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What Are Some Different Types of Frying Pans?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Frying pans are one type of handy cookware that is found in just about every kitchen. Used for frying meats, scrambling eggs, and other culinary tasks, the frying pan is a versatile tool that even gets to go along on camping trips. While the uses for frying pans are varied, there are essentially three different types of frying pans to choose from.

One of the most beloved incarnations of the frying pan is the cast iron fryer. Available in several different sizes, the heavy-duty pan is usually seasoned with oils or lard in order to provide the best cooking conditions. In addition to being ideal for frying chicken, it is not unusual for cooks in the Deep South region of the United States to use a cast iron frying pan to bake pones of corn bread. The cast iron body, when properly seasoned, provides the crust of the corn bread with an extra crisp texture considered highly desirable.

Along with the cast iron designs, frying pans also are often manufactured of some type of metal combination. Aluminum and stainless steel are favorite choices for this type of fryer tool. The metal pans are often coated with a copper bottom that adds both style and enhances the heat distribution qualities of the pan. However, a stainless steel or aluminum frying pan is not considered as versatile as the cast iron models, since they cannot be placed in the oven and are also not usually recommended with gas stovetops, since the flames tend to discolor and eventually damage the copper bottoms.

A third alternative is the electric frying pan. This is a stand-alone appliance that does not require a stovetop as a source of heat. Plugging directly into a wall outlet, the electric pan can set on the kitchen countertop while in use. Most models come with a lid and a control that makes it possible to adjust the heating element to any setting desired. While not designed for the dishwasher, these electric models and normally be lightly washed and rinsed in the sink, as long as the heating element and controls are not submerged.

Both the metal and electric types of frying pans are available with non-stick coatings within the cooking basin. Cast iron skillets that are properly seasoned do not require a non-stick coating. Of the three types of frying cookware, the cast iron model is also the easiest to clean, since often wiping the pan with a clean cloth is all that is required.

All three types of frying pans can be purchased at a number of retail outlets. Hardware stores are likely to carry a wide range of cast iron models, as well as stainless steel designs. Discount retail stores offer stainless steel and the less expensive aluminum cookware as well as several models of the electric skillet. Restaurant supply stores are likely to have commercial versions of all three types of pans, while kitchen boutiques will provide access to stainless steel fryers containing additional layers in the body of the pan.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon170416 — On Apr 26, 2011

Cast iron is washed in hot water only with no soap, as the soap will take away the "non-stick" properties. These are created by the build up of fats and oils, eventually making the surface incredibly smooth and "non-stick". Bacteria dies when the pan is then dried after washing and put away. These were the pans our grandmothers used and I don't recall any of them getting sick or dying from the use of a cast iron pan.

However, I have to disagree with the article where it states that stainless and aluminum pans cannot be placed in an oven due to eventual ruination of the pan. As long as the handle is compatible with heat and won't melt and the cook uses a mitt or potholder to remove the pan from the oven, then they can be successfully used to finish a steak, chop or large piece of fish after searing. The use of copper or copper bottomed pans can also be used in an oven as well. The discoloration is due to the heat and is common and can be brought back to its original luster with a simple polish after washing and then towel drying the pan before putting away.

By roxytalks — On Feb 13, 2011

Aluminum pans with a non-stick coating were the kind of pans I always used to use. But I had the problem of the pans getting scratched up all the time, even when I used the appropriate utensils with them.

I found I was having to buy new pans way too often, so I switched over to a nice set of cast iron pans. It was definitely the right choice. These are the best frying pans I've ever had. My food tastes better, they are simple to clean, and they last for a very long time.

By heath925 — On Feb 12, 2011

I wish I would have known that you aren't supposed to use copper bottomed stainless steel frying pans on gas stoves. This is exactly what I did, and sure enough, the bottoms of all of my pans are now discolored. They used to look so nice, and now all I want to do is buy another set.

By rosoph — On Feb 11, 2011

I've always wanted to use a cast iron frying pan because everyone tells me they make the flavor of food better, but I don't quite understand how they are sanitary.

If you only have to wipe them with a clean cloth, does that mean you don't even use soap? How do they get clean? Wouldn't bacteria accumulate in the pan?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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