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Browning Techniques

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What is searing?
  2. What is caramelizing?
  3. How do you deglaze a pan?


Browning, as you may have guessed, is the process of cooking food to give it a brown color and produce deeper flavor. It can refer to creating a brown crust on the outside of meat by searing it or to turning onions and vegetables brown via caramelization.


Searing is a technique frequently used in cooking meat, especially steak. Searing is done on the stovetop over high heat. Add oil that can handle high temperatures to a hot skillet, swirl it around to get an even coat, and put your meat in. Do not be in a hurry to flip it over to the other side—let it get good and brown first. When it's ready to be turned, it shouldn't stick too much to the pan. Flip and sear all other sides before continuing with the cooking process.1 


Caramelizing is another example of browning food to give it more flavor. Sugar and foods that naturally contain sugar—including fruits, vegetables, and onions—can be caramelized by breaking down these sugars. Onions, for example, should be cooked in oil or an oil-butter mix over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once they start to brown, you should reduce the heat and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding oil as needed. Once you've reached the desire level of caramelization, you're done.2


Deglazing refers to the process of removing the layer of browned food stuck to the bottom of the pan (after searing, for example) by adding water, wine, or stock to the pan, bringing the liquid to a boil, and scraping off the brown stuff with a wooden spoon. The liquid can then be reduced or thickened to create a sauce.3

Recommended Read

How to Cook Everything

If you are teaching yourself how to cook, this guide is a must have reference book.

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  1. The Kitchn - How to Sear Meat Properly
  2. Cooking Light - Cooking Class: Caramelizing
  3. - How to Deglaze a Pan to Make a Sauce


  1. Searing is cooking meat over high heat very briefly to brown the outsides without cooking the inside.
  2. Caramelizing refers to breaking down the sugars in sugar and sugar-containing foods until they are brown and take on new flavors.
  3. To deglaze a pan, add water, wine, or stock to a hot pan. Bring the liquid to a boil and scrape off the stuff stuck to the pan.
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