Sauté Vs. Sear: What’s The Difference?

Sauté Vs. sear – two different cooking techniques that produce results unique to each. Yet, they’re often confused. The truth is, you can use both methods to cook some delicious food! Let’s take a look at each technique so you can decide which one might work best for the dish planned on your menu this week.

Searing vs. Sautéing

The difference between a saute vs. sear is all in the heat. Sauté vs. Sear uses moderately high heat to cook food, while searing uses extremely high heat to form an aromatic, crispy crust. Searing is usually done at the beginning of meal prep or after step-by-step directions indicate to sear, and sautéing brings the food to a constant temperature. On the other hand, searing usually requires a quick flash of heat to create a thick crust.

You can choose from various equipment for searing, including pans, grills, and broilers, depending on what type of stove you have and the food you’ll be cooking.

A sauté vs sear is usually done with vegetables, fish, tofu, and meat. You can use a sear technique with fish, vegetables, tofu, and meats, but the outcome is different. When searing on high heat, the food acquires dark color on the outside and develops a deep flavor.

When sautéing food is usually cooked thoroughly, searing gives an outside crust while the inside can be rare. The good news is,  both sauteing and searing are easy to learn! Let’s look at each technique for saute vs. sear, in more detail to help you decide which one might work best for the dish planned on your menu this week.

Before searing or sautéing, remember to dry the item with a paper towel to cook more evenly.  Patting the food dry will also prevent the thing from becoming soggy from the steam of the water.


sautéing definition

Sautéing is a cooking technique that cooks food in a pan over medium-high heat. Food is usually cut into small pieces so they can cook through evenly. Sautéing uses oil to brown the food, and it’s different from frying, which employs more significant amounts of oil to submerge or surround the food.

What Does Sauté Mean?

Sautéing comes from the French word for “to jump.” Knowing this, you can see how it means that it’s all about heating your ingredients until they start jumping around in a pan! Since more people are concerned about what they put into their bodies, sautéing is a healthy cooking method. It takes mastery and experience, but if you can master the high-heat cooking technique, nothing will stop your newfound skills from making delicious meals!

We will help you saute vs. sear.

How To Sauté: learn to saute vs. sear

To sauté, you’ll want to cut foods into small pieces so they can cook through evenly—heat oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add food and quickly stir while it cooks.

It’s important to remember that vegetables will take longer to cook when sautéed, whether added at the beginning, middle, or end. Knowing that they take longer is why you may want to add the veggies like onions, peppers, or potatoes first.

What’s the Best Pan for Sautéing Meat?

To saute vs. sear you need the right pan. Sautéing requires a pan with higher sides to prevent food from flying out of the pan. You are using a kitchen utensil to move the food around in the pan quickly. The best pan for sautéing should have a flat bottom and straight sides high enough to prevent the food from jumping out of the pan. Check out our guide for the best stainless steel saute pan.

Saute vs. Sear


Searing meat is all about building flavor. And oh, what a range of flavors it creates! When seared at the right temperature, a protein from the moment it hits the pan takes us to culinary heaven.  As the aromas envelop our taste buds with flavors we never thought possible in just one meal, I will always have room on my plate for this (and for my tongue!).

 What Does Sear Mean?

To burn or scorch the surface of (something) with sudden, intense heat.

Searing is a technique that cooks food quickly over high heat. The goal of searing is to develop a thick and flavorful crust outside of meat and vegetables. On meats, it can be used to seal in juices and for flavor.

Types of Seared Meat: Tuna, Cod, Sole, (best fish for baking) Beef, Lamb, Pork Loin, Rib Eye

Best fish for searing: Tuna, Halibut, Trout, Striped Bass, Cod, Sole. These are flaky white fish that doesn’t have any dark meat, so they are the best to sear.

Fish is better to sear vs saute

When searing meats, it’s essential to use tongs or a slotted spoon to turn food instead of piercing with a fork which will release all the juices inside. IF you don’t, you will stick it and let the juices run out of the meat.

How To Sear

Hot Pan

The key to a perfect sear is in the pan. Searing your meat over high heat will give you that delicious caramelized, deep brown crust on the outside with no burned parts at all! Avoid using non-stick surfaces because they can smother and reduce searing potentials for some foods like chicken or fish; use stainless steel instead if possible.


Use an oil with a high smoke point. To get a nice, even sear on your meats and fish, use a small amount of oil. The best way to do this is by making sure the oil is coating the entire pan; you can swirl it around while it’s heating up.

The thin coat of cooking fat helps prevent sticking while also giving an ideal crusting effect. Keep in mind that the oil is not what is doing the cooking. The workhorse is the hot pan!

It’s also beneficial to pat your meat dry before adding it to hot oil; this helps prevent steaming rather than searing when exposed directly at higher heat levels (as would happen with other types of cooking).

Avoid Crowding the Pan

Make sure you have a pan large enough to hold the meat. Crowded steaming can create wet, juicy food instead of a crispy brown sear on your dish!

Fight the Urge to Meddle with the Food

Let the pan be! Give it a few minutes, and then shake the pan. If you’re lucky, your meat will release from itself naturally when appropriately seared — so don’t peek under or move things around because this is what works best for achieving that delicious sear on both sides with no sticking at all.

What Does Pan-Seared Mean?

Pan-searing adds delicious texture and color to meat, fish, and vegetables by using high temperatures. Unlike what you may believe, searing does not seal in flavor. Instead, it produces a nicely caramelized surface on your food, resulting in perfectly crisp scallops while creating crackling flavorful skin from fish! For best results, use tri-ply pots with stainless steel as an inner layer between aluminum, which allows them more conductivity and even heating surfaces.

 When Searing Meat, Which Pan Is Best?

A searing pan only needs low sides or high heats that cause ingredients to jump less frequently. When searing, it’s best to use a pan that can transfer heat quickly, such as cast iron or tri-ply aluminum. 

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How to get the perfect sear on a steak?

 – Pat the steaks down with paper towels

  • – Season on both sides – do not pre-season the meat because the salt will draw out the liquid.
  • – Use a high temperature to heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan.
  • – After the pan is hot, then add 1-2 TBS of oil. Coat the pan by swirling the oil around.
  • – Depending on the thickness of the steaks, you will leave it alone to sear on each side for 3-6 minutes. The steak should come loose on its own without you prying it off of the pan.
  • – Practice makes perfect! especially when you want to sear vs. saute



Sautéing vs searing is a cooking technique that cooks food in a pan over moderate heat, and food is usually cut into small pieces to cook through evenly. Searing is a technique used to form an aromatic, crispy crust on foods over high heat. Both methods are easy to learn, and either one you apply will be delicious!