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🙃😳😗 Pan-frying is an easy method of cooking food by heating oil in a heavy skillet. You can pan fry just about anything, including vegetables, meat, and fish. There are a few methods of pan frying. The basic pan fry uses medium heat and a little bit of oil to cook whole pieces of meat and un-chopped vegetables. Shallow frying uses more oil to fry battered foods, such as fried chicken or eggplant parmesan. Stir-frying uses high heat and a little oil to cook chopped vegetables and meats. Once you've got the method down, you'll have to write down a list of everything you want to try!
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Making a Basic Fry
- 1Take out a heavy skillet. You can also use a sauté pan or frying pan. You want to choose a pan that has a flat bottom with high edges that are either sloped or straight. Be sure that it is wide enough for what you are cooking, as you will not want to overcrowd the pan.XResearch source
- 2Heat the pan on medium-high. Unless you have a non-stick pan, you should heat the pan before you add the oil. This will prevent the meats from sticking to the pan. It will also heat the oil more quickly. It will only take two or three minutes for the pan to heat up.XResearch source
- If you have a nonstick pan, add the oil to a cold pan and heat both up together.
- 3Add cooking oil. One or two tablespoons is enough. Tilt the pan to evenly spread the oil over the surface. The best oils to use are flavorless. These include light or refined olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.XResearch source Avoid using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) if possible.
- EVOO can burn in the pan when frying because of its lower smoke point. EVOO starts to smoke at 325-375F compared to 465F for light or refined olive oil.XResearch source Since food starts to fry around 365-375F, your extra-virgin olive oil may begin to burn before it starts to fry, giving your food a bitter taste.XResearch source If you have no other option, watch the oil carefully. If it starts to smoke, remove from the heat and let it cool before dumping it and trying again.
- 4Wait for your oil to heat. If you added the oil to a hot pan, it should heat up quickly—within a minute of adding it. If you added oil to a cold pan, it may take a few minutes for it to heat up. There are a few tests you can do to see if it is hot enough.
- Use a cooking thermometer to know the exact heat. Stick the metal end into the oil, and wait 5 seconds for an accurate reading. The oil should be hot enough around 365 degrees F.
- Stick the handle of a wooden spoon in it. Bubbles will rise and pop when it is hot.XResearch source
- If you don't have a wooden spoon, try a drop of water instead (and no more than a drop). The water will begin to sizzle and pop when the oil is hot enough. This may cause the oil to splatter so be careful.
- Do not leave your pan unattended while heating it at the stove. It only takes a few minutes for it to heat up, and you do not want to burn the oil or start a fire.
- 5Add your ingredients to the hot oil. Make sure that every piece has plenty of room. No two pieces of meat should be touching. Leave a small space between each. If you are cooking vegetables, make sure that there is a single layer of veggies; they should not be piled on one another. Food releases steam as it is fried. If you overcrowd the pan, the steam will not release, and you may end up with a soggy meal.XResearch source
- Understand that whatever side goes down first will look the best so if you are aiming for a nice presentation, put your chicken breasts down on the rounded side and your fish flesh side down instead of skin side.XResearch source
- 6Flip the meat halfway through. If possible, use tongs instead of a fork. A fork can puncture the meat and lose its juices. Different meats take different lengths of time. You will have to time yours based on the size of each cut and the type of meat. Flipping the meat too often or too soon can ruin the batter.
- 7Cook to your desired doneness. You may want to use a thermometer to make sure that the meat is fully cooked through. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Otherwise, you can cut open the meat to see if it is done or not. Different types of meats require different temperatures for safe eating.
- Beef steaks need an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. The inside can be pink, but not red.
- Chicken and turkey need internal temperatures of 165 degrees F. The inside should be white, not pink. Juices should run clear.
- Pork should have an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. The inside should be mostly cooked white or brown, although there may be a slight pink tint.
- Fish should have an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. The flesh should flake away easily with a fork.XTrustworthy SourceFoodSafety.govOnline portal combining food safety information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionGo to source
- 8Remove from pan. Use tongs if possible. A spatula is a good back up. Place the food on a plate. If you are frying meats such as pork or beef, you may want to let the meat rest for three minutes to keep its juices intact and to let it finish cooking.XTrustworthy SourceFoodSafety.govOnline portal combining food safety information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionGo to source Serve immediately.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Shallow-Frying
- 1Add an inch of cooking oil to a skillet. The oil should come halfway up the sides of the pan. Canola, vegetable, sunflower, and light olive oil work well for this type of frying.
- 2Batter the food before frying. Have the battered food ready for when the oil is hot. You can check if the oil is hot enough by sticking a wooden spoon into the oil. The oil will bubble around the spoon when it is ready.
- 3Add your food to the hot oil. Make sure that every piece has plenty of room. You do not want to crowd the food, or it will not fry properly. The food should sizzle as it touches the oil.XResearch source If it does not, the oil is not hot enough. Wait to add the other pieces.
- 4Flip halfway through. Use tongs if possible. Forks can be used to flip, but they are not ideal. You only want to flip once to ensure that the batter cooks correctly. Flipping too often or too soon can cause the batter to fall off.XResearch source
- 5Transfer to a paper towel. Once you have removed your food, place them on a paper towel. You can use tongs or a slotted spatula. The paper towel will soak up excess oil, giving you a crispier batter.XResearch source The meats should rest for a moment to finish cooking. Serve immediately.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Stir-Frying
- 1Choose a wok. A wok is large pan with sloped sides. Woks are ideal for this type of frying because you can cook in stages. While you can use a skillet for stir-frying, the results will not be as consistent or as tasty.XResearch source
- 2Cut up your meats and vegetables. Stir-frying is similar to sautéing in that it requires you to cut up your foods before you cook them. Make sure that all pieces are roughly the same size and weight. This will ensure uniform cooking. Have them all chopped and ready before you heat the pan. XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Heat up one to two tablespoons of oil. Set the stove to high heat. Stir-frying requires higher heat than other types of pan frying. Peanut oil is best for stir-frying, although you can use canola or vegetable oil.
- 4Add your ingredients. Sear the meat first by adding it to the pan and flipping it after a minute until both sides are browned. Then add your vegetables. Some vegetables-- such as broccoli, baby corn, and carrots-- take longer than others and should be added first. Add in soft vegetables like bok choy or mushrooms at the end.XResearch source
- 5Toss ingredients in the wok. Use a wooden spoon to mix, flip, and stir the ingredients. You want to make sure that everything cooks evenly. If something looks like it is over-cooking, push it up against the cooler sides of the wok so that it does not burn.
- 6Pour sauce into the pan. Let the sauce steam and cook into the vegetables. Stir well to make sure that everything is coated. There are many types of popular sauce that you can either make or buy, such as:
- Soy sauce
- Soy ginger sauce
- Orange sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Black bean sauce
- 7Scoop out of the pan to serve. You can serve it on rice, noodles, or on its own. Eat it while it is hot, or cool and save for later. Stir-fry keeps well if stored in the refrigerator. You can reheat it later in the microwave or eat it cold.
- Before adding your meat or vegetable into the skillet, try to pat it dry first. Moisture creates a barrier that prevents optimal frying.
- All cooking times listed here are approximate. Always follow your recipe's guidelines for cooking.
- Do not add water, cover, or overcrowd the pan.
- Do not overheat oil. If the oil is smoking, it is too hot.
Things You'll Need
- Heavy skillet
- Cooking oil (olive oil or canola oil is best)
- Meat or vegetable
About This Article
To pan fry something, start by heating a skillet or pan with high edges over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Then, add 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil, like olive or vegetable oil, and wait for it to heat up until it sizzles and pops when you drop water into it. Next, add the food you want to fry to the pan in a single layer so that nothing is touching. Finally, fry the food until it's cooked through, flipping it over halfway through so both sides are brown and crispy. To learn how to stir-fry, scroll down!