Kitchenware Rater is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Saucepan vs Skillet

Whether you want to make a quick meal or an entire one with several courses, you should have the right cookware pieces.

Saucepan vs Skillet – What’s the Difference ?

Saucepans and skillets look similar. Each is flat bottomed cookware with straight or tapered sides. Both have a long handle on one side. Each may or may not have a short helper handle on the opposite site. The difference is in the height of the sides compared to the diameter.

When to Choose Which Pan

The pan you choose to use when cooking determines the outcome of your food. A saucepan and a skillet are some of the pans you must have in your kitchen.


A saucepan has a deep, broad base and is available in different sizes. They are categorized as small, medium, large or extra large. A small saucepan is in the range of 15 cm diameter and holds 1 quart to 2.25 quotes .

The larger sizes can hold between 3 quarts and up to over 7 quarts for commercial kitchens. (If you want something larger than this you would want to use a stockpot.) Most saucepans have a lid. They are perfect for cooking liquid foods and making sauces.

The narrow base and high sides, plus a lid ensure the liquids cook better without evaporating.

The unique point of a saucepan is its height, and it’s what makes it different from a skillet. Some of the saucepans are stocky and even look like a stockpot.

The height of the pan increases with the size of the pan.


A skillet is shallower compared to a saucepan and has sloped, curved sides. It is used for frying, braising thick curries and sauces and comes with a lid.

Some skillets are made of cast-iron, but it they made of many other materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, and copper clad. Some have non stick surfaces.

The defining trait of the skillet is the short slanted sides. The skillet has a large surface area compared to its height, and it’s quite versatile.

You can use a skillet pan for cooking an egg, meat, or frying foods. It holds heat amazingly, which makes it excellent for grilling.

Related: Can you Make Toast in a Pan?

Saucepan with liquid - Saucepan vs Skillet
Clams in Broth – Perfect Time for a Saucepan

The major differences between a saucepan and a skillet

The main difference between the two is their appearance. A saucepan has straight vertical sides and a large surface area, while a skillet has short and curved sides.


A skillet also has an open view, wide and convenient to stir. It also allows you to easily flip and stir food while cooking. Its smooth and curvy sides are suitable for making dishes with ingredients that need a lot of stirring while cooking.

It also enables you to easily slide out a dish from a skillet to a plate. The curved edges enable to get a spatula under the food to stir and turn it over. Any food that leans on the tapered, curved edges does not contact the heat and will therefore not cook as fast as the food in the middle of the skillet.

Skillets have wide openings, low sloping sides, and light weight make it easy to stir, flip, and maneuver food around during cooking and plating. (A pan that is shallow but has straight sides is called a Saute pan, Suatoir, or Sautoire.)


In saucepans, the sides meet the bottom surface at a right angle, this leaves the bottom of the saucepan even and flat, making a large area for cooking. They high sides also transfer heat to the food. (A saucepan with high angled sides is called a Splayed Saute pan.)

The high walls of a saucepan help it hold more liquid than a skillet, and so it is suitable for sauces, soups, and steaming. With the wide base and tall walls, the saucepan has more weight compared to a skillet.

Because saucepans carry a lot of food and have some weight, it is not easy to keep moving around food in them. When you think of a saucepan, you think of stirring food.

Skillet vs Pan: When to Use a Saucepan and a Skillet

When thinking about Skillet vs Pan, the first thing to consider is whether or not you need to handle liquid or not. The shape of a saucepan that makes suitable for cooking a large liquid volume, and it’s very flexible.

This means they can be used to make foods that do not need to be flipped and others that require poaching, shallow frying, braising, and searing.

Saucepans are not designed for flipping and shaking food around but for food that require lengthier cooking times, and usually involve liquid.

A skillet, on the other hand, is best for stir-frying and sautéing. Their light weight makes it easy to shake them, the curve at the bottom enables you to move a spatula around and under the food, and their sloped sides bring back the food to the bottom of the pan.

A skillet is most often used when searing or pan-frying food such as meat, vegetable, fish, and eggs. Skillets are used to cook dishes that often need flipping and stirring, and and which cook quickly, such as omelet, beef stir fry, or a spinach mushroom sauté. When made with a skillet, food comes together quickly.

Also, if you have a skillet that is oven safe, you can move straight from the stove to the oven with no issues.

Top Saucepans

Calphalon Contemporary Shallow Sauce Pan

Saucepan vs Skillet Calphalon Contemporary Shallow Sauce Pan

See More Details

Key features

  • Made of hard-anodized aluminum
  • Has three layers of nonstick coating
  • It has shallower sides
  • It is dishwasher-friendly
  • Has handles that are heat resistant

The Calphalon Contemporary Shallow saucepan is made of a modern design, making it beautiful and great to have in your kitchen.

You can use it to make potatoes, risotto, rice, sauces, and many other things. It is also ideal for recipes that require whisking and stirring.

The best thing is that you can wash it in a dishwasher when done cooking. This pan’s interior is made of a triple-layer PFOA-free nonstick surface.

This allows you to cook food using little or no oil without fear of any particles getting stuck to the surface.

All Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Sauce Pan with Lid Cookware

Saucepan vs Skillet - All Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Sauce Pan with Lid Cookware

See More Details

Key Features

  • Product of a high-end manufacturer
  • Stainless steel high-quality construction
  • Broiler safe
  • Lifetime warranty

This is a saucepan is made of high-quality and long-lasting stainless steel.

It is small in size and a saucepan that every cook should have at home for heating and cooking sauces using heating sources such electric or gas. The pan is also suitable for an induction stovetop or ceramic stovetop.

The inside is coated with three-ply bonded construction and an aluminum core that allows uniform heating. It doesn’t have Teflon but has extra polishing that leaves the interior with a high level of non-stickiness.

The material doesn’t warp and remains sturdy even temperature is changed suddenly. You can remove it from the stovetop and put it in an ice bath, and it will not affect its body construction.

Made in USA.

Top skillet pans

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Assist Handle

Saucepan vs Skillet Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Assist Handle

See More Details

  • Pre-seasoned cast iron skillet
  • An assist handle that allows great control
  • Perfect for searing, baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing, and frying
  • Can be used on an open fire, on the grill, and in the oven.

The Lodge Pre-seasoned cast iron skillet gets better with age. It doesn’t have a nonstick interior cooking surface, but it is well-seasoned and cooks different foods without any particles clinging to it.

Being a product made in the US, its quality is guaranteed. The cast iron retains heat while allowing even heating when cooking.

Your food will remain warm hours after you remove the pan from the fire source. The best thing is that this skillet can be used in the oven and broiler to bake things such as cornbread. It is also perfect for roasting small chickens and steaks.

Use a potholder when touching the handles because they get hot. Besides, season the pan occasionally, depending on how often you use it. Use the right utensils for your cast iron skillet.

T-fal E93805 Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan

Saucepan vs Skillet  -fal E93805 Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator

See More Details

Key Features

  • Has a titanium nonstick cooking surface
  • Thermo-spot technology
  • Has a thick induction bottom
  • Riveted handles
  • Oven safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Compatible with different cooking tops

T-fal skillet is a cookware piece with a Thermo-Spot in the middle of a pan. It helps you know when the pan is ready for cooking.

You can use metallic spoons or spatulas but be careful not to gouge or cut it. The skillet can be washed in the dishwasher and can withstand high oven temperatures of 400 degrees.

Storage is easy because the pan has a hole on the handle to hang on the wall where you can easily reach it.


Now you know the differences between the saucepan and a skillet. You are also aware when and how to use each of them in your kitchen.

Shop for one that you need most or buy both because they are both indispensable for cooking.

Last update on 2023-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment