How to deglaze a pan

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.

How to deglaze a pan

How to deglaze a pan

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You don’t have to be a chef to know how to deglaze a pan, but it’s likely that the typical layman has never even heard of the term deglaze. Deglazing a pan simply entails adding liquid to a hot pan in an attempt to remove all of the residue from the food that has deposited at the bottom. This goes for just about any dish you whip up in a skillet, whether it be searing a piece of salmon with the skin still on or caramelizing onions to garnish your homemade pizza with. For some dishes, you might want those tasty bits of food to be included in your dish, in which case, you’ll need a technique that will allow what’s been seemingly glued to the bottom of the pan to resurface.

We spoke with Dan Harris, the executive corporate chef at Chicago’s 4 Star Restaurant Group, for insight on how you can deglaze a pan effortlessly so your dish isn’t lacking in the slightest. So before you take the sponge to the pan and aggressively start removing the good-enough-to-eat residue, check out these tips!

How do you deglaze a pan?

“Deglazing is a common practice that most people have done before without even knowing it,” says Harris. The chef says the process is often done with stock or wine. However, you can even use beer, vinegar, or juice. It’s all about preference!

“After finishing searing meat, whether for a stew or braise or for a quick-seared steak or chicken, add the wine or stock to the hot pan and watch as the seared bits release from the bottom of a pan,” he says.

Of course, you’ll want to remove the meat from the pan at this point so that you don’t dry it out. Also, don’t be afraid to grab a spoon and do some gentle scraping if the residue is really stuck on there!

“It is important to note if there is any burning in the pan to discard,” says Harris. He says deglazing is not a smart idea for food particles that have burned at the bottom of the pain, though. No one wants to eat those bits anyhow—they will not be missed!

Why is it important to deglaze a pan?

“Deglazing a pan allows [you] to build flavors into sauces and braises,” says Harris. “Deglazing fortifies flavors and uses the depth of flavor [that] forms from searing meats or vegetables.” It’s basically putting leftovers you never thought of to good use.

What kinds of pans need to be deglazed?

“Deglazing works best in stainless steel pans, which conduct even heat and create excellent caramelization, which helps build excellent pan sauces and braises,” says Harris.

It was formerly believed that deglazing a cast iron skillet with an acidic liquid like wine or vinegar was unsafe in fear of the acid reacting with the exposed metal and ultimately giving the food a metallic taste. That theory has since been debunked, but there’s one condition: you have to regularly season your cast iron skillet for this to be completely safe. That way, the acid will come into contact with the seasoned layer as opposed to direct contact with the metal.

How often should you deglaze a pan?

Harris says that a pan should be deglazed after what’s called a fond has formed. A fond, he says, is simply the seared bits of food that have become stuck at the bottom of the pan.

And that’s it! Now you can start salvaging those precious food bits that will enhance the overall flavor of your dish.

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

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.

How to deglaze a pan

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!

How to deglaze a 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).

How to deglaze a pan

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.

How to deglaze a pan

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!)

How to deglaze a pan

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.

How to deglaze a pan

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.

How to deglaze a pan

How to deglaze a pan

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.

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How do you deglaze a pan with alcohol?

If you are using alcohol to deglaze, make sure to remove the pan from the heat when you’re adding the liquid in order to avoid flames. Pour in enough liquid — we used beer — to cover the pan. You only need a few tablespoons, just enough to cover the pan by about half an inch.

What can be used to deglaze a pan?

Add liquid (wine, stock, verjuice or water) to a hot frying pan or baking dish after transferring the main piece of meat to the oven or to be rested. Scrape and stir the browned bits from the pan over a moderate-high heat to melt all cooking residues into the liquid.

Can you use whiskey to deglaze a pan?

Deglaze the pan with 1/3 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey and continue to stir. Once boiling, add four cups heavy cream. Reduce the sauce by half (or until one pint remains).

What can I use to deglaze a pan Besides wine?

Red wine vinegar: The acidity in vinegar makes it a good substitute for deglazing the pan. Grape, pomegranate, or cranberry juice: These rich-flavored juices are also acidic which makes them a good substitute for deglazing a pan. Their deep fruit and berry flavors will also add depth of flavor to a recipe.

Can you deglaze with butter?

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If possible, do not use a nonstick skillet. Add 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter; reduce heat to medium. Deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet.

Can you deglaze with apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is my go-to for deglazing all those little chunks of yum that are stuck to the pan. I especially love it for onions, garlic and pork. Use it when making lightly pickled vegetables for appetizers. Apple cider vinegar adds a zippy boost of flavor, which makes it a wonderful recipe ingredient.

Can you deglaze with milk?

Almost any liquid can be used to deglaze a pan, from the neutral and minimalist plain water favoured by avant-garde chefs of the 1970s, to fanciful liquors and fruit juices. If you‘d like to use it, first deglaze with water, before adding milk or cream, and be sure to cook it briefly.

Can you deglaze with soy sauce?

I would avoid soy sauce for deglazing. It is too salty and can burn quite easily.

Can you deglaze with lemon juice?

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.

Can I deglaze in a cast iron pan?

You can‘t cook acidic foods in cast iron.

You shouldn’t cook a tomato sauce from start to finish in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven, but deglazing a cast iron pan with wine or vinegar is just fine. As long as your pan is seasoned, the acid will simply come into contact with seasoning layer.

Can you deglaze in a nonstick pan?

After you brown your food, you can deglaze by adding and mixing a liquid, such as wine, broth, or water, with seasonings, scraping and stirring together the main ingredient’s caramelized bits. Can you brown in nonstick pans? Yes, definitely.

Can you deglaze a pan with bourbon?

That bottle of wine you usually turn to to deglaze a pan and release all those flavorful, charred bits of chicken, pork or beef? Keep it corked. Instead, remove the meat from the pan and the pan from the heat, and add a quarter of a cup of low-proof bourbon, letting it simmer until it’s reduced to a thick syrup.

What can I drink to relax instead of alcohol?

So what are the healthy and enjoyable alternative drinks to alcohol?

  • Kombucha. This fermented and naturally lightly sparkling drink is made from black or green tea and a sprinkling of bacteria.
  • Alcohol-Free Sparkling Wine.
  • Sparkling Juices.
  • Booze-free beer.
  • Mocktails.
  • Alcohol-Free Gin.

How do you deglaze a pan to make sauce?

Pour in liquids: With the pan set over medium-high heat, pour in the liquid (wine, vinegar, beer, stock, juice or sauce). As the liquid simmers, scrape up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. Reduce any alcohol by half, then pour stock to make a sauce.

Can I deglaze with vodka?

The method of choice to achieve the best flavor is alcohol followed by some type of stock. While wine is most commonly used (red wine with red meat and white meat with white wine), but options include brandy, cognac, Marsala, sherry, port, or even vodka.

How to deglaze a pan

Photo: iStock

Deglazing may sound like a complicated culinary technique, but it actually couldn’t be simpler, and it’s one of the best ways to add flavour to sauces and soups.

Discover the meanings behind other popular culinary phrases with our ultimate guide to cooking terms.

What is deglazing?

When you cook food in a pan, bits of whatever you’re cooking tend to stick to the bottom, whether they’re burnt-on pieces of meat or veggies, or dried liquids. These burnt bits may seem like just another job for the dishwasher, but they’re actually the most flavourful thing in the pan – a condensed, caramelised essence of all your ingredients. Sometimes referred to as ‘fond’ or ‘sucs’, these tasty burnt bits can be used to make a sauce for your meat, or to add depth of flavour to soups.

Deglazing simply means pouring a liquid into the pan to help loosen the fond. Many different liquids can be used for deglazing, from wine and spirits to stock or fruit juices. The liquid and the fond will form the base of your sauce or soup, so it’s important to choose a liquid that complements the other flavours in the dish.

How to deglaze a pan

How to deglaze a pan

To deglaze your pan, follow this simple step-by-step guide.

Step 1. If you are cooking meat, pour away any excess fat, as this will make your sauce greasy and may cause it to split.

Step 2. Pour a little of your chosen liquid into the pan. If using alcohol, remove from the heat while pouring to avoid flames. Use just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Step 3. Bring to the boil while scraping at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula.

Step 4. Boil for a few seconds, until you have dislodged all the fond from the bottom of the pan.

Step 5. Use the liquid and fond to make sauce or soup.

Why is alcohol used for deglazing?

Using a small amount of alcohol in your cooking is a great way to ramp up the flavour intensity. Alcohol bonds with both fat and water molecules, which allows it to carry flavours and aromas in a way that other liquids can’t. Be careful not to overdo it though. If you use too much, the flavour of the alcohol itself will take over, instead of it acting as a vehicle for your other flavours. For best results, alcohol should make up no more than 1% of the dish.

How to deglaze a pan

What can you deglaze with?

When it comes to deglazing liquids, there are plenty of options. In terms of alcohol, you can use wine, beer, cider, fortified wines such as sherry or port, or spirits. White wine is often used to complement white meat, and red wine for red meat, while a neutral spirit like vodka can be used as a carrier for the existing flavours without adding any notes of its own.

Aside from alcohol, you can use stock, vinegar, soy sauce, fruit juices, or the liquid used to boil pasta or veggies to deglaze your pan. Some recipes will call for more than one liquid, with wine and stock being a popular combination.

There are some liquids that are not suited to deglazing, however. Plain water won’t carry the other flavours like alcohol can, and will add no flavour of its own, while dairy products such as milk or cream may curdle. If you want to make a creamy sauce, the best option is to deglaze using another liquid, and stir in the cream, milk or yoghurt at the last minute.

If you’re looking to improve your baking, let us give you a quick tour of some of the basics, with our guide to eight baking terms every cook should know.

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.

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.

How to deglaze a pan

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.

Deglazing a Pan

2. Place the roasting pan over medium or medium-high heat on your stove and add the liquid. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits, called fond, in the pan. You don’t want to boil the liquid just yet—the gravy will reduce once simmered in the saucepan. This step is simply to free the delicious bits from the roasting process (and make the pan much easier to clean).