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What is sautéing in cooking terms?

Sautéing refers to pan frying food in a bit of fat and can be done for a variety of dishes. Whether you’re planning a busy weeknight dinner or meal prepping for your family, sautéing can be a quick and easy way to add flavor to a meal. Similar to steaming, blanching, air frying or grilling, sautéing food on your stovetop has its own technique. Read on to learn how to sauté and get tips for sautéing vegetables.

How to sauté: the basics

Vegetables are one of the most common foods that are sauteéd. To sauté vegetables, simply add a small amount of fat, like olive oil, to a pan and quickly cook your food over medium-high heat. Make sure to chop or slice veggies in similar-sized pieces and add them to your pan in one layer so they cook as evenly as possible. 

As your ingredients cook, you can stir or gently shake the pan to brown ingredients to a crisp, yet tender texture. Sautéing vegetables can help you put a delicious side dish on the table quickly. Learn more simple tips to streamline meal prep.

How to sauté onions

Sautéing onions can be an easy way to add additional flavor to your favorite recipes.  Top them on burgers, sandwiches, tacos or flatbread. Use them with meats like steak, chicken or pork, or add them to a creamy dip. Read on for a simple sautéed onion recipe that can be prepared in minutes.

  • 1 serving

  • Onion

  • Olive oil, cooking oil or butter
Prep time
  • 5 minutes
Cook time
  • 5 minutes

  • Sauté pan or frying pan

  • Knife

  • Cutting board

  • Wooden spoon or heat proof spatula

Total time
  • 10 minutes


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Step 1: Chop or slice the onion

Prepare your onion by chopping or slicing it into uniform-sized pieces. This helps sauté the pieces evenly.

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Step 2: Preheat the pan

Heat a small amount of oil or butter in the pan on medium-high heat until it’s hot. A flat-bottomed, wide sauté pan or frying pan is ideal so the onions can be placed in a single layer. For a nonstick pan, you can use butter or a small amount of water or vegetable broth.

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Step 3: Sauté the onions

Add the onions in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Stir or gently shake the onions as they cook. The longer you sauté the onions, the deeper and sweeter the flavor. Simply cook longer to caramelize your onions. You can tell when they are carmelized when they turn a deep, golden brown. Truly caramelized onions take at least 45 minutes to cook.

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Step 4: Add onions to your recipe

Remove your onions from the heat. Keep in mind that the onions will continue to cook a bit once you take them off the heat. Add them to your favorite recipes.

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Do you sauté onions or garlic first?

Sauté onions first, because garlic burns at a lower temperature and cooks more quickly. When you add the garlic to the onions, turn the heat down on your stovetop and keep an eye on your garlic. If the garlic burns, it can have a bitter taste.

Is it better to sauté with butter or oil?

Since sautéing calls for medium-high temps, use oils with high smoke points, like olive, vegetable, sunflower, safflower, canola or refined coconut oil. Butter has a lower smoke point, so if you choose to use it to sauté, consider lowering the temperature to medium or blend it with oil to withstand higher temps.

What temperature is sauté?

Use medium-high heat on your stovetop for sautéing vegetables. You may find that the temperature is around 350° F (177° C). The higher temps can help the vegetables quickly reach a crisp, yet tender texture. Foods caramelize at this temperature too, which is key for flavor development. If you live at a higher altitude, you may need to adjust your stovetop setting.

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Tips for sautéing vegetables

Here are a few simple tips to help when sautéing vegetables.

  • Cut or chop vegetables into roughly matching-sized pieces for more even cooking.

  • Cook times may vary depending on the size and type of vegetables.

  • Use a large enough pan that your ingredients can line the bottom in one even layer. 

  • Look for a tender-crisp texture to know when your veggies are done cooking. Tender-crisp texture means the vegetable is cooked all the way through but still has crunch or bite to it.

  • Remove your pan from the heat after you’re done cooking, and be aware that vegetables continue to cook for a bit in the hot pan, even off the heat.

  • Use butter for a rich, nutty flavor, but turn the heat down to medium as it has a lower smoke point than many oils.

Explore Whirlpool® Gas Ranges

Whirlpool® Gas Ranges come with convenient features that can help create healthy and flavorful meals. Select models have EZ-2-Lift™ Hinged Cast-Iron Grates that can help you clean up hard-to-reach spills and SpeedHeat™ Burners that allow you to sauté, sear and boil quickly. Explore the entire line of Whirlpool® Ranges.

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