How to Pan Fry

This article will show you how to pan fry a wide range of foods everyone in your household will enjoy.

Pan Frying 101

Pan frying is a versatile cooking method that you can use to create tasty, healthy meals for your family. Meats such as fish, pork chops and steaks turn out crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a pleasing brown surface colour. Vegetables and potatoes also become crispy with tender middles and great flavours. 

Popular Dishes

Pan-Fried Steak
Season both sides of a room-temperature steak with salt. Preheat the pan with 1 to 2 tbsp of canola oil over high heat. Once the oil begins to smoke, place the steak in the pan. Cook the steak from 3 to 6 minutes per side, depending upon the thickness and your desired doneness. Finish with a sprinkle of pepper.

Pan-Fried Salmon
Pat your salmon dry before cooking. Preheat the pan with enough oil to cover the bottom as this will ensure the salmon skin becomes crisp. Once the oil is hot, add the salmon with the skin facing down and hold it in place with a spatula. Flip the salmon when the skin easily lifts from the pan. Continue to cook the salmon until the flesh becomes flaky.
 
Pan-Fried Cod
Season both sides of your cod with salt and pepper. Melt one tbsp of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add one tbsp of olive oil when the butter begins to bubble. Once the oil is heated, add the cod to the pan and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the cod, allowing it to rest. Spray the cod with a squeeze of lemon juice before eating.

Pan-Fried Haddock
Season your fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat two tbsp of olive oil over high heat. Add the haddock fillet to the pan skin side down. Cook for four minutes, flip and cook for another two minutes. Remove from pan and drizzle with lemon juice.
 
Pan-Fried Scallops
Dry your scallops and season both sides with salt. Melt one tbsp of butter in a pan over high heat. Once the butter bubbles, add one tbsp of vegetable oil. Place the scallops in the pan. Do not overcrowd or move them during cooking. Flip the scallops after two minutes and continue to cook them for another minute. Remove and serve immediately.

Pan-Fried Potatoes
Cut your potatoes into 1.5-cm cubes and season with salt and pepper. Then preheat the pan over medium heat and add ¼ cup of olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add your potato cubes and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing regularly. When done, the potatoes should be golden brown on the outside and tender and fluffy on the inside.
 
Pan-Fried Vegetables
Cut your vegetables into uniform 1.5-cm cubes and heat olive oil in a pan over high heat. Once the oil is ready, add the tougher, heartier vegetables first, so they cook longer. Add the softer, tenderer vegetables later. Stir and season with salt until the vegetables are heated through but remain crisp to the bite.

Pan-Fried Chicken
Season your chicken filets on both sides. Heat two tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the hot pan, nudging it often so it doesn't stick. Brown the chicken on both sides. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, flipping every 30 seconds. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
 
Breading and Batter for Fried Chicken
Breading or batter on chicken delivers a nice crispy crust and a great crunchy texture. Once you've coated your chicken in a breading or batter, heat enough oil to completely cover one side of the chicken when it's added to the pan.

Pan-Fried Chicken Wings
Using a deep pan, heat 1½ inches of vegetable, peanut or canola oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add your chicken wings and cook until golden brown. Then remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel. Serve with your favourite hot sauce.
 
Pan-Fried Pork Chops
Rinse and pat dry your pork chops, and then season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes (longer for thicker cuts). Remove the pork chops and let them rest for five minutes before serving.
 

Task Overview

Estimated time: 5 - 30 minutes
Estimated cost: $2 - $8
Skill level: Beginner
Number of People required: 1

Tools & Ingredients:

Steps

Cooking great pan-fried meals starts with selecting the right pan and ends with giving meats adequate time to rest after cooking. In between, there are a few important points to learn. But once you master them, you'll quickly advance to intermediate and expert stage, able to whip up a wide range of flavourful meals your family will love.
 
  1. Select the proper pan
    Make sure you use a frying pan large enough for the food to spread out in a single layer. If the food is too crowded, especially if pieces are lying on top of one other, it won't cook evenly. As a test, you can put your cut-up food into the pan before heating it.
     
  2. Ensure the pan is level
    For best results, your pan should have a flat bottom and rest stable on your stove top. A pan that tilts or tips is a safety hazard and can cause uneven cooking. Ensure the pan bottom has no dents so your food rests on a flat, even surface.
     
  3. Prepare your food
    If cooking multiple pieces, ensure they’re cut into uniform sizes. This way, the pieces will cook at the same rate. If your food is cut into different sizes, the smaller pieces will cook faster and dry out before the larger pieces are done.
     
  4. Select your cooking oil
    You'll want to avoid smoking up the house, so use cooking oils with a fairly high smoke point. Olive oil is a good choice for pan frying, but oils with even higher smoke points, such as vegetable and peanut oil, can also be used. You can enhance the flavour of your cooking oil by adding butter in the pan. On its own, butter isn't the best for frying because of its low smoke point, but mixing it with cooking oil helps prevent the butter from burning.
     
  5. Heat pan, then heat oil
    Always preheat your pan before putting anything into it, including cooking oil. This will help prevent your food from sticking to the pan. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and heat it, too. Hot oil helps to sear foods, sealing in taste, while cold oil saturates food, making it taste greasy.
     
  6. Fry your food
    Cook your food evenly on both sides, turning as little as possible. Add more oil if necessary, and take care not to overcook.
     
  7. Let your meats rest
    Once you're done cooking meats and have removed them from the pan, let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the juices to spread throughout meat and enhance tenderness.
 

Pan Frying Tips:

  • It's always best to pan fry foods with new cooking oil: if reusing oil, make sure it's clean and free of food debris
  • For fried pork chops and other meats, select cuts that have the bone still in them: they take longer to cook but have more flavour
  • When making batters or breading, use corn meal and rice flour to reduce oil absorption
  • Use batters made with leaveners such as baking powder or carbonated beverages: they produce gas bubbles that help prevent oil absorption
  • It's a good idea to balance the richness of fried food with healthy sides such as salad or steamed vegetables
Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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