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Can You Fry In A Saucepan?

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: October 26, 2023

If you love homemade hash browns, fries, wedges or fried chicken or bacon but don’t own a deep fryer, there’s no reason to despair.

All you need is a stovetop, a deep pan and the right utensils like a slotted spoon or long tongs to retrieve the food and you’re all sorted.

But before we get on to discussing whether you can fry in a saucepan, let’s discuss what a saucepan is in greater detail.

What Is A Saucepan?

With a distinct deep shape, high sides and straight edges, a saucepan usually has a long handle and a lid. A saucepan’s surface area is smaller than its height, which allows the heat to be distributed uniformly through the pan.

Typically meant to be used on a cooktop or stovetop, saucepans come in various sizes, although 2-to-3-quart saucepans are the most commonly used sizes.

Can You Fry In A Saucepan a saucepan on a gas hob

Saucepans are a lot smaller than Dutch ovens or stockpots, but they are a lot deeper and less wide compared to a frying pan. Saucepans are also narrower and taller compared to sauté pans.

One of the key benefits of the saucepan is its height, which allows it to hold a large volume of liquid in a very small area. Further, the tall height of the saucepan prevents the liquid in it from spilling out compared to other types of pans.

Saucepans can be used to cook anything, especially any liquid, which means that it works very well for simmering, stewing and making soups, sauces and gravies.

And, since saucepans are not generally very large, they are not ideal for making large quantities of hearty stews, soup or stocks.

So, that brings us to the question, “can you fry in a saucepan?”

Can You Fry In A Saucepan?

The process of frying involves the reduction of the moisture content in the food by exposing it to heat and oil.

A saucepan has tall walls, which makes it best for cooking liquid-based foods. The tall walls of the saucepan prevent the liquid from escaping very fast. They are intended to retain the liquid content in the food, which is not what you want when you’re frying food.

Can You Fry In A Saucepan? Maybe there are better kitchen tools for frying

For example, if you use a saucepan to fry a protein, say chicken, water will start accumulating in the pan, which will prevent the chicken from frying properly.

Also, the accumulated water will prevent the oil from getting into the chicken and frying it properly, resulting in the chicken being sort of boiled instead of fried.

Further, the water will dilute the seasoning, causing your meat to be bland and missing its authentic flavours. Using a saucepan for frying can be counterintuitive and may produce the exact opposite of what you want.

Saucepans are not very good options for frying because of their tall walls and lid and cannot be used as a substitute for a frying pan. Also, saucepans cannot handle the extremely hot temperatures of boiling oil required for frying.

What To Use For Frying Instead Of A Frying Pan?

A frying pan is worth its weight in gold when it comes to frying food. But if you’re looking for an alternative to a frying pan, then some options that you can use instead of a frying pan include:

cooking steak in a frying pan
  • Skillet: Similar to a regular frying pan, a skillet has a deeper basin, which gives you more space for reducing liquids when making sauces, gravies, etc. You can use your skillet to fry and deep-fry foods, including meat, seafood, chicken and vegetables.
  • Deep Skillet: Also known as a saute pan, a deep skillet is a frying pan with sides that are higher and more slanted compared to a regular skillet. A deep skillet is perfect for reducing liquids for sauces, gravies, etc. and also an excellent option to deep-fry foods.
  • Stock Pot: These are large pots that can hold large amounts of oil required for deep frying and are a good option for frying.
  • Griddle: A griddle pan has a flat surface that allows you to fry larger batches of food. You can either place the griddle on a double burner or on an electric source and a good option for meals that need smaller amounts of oil for frying, such as hash brown, bacon, burger, etc.

Can You Fry In A Saucepan? Wrapping Up

If you want to fry food, then it is essential to pick the right pan, which should be sufficiently deep so that it has room for the oil and also the food, without the oil spilling out when you put the food in.

Also, the pan should have a heavy bottom so that the oil heats up slowly and does not burn at the high temperatures required for frying. And, all these requirements make a saucepan an unsuitable option for frying.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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