The Differences between Deep Frying vs Pan Frying: Which to choose

deep frying vs pan frying
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Trying to decide whether deep frying or pan frying is the better method? Overall, they're both great methods and used widely in multiple cultures. When it comes down to it, your preference will likely depend on the different benefits and faults of each technique. In this informational article, we'll cover what exactly each method entails, their overall differences, and their pros and cons.

What is Deep Frying?

Deep frying is the act completely submerging a food into hot oil to cook. When one thinks of deep frying they likely think of a deep fryer. A deep fryer is an appliance that has the capabilities of holding hot oil. It usually contains features such as an adjustable temperature setting, a basket to hold food, and a lid to cover the top of the deep fryer. Although, you can still deep fry on the stove with a deep pot and lid.

What is Pan Frying?

Pan frying is the act of using a shallow pan filled with some oil and cooking food over a heating element such as a stove. There usually isn't a lot of oil used in this method, as the oil may or may not even cover the entire width of the pan.

The Differences between Deep Frying and Pan Frying

The core difference between deep frying and pan frying is that in deep frying the food is being completely submerged in oil, while in pan frying, the food will fry on top a small amount of oil. 

The benefits of Deep Frying

In comparison to pan frying there are a ton of benefits for deep frying. Here is an easy to read list that covers each benefit:

  • Deep frying takes much less time to cook since the food is submerged into 325°+ oil, where no air is present.
  • The food turns out much crispier because the submerged oil ensures the outside cooks evenly.
  • If used correctly, deep frying can be a little safer. They often have lids to contain oil and their bases are sturdy and difficult to tip over. With pan frying, you may be exposed to more open grease/oil scenarios.

The benefits of Pan Frying

  • Requires less equipment. Most people already own a set of pans. Not everybody owns a deep fryer. If you're pan frying, you likely don't have to worry about getting additional equipment.
  • Pan frying also requires less oil. Because the food isn't getting submerged, you'll be using a fraction of the oil that you would be using to deep fry.
  • Pan frying may be considered healthier. While neither are truly considered healthy, pan frying is considered the healthier choice because you use much less oil.

Deep Frying vs Pan Frying Benefits Chart

Deep Frying

Pan Frying

♥ Quicker

Takes Longer

Requires more oil/equipment

♥Minimal equipment/oil

♥Crispier Results

Not as Crispy


Not as Safe

Not as Healthy


Myths about Deep Frying vs Pan Frying

Some people have ideas about deep frying or pan frying that are simply not true. Here we'll show you some misconceived perceptions about deep frying vs pan frying.

Health wise, there isn't a big gap between deep frying and pan frying. This is because while deep frying, the whole food truly doesn't cover in oil. Water doesn't mix with oil when oil maintains a hot temperature. So in reality, when you're deep frying, the oil doesn't penetrate through the food. Instead, the oil will cook the outside exterior, and steam will cook the interior. That's why deep fried food remains crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, not oily on the inside.

You don't need to have a deep fryer to deep fry. While it's easier to simply use a deep fryer, all you really need is a deep pot and oil to deep fry effectively. We feel this method is much less safe, but people feel comfortable doing it all the time.

Which Method to Choose

We're not going to say deep frying is better than pan frying or vise versa. In reality, they both have their own sets of benefits. We've presented the pros and cons of each method, and you'll have to consider those carefully. However, there's one last thing to consider. What you're trying to deep fry/pan fry matters. For example, bacon is innately greasy, and you really don't need any additional grease from a pan or fryer. Foods such as fries simply make more sense in the deep fryer than trying to pan fry. Sometimes, its good to be set up with the abilities of deep frying and pan frying for all your different dishes. 


Hopefully you've learned about the differences of pan frying and deep frying. Each method has their own set of benefits and it's difficult to limit yourself to one method exclusively. Ultimately, it'll be about what your most comfortable with. 

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