Frying pan

Frying pan

A frying pan, frypan, or skillet is a pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods. It is typically a 20 to 30 cm diameter (8 to 12 inch) flat pan with flared sides and no lid. In contrast, a pan of similar size with straight sides and a lid is called a sauté pan.


Traditionally, frying pans were made of cast iron. Although cast iron is still popular today, especially for outdoor cooking, most frying pans are now made from metals such as aluminium and stainless steel. The materials and construction method used in modern frying pans vary greatly and some typical materials include:

* Aluminium
* Anodized aluminium
* Cast iron
* Copper
* Stainless steel
* Clad stainless steel with an aluminium or copper core

With the exception of cast iron frying pans, a polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) coating can be applied to the surface of the pan to make it non-stick. This is popular for frying pans sold to the home user but less so for those used by professional cooks and restaurants. Cast iron naturally becomes non-stick through use and so would not benefit from a Teflon coating.

Use and care

Cast iron frying pans must be seasoned before use and periodically afterwards. [cite web |url= |title=Seasoning Frying Pans]

Many traditionalists maintain that a cast iron frying pan should never be washed but rather wiped clean after each use. Washing destroys the anti-stick finish that forms through use and can promote rust and other problems. [cite book|last=Emery|first=Carla |title=The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old Fashioned Recipe Book
url=|year=2003|publisher=Sasquatch Books|language=|isbn=157061377X|pages=41

Frying pans made from copper will require polishing to remove tarnish. Fact|date=November 2007Aluminium and stainless steel frying pans generally do not require much maintenance. Frying pans with non-stick coatings should not be overheated (such as using for searing) or else the coating will melt. The fumes from melted non-stick coatings are toxic to parrots and other pet birds.

Like deep-frying, pan-frying depends on conduction and convection. In pan-frying, a layer of oil has four functions: it lubricates the surface; increases contact between the food and the pan; reduces cooking time; and increases flavor and color.

When frying battered fish or chicken, the oil covers the pan but not the food, but when frying pancakes, the oil is but a thin film to keep the batter from sticking. Asian cooks fry rice with all kinds of meats, seafood, vegetables, and nuts. Chinese fried rice is pan-fried in a skillet or wok with very little oil, perhaps one tablespoon per cup of rice. The challenge of pan-frying thick items such as chicken parts is to cook to the center without burning the surface. The Chinese have effectively solved this problem by slicing foods thin enough so the surface and interior cook in the same time.

World's largest

The world’s largest functional frying pan—15 feet in diameter—adorns the Rose Hill, North Carolina (pop. 1,330) town square and can fry 365 chickens at once during poultry festivals [] . This frying pan beat out the previous world record sized frying pan which was produced by Mumford Sheet Metal Works in Selbyville, Delaware in 1950. Produced for the annual Delmarva Chicken Festival, it was used to fry over one hundred tons of chicken. The pan measures ten feet in diameter, beating out the convert|9.6|ft|m|abbr=on Long Beach, Washington frying pan built in 1941 for their annual Clam Festival.


Copper frying pans were used in ancient Mesopotamia. Frying pans were also known in ancient Greek and Roman kitchens: "téganon" to the Greeks, "patella" to the Romans. The Roman "patella" survived in modern Spanish as "paella" and in modern Italian as "padella". Frying pans were probably also used to prepare grain dishes, the antecedents of paella made with rice. Skillets were originally deep, much like modern sauce pans, but the term is used interchangeably with "frying pan." The first recorded usage of the term "frying pan" in English was in 1382 by John Wyclif in a translation of the Vulgate Bible, 1 Chronicles 23:29: "The the fryinge panne." The term "fry pan" rarely occurs before the 1950s. When it does, it is often as the "double fry" or "omelette pan". But the advent of the electric fryers marked a revival of "fry pans." It is common practice among American cookbook writers to forgo the use of "frying pan" altogether in favor of "skillet," as in the phrase, "brown lightly in a skillet" rather than "brown lightly in hot fat in a frying pan." This word manipulation is an attempt to make the recipe sound more appealing and less fatty although the ingredients remain the same. Frying pans with legs, once common in open hearth cookery, were generally called "spiders" both in England and in America.

"Pan" is a term of truly ancient origin, deriving from Celtic "panna".Fact|date=July 2008 The feature that distinguished it from other utensils was its flat bottom. This is why sauce pans and sauté pans, while very different in shape, are nonetheless called "pans." A versatile pan that combines the best of both the sauté pan and the frying pan has higher, sloping sides that are often slightly curved. This pan is called a "sauteuse" (literally a sauté pan in the female gender), an "evasée" (denoting a pan with sloping sides), or a "fait-tout "(literally "does everything"). Most professional kitchens have several of these utensils in varying sizes.

The frying pan remained little changed for many years. Whether made of tinned copper or cast iron the frying pan had a broad, shallow body and a long handle to keep the cook’s hand out of the fire. A close relative was the chafing dish, which by the late nineteenth century was a pot or pan that sat in a lower pan of hot water. Both were supported by a stand over a flame below. The heat maintained the water at a simmer, which allowed for the slow cooking of foods like soups and fondues.

The common frying pan was among the first objects to be electrified in the 1890s. A British example dates from 1898. It had an element fitted below the pan and socket at the end of the wooden handle. Due to the cost of electricity it was a luxury item. It never gained popularity when electricity became more widespread, as the increasing efficiency of gas and electric hot plates meant that the traditional pan was just as effective and easier to use.

In 1911, Westinghouse introduced an electric chafing dish. Made of sheet steel, it could be turned over and used as a hot plate. Little development followed. The main setback was developing a dependable and easily variable heat control that could compete with a traditional hotplate. In 1953, Sunbeam introduced the Automatic Frypan. It was a square cast-aluminium pan with a built-in element. The black plastic handle featured a heat control and “fry-guide” reminiscent of the “mix-finder” of the Sunbeam Mixmaster. S. W. Farber, Inc. produced the first stainless steel electric frying pan in 1954.

Frying pans with non-stick surfaces were introduced by DuPont in 1956 under the Teflon brand name. The durability of the early coatings was not good, but improvements in manufacturing have made these products a kitchen standard. It was necessary for cooks using non-stick pans to learn to avoid using metal spatulas and knives that can permanently mar the coating.

The electric fry pan could also stew, braise, and bake. With the lid on, it could also be used for roasts and casseroles. By the 1970s it was also known as a "multicooker". This versatility was limited by its size and was soon challenged by the microwave. Although still in production, the electric frying pan never gained mass acceptance as a replacement for its traditional rival.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • frying pan — (also frypan) ► NOUN ▪ a shallow pan with a long handle, used for frying food. ● out of the frying pan into the fire Cf. ↑out of the frying pan into the fire …   English terms dictionary

  • frying pan — frying .pan n 1.) a round flat pan with a long handle, used for frying food 2.) out of the frying pan and into the fire to go from a bad situation to one that is even worse …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • frying pan — a shallow pan with a handle, for frying food: also frypan n. out of the frying pan into the fire from a bad situation into a worse one …   English World dictionary

  • Frying pan — Frying Fry ing, n. The process denoted by the verb fry. [1913 Webster] {Frying pan}, an iron pan with a long handle, used for frying meat, vegetables, etc. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • frying pan — frying pans N COUNT A frying pan is a flat metal pan with a long handle, in which you fry food …   English dictionary

  • frying pan — [n] skillet fry pan, gridiron, spider, wok; concepts 493,494 …   New thesaurus

  • frying-pan — is the usual term in BrE, but in AmE it alternates with frypan and skillet …   Modern English usage

  • frying pan — UK [ˈfraɪɪŋ ˌpæn] / US noun [countable] Word forms frying pan : singular frying pan plural frying pans a flat metal pan with a long handle, used for cooking food in hot oil or fat • out of the frying pan (and) into the fire used for saying that… …   English dictionary

  • frying pan — /ˈfraɪɪŋ pæn/ (say fruying pan) noun 1. a shallow pan with a long handle, in which food is fried. –adjective 2. Colloquial of no account; small time. –phrase 3. out of the frying pan into the fire, Colloquial from a bad situation to an even worse …   Australian-English dictionary

  • frying pan — noun a pan used for frying foods • Syn: ↑frypan, ↑skillet • Hypernyms: ↑pan, ↑cooking pan • Hyponyms: ↑electric frying pan, ↑spider …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”