Culinary Arts

How to Deglaze a Pan: 5 Easy Pan Sauce Recipes

Written by MasterClass

May 17, 2019 • 4 min read

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You’ve seen it on cooking shows—a hot pan doused with wine followed by a theatrical sizzle. Deglazing is one of the most impressive cooking techniques out there. But is it really as intimidating as it looks? The secret is that it’s actually incredibly simple.

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What Is Deglazing?

Deglazing is a cooking technique that involves adding liquid (such as stock or wine) to a pan to loosen the food particles attached to the bottom from cooking or searing. Cooked food particles are called fond, which is french for “base,” referring to the brown bits of food and caramelized drippings of meat and vegetables. The mixture produced by deglazing is simmered and reduced to make a flavorful pan sauce.

How to Deglaze a Pan

After sautéing or roasting a piece of meat in a pan, pour off the fat, saving about a tablespoon to cook with. Return the pan to the heat and pour your liquid of choice (dry white or red wine, such as an Italian marsala or Californian pinot noir, stock, or beer) to cover the pan by about half an inch. Scrape up the tasty caramelized bits and meat juices at the bottom and cook the liquid until it reduces into a sauce or gravy.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make Pan Sauce After Deglazing

Although deglazing sounds like a complicated culinary term, making a pan sauce can be done in the few minutes it takes a steak to rest. Don’t let any of the leftover drippings go to waste: use them to make a delicious sauce using these simple steps.

  1. Choose the right pan: Using a stainless steel pan or seasoned cast iron skillet helps your food brown and caramelize easily. Don’t use a nonstick pan otherwise the good bits won’t stick to the surface.
  2. Transfer food: Once you’ve finished cooking your staple food, transfer it to a separate plate, leave the browned bits in the pan. Pour most of the rendered fat from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan for flavor.
  3. Use aromatics: Sauté aromatics such as shallots, garlic, and onions in the reserved fat until soft and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. You can also add dried herbs and spices during this step.
  4. Pour in liquids: With the pan set over medium-high heat, pour in the liquid (wine, vinegar, beer, stock, juice or sauce). As the liquid simmers, scrape up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. Reduce any alcohol by half, then pour stock to make a sauce.
  5. Reduce the liquid: Let the liquid continue to simmer until it’s reduced by half.
  6. Stir in butter or cream (optional): Turn the heat down to low and whisk in butter or cream.
  7. Thicken if needed: If your sauce isn’t thick enough, whisk in flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken. Season the sauce with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

What to Serve with Pan Sauce

Pan sauce is ideal for smothering slices of steak, pan-roasted chicken breasts, grilled pork chops, and seared jumbo scallops. You also eat this rich sauce with pasta, rice, and vegetables.

5 Pan Sauces Recipe Ideas

  1. Shallot and Red Wine Pan Sauce: Sauté a thinly sliced shallot in 1 tablespoon of cooking fat until softened, then add a few sprigs of thyme. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add ½ cup of chicken or beef stock and ½ cup red wine. Reduce the cooking liquid by half and then finish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Lemon Caper Sauce: Add 2 tablespoons of drained capers to the cooking fat, cook for 1 minute, and then deglaze the pan with a splash of dry white wine. Cook until the wine has nearly evaporated, then add 1 cup chicken stock and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Reduce the deglazing liquid, and finish with chopped fresh parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Creamy Mushroom Sauce: Sauté 1 cup of sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of cooking fat. Cook until softened, then add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 2 sprigs of thyme. Cook until the garlic begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes, and add ½ cup of chicken stock and ½ cup of heavy cream. Reduce the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Peanut Ginger Sauce: Sauté a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in the cooking fat until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon five spice powder and then add 1 cup of chicken stock and simmer the liquid until reduced by half. Finish with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
  5. Chicken Suprême With Pan Sauce: Make Chef Gordon Ramsay’s chicken suprême, then reserve all the fatty bits. Place the skillet back over medium heat on the stove top. Add shallots and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Transfer garlic and thyme back into pan. Stirring frequently, continue to cook until shallots caramelize, about 4 minutes. Lower the heat and carefully pour brandy or splash of apple juice into the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan clean. Add demi-glace, stir, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cook a few minutes, then pass through a strainer into a small sauce pot. Push the shallots and garlic into the strainer. Place back over heat and cook until reduced, about 5 minutes.

Watch how a pan sauce comes together in Chef Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass.