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You Can Use a Frying Pan for (Almost) Anything

This piece of Cookware can do so much more than just fry.

By Emily Borst
Jul 1, 2022
eggs in nonstick
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Your Frying Pan is probably one of your most-used Cookware tools. And while it can be used for frying food, there is so much more  this versatile piece of Cookware can do.

If you’re looking to use your Frying Pan for more applications, look no further.  We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about different ways your Pan can be used.

What Is a Frying Pan?

Also called skillets, Frying Pans are flat-bottomed, shallow pans with a flared lip, slanted sides, and long handles that are designed for sautéing or shallow-frying foods. Most do not come with a lid, as these pans are not designed for trapping moisture.

Frying Pans come in a wide variety of sizes, from a single-serving of 8 inches to as large as a family-size 12 inches. They’re also manufactured in a range of different materials, including colored ceramic, Non Stick, Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, and Carbon Steel.

Frying Pan Advantages

Many home and professional chefs consider Frying Pans to be essential parts of any kitchen, and it’s easy to see why.

  • Ease of Use: Other cooking tools are for specific uses only, or can only be used over a medium flame that is exactly 99.78F. Frying Pans are straightforward in their instructions—just be sure you know how hot your pan can go to avoid scorched bottoms, and whether your pan should be heated before or after you add cooking oil.
  • Heat Response: Since you’re not heating a large pan or pot, the cooking surface of Frying Pans heat up quickly. If you have a high-quality pan made of heat conductive materials, this also means it responds quickly to changes in temperature.
  • Versatility: These pans can be used in a number of different ways, from frying to browning to creating pan sauces.

Frying Pan Considerations

While we’re firmly of the belief that a Frying Pan is an integral addition to your cooking lineup, there are a few things to keep in mind when using one.

  • Care: Some Frying Pan materials require specific care instructions, such as Cast Iron and Carbon Steel. Do your research prior to purchasing and make sure you’re well-versed in how to care for your tools to keep them in tip-top shape.
  • Construction Materials: Not every Frying Pan is a high-quality one, particularly when it comes to construction materials. Cookware materials like ceramic and aluminum are cheap, but will degrade quickly and need to be replaced often. Higher-quality materials like Stainless Steel or Cast Iron may be a bit more expensive upfront, but will last for years with proper care.
  • Cooking Surface: Unlike a Saute Pan that has high, straight sides, a Frying Pan has low, sloping sides that reduces the amount of cooking surface you have to work with. Luckily, you have a number of sizes to choose from to ensure you’re getting the size that works best for your needs.
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What Can a Frying Pan be Used For?

Both home and professional chefs use Frying Pans for a majority of tasks in the kitchen. Thanks to the large cooking surface area and ability to be used on the stovetop or in the oven, Frying Pans are an essential piece of Cookware. Here are some of our favorite uses for Frying Pans.

1. Frying

A Frying Pan is perfect for shallow frying, meaning your food is not submerged in oil the way it would be in a deep frying situation. Whether you’re frying up bacon for breakfast or steak and potatoes for dinner, a quality Frying Pan keeps the moisture out of your dish so you can count on perfectly browned and crispy food every time.

2. Sautéing

A large Frying Pan (like a 12 inch one) is also a great choice for a fast sauté or other hands-on cooking technique, like frequent stirring or flipping, that doesn’t involve working with liquids.

If your recipe calls for sautéing large amounts of food or introducing a liquid to simmer, you’re likely better off using a Saute Pan instead so nothing gets steamed, too crowded, or spills over.

3. Searing

If your Frying Pan is made of a material that can stand high heat (like Carbon Steel or Stainless Clad, then you get rewarded with a perfect sear on your proteins. Frying Pans aren’t designed to retain moisture, which is an important factor to have when searing proteins to achieve a dry, crispy exterior with a juicy, tender interior.

4. Oven Finishing

Frying Pans that can withstand high temperatures, like Stainless Clad (800F) or Carbon Steel (1200F) are an essential and versatile piece of Cookware. These give you the ability to start a meal on the stovetop and finish it in the oven, like thick chicken breast or other one-skillet meals, or keep your pan, and food, warm.

5. Browning

Browning meat is an important step before making enchiladas, stews, tacos, and other meals requiring pre-cooked meat. A Stainless Clad, Non Stick, or Carbon Steel Frying Pan enables you to brown your meat without drying it out, which makes for juicy, flavorful bites.

Before putting your meat in the pan to brown, it should be as dry as possible—surface moisture turns to steam in a hot pan, which dries the meat out and prevents it from properly browning.

6. Sauces

Pan sauces are just that—sauces made in a pan you just used to fry, sear, sauté, or brown your food. The shallow nature of a Frying Pan is excellent for quickly creating a pan sauce, as it requires frequent mixing without the addition of too much liquid.

Pan sauces are created using the bits of leftover, burnt food attached to your pan (called fond) and mixing them with aromatics and a deglazing liquid, like wine, vinegar, or citrus juices. After adding in stock and butter, you’ll have a smooth, silky sauce that’s the perfect accompaniment to your steak, salmon, pork, or chicken.

These are just a few examples of what you can create in your Frying Pan. Whether you opt for a Carbon Steel, Stainless Clad, or Non Stick Pan, know you’re getting a high-quality Pan that will see you through all of your recipes.