Deglaze A Pan

pan being deglaze with wooden spatula
photo credit: photohomepage

So Why Deglaze A Pan?

During the process of sauteing or roasting meats or poultry, small browned bits form on the bottom of the pan.  The bits are very flavorful and when combined with wine (or other liquids) you can make a quick and flavorful pan sauce.  Adding a liquid to the pan dislodges the bits and allows them to dissolve and incorporate into a sauce or become part of the liquid that will be used for braising.

Deglazing With Wine

Wine is an excellent liquid to use for deglazing a pan because it adds some acidity and flavor.   Different wines will impact the dish in different ways.  This chart shows the effects of different wines.
Wine Wine Types Affect On Sauce Pairs With
Red wines Barolo, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz Dark brownish-red sauces Beef, lamb or game
White wines Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc Light caramel colored sauce Veal, pork, poultry
Sweet Wines Sauternes or a Sweet Bordeaux Adds a sweetness that pairs well with pork Pork

Steps To Deglaze Pan To Create A Pan Sauce

  1. Once the meat has been sauteed remove it from the pan.
  2. Add any aromatics you may like including onion, garlic, shallot, carrot and/or celery or fresh herbs.
  3. Add the wine to the pan (about 1 cup)  and bring to a boil while scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spatula. Stir to blend the bits into the wine.
  4. Continue to cook the sauce for a couple of minutes until it begins to thicken slightly.
  5. Pour any accumulated juices from the warm plate back into the sauce.
  6. You may add butter at this point if you wish.  It will produce a silky sauce but can be left out if you prefer to reduce the fat in the sauce.
  7. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings.

Other Deglazing Liquids

Other liquids can work well for deglazing a pan and adding flavor to a sauce.  Here are a few suggestions. 
Liquid Effect
Beer Produces a caramel-flavored sauce which works well for meats and poultry
Chicken Stock Chicken stock produces a light colored sauce and will benefit from the addition of fresh herbs or some sauteed shallot.
Water You can deglaze a pan with water but it won't add any flavor or acidty.
Apple juice Apple juice produces a sweet sauce thatworks well with pork

Deglazing Tips

  1. Avoid using non-stick pans because the surface actually deters the formation of those yummy browned bits.
  2. After removing the meat from the pan make sure to place in on a warmed plate and tent loosely with foil.
  3. Pour off any excess fat which can otherwise leave the sauce greasy.
  4. Deglaze the pan using a wire whisk which helps incorporate the liquid and can fit into the edges of the pan.
  5. To enhance the flavor reduce the sauce until thick.
  6. You can add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to add a rich texture.

Related Articles

Cooking With Wine - some easy tips for cooking with wine including selection, how to use and recipes.

Substitutes For Alcohol In Cooking - Don't want to use alcohol? Use our comprehensive guide to find a substitute.

Wine and Cheese Pairing - A guide to pairing cheeses with the right wine.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.