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Myth: Searing meat or fish seals in the juices

TRUTH:  What?! Not true?! How can that possibly not be true?!  Those of you who pride yourselves on searing the perfect steak may be cringing at the thought that your method isn’t logical – it’s madness!  This myth has run rampant for years and I still hear chef’s publicly repeating it.

And there isn’t just one study out there that debunks this one, there are many.  As compared to roasting, searing (and then roasting) actually yields a greater loss in water.  Granted, the water loss is less than 2% of its weight – but still!

Don’t get me wrong – continue to sear your meat because it will be more flavorful.  The browning process (aka Maillard Reaction) creates more flavor and texture – but if you sear after you roast, you’ll retain more moisture.  Fish, some cuts of beef or other meat that you might want to eat rare might not go in the oven so be careful not to burn the crust!

BOTTOM LINE: Though famous chefs have sworn by searing, their meat is probably slightly less juicer than a roasted cut.  However, properly seared meats will be deeper in flavor from browned fat and protein.  Some tips:

  • Cook meat at room temperature
  • Use a very hot searing pan
  • Place the fattiest side down first (i.e. the skin for chicken, turkey, duck, fish)
  • For quick searing, constantly monitor while cooking



  1. Alton Brown’s Good Eats ‘To Sear or not to Sear
  2. Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide

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2 Comments to "Myth: Searing meat or fish seals in the juices"

  1. Corey Schuler says:

    Doesn’t searing at any point cause the production of carcinogenic chemicals? Heterocyclic amines?

    • Kate Gardner says:

      Yes, Corey — it does! Great question and thank you for contributing. For those of you who might not know, burning (blackening) of foods creates cancer-promoting compounds in the foods. The amount that might cause damage however, is hard to measure because cancer has a variety of causes and factors so, as with most foods, brown your meat/fish conservatively and eat it in moderation.

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