Cooking Solutions: Avoid Overcrowding the Pan

Piling too many ingredients into a skillet or baking sheet results in pale, flavorless food. Here's what to do instead.

When too many ingredients are in one pan, the heat from the skillet gets trapped under the food and creates steam. The food cooks, but it won’t get that delicious caramelized crust that makes meat succulent and potatoes and vegetables caramelized and crisp.

Instead, give every piece of food some breathing room in the pan. Make sure pieces aren’t touching one another so that heat and air can circulate around them. This will help your food develop color, which means flavor, and lock in moisture.

If you don’t have a large enough skillet or baking sheet, cook in batches. Keep the first batch warm on a plate tented with foil or in a low-temperature oven while you prepare the second.

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