How to Deglaze a Pan for Making Restaurant Quality Pan Sauces
The Secret to Great Pan Sauces
Deglazing is a fancy and intimidating word that means to pour some cold liquid into a very hot pan to get up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Those brown bits are where all the flavors are, and it is called “fond.”
Fond is French for “bottom,” so let’s stick to calling it fond!
How To Deglaze a Pan
You probably deglaze all the time without even realizing it:
When you pour water into the roasting pan to make gravy
When you add some chicken stock to a pan of sautéed onions
When you pour some wine into the pan that you roasted the pork in
Now that you know what it is, let’s make sure you are doing all the steps correctly.
Make sure that there is nothing burnt onto the pan you are going to deglaze—you are looking for deep brown bits, not blackened bits
Pour off most of the fat in the pan.
Turn the heat up to high.
Add cold liquid to the hot pan—the liquid will come up to boiling very quickly, bringing up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan
Using a spoon or spatula, scrape up the fond as the liquid boils
Once the fond is dispersed throughout the liquid, turn down the heat
It is important you remove the pan from the heat when adding any liquids with alcohol so you don't end up with singed eyebrows. You can now use this mixture to create a wonderful sauce to accompany your meal.
Almost any liquid can be used for deglazing, although you should stay away from dairy. There is a good chance that dairy products can curdle when boiling, so stick with clear liquids.
Here’s a good list to start:
Red or white wine
Stock—fish, chicken, beef, vegetable, etc.
Cooking liquid (water that you cooked beans in, for example)
Of course, you can also use water to deglaze, but why would you when there are so many other flavorful liquids that you can use instead?
The technique of deglazing is especially useful when it comes to making pan sauces after you saute a piece of meat, chicken or fish. You can read all about pan sauces and how to prepare them at home on my pan sauce page.