What's the difference between a pot and a pan?

United States
May 19, 2008 10:11am CST
I've been cooking for a number of years, so you'd think I would know the answer to this one. But, most times when I'm cooking I refer to my cookware as pots and not pans. But, I think there's an actual difference. The low lying cookware is called a pan. And, the deeper cookware are called pots. Is that right? I know it's a small thing. But, it's driving me nuts, lately. I've been calling my cookware all the wrong things. Darn cooking channel. Now they've got me confused on my favorite topic. What's your thoughts on the pot/pan name calling issue? Do you call your cookware pots or pans? Or, both?
1 person likes this
7 responses
@meiteoh (421)
• Switzerland
19 May 08
There are pans, woks and pots. A pan is flat, and used more for shallow frying or stir frying. A pot on the other hand is used when you need to cook with a lot of liquid, such as stewing, steaming, blanching and so forth. In Asian cooking, we don't use pans but woks instead. It is curved and used mainly for shallow frying, steaming, as well as deep frying. We only use pots for making soups. For me, a pot is a pot, a pan is a pan and a wok is a wok. :)
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@jerzgirl (7091)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
19 May 08
I agree with what has been said. Pots have higher sides and hold mainly liquids while pans are shorter, wider, and used for larger food items and for frying, sauteeing, grilling, etc. Sometimes I refer to everything as a pan, but I usually call the entire set either pots and pans or cookware. I kind of see a pan as being like a rectangle and pots like squares, where all squares are rectangles while not all rectangles are squares. (OK - NOW how confused are you?? LOL) But, mainly, it's the shape that determines the name.
@sconibear (7997)
• United States
19 May 08
a pan is flatter than a pot and usually used for frying, a pot is taller than a pan and is usually used for boiling or simmering.....of course there are no set rules.....if you wanted to, you could probably scramble an egg in a pot and make macaroni and cheese in a pan.....now shall we get into "dutch ovens"?
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@JoyfulOne (6243)
• United States
19 May 08
A pot is something deep that holds liquids better, and is better for boiling things...and a pan is something that is shallow and more suitable for pan frying foods, cooking eggs, and the like. A kettle is something that holds even more liquid volume than a regular pot. Lots of people get confused on this, you're probably not the only one. I think most cookbooks refer to the pan and pot as depending on what they're doing while cooking.
• United States
19 May 08
Very good points! The mystery is solved. Thanks. I will keep those points in mind when using and buying cookware in the future.
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@sophialin (2679)
• China
15 Aug 08
hi,my friend,i serve in a cookware factory and we have saucepan,stockpot,wok,frypan and saute pan.so many items but i think the difference between a pot and pan lies in their depth and figure.
@Elixiress (3899)
29 Jun 08
I would say that a pan is something that you would put on a hob to cook something in and a that a pot is a something that you would out in an oven to cook something in. So you boil eggs in a pan and cook casserole in a pot.
@Modestah (11195)
• United States
27 Jun 08
I always think of a pan as being something you sautee or pan fry in - circular and a couple inches deep, and pots as being deep for stews and sauces... but then, I do certain of my pots as being saucepans... but maybe a sauce pan is a pan that is a little bit deeper for making sauces in - such as maybe a chicken fryer might be? er, I guess I dunno.