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Saute Pan vs Wok: What Are the Main Differences?

Saute Pan vs Wok: What Are the Main Differences?

Whether you’re a seasoned chef, or an amateur home cook, you’ve likely considered upgrading your cookware or expanding your set of equipment.

After all, there are a wide range of tools available, and each one is a unique and valuable addition to any kitchen, big or small.

When it comes to choosing a new cooking appliance to go with your other kitchen appliances, you should be considering what holes you need to fill. 

For example, if you’re looking to expand your collection of pans, you may be considering such staples as the wok or the sauté pan.

Both of these pans are great and versatile pieces of cookware that are primarily used for frying food—however, despite their similarities of purpose, there are some significant differences between the two.

Depending on the foods you like to cook, or that you would like to cook, you may find that one option suits you better than the other.

A wok is a cooking pan that originated in China and has long been used throughout Asia.

This pan has become increasingly popular in Western kitchens as well, and more and more of them are appearing in home kitchens..

The wok is characterized by the use of a rounded steel plate on which food is placed and stir fried. 

On the other hand, a sauté pan is a straight-side pan that is often used to cook meat dishes such as steak or pork chops.

In this article, the key differences between these two pieces of cookware will be explained to help you choose the best one for your cooking needs. 

Shape and Size

A significant difference between a wok and sauté pan is the shape. A wok is made up of a wide bowl-shaped base and long, narrow handles extending from the edges.

A sauté pan, on the other hand, is like a shallow cylinder, with a round shape and straight sides. Either type of pan can be used to cook various kinds of foods. 

Another difference between a sauté pan and an induction wok is that a wok made of ferrous material and can heat food more evenly.

A good-quality wok heats your food evenly, distributes heat evenly over your whole surface, and cooks your foods faster than ever before.

Another difference is in the size of the pan. Woks tend to run larger than a sauté pan, which means they tend to be better for cooking large batches of food than pretty much any other style of pan.

Their Materials 

Other major differences that you will notice between these two pans are the materials that they are made from. If you have a traditional wok, then you will probably notice that they are made from cast iron.

The advantage here is that they cook your food relatively fast and they tend to be able to handle a lot of heat in order to get a good result. 

On the other hand, sauté pans are made from steel, which tends to make them less expensive than cast iron.

Heat Conduction 

Heat conduction is another key difference between a wok and sauté pan. Their true differences lie in the way in which they cook the food.

Due to a wok’s structure and material, heat gets spread evenly across the entire bowl, which is what makes it so ideal for stir-frying—having even heat surrounding the food means all of the food will cook at the same rate and to the same degree.

A sauté pan, on the other hand, concentrates the heat on the bottom of the pan, which is what makes this kind of cookware good for cooking large, flat cuts of meat.

A good sauté pan should still conduct heat throughout the entire bottom of the pan, even if it is not meant to evenly heat the sides.

The Food You’re Cooking

udon stirfry noodles with shrimp and vegetables in wok pan

The last difference between sauté pan and wok are based on what you are cooking. The benefits of using a wok instead of a sauté pan is that they cook faster than other types of pans, which is why some people prefer them over other styles of pans.

Think fried noodles, like Udon (which made our list of foods starting with U). They will fry up faster in a hot wok.

Also, because of the size of the wok, they can be used for large amounts of food at one time rather easily, allowing you to keep your meal moving along much more quickly than if you had to wait to do several batches in turn in a smaller kind of pan, or having to juggle several different pans at once.

If you want to cook in a hurry without having to worry about juggling several pans or timings for different parts of your meal, then you should consider buying a large wok.

Sauté cooking is basically a technique in which you cook food in a small amount of oil and high heat.

The reason why sautéing is so popular is that it gives you tender, moist and flavorful meat while also making it easy to create a complex depth of flavor by creating a char or crust on the exterior of the cut of meat, or whatever else you cook in a sauté pan.

When it comes to choosing a size for a sauté pan, there are two main factors that you need to consider: the type of dish you want to make and the amount of oil you will need.

If you are cooking meat, you will need a large sized pan, and if you are cooking fish or poultry, you will want to choose a smaller size.

Some other common foods that you can cook in a small pan include vegetables like broccoli, celery, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms and bell peppers.


Both woks and sauté pans for frying are extremely versatile and easy to use, so it is a good idea to compare the two cooking methods to help determine which style of cookware would suit you the best.

When you have made your decision, then you will be able to prepare all of your meals with a better-quality cooking experience than you have been able to enjoy thus far.

The best way to compare is to test out a few different ones and see which one you like the most.

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