What is Pan Seared and How to Do It?

Okay, so you might have just eaten one of the most delicious meals you have ever tasted. You want to try to re-create it, so you ask your friend how. Your friend might have told you that the dish was pan-seared.

Now, what is pan-seared? Well, allow us to help you with that!

Today, let’s answer that question and talk all about pan-searing.

Without further delay, let’s dish this out.

What is Pan-Searing?

pan seared

Okay, first things first. What is pan-searing?

Have you ever watched a few episodes of a cooking show, you probably already have an idea what pan-searing is? You may not know it by name, but you have probably seen this cooking method.

Have you ever seen a chef cooking up in a pan and scooping up drippings just to drizzle it over the meat again? If so, you have most probably watched someone searing already.

However, that’s not all there is to pan-searing.

Pan-searing is a cooking method done in a hot pan to create a delicious exterior, often referred to as the crust. It’s similar to other cooking techniques like frying. We will talk a little more about this matter in a bit. However, that means if you know how to fry, you probably already have an idea about the basics of searing. With that said, let’s go ahead and talk about how pan-searing is done.

How Do You Pan Sear?

Before we start, it might be the best time to note that patience is a virtue when it comes to searing. There’s going to be a lot of waiting. We know waiting for food is not all that fun, but we believe the steak is worth the wait!

Step 1: Preparations

how to pan sear

Before you start searing, you want to make sure everything is ready.

So, for the preparations, you’d want to get your tools ready along with the star of the show – whatever meat or protein you’re cooking.

For the pan, you’d want to go for a big one, one that can hold your meat, that is. If possible, it would also be great if you could grab one that offers extra room. The extra space would come in handy later on.

For the meat, you’d want to season it already, so it’s ready to go once the pan heats up.

Step 2: Heating the Pan

After your preparations are complete, you’d want to start the process by heating your pan. Put your chosen pan, and you’d usually crank the heat to medium-high or high. See what the recipe recommends.

Step 3: Adding the Oil

what does pan seared mean

After a few minutes, you’d want to add your oil or fat. Again, you wait.

Step 4: Adding the Meat

When the oil begins to simmer or lightly smoke, it’s time to put your meat in there. Depending on the recipe, you might want to turn the heat down a bit by now. Once your protein is in there, the waiting game continues. This time, you’re waiting for that lovely brown. You might even want to occasionally add some butter to help achieve that brown we’re looking for.

Don’t forget to sear both sides!

sear pan

Step 5: Baste

Earlier, we mentioned chefs scooping up drippings only to drizzle it all over the meat again. I don’t know about you, but that always looked like such a professional move to me. It may look that way to you too, but trust us, it’s simple, and you can do it too!

To do this technique, you’ll have to make sure you have extra fat in your pan. However, you don’t want to put the fat at the start as it might burn. You would want to put it in the middle of the process, say, a little before the meat cooks.

When the fat melts, slightly tilt the pan. Some say to tip it at an angle toward you, but you can incline it in any way that feels most comfortable for you. What you want to achieve here is for the fat to pool.

That way, it would be easier to scoop it up. Of course, don’t forget to be careful! You might want to use a big spoon, that way, you won’t have to get that close to the pan when doing this step.

This method is known as basting, and it is a common step when pan-searing. It is a method known to keep the meat moist. Additionally, it is known to add flavor to it as well.

Pan-Searing VS Pan-Frying

As you might have noticed, pan-searing is not all that different from pan-frying. If you’re a little confused, you don’t have to worry. Let’s clear some things up in this section.

One of the main differences between pan-frying and pan-searing is that the first is a complete process while the other is mostly known to be part of a larger process. Usually, pan-searing is only the first step in some meals.

Another difference some like to point out is the difference between the temperature and cook-time. Pan-frying doesn’t usually need that high of a temperature as pan-searing. Additionally, the former is also known to be slower than the latter.

Things to Keep in Mind

Now, that you know about pan-searing and how to do it, let’s talk about some things you might want to keep in mind.

The Great Debate

Everyone agrees that pan-searing is a cooking method or technique. However, different parties have varying opinions on its specifics.

For one, it is possible to hear some people say it is a technique to seal in juices while others say otherwise.

With that said, if you want to get any additional advice from friends when it comes to pan-searing, it might be best to get advice from different people. This way, you can compare and contrast and see what would work for you.

What Pan to Use?

what is pan searing

With that said, here is some advice from us.

If you have various pans, try pan-searing with each to determine the best fit. That is because some would say that stainless steel pans are not good pans for pan-searing. Some say otherwise. We believe it would be best to see if it would work for you. You know what they say: seeing is believing.

However, if you want a tried and tested choice, you might want to go for a cast-iron skillet. Many seem to agree that it is one of the good choices. It is actually the most common go-to for pan-searing.

Choose Your Fighter

There are several oils and fats you can use. If you want to go for something simple, you can reach for your trusty vegetable or canola oil. You can even use butter! If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, you can try grapeseed oil. Now, if you want something fancy, you might want to opt for olive or avocado oil.

However, you might want to keep in mind that certain oils and fats have pros and cons. Depending on what dish you’re making, one might be better than the other. With that said, some of the top picks for pan-searing are olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

Pan-Searing Recipes

pan sear

Now you know what pan-searing is and just how to do it. What better way to celebrate than to put your new knowledge to use? Here are some tasty recipes you might want to try out:

Pan-Seared Steak: If we’re talking about pan-searing, then, of course, we can’t forget about steak! If you’re in the mood for some steak, then you don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant anymore. You can now make some delicious steak at the comfort of your own home!

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts: Okay, so maybe you’re not in the mood for some steak. Maybe we can interest you in some pan-seared chicken breasts. What’s In The Pan claims this recipe is easy and turns out excellent every single time! Now, what else would you want in a pan-seared chicken breast recipe?

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce: Is pan-seared chicken still not tickling your fancy? Do you have some fish? Well, maybe you’d like to try to make this pan-seared salmon instead! It’s easy and fast, great if you just can’t wait to dig in!

Now, these are just some of the dozens and dozens of dishes that you can do. Now that you know how to pan-sear, many doors to great meals have just opened. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore. There are lots of pan-seared dishes waiting for you!


What is pan-seared? Well, we hope you’re no longer wondering!

Now, you know what pan-searing is and how to do it too. It’s time to recreate that dish and make it your own!

If you have other questions such as this one, you might want to check out our past discussions. We’ve got pan-tastic answers for your pan problems!

We’ve got pans and puns. A great duo, don’t you think?

searing pan

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