Frying pan | What is a frypan | Types of frypans and their uses

What is a frypan?

A frying pan, frypan, or skillet is a flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods.
The frying pan is the one to turn to when you want to fry, or sear and brown something fast and then bring the heat down quickly.
It can be used for sautéing or frying or steam-frying as well, but not for deep-frying or stir-frying.

Frypan Facts

  1. The sides of a frying pan flare out while the height remains shallow.
  2. A frying pan should not be too heavy to lift or move around easily.
  3. A frying pan has a long handle that should stay cool.
  4. Heavier and wide pans often have a small handle on the other side opposite the large handle.
  5. Usually they do not have lids because they do not have the need to seal in juices as a pan for slow cooking must do.
  6. Ideally you should use heavy gauge materials with thick bottoms.
  7. A good frypan pan should be heavy enough to conduct heat evenly and keep foods from scorching.

A pan of similar dimensions, but with less flared, more vertical sides and often with a lid, is called a sauté pan.
While a sauté pan can be used like a frying pan, it is designed for lower-heat cooking methods, namely sautéing.

Types of frypans

Make sure your pan suits your cooktop, for example;

  • Induction cooktop:
    You’ll need a pan that’s made of ferrous metal (metal that can be magnetised). Check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Ceramic induction cooktop:
    Your pan will need to match the size of your cooktop elements.
  • Solid/radiant electric cooktop:
    Your pan will need a flat, steady base.

The most common frypan types are;

Non stick pan

Non-stick cookware is a common application, where the non-stick coating allows food to brown without sticking to the pan.

This will see you through most cooking tasks and is a breeze to clean up.

Non stick pan tip

Always use wooden, bamboo, silicone or plastic utensils on them to protect the surface, avoid scratching and prolong their life.

Non stick pan uses

Ideal for cooking –

  • egg dishes
  • delicate fish
  • cheesy foods like quesadillas
  • stirfried rice noodles
  • poaching
  • shallow frying

Stainless fry pan

Made of durable stainless steel makes these heavy-duty pans require very little maintenance.
Stainless steel can be a poor heat conductivity relative to other materials unless reinforced with aluminum or copper.

Stainless fry pan tip

Choosing one with heavy aluminium or copper in the base is best, this makes them a great conductor of heat and helps reduce burning.

Stainless fry pan uses

Perfect for cooking

  • stir-fries
  • sautééd vegetables
  • seared meat
  • chicken and seafood
  • sauces
  • firmer fish like tuna and salmon

Cast iron pans

This traditional frying pan is very heavy and a favourite of all cooks past, present and future.
However, be aware that they heat up slowly, but will hold their temperature well and conduct heat evenly.

Cast iron also becomes a non-stick surface and can also be used in the oven.
The enamelled version will protect the iron and cut down on the maintenance.

Cast Iron Frypan Uses

  • sautéing
  • pan-frying
  • searing
  • baking
  • braising
  • grilling/broiling
  • roasting.

Electric frying pan

An electric frying pan or electric skillet incorporates an electric heating element into the frying pan itself.
Accordingly, it has heat insulated legs for standing on a benchtop.

Most are designed with straighter sides, include a lid and most have a non stick surface.

Electric Frypan uses

  • simmering
  • slow cooking
  • shallow frying
  • boiling
  • searing
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