December 31, 2013

The difference between sweating and sauteing

Post by Tomas

Recipes often call for one of these two techniques. They are often confused and even when I was starting out I certainly was guilty of interchanging them.


Sweating involves a oil / fat and low-medium heat on the burner in a Sauté Pan.

Sweating something (usually diced garlic, onions, or Mirepoix) is commonly called out to release flavors.  Sometimes you need heat to coax the flavors out of the ingredients. I often do this with olive oil and various ingredients.

Two things to look out for:

  1. Never let the oil you are using smoke
  2. Never brown the things in the pan. You want the onions to be clear


Sautéing involves and oil / fat on high heat on the burner in a Sauté Pan.

The goal here is to brown things (caramelize) them in the pan to add a different set of flavors to the meal. This is done with meat, vegetables, or many other items.

Couple things to help here:

  1. If your just starting out use a oil with a higher smoke point like Canola. You do not want the oil to breakdown due to the heat and create nasty things. (for Olive oil this is between 365° and 420°F)
  2. If you do use olive oil make sure to use medium heat for it.
  3. Don’t Burn the items you’re putting in the pan. Once garlic is black from cooking it doesn’t come back and you’ll have to start over.