Saute versus Fry Pans in Kitchen Consumer Posted June 4, 2007 Just to add my 2 cents: First, every time I read a post by slkinsey I learn something really valuable. Way back when, I bought a stainless steel All-Clad fry pan and saute pan. They're great. No complaints, though knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have bought the set these came in. There are some much lower cost options to consider, depending on how often you'll use each pan and what you'll use it for. 1. Cast iron skillet. A 12" skillet will probably cost less than $20. They're heavy and therefore aren't ideal for anything that involves a lot of moving around (like a saute). They also aren't great for stewing or boiling because I think that will work against seasoning the finish. But they are ideal, I think, for the low, slow heat you'll want for carmelizing onions. They are also ideal for pan-frying meat. I also like that they are nearly indestructible -- I like to put them directly on hot coals in the grill. 2. Aluminum frying pan from a restaurant supply store. A common brand here in Chicago is Vollrath. You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of all-aluminum in Understanding Stovetop Cookware. The main advantage, for your purposes, is that it is very cheap, say $20-$30 for a pan. This might be the way to go if you want a high-quality saute pan, but also want a fry pan around for occasional use. I have an aluminum frying pan with a non-stick coating that I think is perfect for eggs and fish: because it's cheap, I don't need to worry about the inevitable scratches in the non-stick coating.