When it comes to choosing cookware, it can be difficult to understand the difference between types of pans. A fully stocked kitchen has a variety of quality cookware that can serve multiple uses. While there are several kinds of pots and pans, we’re discussing the differences between a frying pan and sauté pan. These two pans are essential to any professional kitchen for their versatility and design.

Fry Pan Cooking with Fire

Sauté Pans Vs. Frying Pans

What is a Sauté Pan? 

The sauté pan comes from the French word “Sauter”, meaning “to jump”. This pan is designed to cook a larger volume of ingredients without overcrowding. A sauté pan is used by tossing ingredients back and forth into the air and is used on high heat with oil or fat. Food cooked in this pan should be brown with a nice crust and not soggy. This pan is typically used with a lid to trap heat and splatter.

What is a Fry Pan?

A frying pan is designed with sloping sides to perform a “jump-flip” action while cooking. This method is ideal for quick frying different ingredients while evenly cooking. Frypans will not typically be used without a lid for easy adding and shaking of ingredients.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Frying and Sauté Pans

Depending on what you’re looking for, a sauté or fry pan can hold many uses in a commercial kitchen. We’ve listed some advantages and disadvantages of each pan type.


Pan Type  Advantages  Disadvantages 
  • Conductive of heat – Quick heat up 
  • Ample room for ingredients 
  • Use in high heat cooking 
  • Doesn’t stay hot as long 
  • Harder to move in the kitchen due to heavyweight 
  • Lightweight for stirring and flipping ingredients 
  • Holds heat longer 
  • Quickly cook ingredients to even temperature 
  • Slower heat up 
  • Less surface area for cooking (sloped sides) 

Pan Construction and Design

These pans each hold shapes and features that make them uniquely useful in the kitchen. When buying cookware, consider the shape, size, and construction material of a pan. The design of a pan will determine how it can serve you in cooking. We’ve listed our recommendations to consider when looking for these types of pans.

Sauté Pan

  • Shape: Flat bottom, high sides, long handle, some have a short helper handle on the opposite side
  • Construction: Should have a thick bottom and made of a heavy gauge material so it can withstand high heat. You will want your pan to be made of a highly conductive material, like copper or aluminum in order to evenly heat the entire pan
  • Handle: Should have a strong handle attached with heavy rivets or screws
  • Lid: Should have a flat lid that fits properly to lock in heat and steam
  • Coating: Best used uncoated because of the high-temperature cooking
  • Dimensions: 8”-12” diameter, can be up to 15 quarts capacity
Sautee Pan Vollrath

Fry Pan

  • Shape: Low sloping sides, long handle, flat bottom that slopes up 
  • Construction: Should be made with a durable material like stainless steel or carbon steel to keep pan hot while flipping/away from the flame 
  • Handle: Can have a riveted or welded handle (recommend riveted for heavier pans) 
  • Lid: Best used without a lid to easily flip and add ingredients
  • Coating: Can use a nonstick coating to make it easier to fry
  • Dimensions: 7”-14” diameter, can be up to 2-1/2” deep 
Frying Pan

Each pan has a distinct design that works best for different types of cooking. Their features allow for the perfect distribution of temperature and will ensure consistent results in food.

What are Fry and Sauté Pans Used For?

These pans are versatile in any kitchen and will give you the option to cook delicious meals for guests. With their unique design and construction, sauté and fry pans can be used to cook a variety of foods. We laid out the best types of cooking to do in each type of pan.

Cooking in a Sauté Pan

  • Shallow frying meat or vegetables 
  • Braising meat 
  • Frying crust onto meat before cooking in the oven 

Cooking in a Frying Pan

  • Stirring ingredients and frying together 
  • Quick-cooking of eggs, vegetables, or meat 
  • Crispy frying potatoes and vegetables

More on Cookware

Finding the right cookware to work in your kitchen shouldn’t be a hard thing. Read more on cookware material and styles in our Resource Center. 

Ready to shop? Check out the Cookware Supplies section on our website.

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