If you’ve spent some time trying to cook meals from scratch then you’ve probably across the terms sautéing and sweating. These are pretty common terms for many recipes where you simply apply combine heat, vegetables (often aromatics) and a little fat (often oil). However this deceivingly simple trifecta hides many processes that can yield wildly different results. Today we’ll focus on the two most common.

Sauté comes from the French word sauter, to jump, and it’s where you apply relatively high heat to brown the ingredients, trapping in its moisture and flavor. The goal is to preserve the uniqueness of the individual ingredient with only minimal, subtle mingling of flavors. This is often used in dishes like stir-fries or perhaps as an initial step before searing some meat. I personally love sautéd onions and peppers in my burgers (when I eat burgers, of course). The browning tends to add its own unique touch to the ingredient; enhancing it.

Sweating comes from the Italian word soffrito, underfrying, and this is done with low heat. The goal of sweating is to pull the flavor out of the vegetables so that it can influence the liquid in your dish along with the other ingredients. You will often find this done in one of my most often cooking forays: soups. Certain vegetables, like onions, will become translucent after sweating and very little browning should occur. If you see browning, it’s often a sign that your heat is too high or amount of fat is too low.

I find that some people don’t pay full attention to which one they’re doing when cooking. I strongly encourage you to take a moment next time your working with something like a mirepoix to ask yourself what the recipe is telling you to do and why it makes sense (or doesn’t) with the dish you’re making. Enjoy.


One Response to “Kitchen Tips: The Difference Between Sautéing and Sweating”

  1. dslunsford1 says:

    Edwin, I have this habit of learning something every time I read your blog…

    Thanks for the “everything cookies” instructions… Elizabeth just made about a hundred! Yum.