This article was last updated on October 31st, 2020
A skillet – more commonly known in some parts of the world as a frying pan – is used predominantly for frying and searing food.
When either frying or searing food, that food is almost always being cooked at very high temperatures, typically anything between 170 and 230 degrees celsius on the stove and sometimes even higher than that.
Can I use a Dutch oven instead of a skillet? YES, you can use a Dutch oven instead of a skillet. Dutch ovens when at frying heat will cook your food evenly, not stick to the pan, and can be used on various heat sources. Because of the depth of a Dutch oven, you will also be able to prepare a variety of dishes not only fry food.
Let’s examine in greater detail both the Dutch oven and the skillet to identify what both cookers offer. You will see the standout features for yourself that you may not have realized.
Different Types of Skillets
The detail that we will reveal in this segment of the article will help simplify your decision-making process and we are sure you will know why when it does happen.
So, there are essentially five types of skillets or frying pans on the market. They include:
- Aluminum skillets
- Cast iron skillets
- Copper skillets
- Stainless steel skillets
- Clad stainless steel skillets with an aluminum or copper core
Something that is always taken for granted about aluminum skillets is that they conduct heat very well. An alternative to aluminum would be something called anodized aluminum.
In the context of this article, an anodized aluminum skillet would be a little thicker, more durable, and resistant to corrosion than your traditional aluminum skillet.
The other popular option when manufacturing skillets is copper. A compelling feature about copper skillets is that they conduct heat very well, just like aluminum skillets.
Before we move on, I would just like to make a bit of an observation about the first two skillets we mentioned.
When you watch the tv shows and movies – where cooks are in a high-pressure environment – you will normally find or spot aluminum and copper pots and skillets everywhere. Whether that be in the kitchen of a castle or that of a big and famous restaurant.
The outstanding thermal conductivity is a critical factor in most of those cases, where quality cooking has to be done at high speeds.
Stainless Steel Skillets
Nevertheless, moving on to stainless steel skillets. A compelling feature of stainless steel skillets is that they do not corrode easily, at all. They do not dent and they do not scratch.
Durability is a signature feature of your stainless steel skillet. However, when it comes to thermal conductivity and heat retention, stainless steel skillets will not do so well. They might actually irritate you a considerable amount.
Clad Aluminum Skillets
Then we have clad aluminum and copper skillets.
Cladding, in the context of cookware, is when you bond two very different metals together for the sole purpose of enhancing performance.
I have already mentioned in this article that copper and aluminum skillets have outstanding thermal conductivity.
We also now know that stainless steel skillets do not perform nearly as well in this sphere of cooking.
So, if you really like all the other features of stainless steel skillets but aren’t getting the heat that you need when frying or searing other options are needed.
Cladding becomes the next best thing and many people are happy to do that – regardless of there being extra costs and time.
Cast Iron Skillets
Finally, there are also cast iron skillets. The thing about cast iron skillets is that they take a long time to heat. However, once you have them at the heat that you want, that heat is retained very well and it is spread more evenly than on any other metal.
Cast irons can fry and sear at very high temperatures too, without there being any damage to the skillet or the food that you are cooking.
If you have not spotted the significant detail already, we will spell it out for you…Dutch Ovens are all made from cast iron. The question then becomes…
Should I Use a Dutch Oven Instead of a Skillet?
I definitely think it makes more financial sense to purchase a Dutch oven instead of a skillet or frying pan. The Dutch oven is capable of doing everything a skillet can do, primarily because it is made from cast iron.
If you run a restaurant or big household kitchen then you might be better off purchasing and using something more along the lines of aluminum, copper, or clad stainless steel because those conduct heat a lot quicker and will minimize the amount of pressure you have to deal with in the kitchen.
However, beyond that, it makes more sense to just purchase the Dutch oven because you aren’t going to be frying and searing food every day.
Some days you will want to bake – over a fire or in an oven – and other days you will want to slow cook a mean stew.
A skillet – even a cast-iron one – presents limitations in this regard. All you are ever going to get right there is prepare a few eggs, some stir fry, or saute some onions.
A Dutch oven will give you what you want in the kitchen and when you want it. That will include all of the above.
Dutch ovens are taller, deeper, and more versatile than your conventional skillet.
Seasoned Dutch Ovens Do Not Stick, While Some Skillets Do
If you have ever had to fry or sear anything, with a skillet in your home, you know better than anybody else how messy it can become. We are not all professional cooks.
Depending on how hot the skillet is, you can have oil or fat squirting all over the place, including any white walls you might have behind your stove. Cleaning dry fat is the worst experience anybody can encounter in a kitchen. Especially if the fat or oil is left to dry.
Taking safety into consideration – it is not pleasant when the hot fat lands on your skin. That hurts a little and I would always advise that you try to avoid that.
However, what will grind you more than anything else is food that sticks to the skillet. Partly because your meal will be a little ruined but primarily because it creates somewhat of a cleaning nightmare for you.
Granted that is not the case with all skillets, as some are non-stick. However, when you use a Dutch Oven you will never have to deal with any of that inconvenience because the Dutch oven is deeper but also because a seasoned Dutch oven is non-stick.
Final Thoughts – Can I Use a Dutch Oven Instead of a Skillet?
A Dutch oven can perform any task that a skillet can. Especially if that skillet is also made from cast-iron.
While skillets made from other materials have their place they will never equal the all-round performance a Dutch oven can provide.
- Heat – Hot Hot Hot
- Even conductivity
- Natural non-stick abilities
- Height/Depth to prepare other cooking styles
- Lasts forever – if cared for correctly
Good luck with preparing food in your Dutch oven and/or skillet…
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
If you are new to Dutch ovens I have an article that will help you to get started with this fantastic way of preparing your favorite dishes.