What is the Difference between Searing and Sauteing?

September 01, 2021 3 min read

Fruits in Atgrills saute pan

Various foods require different cooking methods such as sauteing, roasting, frying, grilling, searing, etc. Each of these cooking methods is great and cooks tasty food when you know how to do it right. However, people tend to confuse some of the cooking techniques, such as sauteing and searing.
So, what is the difference between searing and sauteing? Sauteing entails cooking food in a little bit of oil over medium to relatively high heat, while searing involves cooking foods fast on extremely high heat with less oil and leaves the food with a brown exterior. This article distinguishes and gives more details about these two cooking methods.

Atgrills saute pan with lid

What is Sauteing?

Sauteing is derived from the French term Sauter that means “to jump”. It’s a common method of cooking that involves cooking foods using a minimal amount of fat over medium heat: a form of dry-heat cooking that requires a fairly hot pan and a small amount of fat. Additionally, sauteing entails tossing food on the pan.
As the name suggests, this cooking technique requires a saute pan. Usually, a saute pan features high deep side walls, a long handle, and a lid. However, some people still saute using wide skillets that have sloped sides.
Sauteing gives foods a browning color yet retains the texture and flavor of foods.

What are the fundamentals of sauteing?

Here are vital things you must bear in mind while sauteing food:
• The saute pan should be hot throughout the cooking process.
• Only cook what the saute pan can accommodate. Excess foods in the pan result in steaming and no sauteing. Also, it’s hard to flip or keep the food moving. The sloped sides of a saute pan make it easier to flip/ toss foods.
• Stir frequently to enhance even cooking and prevent foods such as meats from sticking.

What are the best foods to saute?

Sauteing can cook a variety of foods from meats to vegetables. However, foods cut into smaller sizes or pieces tend to cook better and effectively because of the minimal cooking time. Conversely, tougher pieces of meat and denser vegetables are not the best foods to saute.

Also Read: Can I Fry in a Sauté Pan?

What is Searing?

Searing is a cooking technique that cooks using extremely high heat and quickly browns the food surface. Usually, it requires a minimal amount of cooking oil compared to sauteing. Generally, searing is a method that aims to caramelize foods to attain a desirable flavor and well-browned crust. Therefore, some people also refer to searing as browning.
It can be done in various cookware or kitchen equipment such as a frying pan, an electric griddle, cast-iron skillets, or a broiler.
It’s worth noting that seared foods are cooked at a high temperature then moved to a lower temperature where the cooking finishes. Roasting, grilling, and braising are the ways to cook foods like meats after searing.
What are the best foods to sear? They include fish, seafood, meat, chicken, vegetables, bacon, etc.

Differences: Searing vs Sauteing

The below table illustrates the key differences between sauteing and searing.




Heat levels

Searing uses extremely high heat

Sauteing uses medium to high heat

Cookware used

Searing can be done in a cast-iron skillet, a griddle, a frying pan or a broiler.

Sauteing can be done in a saute pan or a skillet with sloped sides.

Amount of fats/ oils

Searing requires very minimal cooking oil or fat. Enough oil to coat the cooking surface.

Sauteing requires a little bit of oil. You can use butter or oil.


Searing results to a golden brown exterior on the foods due to caramelized sugars.  

Sauteing gives food a slight brown color and doesn’t affect the texture and flavor of foods

Cook time

Searing takes less time than sauteing

Sauteing takes longer than searing


Check out  more Atgrills skillet and frying pan to cook food on a non stick deep frying pan.


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