A fry pan and a saute pan are similar in nature as both have a long handle and can be used to fry, sear, brown and saute foods. The major differences are its construction and accessories. The sides of a fry pan are flared outwards while the sides of a saute pan are vertically straight. A traditional fry pan does not have a lid while a saute pan is usually accompanied with a lid.
A fry pan is traditionally used to shallow-fry, sear and brown foods. Its sides are usually curved outwards, which make flipping and turning foods an easier task. A fry pan usually does not come with a lid.
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A saute pan is traditionally designed for low to medium heat cooking or “sauteing”; hence, the name saute pan. But because of its versatile design, the saute pan has become a multipurpose cookware that can be used to shallow-fry, sear, brown and saute foods. The lid inclusion makes moist-cooking methods such as braising and poaching possible, something that a fry pan can’t do. Instead of having curved sides like a fry pan, the vertically straight sides of a saute pan makes turning food a bit more difficult.