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What Is Pan-Roasting?
Pan-roasting is a more gentle, slower cooking process than sautéing that involves first pan-searing food on the stovetop, and then transferring it to an oven to finish cooking. It’s an ideal way to cook cuts of meat that are at least an inch thick—allowing them to develop a dark brown crust from the direct, conductive heat of the pan, and then reach optimal medium-rare via the radiant heat of oven-roasting.
What Is the Difference Between Pan-Roasting, Pan-Searing, and Pan-Frying?
Pan-searing refers to quickly cooking food in a pan until the outside forms a nicely browned crust, such as in pan-seared steak. It’s the first step in pan-roasting, which then involves transferring the seared food to the oven to finish cooking.
Pan-frying involves less heat than searing: The objective is to fully cook the food in the pan, whereas the objective of searing is simply to get the outside done. Sometimes that’s enough, as with Gordon Ramsay’s Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna recipe, but often pan-searing is one part of a larger process.
What You Need For Pan-Roasting
- Oven-safe pan: Cast-iron skillets are ideal because they hold heat very well, allowing you to get the perfect sear. But if you want to make a pan sauce with the drippings, opt for a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe sauté pan, since the acids used for deglazing can break down the seasoning on cast-iron cookware. For optimal browning, make sure your pan is large enough that whatever you’re cooking doesn’t get overcrowded. Do not use nonstick pans.
- Fat: Necessary for pan-searing. Use a type of fat that can withstand high-heat cooking, such as a neutral oil or clarified butter. Olive oil has a lower-temperature smoke point, so it is not ideal for pan-roasting.
- Instant-read thermometer: Optional, but useful for checking the internal temperature of meat.
How to Pan-Roast
- Preheat oven between 350 and 450°F.
- Heat your oven-safe pan over medium-high heat until hot enough to sear, about one minute.
- Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan—if the water evaporates immediately, it’s ready to add the fat. Add the fat and let it get hot: For oil, look for shimmering. For butter, look for the foaming to subside. Make sure the fat is hot enough that whatever you’re cooking sizzles when it hits the pan.
- Sear on one side until deeply browned, then flip and transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking.
5 Tips for Pan-Roasting
- Take meat out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before you plan to cook, since cold meat can cook unevenly when it hits the hot pan.
- Cuts with skin, such as skin-on chicken or duck breasts and fish, should be seared skin-side down. Most other cuts should be flipped during cooking.
- When searing, don’t crowd the pan: if too close together, the food can start to cook via steaming, and you won’t get the dark brown crust.
- Remove meat from the oven when the internal temperature is about 5°F lower than your desired internal temperature, and let rest for 10 minutes for carryover cooking.
- Remember that the handle of the pan will be super hot—use good oven mitts to protect your hands!
How to Make a Pan Sauce
You can use the fond—the brown bits, or drippings, stuck to the pan after searing—to make a delicious and easy pan sauce.
- Remove protein from the pan and return the pan to the stovetop over medium-high heat.
- Scrape the fond from the bottom of the pan by deglazing: using homemade stock, water, wine, or other liquid to loosen the brown bits. Combine the fond with more of your deglazing liquid, add aromatics such as shallots, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, mustard, or herbs and continue to cook, reducing the liquid.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Swirl in a little butter or cream to finish.
9 Pan-Roasting Recipe Ideas
- Chef Thomas Keller’s Pan-Roasted Duck
- Chef Thomas Keller’s Pan-Roast Côte de Boeuf
- Chef Thomas Keller's Roasted Zucchini
- Quick and Easy Pan-Roasted Swordfish
- Pan-Roasted Ribeye Steak
- Pan-Roasted chicken breasts with lemon juice and fresh thyme
- Pan-Roasted beef tenderloin with herb butter
- Pan-Roasted whole butterflied chicken marinated in harissa, white wine, honey, and dijon mustard
- Pan-Roasted standing rib roast with rosemary-garlic crust
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