Pan frying is a form of frying characterized by the use of minimal cooking oil or fat (compared to shallow frying or deep frying); typically using just enough oil to lubricate the pan (although, in the case of a greasy food such as bacon, no oil or fats may be needed). As a form of frying, pan frying relies on oil as the heat transfer medium and on correct temperature and time to retain the moisture in the food. Because of the partial coverage, the food must be flipped at least once to cook both sides.
Generally, a shallower cooking vessel is used for pan frying than deep frying. Using a deep pan with a small amount of oil, butter or bacon grease does reduce spatter. A denser cooking vessel is better than a less dense pan because that mass will improve temperature regulation. An electric skillet can be used analogously to an electric deep fryer and many of these devices have a thermostat to keep the liquid (in this case, oil) at the desired temperature.
The fastest and best way to pan fry is to flip the cooked item very often, about every 15–30 seconds. This will over cook the outside less and get the center cooked faster.