How to Perfectly Sear Meat How to Perfectly Sear Meat

How to Perfectly Sear Meat

What does it mean to sear the meat?

Searing, or pan searing, is a technique used in grilling, baking, braising, roasting, sautéing, etc., in which the surface of the food (usually meat, poultry or fish) is cooked at high temperature until a browned crust forms. Searing meat is 100% about building flavor. And oh, what flavorful goodness it is.

When searing, the oil is less of a cooking medium and more of a way to get uniform surface contact between the meat and the pan. This will give you a nice, even caramelization and prevent some spots from burning while other spots are still pale. This translates into the kind of deep, savory flavor that we crave on an almost a cellular level. This is the flavor that makes us want to lick our plates clean.

Can you sear meat in butter?

We would advise you not to use butter, at least not whole butter, to sear your meat. Butter’s smoke point is much too low and it will burn quickly. You can finish a steak by basting it with whole butter but you don’t want to begin with butter. An oil with a higher smoke point and a neutral flavor is what you want.

What is the best oil to sear?

For high-temperature searing, it’s best to use a refined oil with a higher smoke point. Let your favorite fruity EVOO sit this round out; it’s canola’s time to shine. Safflower, peanut, grapeseed and avocado oils are also good options.

Do you sear meat before or after cooking?

Searing meat doesn’t create an impermeable barrier that prevents the release of natural juices when cooking or slicing a steak or other cut of meat– that’s a myth. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon searing altogether. You should always consider searing steaks before grilling, baking, braising, roasting, or sautéing to build that sublime flavor.

The reverse sear only works with a thick steak — an inch and a half at least..

Regular Searing How-To?


Pull the meat from the fridge and set it out at room temperature for a short while before searing it. This lets the meat relax, allowing the meat’s natural moisture to reabsorb into the muscle, rather than staying trapped between the meat’s fibers.


High temperatures are needed to get a truly caramelized, deep-brown sear on the surface of the meat. Use a stainless steel or a cast iron skillet for this kind of cooking; avoid nonstick skillets. Add a few teaspoons of vegetable oil, using a brush to spread the oil out and set the pan set over high heat. Pat the meat dry as the pan heats — this helps keep it from steaming instead of searing. Don’t salt the food before cooking. Salting can draw moisture and juices out of the meat. However, you can add other seasonings before cooking. When the oil starts to shimmer and smoke just slightly, you’re ready to add the meat. It should sizzle loudly. Sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned on the outside and medium rare on the inside.


If you’re cooking one large piece of meat, make sure to use a pan large enough to hold it. If you’re cooking smaller pieces of meat, like for a stew, leave a few inches of space between the pieces of meat. This also ensures even cooking and prevents crowded meat from steaming instead of searing.


Once you’ve put the meat in the pan, let it be. I know how tempting it is to take a peak under the meat or move things around like we do for a sauté, but try to resist! Meat needs a few minutes of uninterrupted contact to properly sear — it will actually stick to the bottom of the pan at first and then release naturally when seared. After a few minutes, shake the pan. If the meat releases from the pan, it’s ready to be flipped to another side.


Use tongs or a spatula instead of a fork to turn the food so you don’t lose juices. Once the food is seared, continue cooking it according to your recipe. After searing, fish or scallops may require just a few more minutes of cooking at a lower temperature before done.

Don’t forget the sides and ends. Sear all sides of the meat. Use tongs to hold it up, if necessary. Round roasts tend to roll over rather than stay put. Try to lean the meat against the edge of the pan to support it while you brown each part.

Don’t waste the crusty bits. Seared meats leave flavorful pan drippings known as fond, which can later be used to make a pan sauce by “deglazing” the pan with a small amount of liquid.

Reverse Searing How-To?

The theory with reverse searing is you get a much more evenly cooked steak with more of the steak being the right temperature as opposed to regular searing where there is a larger band of well done meat surrounding the proper temperature meat.

Directions: Cook it on a rack at very low temperature until an instant read thermometer gives you the degree of doneness you’re after. Take it out and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Next, in a hot (and we mean HOT) skillet, sear the meat for one minute on each side. You should be left with a piece of meat that has that has a tasty coating with a tender inside.

This simple technique gives your recipes rich, delicious savory flavor and a restaurant-quality look. It’s a simple step that transforms everyday recipes into something sublime.


Leave a comment

comments have to be approved before showing up

Our Favorites

Our Favorites

Something went wrong, please contact us!