best choice you can make.

This pan's only drawback is its shape (and this may not be a drawback to you): it's got long sides and a fairly small cooking surface relative to its size. Other than that, this is a great, great pan.

Features:

  • Hard anodized aluminum construction
  • Encapsulated base of aluminum, copper, and stainless
  • 4mm of aluminum and 0.6mm of copper in base
  • Cast stainless handles
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Excellent price point
  • Made in Thailand.

Drawbacks:

  • Long sides give this skillet a smaller cooking surface than some other designs
  • Nonstick surface isn't good for general purpose use.

Buy this pan if: You need a nonstick skillet pan and want top performance and induction compatibility at an amazingly affordable price.

SEE THE ANALON NOUVELLE SKILLET ON AMAZON NOW:

AnolonSkillet_140px

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Great Shallow Sauté Pan: All-Clad D3 (Induction) or All-Clad MC2 (Non-induction)

See the All-Clad D3 sauté pan on Amazon

ACD3SautePan2_500px
ACMC2SautePan2_600px

The All-Clad D3/MC2 sautee pan has everything you're looking for in a saute pan: it's heavy-duty but lightweight enough to handle easily, it's gorgeous, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. 

People are most familiar with All-Clad's tri-ply (D3) line, but if you don't need induction compatibility, buying the MC2 sauté pan will provide even better performance for less money. 

Features--D3 (Tri-ply):

  • 3-ply clad stainless with 1.7mm aluminum layer
  • Thick enough to have great heating properties, lightweight enough to be easy to handle
  • Rolled rim for drip-free pouring
  • Induction compatible
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in USA.

Features--MC2:

  • 2-ply construction with stainless cooking surface bonded to aluminum base
  • With almost 3mm of aluminum, has the thickest aluminum layer of all All-Clad lines
  • Rolled rim for drip-free pouring
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in USA.

Drawbacks--D3 (tri-ply):

  • Expensive.

Drawbacks--MC2:

  • Not induction compatible
  • Aluminum exterior scratches more easily than stainless (but this does not affect usability)
  • Not dishwasher safe.

Buy the tri-ply (D3) sauté pan if: You want a sauté pan with great performance and durability, induction compatibility, and is dishwasher safe.

Buy the MC2 sauté pan if: You want a sauté pan with great performance and durability and don't care that it isn't induction compatible or dishwasher safe.

SEE THE ALL-CLAD D3 SAUTE PAN ON AMAZON NOW:

ACD3SautePan3_140px

SEE THE ALL-CLAD MC2 SAUTE PAN ON AMAZON NOW:

ACMC2SautePan3_140px
AllCladDeepSautePan2

As we've already mentioned, though this may not be a pan you'd think to get, it is extremely versatile and can be an asset to any cook, any kitchen, any where. It works as a sauce pan, a saucier, a chef's pan, a (smallish) stock pot, a deep frying pan, or a Dutch oven. This pan can do do it all. 

Sure, it's not the best choice for pan frying; the tall sides make it hard to flip food and slow evaporation. But in a pinch, it works. And it is an absolutely superb choice for soups and stews: you can sauté your mirepoix, then add your stock. A one pot meal!

At 6 quarts, this deep sauté is small enough to use for frying and sautéing, deep enough to use as a sauce pan, and large enough to function as a small stock pot or even a Dutch oven. 

We love, love, love this pan. We can't say enough good things about it. It's one of our go-to pans for so many uses. 

Of course, this is just a preference thing. If you want a large do-it-all pan but don't like the straight sides, then get a chef's pan. You can't really go wrong whichever one you choose.

See our Ultimate All-Clad Review

Buy this pan if: You're looking for a versatile, durable multi-tasker to add to your repertoire.

SEE THE ALL-CLAD D3 DEEP SAUTE PAN ON AMAZON NOW:

AllCladDeepSautePan3_140px

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Final Thoughts/Recommendation

Skillet pans and sauté pans are used for nearly identical tasks: sautéing, pan frying, stir frying, etc. With its straight sides and lid, a sauté pan can also be used for liquid cooking methods like simmering, poaching, and braising. So the sauté pan is more versatile, but the skillet offers a superior frying experience because the curved sides encourage faster evaporation and make it easier to maneuver food.

In the end, it's largely a matter of preference. You may prefer the sauté pan for its versatility, or the skillet for its maneuverability. Or, like many people, maybe you want one of each--or maybe you want to branch out and get a sauteuse, chef's pan, or a deep sauté pan instead of a second (or third) skillet or sauté pan.

There is no wrong answer. All are great pans, and all will serve you well.

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Skillet or Saute Pan?

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