With just a bit of liquid and a few minutes, you can take your meat to the next level.
If you’ve ever cooked pan-seared steak, sautéed vegetables, or roasted a turkey for Thanksgiving, you’re likely familiar with the concept of brown bits (what the French call fonds) of food sticking to the bottom of a pan. While you may think it’s best to let the brown bits be, it’s important to remember that they’re loaded with flavor and can help create the base of a fantastic, savory sauce. In order to maximize the flavor in the pan, you need liquid such as chicken stock, wine, water, lemon juice, or even a pat of butter to release the bits from the pan. This technique is known as deglazing, and it’s a popular one used by professional chefs.
“A lot of people think it’s only worth deglazing if you’re making a pan sauce, but even if you’re just searing chicken, it’s worth deglazing because otherwise you’re leaving so much flavor behind,” says chef Adrienne Cheatham, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. Below, we explain how to deglaze a pan and share some of the best recipes that utilize this technique.
How to Deglaze a Pan
“If you’re deglazing to add additional flavor to the meat, do it in the last couple minutes of the cooking process,” says Cheatham. Deglazing is just adding a small amount of liquid to the pan and basting the protein—chicken, steak, pork, fish, or even tofu—with the flavorful glaze. You can even water instead of butter or wine; the liquid will still bring out all of the flavor trapped in the fonds.
Deglazing to Make a Pan Sauce
A pan sauce is an easy and delicious way to dress meat without the fuss of making a complicated bordelaise or bearnaise sauce. If you want to create a rich, flavorful pan sauce, use the drippings from meat such as steak or turkey when you cook them in a stainless-steel or cast-iron pan. The surface of these pans lend themselves to creating those flavorful brown bits, which caramelize throughout the cooking process. The nature of nonstick pans means that nothing will ever stick completely to the bottom of the pan, which prevents the caramelization process from occurring.
Once you’ve selected the right type of pan, you’re well on your way to creating a flavorful dish. After you’ve finished cooking a piece of meat, transfer it from the pan to a plate to begin the deglazing process. Add a couple of tablespoons of wine (usually white wine for poultry and red wine for red meat or pork), lemon juice, or even beer. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes and stir frequently, which will help to release the fonds from the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has reduced, strain it and serve alongside your meat for a delicious dinner.
Deglazing a pan involves adding liquid, such as stock or wine, to a pan to loosen and dissolve food particles that are stuck to the bottom after cooking or searing. The cooked food particles, known as fond, are the source of immense flavor. The flavorful mixture produced by deglazing can be used to make a sauce.
Why Should You Deglaze?
Deglazing allows you to loosen the flavorful fond from the bottom of the pan and then use those bits to add flavor to your sauce. This simple technique is one professional chefs use frequently and can easily be incorporated into your home cooking routine. You do not need any complicated tools to deglaze, just a pan, some liquid, and a flat wooden spoon.
How to Deglaze a Pan
Deglazing works best if you have just roasted a piece of meat in a pan in the oven, or maybe sautéed it in a skillet. Here’s how:
- Remove any burnt, blackened bits from the bottom of the pan prior to deglazing, and pour out most of the fat left in the pan.
- Pour about a cup of cold liquid into the hot pan. As the liquid sizzles, use a wooden spoon to scrape along the entire bottom of the pan to loosen the fond.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until it’s reduced by about half.
What Liquids to Use
You’ll get excellent results using wine, stock, juice, vinegar, or even beer. Likewise any leftover cooking liquid from other ingredients, like the water you simmered beans in. But don’t use plain water as it won’t add any flavor.
Creating a Pan Sauce
Once you’ve deglazed and reduced, simply season with salt and pepper and serve it as a simple pan sauce.
How to Deglaze a Pan
Deglazing a pan is the first step in making a number of sauces (particularly pan sauces), and a cooking technique that every home chef should know how to do. The process of deglazing uses a liquid to “free-up” or pull off crystallized bits of protein, called fond, from the bottom of the pan.
As you cook food, especially meats, little bits of sugar and protein will stick to the pan and caramelize, which develops and deepens their flavor. Those bits, the fond, occur when you sear any piece of meat or fish, but can also develop with vegetables, and can do a lot to add flavor to a pan sauce.
Check out this video demonstration, where I deglaze a pan using a bit of sherry vinegar.
How to deglaze
- To deglaze your pan, remove the food that you’ve been cooking and set aside (for meat it’s great to do this while the meat rests)
- The pan needs to be hot, deglazing a cold pan will be difficult
- Take a look at how much oil/fat is left in the pan, you’ll want to remove most of the fat, but it does not need to be totally dry
- Add enough liquid (your deglazing liquid) to the pan to coat the bottom of the pan by about a quarter to half an inch at least, but you can add more if you’d like to make more sauce.
- Using a wooden spoon (I don’t like to use metal) scrape the bottom of the pan to help loosen the fond and dissolve it into the liquid – if the pan is hot it should not take much pressure to loosen the fond
- Let your liquid reduce and you can make your sauce
What can you deglaze with?
Well, you have a lot of options. Most commonly, I end up using wine, either red or white (don’t use cooking wine – use something you’d like to drink). Wine has its own great flavor that it brings to a sauce and by adding it to the pan first; you give it a chance to reduce and to cook off the alcohol.
But you don’t have to use wine if you don’t want to, or don’t have it handy. You can use stock, fruit juice, water, or anything else. What you should do is think through what kind of sauce you want to make, and then find a liquid that will support your sauce.
Check out some of the ideas on the site for various pan sauces, and next time you’ve got some fond, don’t let it go to waste.
Deglazing a pan after searing is an obvious, almost reflexive part of cooking a steak or a pork chop, but it’s not so common when frying bacon. But like chops and steaks, bacon is just a piece of meat, and deglazing—aka scraping all those delicious browned bits up with the help of little liquid—ensures you don’t leave any flavor in the pan.
I usually cook big batches of bacon in the oven , but the other day I decided to fry up a few strips for a sandwich and reached for my ( cold ) stainless steel pan. Once the strips were nice and crisp (and draining on paper towels), I noticed that—in addition to the obvious grease—a fair amount of fond had been left in my pan.
The Secret to Great Bacon Is a Cold Pan
Crisp bacon and its byproduct, bacon grease, are both very good, and when cooking the strips of…
If I had been making an egg sandwich, I would have left the grease in the pan and fried the thing directly in the grease, letting the white latch on to all the little browned bits. But I wasn’t making an egg sandwich. I was making a bacon sandwich on white toast, so I poured the excess grease into my grease crock and deglazed the pan with a little vermouth, scraping up those little bits with a wooden spoon. Once the vermouth reduced, I had a sweet and salty liquid that was studded with little bits of burnt bacon. I let if cool, then mixed it with a big spoonful of mayo and a squirt of Dijon. Then I spread the mixture on my bacon sandwich. Then I was happy (for a bit).
Beyond excellent sandwich spreads, deglazed bacon goodness can be saved and added to pasta sauces, soups, stews, salad dressings or anything that needs a salty, cured pork boost. You can also add a big ol’ knob of butter for a really dank pan sauce . Wine and vermouth both make excellent deglazing liquids, but if you are in the habit of cooking bacon in a cast iron or carbon steel pan, reach for something non-acidic (like stock) so as not to mess up the finish. And, if you happen to be a ride-or-die bacon baker, don’t worry; you can deglaze a sheet pan . (Just be sure to pour off the grease first. I would hate it if you splattered yourself with hot grease.)
The Thanksgiving dinner table isn’t complete without a rich gravy made from the turkey drippings. Follow this easy visual step-by-step for a fool-proof way to make a great pan sauce.
The turkey is roasted and resting on the cutting board. Now it’s time to turn those pan drippings into liquid gold, aka, the gravy. A pan sauce or gravy is the best way to make sure those bits of meat and drippings from either your Thanksgiving turkey or a weeknight chicken turn into the most luscious gravy you’ve ever tasted. Once you master this simple technique for deglazing a pan, you’ll be looking for any reason to make a pan sauce every night.
Follow these step-by-step instructions for a foolproof pan sauce guests will keep coming back for. The guide below is for the Classic Turkey Gravy recipe. This recipe calls for chicken stock, but you could use wine. Feel free to try something different, like oregano instead of thyme, or a delicately flavored oil like walnut oil instead of canola oil.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
How to Make a Pan Sauce
1. Line a large glass measure with a zip-top bag. Carefully pour the drippings from the roasting pan into the bag. Wait about 10 minutes—the fat will rise to the top. Lift the bag out of the glass measure and snip a small hole in the bottom corner. Immediately pinch the hole closed. Let the juices drain slowly from the hole into the empty glass measure, pinching the hole closed again just as the fat layer reaches the bottom of the bag. Discard the bag with the fat.
Sear the Meat
As you’re searing a pork chop on the stovetop, you’ve got all the makings of a good sauce right in front of you. As the pork renders out, brown bits collect in the pan. Fancy chefs call it fond, we’ll call it flavor.
Remove the Meat
After you finish and remove the pork chop, leave the heat on high, and take care not to burn the aromatics like garlic and thyme sprigs.
Add Your Liquid of Choice
Immediately add your choice of liquid (about 1/4 cup will do). While we used red wine, you can deglaze with just about any liquid. Apple cider, beer, stock, vermouth, even orange juice: it’s all fair game. The liquid is going to sizzle from the heat and smell wonderful.
Dislodge and Scrape
Tip the pan to dislodge the brown bits and start scraping everything up in the pan—this should only take about a minute.
Scrape and Reduce
Continue scraping and reducing the liquid. Once the brown bits are dislodged and the liquid begins to take on a darker hue, your pan is deglazed and your sauce is ready. Pour it over the pork chop and pat yourself on the back for finding flavor fast.
Since 1995, Epicurious has been the ultimate food resource for the home cook, with daily kitchen tips, fun cooking videos, and, oh yeah, over 33,000 recipes.
You’ve just browned a half pound of ground beef, sweated a chopped onion until translucent, and cooked that chopped garlic until fragrant. Time to reserve all that goodness and drain off any excess fat. What you’re left with—crispy, caramelized brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan—are the makings of a killer pan sauce. All you need to do is add a little liquid (water, stock, and wine are the most common options) and scrape them up with a wooden spoon. But if you’re renowned food writer-cum-personality Nigella Lawson, you reach for the nearest bottle of fortified wine instead.
The Hunt for the Greatest Cookbooks of All Time
That’s the tip we came across while combing through her cookbook How to Eat while considering it for our Epicurious Cookbook Canon. “I don’t drink much, and so don’t tend to have bottles of wine open,” explains Lawson. “So if I need alcohol for cooking, I need to have it in the sort of bottles that come with a screw-top.”
It may sound a little unconventional at first, but it solves a problem with a brilliantly simple solution. Want to avoid using half a cup of red or white wine, only to have the rest of the bottle go unused and spoil after a week? Look to fortified wines like Marsala, vermouth, and dry sherry. Just a splash of any will form a flavorful base of a quick pan sauce, and they’ll last for months and months after being opened. Making a dish that calls for red wine? Use Marsala. If you’re looking for a white wine substitute, turn to vermouth. Or throw the whole white substitution angle out the window and turn to sherry—it’s dry, yeasty notes adds a different flavor entirely.
Making sure you have any of these fortified wines on hand means that you’ll never be without delicious pan sauce ever again. Now, pour yourself a glass of sherry (or make a classic martini with that vermouth) and drink to Nigella.
Do you know how to deglaze a pan? It’s fast and easy, and you should never skip this step! It will help add an extra kick of flavor to any dish.
How to Deglaze a Pan
After you sear a piece of meat or saute some vegetables in a pan, you’re often left with some browned bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan. This can happen even if you’re using non-stick pans. Those browned bits on the bottom of your pan have lots of flavor, and it’s a shame to waste them by just washing them away. You can easily lift all those browned bits up, and save that flavor, by deglazing your pan. It’s easy, and just takes a few minutes!
Step 1 – Sear meat and/or saute veggies. I was getting ready to make a roast in my slow cooker. I had already seared the outside of the roast in my Dutch oven, and then I sauteed carrot, celery, and onion in a little salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Step 2 – Transfer the cooked food into another dish. I poured all these pretty veggies into my slow cooker. If you’re done cooking, just transfer them into a bowl or onto a plate. Then check out all that flavor that’s left on the bottom of the pan!
What Can I Use to Deglaze a Pan?
Step 3 – Pour in some broth. Keep the pan on the heat – you want the pan to stay nice and hot for this. Just pour in enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan. I used beef broth, since I was making a beef roast. But you could use chicken broth, vegetable broth, water, or even beer or wine (choose a dry white wine if you’re cooking with chicken or pork, or a dry red wine if you’re cooking with beef).
Step 4 – Scrape the bottom of the pan. As you pour the broth in, you should hear a nice sizzle if your pan is still hot. That sizzling action is going to help lift all those yummy browned bits off the bottom of your pan. Help it out a little by gently scraping with a wooden spoon.
Step 5 – Let it boil. You started with a hot pan, and you just poured a little bit of liquid in it. It should just take a minute or two to come to a boil. Let it boil for another minute or two, to get the rest of the flavors off the bottom of the pan. You can gently scrape the sides of the pan, too. The steam from the boiling liquid will help the stuff on the sides come off. Just don’t let it run dry, or you’ll be back to square one. (And possibly have a burned pan, too!)
Step 6 – Pour out the flavorful liquid. That’s it, just pour the liquid wherever you need it! I added it to my slow cooker. If you sauteed veggies as the first step in a recipe, use the deglazed liquid in your recipe. If you’re done cooking, let it boil a few minutes longer to thicken, and you’ve got a flavorful sauce to top your dish.
That’s it! It should take less than 5 minutes to deglaze a pan, and you just rescued a lot of stuck-on flavor that would have otherwise been wasted.