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Whether you decide to buy a new one for your kitchen or pretend to be a professional chef on your final spying mission, there may be times when you want to learn the difference between a pan and a frying pan. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy.

As Business Insider explains, the sides of a frying pan extend straight up from its bottom, while the sides of a pan protrude at an angle. Since the diameter of each pan is measured from the edge – not the bottom – the cooking surface of a pan is smaller than that of a frying pan. For example, if you buy a 12 inch pan, you only have about 10 inches of cooking space. You get the full foot with a 1

2 inch frying pan.

Without angled sides, a frying pan can hold more liquid, and that liquid won’t spill onto your stove (or feet) as easily as it does in a pan. So if you’re cooking with a generous amount of sauce, wine, oil, or any other liquid that you could easily spill, it’s best to use a skillet over a frying pan.

However, skills have their own abilities. According to Serious Eats Chef J. Kenji López-Alt, the smaller base of a pan is lighter than a frying pan, making it easier to manipulate with just one hand. And these sloped sides come in handy when you’re trying to toss food like a pro, making sure the contents cook evenly. In other words, frying is actually a job that is best for pans, not frying pans.

If you only have enough space (in your kitchen or on your budget) for a shallow pan, López-Alt recommends the pan because roasting is so common in recipes.

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