Copper frying pan dated 10th to 3rd century B.C., Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. The handle is ornamented with floral engravings and ends up in the shape of a goose head.
Copper frying pans were used in ancient Mesopotamia. Frying pans were also known in ancient Greece where they were called tagēnon (Greek: τάγηνον) and Rome, where they were called patella or sartago. The word pan derives from the Old English panna. Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the mid-19th century, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.
Frying pan relatives
A versatile pan that combines the best of both the sauté pan and the frying pan has higher, sloping sides that are often slightly curved. This pan is called a sauteuse (literally a sauté pan in the female gender), an evasée (denoting a pan with sloping sides), or a fait-tout (literally “does everything”). Most professional kitchens have several of these utensils in varying sizes.
A “rappie pan” is a pan used to make rappie pie, an Acadian potato dish. The pan is made from aluminum or stainless steel.
Sausages being pan fried in a frying pan
Traditionally, frying pans were made of cast iron. Although cast iron is still popular today, especially for outdoor cooking, most frying pans are now made from metals such as aluminium or stainless steel. The materials and construction method used in modern frying pans vary greatly and some typical materials include:
Aluminium or anodized aluminium
Clad stainless steel with an aluminium or copper core
A coating is sometimes applied to the surface of the pan to make it non-stick. Frying pans made from bare cast iron or carbon steel can also gain non-stick properties through seasoning and use.