14 Types Of Meat That Benefit From Pan Roasting

Looking to cook a piece of meat that's perfectly seared and crisp on the outside and juicy and tender when you cut into it? Then you need to try pan roasting. Pan roasting is a culinary technique that starts with searing in a hot pan on the stove and then transferring it into the oven. This method can be applied to a whole variety of different proteins, including fish, meat, and poultry.

There's nothing like the rich, decadent taste of a piece of meat that's been seared. For this, we have the Maillard reaction to thank, which is a chemical process responsible for the caramelization of meat. But how does the Maillard reaction actually work? When a piece of meat is heated, the naturally occurring sugars and amino acids in the meat react with one another, which produces a delicious compound. Hooray, science! So fire up your stove and preheat your oven, because we're going to tell you about the absolute best meats to pan roast.

1. Chicken thighs

Chicken thighs have always been a crowd favorite, and for good reason. They have a higher fat content than the leaner white meat portions of the chicken, which means they offer a more juicy, succulent culinary experience. When you're pan-roasting chicken thighs, be sure to leave the skin on when you sear them so that the fat drips into the pan and the thigh meat has a chance to luxuriate in the flavor of the drippings. The resulting salty, crispy skin perfectly contrasts the tender interior when the meat finishes cooking.

For the perfect pan-fried chicken thighs, you are going to want to use a good amount of butter. Make sure you get a pan large enough to accommodate all of your meat comfortably so that the skin has a maximum surface area for searing in the butter and getting nice and getting nice and crisp, usually about five minutes on each side before you place the pan in the oven. Pan-roasted chicken thighs pair nicely with a grain like quinoa or rice that can absorb some of the fatty juices rendered by the cooking process.

2. Ribeye

There's nothing like hearing the sizzle of a steak hit a hot pan. As the sugars and amino acids in the steak heat up, they caramelize, giving the outside of the steak a meaty, complex flavor profile. 

Ribeye is known for having a lot of marbling, a term that refers to the type of fat that is distributed within the muscle (and sort of looks like the pattern you might see in actual marble). Marbling is part of what makes ribeye one of the best meats for pan roasting and it's also why overcooking a ribeye steak usually won't ruin it. When you place the meat in the hot pan, the marbled fat renders and covers the steak meat, infusing it with a velvety richness that makes the steak melt in your mouth. Pan roasting is perfect for ribeye because, unlike some other cuts of meat, ribeye should be cooked at least medium-rare so that all of the fat has a chance to melt to give the inside of the meat the juiciest possible texture to balance out the caramelized exterior.

3. Turkey cutlets

Turkey cutlets are a great option for pan roasting when you're looking for a meal that's lean, healthy, and full of flavor. Cutlets are portions of boneless meat that are thinly sliced and sometimes pounded before they're cooked, which means they tend to cook very quickly. When you place your turkey cutlets in a hot pan, they just need a couple of minutes to brown on the outside so that they get nice and crisp before you place them in the oven to fully cook in their own juices.

Turkey has a naturally mild, delicate flavor profile that easily takes on the taste of the seasonings that are added to it, meaning you have a lot of latitude in terms of making pan-roasted cutlets that taste the way you want them to. When you make pan-roasted turkey cutlets, try using aromatics to give your turkey a rich, savory taste.

4. Veal medallions

While veal may be the most controversial cut of meat on this list, we would be remiss if we didn't include it. Veal medallions are cut from the tenderloin of the cow, which is one of the leanest, most tender cuts available, and they don't have the dense connective tissue that can make some other cuts less appetizing. This makes veal medallions a perfect candidate for pan roasting, which is a quick way to crisp up the exterior of the meat before you cook it all the way through.

Medallions take the form of small, irregular circles that are usually cut about an inch thick. Place them in a hot pan until the surface gets golden brown, invoking our beloved Maillard reaction to allow the veal's naturally umami flavor to soar to new heights. If you're looking to add some depth to your pan-roasted veal, try adding mushrooms, which pair perfectly with the robust flavor of the meat. 

From a moral and ethical standpoint, there are questions about whether or not veal is okay to eat. That said, the process of raising calves for veal has come a long way in the United States, where most are raised in large pens or pastures.

5. Salmon

There are a number of ways to cook salmon. You can grill it, poach it, and even make it into salmon cakes, but pan-roasting salmon is one of the best ways to get the most out of this tasty, versatile fish. Placing the salmon into a hot, oiled skillet fries up the skin so that you get a nice salty crunch when you take your first bite. Once the salmon is crisply seared on both sides, simply transfer the skillet to an oven to let the interior of the fish cook through to give you a silky texture. Pan-roasting salmon is a quick, easy way to ensure that you're maximizing the flavors and textures for an optimum eating experience.

Salmon is not only one of the tastiest proteins to pan roast, but it's also one of the healthiest; per Healthline, it's packed with healthy fats, vitamin B, and a whole host of healthy nutrients. Though salmon has a naturally wonderful, creamy flavor on its own, you can add lemon or dill if you'd like to give your dinner an added zing.

6. Lamb chops

Few things appear more appetizing to a serious carnivore than a plate of lamb chops. Just the image of thin, roasted bone jutting out from a steaming cut of lamb is enough to make your mouth water. When you're cooking lamb chops, it's important to preserve the natural juiciness of the lamb's tender interior while giving the exterior of the meat a slightly caramelized char, which is why they're perfect for pan roasting. When they're done searing in the skillet, transfer your chops to a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven and let them continue to cook up for a few minutes — the amount of time, of course, depends on how rare you prefer your lamb. 

Lamb has a naturally earthy flavor that pairs well with a whole host of herbs and spices. Rosemary is a classic choice because of its strong, fragrant, aroma that perfectly compliments the natural flavors of lamb. They're delicious on their own or paired with a side of vegetables.

7. Venison loin

Even though you can't find it at every grocery store, venison loin has a unique, gamey flavor that lends itself wonderfully to pan roasting. Venison is the meat from deer, which is not as juicy and fatty as most cuts of beef, but has a forest-like flavor and is leaner and smoother. Gamey meats like venison pair well with strong herbs like rosemary and sage, and you can make a dry rub by mixing some of these herbs with salt and pepper and covering the venison loin with it before it hits the pan.

And venison isn't only a feast for the stomach, it's also a feast for the eyes. Slices of pan-roasted venison boast a charred brown exterior; the middle of a slice of venison loin is a deep, inviting shade of burgundy that tantalizes the senses. Because of its lean composition, venison is also a healthy alternative for carnivores who want to get their red meat fix without the added fat. And remember, you want to avoid overcooking venison because it can easily get rubbery.

8. Pork tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is a culinary gem that shines when it is pan-roasted. This tender and juicy cut usually has some marbled fat that renders into the pan when you sear it and allows the pieces of pork to be cooked in their own fatty juices. Pork tenderloin sometimes comes with some connective tissue that needs to be removed before cooking, so be sure to use a small, sharp knife to trim your loin, leaving only the nice, juicy part.

Pork has a more mild flavor profile than most red meats, and it's arguably the most versatile of meats. So when you pan-roast it, you can use a variety of seasonings depending on what kind of flavor you're looking for; anything from salt to paprika to brown sugar can work well. What's more, pork packs some health benefits. According to Livestrong, pork tenderloin is full of B vitamins, protein, and more. 

9. Duck breast

If you're in the mood for an indulgent piece of poultry, get yourself a duck breast and fire up your cast iron skillet. Duck breast has a fattier, richer, gamier flavor profile than other, more commonly cooked poultry like turkey and chicken. The fatty layer of skin on a duck breast is what makes it perfect for pan roasting. When you sear the duck breast in the pan before it goes in the oven, it produces an exceptional amount of fatty juices that take the flavor of pan-roasted duck breast to the next level.

To maximize the level of flavor, you should wait until the duck fat renders in the pan and then spoon it over the piece of duck breast as it cooks. Once you sear the breast on both sides so that you have a nice, crispy skin, you can finish the breast in the oven until it is cooked through and ready to serve. Duck breast is unique because it goes well with both sweet and savory flavors. Whether you opt for a fruity glaze or a hearty dry rub, you're sure to enjoy a pan-roasted duck breast.

10. Swordfish

Swordfish is an especially hearty fish, which makes it ideal for pan roasting. While other fish might fall apart in the pan, swordfish holds up exceptionally well when you cook it. As it sears in the pan, the exterior of the swordfish lightly caramelizes as the fat seeps out of the fish. After a quick toast on either side, you can transfer the swordfish to the oven to finish cooking it.

Although swordfish tastes amazing with a simple salt and pepper seasoning, you can level up your pan-roasted swordfish with herbed butter or tangy sumac. Swordfish doesn't dry out easily, so you won't have to worry about overcooking as much as you would with other types of fish. And as Healthline points out, it also happens to be a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium. On top of that, swordfish is high in protein and low in fat. 

11. Filet mignon

Few cuts of meat sound as luxurious as filet mignon. And yes, it tastes even better than it sounds, especially when you put in the work to pan-roast it. Filet mignon is definitely a cut above, and that's partly because of how small the cut of meat actually is. As Omaha Steaks notes, filet mignon forms the very tip of the tenderloin, meaning it only makes up about 3% of the animal.

When you pan-roast your filet mignon, it is best to use a cast iron skillet so that you can immediately transfer the meat to the oven after you sear it; no need to create more work by attempting to transfer the steaks from one pan to another. Searing the meat before it hits the oven induces the Maillard reaction, making the exterior crusty and extra meaty. And you should follow Gordon Ramsay's ultimate tip for searing the perfect steak: don't be shy about the salt and pepper.

12. Chicken breast

When in doubt, you usually cannot go wrong with chicken breasts. It is a lean part of the chicken, making it a good source of protein, but also means it's easy to overcook and dry out. Pan-roasting chicken is undoubtedly one of the best chicken breast recipes because it keeps the flavors and moisture locked into the breast meat so that you don't end up with dry, tough chicken meat. We recommend that you choose chicken breast with the skin on it because chicken skin contains fat, which renders into the pan when you sear the breast and coats the meat with a whole lot of flavor.

The mild taste of chicken breast makes it a blank canvas that can take on a huge variety of flavors. You can keep it simple with salt and pepper or dress it up with herbs and spices to tantalize your taste buds.

13. New York strip steak

New York strip steak is one of the most popular cuts of steak you can pick up from your butcher. It comes from the short part of the loin, which is a part of the animal that doesn't have very much muscular activity, which makes New York strip a particularly marbled, fatty cut. As we've learned, this fattiness makes it a perfect cut for pan roasting because the fat renders in the pan when it's seared, invoking the Maillard reaction.

Although it isn't the most tender cut available, when you pan-roast a New York strip steak, the fat gets a chance to render in the pan and the Maillard reaction gives you a wonderfully savory crust before you put it in the oven to cook it to your desired temperature. We recommend you enjoy your New York strip rare or medium rare. That way, you the taste of the nice char on the outside of the steak as well as the juicy interior. 

14. Cornish game hen

If you want to build a meal around poultry, but you're tired of your standard chicken or turkey dinner, you might want to try a Cornish game hen. These birds are small, so you can pan-roast the entire bird to bring out its juicy, tender texture and robust, slightly gamey flavor. After you rub your Cornish game hen with oil, place it in the pan skin side down to get the fatty skin nice and crisp.

After your hen cooks in the oven, you can use the drippings to make a delicious, savory sauce. Deglaze your pan with some dry wine and add broth, herbs, spices, and butter and reduce it. You can then use this sauce to cover your hen to give it an added depth of flavor. Cornish game hens cook much more quickly than other chickens because of their smaller size, and they have an elegant, refined look, especially when pan-roasted and garnished with herbs.