Pots and Pans: Here Is The SHOCKING Difference

What Is the Difference Between Pots and Pans?

Sometimes, it can be challenging to determine what makes a pan and pot different. Most people ask if a shallow pot is a pan or if a deep pan is a pot.

Even cooking experts can get confused about this matter. However, the two have a difference that only those who are aware of them will know.

Size and Shape

Among the differences between pots and pans are their sizes and shapes. At first glance, you will notice that pots have deeper containers.

They feature high sides, allowing them to hold more compared to pans.

Aside from that, pots have a circular base and usually boast straight-up sides. Meanwhile, pans are fairly shallow.

Pans have sides that are only a couple of inches or centimeters in height starting from the base.

Their sides may go straight up just like pots, but other pans come with curved sides that come out at an angle.

This allows better access to anything the pan holds and also helps for heating.

One of the examples of a pan with these features is a wok.

The sides of a wok project out at an angle and its bottom is most commonly round in shape. In some cases, it can be rectangular or square.

Type of Handle

Another difference between pots and pans is the type of handle. Most pots come with two small handles, while pans usually feature a longer handle.

The type of material used to make these handles may also vary.

You can find pots and pans with plastic, metal, and wood handles that are also different when it comes to conducting heat.

Among these three materials, metal handles are the worst because metal is known to conduct heat.

Next to it is plastic, which can absorb very little heat. For those who want to make sure that no heat will be transferred to a pan’s or pot’s handle, choose products that come with wood handles.

Wood may still conduct heat, but compared to steel and plastic, it absorbs the least.

Many manufacturers are looking for ways to improve their handles. This improvement involves not only the materials used to make the handles but also their design.

Nowadays, you can see high-quality pans that come with a handle, splitting into two or three cross-sections near the base.

The purpose of this to allow heat to pass through the cross-sections first, filtering most of the heat before it reaches the handle.

Most pans also have holes in their handles.

While some individuals are still asking about the purpose of these holes, manufacturers explain that they are intended to hold the spoon you are using.

These holes also the pans to hung up to dry and so much more.

Purpose or Usage

Aside from the size, shape, and type of handle, a huge difference between pans and pots is their purpose.

Typically, you will use a pot to heat liquids like soups and stews and to boil water to cook pasta, among other things.

Thanks to their high sides, pots can hold sufficient liquid to make these delicious foods.

Also, pots can be utilized to make pot roasts as well as other slow-cooked delicacies.

This is made possible by the high sides of pots, which allow heat to spread evenly and quickly throughout the ingredients.

This is an advantage of using a pot, rather than heating through only the bottom side.

On the other hand, pans can do what most pots can’t.

While you can also try frying using a pot, doing it with the proper cookware, like a pan, makes the job so much easier.

Pans are ideal for making a sauté and frying food.

You can fry eggs and grilled sandwiches, as well as make stir-fries, because of their wider base as compared to pots.

They also allow a shallow layer of food to cook evenly and speedily.

For this reason, you can make perfect pancakes and crepes on these kitchen must-haves.


Unlike pans, pots usually arrive with more attachments.

These include pasta inserts, steamers, and other essentials that can make cooking much more convenient.

Pots can also include double boiler inclusions, while pans don’t normally have extra attachments.

Because of their shallow containers, pans don’t have enough room for extra attachments.

Types of Pots and Pans

  • Small Pan – If you are cooking only small portions, a small pan is enough to do the task.

  • Medium pan – Usually, medium pans are about 10 inches in diameter—ideal for cooking 2-3 servings.

  • Large pan – When cooking for the family, a large pan is your best option. Most large-sized pans are about 12 inches in diameter.

  • Ovenproof – As its name suggests, pots and pans that are ovenproof can safely go in ovens. You can use them to cook or reheat food directly in ovens.

  • Nonstick – Sometimes nonstick pans are also ovenproof. This means they can withstand extreme temperatures because of their stainless steel or iron materials.

  • Cast iron – If you want to keep soups and sauces hot, use cast iron. Pans and pots that are cast iron are not usually recommended by cooking experts, but they have a special purpose, which is to keep food hot for a longer period.

  • Small pot – Small pots are stainless steel containers that are 6 inches in diameter. They can hold 1.5 to 2 quarts, but this depends on the pot’s height.

  • Medium pot – Medium pots can usually hold 3 to 4 quarts of liquid, depending on their height, and are 8 inches in diameter.

  • Large pot – You can use large pots for boiling pasta. Generally, large pots are 12 inches in diameter and are useful for cooking foods in large quantities.

The Verdict

Knowing the right tool to use can make cooking easier.

Always remember that a pan usually comes with a longer handle and shorter sides, while pots have higher sides and two short handles.

Can you now determine what is a pot and what is a pan in your kitchen?

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