Measuring the diameter of a pan is the key to knowing if it is considered an 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, and so on. Cast iron makers measure and market their pans differently, with some using the diameter measurement of the bottom of the skillet, also called the cooking surface. This number is often smaller than the diameter across the top of the skillet because most skillets have a gentle slant in their sides. A pan may have a 6-inch-wide cooking surface but an 8-inch-wide top. In this case, our test kitchen would consider it to be an 8-inch skillet for recipe use. When we call for a 10-inch skillet in our recipes, we mean a skillet that measures 10 inches from one top edge to the opposite top edge, measuring across the center. So no matter what size is listed on the manufacturer’s website or even marked into the pan itself, a quick check with a ruler will tell you if the pan is too small, too big, or just right for a recipe.


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