How to Use a Skillet or Saute Pan

Author: Chef Sydney

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What are Skillets or Saute Pans?

A skillet or saute pan is a pan meant to be used on the stove to cook food.  Skillets and saute pans are different from one another.  A skillet is a pan with diagonally slanted sides.  This makes food easier to slide out of the pan and into a serving dish.  A saute pan has sides that go straight up and down.  Since the sides go straight up, a saute pan is usually a little bigger than a skillet.  Both usually have long handles and lids.  Skillets or saute pans are usually made of metal or are nonstick, but some skillets are electric.

What are Skillets or Saute Pans Used For?

Skillets and saute pans are two different pans, but they can both be used to complete the same cooking task.  These pans are meant to be used on the stovetop.  Both skillets and saute pans can be used to cook different kinds of meat.  Both pans can be used to make different sauces, like marinara sauce for pasta.  Skillets and saute pans can be used to make grilled cheese, french toast, or scrambled eggs.

Learn About Skillets and Saute Pans
Delicious cooked vegetables ready to eat out of a cast iron skillet.

What are the Different Types of Skillet or Saute Pan?

  • Nonstick
  • Aluminum
  • Cast Iron
  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper

Nonstick: Nonstick skillets or saute pans are coated in a material that makes food less likely to stick to the pan.  This kind of pan is easy to scratch with metal utensils.  Nonstick pans will need to be replaced when the nonstick coating starts to flake.

Aluminum: Aluminum skillets or saute pans heat and cook food evenly when placed on the stove.  This type of pan is strong and usually lasts.

Cast Iron: Cast iron skillets are one of the strongest pans.  Cast iron skillets cook food evenly and can be moved from the stove straight to the oven.  Cast iron skillets are extremely heavy.  This kind of pan requires seasoning after being washed and completely dried to maintain its strength.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel skillets or saute pans are strong and can last.  This type of pan heats and cooks food evenly.

Copper: Copper skillets or saute pans heat and cook evenly.  Like cast iron skillets, copper pans require upkeep to maintain their strength.  Copper pans do not work well with acidic foods like tomatoes.

Recipes Using Skillets or Saute Pans

Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

Whip up a quick, easy breakfast with eggs. Whisk eggs, water, salt, pepper, until fluffy. Then, pour egg mixture into a preheated skillet. Move eggs around the skillet with a wooden spoon while they cook. When the eggs are about three-quarters of the way done, stir in cheddar cheese.

Marinara Sauce

Make a tasty sauce to top any pasta. Soften diced onions and garlic in a preheated skillet. Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, and smoked paprika. Simmer until sauce thickens. Serve chunky, or use a hand blender to blend until smooth.

Grilled Cheese

Create the ultimate comfort food with gooey grilled cheese. Start by preheating your skillet over medium heat. Butter two pieces of bread and layer the non-buttered side with cheddar cheese. Top the cheese with the other piece of bread and place the butter side down in the skillet. Flip when the bottom turns golden-brown and remove from heat when both sides are golden-brown.

French Toast

Use ingredients you already have in your kitchen to make a classic french toast recipe. Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl. Dip bread in the egg mixture and place on a preheated skillet. Flip when the bottom turns golden-brown and remove from heat when both sides are golden-brown. Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.

Skillet Cheeseburgers

Don’t have a grill? Make delicious cheeseburgers in a skillet! Prepare your hamburger patties by forming balls and carefully patting the meat into a disc. Top with salt and pepper, then transfer to a preheated skillet. Flip halfway through cooking and place a slice of cheddar cheese on the cooked side. Remove patties from the skillet when they are done and place on a bun. Top with lettuce, tomato, and ketchup.


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