How to Sauté Meat and Fish: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow our guide to learn the basics for scrumptious sautéing, then watch our how-to video.
Related To:

Master these simple techniques and you'll notice the delicious difference.

Step 1: Prep
Here's what you'll need: a heavy-bottomed skillet for meat and a nonstick pan for fish. Grab some tongs or a sturdy spatula. Preheat your pan over medium-high heat. You'll know it's hot when you can feel the heat by placing your hand over the pan.

Step 2: Season the Meat
Make sure your meat is at room temperature and then season on one side. This side will go in the pan first.

Step 3: Add Oil
Add some oil to the pan, but just a few tablespoons. Tip: Olive oil or a blend of olive oil and butter will work well. The pan is ready when it starts to shimmer. You need the heat to get the sear.

Step 4: Start Sauteing
Minimize splatter by putting the meat in like this, away from you.

Step 5: Don't Touch
Season the top side. Don't touch the meat or move it in the pan. Let the pan and the heat do all the work. The pros know that's what helps to make a good sear.

Step 6: Watch for the Cook Line
You want to see it cook about two-thirds of the way through — this is called the cook line.

Step 7: Flip Away From You
Now you're ready to flip — again, move it away from you. Lower the heat to finish cooking on the second side. Make sure to cook the chicken until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Step 8: Cooking Chicken
Cook all the way through. The chicken should be firm to the touch, yet give slightly.

Step 9: Blot to Remove Excess Oil
Blot on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Step 10: Sautéing Fish
For fish, skin side down equals crispy skin.

Step 11: Watch for the Cook Line
Look for the cook line again.

Step 12: Flip the Fish
Use a spatula to turn and flip the fish away from you like before. Tip: The USDA says to cook fish to an internal temp of 145 degrees F.

Step 13: Use This Technique on Other Meats
Try this technique on all small cuts of meat, including chicken thighs, pork chops, steaks and any thick fillet of fish. Watch our how-to video for more.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Roast Meats: A Step-by-Step Guide

Flip through our guide for the proper way to roast meats, then watch our how-to video.

A Guide to Buying and Cooking Monkfish

Discover Food Network's guide to buying and cooking monkfish. This expert guide will help you find delicious, easy-to-make recipes.

How to Dredge Cutlets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these easy steps for crispy, tender cutlets, then watch our how-to video.

6 Easy Techniques for Great Grilled Fish

Whether you are grilling sturdy steaks directly on the grill, cooking more-delicate fish in a basket, or steaming tiny scallops or calamari rings in a pouch, you'll be able to handle anything with the following six techniques.

How to Pick and Store Fish: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these simple steps to pick and store fish properly.

How to Defrost Meat: A Step-by-Step Guide

Flip through our guide for defrosting meat, then watch our how-to video.

How to Prep Meats, Vegetables or Fruit for Freezing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to properly prep foods for freezing, then watch our how-to video.

A Guide to Buying and Cooking Sea Bass

A guide to buying and cooking sea bass.

A Guide for Buying and Cooking Striped Bass

A guide for buying and cooking striped bass.

A Guide to Buying and Cooking Salmon

Learn the best tips and tricks for cooking and buying salmon, including delicious and easy-to-make recipes, in this guide from Food Network.