Saute Vs Stir-Fry: Which One Is Better [ Core Differences]

We often like to have food that is sauteed or stir-fried, and get the taste of a distinct flavor. When we saute or fry food, we use oil to fry food that has undergone pre-processing. Although both the procedure involve frying in oil, sautéing involves the use of less oil than in stir-frying. Although the two methods have very subtle differences, there is a clear distinction in look and taste. So, it’s time to go inside to find the insightful differences between Saute Vs Stir-Fry.

What Is Saute

To saute food, we often mean to cook diced or chopped pieces of food in oil and over a high temperature over a stove. We do sauteing in a negligible amount of fat in a shallow but wide saucepan. The food becomes brown by stirring frequently to avoid over doneness of any side. The technique allows the retention of moisture, texture, and flavor of the food.

Saute Vs Stir-Fry

The technique of sauteing occurs by transferring heat from the pan, through ‘contact conduction’. To the culinary world, to saute means to do something specific to the food. The special technique makes it different from frying. You can saute, shrimp, fish meat, and vegetables chopped into cube sizes. Before adding the food onto the pan for cooking, the pan is heated. Sauteing occurs in low fat. The hot oil and the food undergo a chemical reaction on the surface resulting in the conversion of nutrients like protein and starch molecules into chemical compounds. The food may slightly stick onto the pan because of the low-fat content. By continuous tossing, you can overcome this problem.

The food should however be thoroughly cooked. This is possible by turning and tossing the food pieces. You should make sure that all sides are equally brown and do not burn or become overcooked, as it will lose its taste. 

Food that You Can Saute

You can saute a good number of foods for a quick tasty and healthy meal. These include:

  • Mushroom
  •  Cabbage
  • Parsnip
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chicken liver
  • Liver

Cookware for Sauteing Food

The heavyweight cookware is a preference for sauteing a food. The best manufacturing material for the pans is stainless steel, lined copper, aluminum or copper core, cast iron, or anodized aluminum. Non-stick frying pans are also appropriate 

what is the difference between sauteing and stir frying

Temperature for Sautéing

You can begin sautéing at medium-to-high temperature if you use stainless steel pans. Let the pan and the oil heat for some time before you insert the food if you are using a non-stick pan. For a stainless steel pan, it is better to heat the pan first before adding fat. It is best to start sauteing when the fat is around 320°F, which is visible below the smoking point of butter or lard. 

What Is Stir-Fry

Stir-fry means to cook your desired food quickly in deep oil or fat in a skillet over high temperature. Stir-frying is a method used in Chinese cuisine where chopped food is tossed constantly when cooking in a wok. Although it came in practice in China, it has spread to Asia and the Western world. Stir-fry requires more fat where the food dips while cooking. The cooking continues until browning in the oil at a hot temperature. There is more agitation of the food by stir-frying.

sauteed vegetables vs stir fry

Stir-frying makes food very appealing and healthy. The food serves best with light spices, and sauces that are not highly rich. Stir-frying keeps the nutrients intact; it is a fast method of cooking, so you can serve food in a short while. 

Foods that You Can Stir-Fry

Some foods taste good when stir-fried. Some of these are:

  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Bell pepper
  • Onion-green, white, yellow
  • Spinach
  • Mushroom
  • Pea-pod
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli

Cookware for Stir-Frying Food

A cast-iron pan or a wok is traditional cookware for stir-frying. It must have enough depth to stir and toss while cooking. Manufacturers usually make pans of steel with a flat bottom. The wok is thick and usually has handles on two sides for holding. The materials are such that the materials keep heat effectively.

Saute Vs Stir-Fry

 Temperature for Stir-Frying

To begin with, the food is first cooked in low heat. Then stir-frying requires preheating the skillet to about 650°F so it keeps heat after removing from the stove. You need to take care not to burn the food and lose the aroma. In stir-frying, as the heat is higher, the action is also fast. Unlike, sauteing stir fry food is not let to brown. 

Let us now find out about sauteed and stir-fry food recipes.

Also Check: How To Make Fries In The Microwave

Sauteed Vegetables


  • Broccoli or asparagus
  • Frozen peas
  • Spinach or kale
  • Bell pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot 
  • Mushroom
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Soya sauce

Ways To Saute Vegetables

Chop equal amounts of the vegetables in bite-size pieces. Place a saucepan on a cooking stove. Pour olive oil into the pan to remain at the bottom. Let it heat to a moderate temperature. Add salt. Add the vegetables in the following sequence frozen peas, spinach, mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower or onion, red pepper, and carrot. Cook the veggies for 2 to 3 minutes after the addition of each kind of vegetable. You will end up cooking 10 to12 minutes of cooking.

sauteed vegetables vs stir fry

Toss and turn the vegetable to turn it into a brown color. Add black pepper and soya sauce to the cooked vegetable. Pour in a dish and serve hot with other dishes. This is a sauteed vegetable.

Stir Fry Chicken


  • Vegetables- broccoli, carrot, green pepper, mushroom, green beans, and onions
  • Corn Starch and Water
  • Sesame Oil
  • Chicken Broth
  • Soy Sauce
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  •  Salt

Process To Stir Fry Chicken

Cut the vegetables into small pieces. Place a pan with a little depth on a cooking stove. Add sesame oil and salt. Add the vegetables. Stir and toss frequently until it cooks well. Add a mixture of cornflour and water. Cook for a few minutes. Add soya sauce and stir. Place the stir-fried vegetable in a dish and sprinkle with flakes of red pepper.

what is the difference between sauteing and stir frying

The Differences Between Sautéing And Stir-Frying: At A Glance

  • Methods, heat, and fat

Saute is a French term that refers to cooking with a little fat over a high heat. Food is discarded or rotated on a regular basis or only once. Food is sliced into small pieces and cooked in hot oil until golden brown. The amount of oil needed in this recipe is greater than in sauté. When you stir-fry, the food is continually moving around.

  • Fat type

Sautéing is done using clarified butter or oil, whereas stir frying is done with simply oil. When sautéing, professional cooks use a combination of butter and oil. Butter and oil used in sauteing and stir-frying should have high smoke points in order to withstand the high temperatures.

  • The Sizes of food products

Depending on the quality of the food, it can be chopped into large or little pieces for sautéing. In order to prepare a stir fry, the meal is chopped into small, thin pieces.

  • Pan

It’s important to remember that sauteing and stir-frying require separate pans. For sautéing, use a sauté pan or skillet, and for stir-frying, use a wok with a round bottom and a flat bottom. Prepare the dish in a stir fry pan with sloping edges.

  1. The technique of sauteing originated in France from the French word meaning” jumped or bounced” referring to tossing during cooking. Stir-frying originated in China and then spread to Asia and in the Western World.
  2. Sauteing is a method of cooking food with a little quantity of fat in a shallow heavy-duty pan. Fat may be oil or butter. Stir-frying requires a larger amount of oil, not butter. The skillet is deeper and heavy-duty.
  3. Sauteing requires a higher temperature of heat than stir-frying.
  4. The heat transfer process in sauteing is by contact conduction for the pan. In stir-frying, the process is it is a combination of contact conduction and conduction by liquid immersion.
  5. The utensil for sauteing cooking in a skillet or pan, for a stir-frying wok is usual.
  6. During sauteing the pan is shaken but for stir-frying the food is turned by a wooden spoon.
  7. Sauteed food is brown creating richness of the meat added to vegetables. The food cooks quickly, creating a special texture and flavor besides giving crispy bites. In stir-frying the food losses its moisture, the crispiness and color of the vegetables diminish.
  8. Researchers believe a Mediterranean diet with sauteed vegetables with olive oil and nuts is healthy and benefits in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Although stir-fried food is oilier, it is healthy.

These are the differences between sautéing and stir-frying.

Also Read: Ways To Fix Grainy Caramel Sauce

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