What’s the difference between a sauté pan, skillet, fry pan, and omelet pan? It depends on whom you ask. Most cooking schools teach that a sauté pan has sloped sides, the better to make food jump and moisture evaporate. But most cookware manufacturers and catalogs call such slope-sided pans either a skillet, fry pan, or omelet pan. (Their size is measured by the diameter across the top, e.g., 10-inch, 12-inch.)
According to the manufacturers, a sauté pan has straight sides and is measured by its volume (e.g., 3-quart, 5-quart). Even though it contradicts the definitions we learned in culinary school, at Fine Cooking, we’ve adopted the names used by the industry to avoid confusion.