Whether you want to cook up a huge feast or a light meal, a good-old frying pan saves the day by accommodating any style of cooking!

But, is any pan good enough to do the trick though?

To get the answer for yourself, get a small skillet, fill it up with enough ingredients (e.g. meat, vegetables) to crowd the skillet and wait for it to get cooked.What Size Fry Pan Should I Buy?

You will end up waiting for a long time just to get a pale, flavorless rubbery dish that doesn’t have the crispness you love!

Are you thinking a bigger pan might have solved this problem?

Think again!

When you use too much of a big surface for your cooking, you risk burning all the juicy bits and fats from your food! Again, the food becomes tasteless!

There is a sweet spot for the exact pan size that works the best for each task. And today we are going to try walking you through that guideline in this article.

Deciding Factor For Selecting Cooking Pan Sizes

With so many choices and different skillet sizes available in the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at first.

But once you know what you need and what is the best kind of cookware to fulfill that requirement, the rest of the process should be a piece of cake for you!

Let’s talk about what factors play a role in selecting the correct surface size for you. We are breaking down each point to give a clear idea about the deciding factors in this article.

Family Members

Do you live in a small apartment by yourself or perhaps with one roommate?

Or do you live in a big family with your parents, siblings and other members all together?

The above 2 scenarios are quite different from each other and depending on that you might have to determine your pan size.

For single cooks, we recommend using a max 10-inch skillet. An 8-inch skillet will also do fine if you aren’t looking for much versatility. Any larger than 10-inch and you will end up having dried/burnt foods that don’t taste as good.

If you have to cook for 2-4 persons at a time, then you may want to upgrade your cookware to a larger 13-13.5-inch version. Pans that are as large as this will allow you to make large batches of meat, fish or veggies for your meal preparation.

Cooking Habit

What type of food do you cook most often?

This question alone holds a lot of importance!

Suppose, you love having pancakes first thing in the morning.

Unless your tummy gets full with just one pancake, a 10-inch skillet isn’t going to be enough! You will want a 12-inch frying pan that can fit 3-4 pancakes at once. A 12-inch skillet is also good for cooking sauce in even heat without overflowing the container.

On other hand, if you are an egg person (like me!) or just want a cooking skillet that’s good for stir-frying 1-2 portions of food, then a 10-inch pan is the just the perfect one for you.


Should you buy just a single skillet or a whole set that has different ranges of sizes in it?

Well, before making that particular decision, take a look at your budget first!

If you intend to purchase just one single skillet, we suggest going with a 10-inch or 12-inch one. A 10-inch skillet is a cooking champ that can cater to most of your daily needs whereas 12-inch ones are perfect for people who like to cook large batches of foods at once.

If you have the budget for an entire set, then get all sizes of pans including small 6-inch for frying eggs, 10-inch for searing fish fillet, 12-inch for cooking meat etc.

Storage Space

Do you own a small kitchen and can’t dedicate a lot of space to storing kitchenware?

We suggest purchasing small skillets that are of 8-inch/10-inch in sizes and cook in batches for the occasional guests. If you intend to buy a skillet sets that contain pans of different sizes, make sure they are stackable and can be stored on top of each other to save space.

For people who don’t have any issues regarding space, it’s best for 10-inch/12-inch size skillets that come with lids for extra convenience. You can also install a hook on the ceiling or above your stove and hang the cookware for a more beautiful presentation of the pans you own!

Recommendation For Different Frying Pan Sizes

Still, confused which pan to buy?

Here we have created a simple chart for you that will let you know which pan is the one that can make your cooking journey a lot more enjoyable!

Frying Pan Size
Suitable For
What It’s Used For
10-121Single Fried Egg, Sauces, As A Substitute For Ramekin.
201-2Omelets, Mushroom, Tomato Or Other Small Side Dishes.
24-262-3Scrambled Eggs, Stir-Fried Veggies, Frying Medium Steaks.
26-282-4Frying Fish, Meat (Whole/Chopped/Sliced)
30-324-6Cooking Whole Fish, Large T-Bone Steaks.

Know The Pros And Cons Of The Fry Pan Size You Selected

You must have got an idea of which skillet you are going to get for your kitchen by now, right?

Before you make the final decision, go through our list of pros and cons and then decide for sure!

Mini Fry PanMini Fry Pan

The 10-12-centimeter AKA 4-inch frying pan is basically used for simple tasks like frying a single egg or serving a single serving of mushroom dishes. If you love cooking baked goods, then you can use this cookware as a substitute for ramekins.


  • Looks cute as a serving dish.
  • Easy to handle.
  • A great substitute for ramekins.


  • Can only be used for a small quantity.
  • Definitely not suitable for regular use.

Small Frying PanSmall Frying Pan

Small frying pans are around 20-centimeter or 8-inch.

If you are single/living with a roommate, this skillet would be a perfect size for you!

An 8-inch surface is commonly used for frying an egg, chicken breast and sautéing vegetables. As the small surface distributes heat evenly all over the surface, the 8-inch skillet is a perfect omelette pan size of you want to cook for one person at a time.


  • Fits easily on top of a small hob.
  • Doesn’t take up much space.
  • Easily fit in your dishwasher due to the small size.
  • Perfect for making individual meals.


  • Steak/fish doesn’t fit inside its surface.
  • Not suitable for a family-sized meal.

Medium Frying PanMedium Frying Pan

Pans that are of size 24-26 centimeters or around 10 inches are called medium frying pans.

A 10-inch cooking surface is a standard size that can be used for lots of different purposes. This classic size can accommodate a couple of fish fillets, 2 chicken breasts and other larger portions. In addition, they are pretty easy to handle as well!


  • Allows heat to distribute properly.
  • Can handle large portions of food.
  • Easy to maneuver and suitable for daily cooking.


  • Not ideal for big family meals.

Semi-Large Frying PanSemi-Large Frying Pan

If you need to feed 4 people or more, then a semi-large skillet that’s 26-28 centimeters (around 11-inch) in size is the ideal one for you.

This is a larger version than the standard size and therefore, it allows you to cook family-sized portions like mixed vegetables, steak, salmon fillets and other proteins.


  • Suitable for medium and large hobs.
  • Can accommodate family-sized meals.
  • The wide surface spreads heat quickly.


  • Not preferable for small hobs.
  • Takes up space in the kitchen.
  • A bit difficult to handle.

Large Frying PanLarge Frying Pan

This is the mega-size version for people who love to cook large batches of food and spreads the happiness of a well-prepared meal with everyone else!

Suitable for cooking at least 4-6 servings, large pans are usually 30-32 centimeters in diameter, which roughly translates to 12-inch. This cooking surface is perfect for cooking whole fish, 2 large steaks, whole chicken sears etc.


  • Suitable for large hobs.
  • Allows you to cook for a big family.


  • Heavy and hard to handle.
  • Gives hot and cold spots while cooking.

How To Measure A Frying Pan

Now that you know all about different sizes of frying pans, their uses, advantages and disadvantages, you can easily cook up a storm in your favorite skillet!

Wait, you know how to measure the pan correctly, right?

If not, just follow the mini guideline down below before you leave!

  • Place the pan top side up on a flat table/counter.
  • Grab a measuring tape and stretch it across the center of the top part of the frying pan.
  • Read the measurement in centimeter/inch from the top and write it down for reference!
  • All done! Enjoy!

Final Words

Don’t fall into the one-size-fits-all trap when purchasing your frying pan!

Due to different cooking requirements and personal taste or style, you may need more than one frying pan to bring out the best result.

No matter what size you choose, just make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions properly to maximize your performance in the kitchen.What Size Fry Pan Should I Buy? A Data Driven Answer You Should Know

**Disclaimer: Some of our links are affiliate links so we get commissions for purchases made through links in this post (at no additional cost to you).
Asma Sheikh

Hello, This is Asma Sheikh. Founder and Editor of Cookware Ninja. I'm a passionate cooker, recipe maker and writer. I love to try new recipes every day. And the interesting facts about my kitchen is, I have more than 10 different cookware sets and more than 15 individual frying pans, pots, skillets, Dutch ovens, etc. Follow Me On Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To know more about me, please check about me section.

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  1. Great guide Asma.
    I have three family members including me. Now it will be easy to choose the right size pan.

  2. Hi Ema,
    Keep visiting our blog to get more tips about kitchen and cookware.
    And thanks for sharing your opinion.

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