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

Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide

Use our internal-temperature chart to serve perfectly cooked meat every time.

How to Deep-Fry Fish and Chips: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these simple tips and you'll deep-fry like a pro.

Baking Ingredient Guide

Everything you need to know about flour, sugar, chocolate and other pantry staples.

Latest Stories