Definition

Noun: A skillet is an essential piece of cookware also popularly called a “frying pan”. The terms “skillet” and “frying pan” are interchangeable. Skillets may be used for frying, sauteeing or baking. The cast iron skillet is especially used for baking.

A skillet may be described as a long handled round pan, with an average diameter of 10 inches, an average depth of 2 inches and with outward sloping sides for the easy removal of food. The flat bottom of the skillet provides a generous surface area for cooking.

Skillets usually have one long handle but some skillets may carry an “assist” handle which is a much shorter handle placed on the opposite end of the long handle for convenience in certain situations.

There are many different types of skillet, such as the cast iron skillet, the non-stick skillet, the stainless steel skillet and the copper skillet.

Below is an image of a skillet.

image of a skillet

Now let's take a look at the cast iron skillet.

The cast iron skillet is a good thing if you're looking for durability or longevity as they are reputed to last for generations. After repeated uses, cast iron frying pans have been known to develop a smooth, non-stick surface due to oils baking into it. Cast iron frying pans may be used in ovens as well as over open flames and are very difficult to damage.

Below is an image of a cast iron skillet.

image of cast iron skillet

The non-stick skillet.

The first non-stick skillets were manufactured and marketed around the year 1956. Non-stick skillets faced criticisms of being inferior and with a tendency to become toxic if exposed to high heat. However, as technology developed, superior grades of the product were able to endure more rigors of the kitchen. The non-stick effect of the skillet is achieved by coating the surface of the skillet with a compound called "polytetrafluoroethylene". This compound was given the "trade" name "teflon". So if you hear the expression "teflon", it is a word which simply makes the scientific term "polytetrafluoroethylene" much easier to remember and say. For this reason, skillets that were coated with polytetrafluoroethylene" may be also called "teflon" frying pans or skillets. Some sources say that non-stick skillets cannot endure heat of 240 degrees celcius or higher. At that temperature the telfon coating is said to decompose and give off toxic fumes. The American chemical company DuPont is the first company to have manufactured and sold non-stick skillets since 1956. You may want to exercise caution in using non-stick skillets if you are a very health conscious person.

Below is an image of a non-stick skillet.

image of non-stick skillet

The stainless steel skillet.

If you are looking for something good and inexpensive, you may want to go for the stainless steel skillet. A major disadvantange to using a stainless steel skillet is that food items tend to burn and stick more or less easily on its surface. Stainless steel skillets have the advantage of being easy to clean and non reactive to foods. A stainless steel skillet is also a good choice for foods that have to be finished off in the oven. These types of skillets also sport great heat conductivity and are ideal if you want to produce a fond as you cook.

Below is an image of a stainless steel skillet.

image of stainless steel skillet

The copper skillet.

Copper skillets have been reputed as a favorite of chefs because of its evenly distributed heat conduction. The only drawback to owning copper skillets is the fact that they are often expensive--high quality copper comes at a relative high price in today's market.

Below is an image of a Mauviel Professional copper skillet.

image of Mauviel professional copper skillet

Skillet with assist handle.

Aside from the long handle of the skillet, some skillets sport another shorter handle on the opposite end called an "assist handle". Assist handles aids in convenience during some cooking procedures.

Below is an image of a skillet with an assist handle.

image of skillet with assist handle

The Electric Skillet

Most electric skillets include a lid or cover. They have heat insulated legs and are heated through electricity.

Below is an image of an electric skillet.

image of electric skillet