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The terms fry pan and sauté pan are often tossed around interchangeably, but there's a difference. A fry pan is a long-handled skillet with moderately-high, slightly sloped sides, which ensure that steam does not collect inside and food browns efficiently. It's useful for all types of pan-frying with moderate amounts of oil, (as opposed to deep-frying where food is totally immersed in hot oil). This is the pan to grab for frying up crispy favorites like crab cakes and hashbrowns or golden, fluffy omelettes. A sauté pan is a cross between a fry pan with its long handle and a saucepan with its deep, straight sides. It is used for cooking foods in a small amount of oil, and then shaking the pan or tossing the ingredients so they don't stick, burn or dry out. Its wide cooking surface allows food to brown well and its depth and straight sides allow you to whip up a sauce to accompany the chicken you just seared in the same pan. This multipurpose kitchen workhorse is particularly great for recipes that require additional cooking beyond sautéing, like osso busco or chicken fricassee. If you have to choose one, pick a saute pan for its versatility.