Why You Should Never Overload A Pan, According To Rachael Ray

Whether you're sautéing vegetables, browning ground beef, or searing chicken thighs, you need two things: a pan and a stove. There are plenty of different types of pans — stainless steel, cast iron, nonstick, and ceramic, to name a few. Regardless of the kind you choose, there are universal techniques to cook food in a pan properly. While you might be tempted to just dump your ingredients in and stir them every so often, that blasé attitude could ruin — or at least take away from — your final dish. You could end up with meat that's too done on the outside yet still raw on the inside, vegetables that have turned soggy, or a sauce that's burnt to the bottom of the pan thanks to high heat.

According to Rachael Ray, one of the worst mistakes you can make when cooking on the stove is overcrowding your pan — a.k.a. putting too much food in at once. She recently shared why this is such a faux pas in a video on her Instagram. Here are Rachael's thoughts on the common error and how you can avoid it.

Your food won't cook properly

So, we know that putting too much food in a pan isn't the best idea — but why is that? Rachael Ray recently answered that exact question in an Instagram video. "When we crowd a pan, we end up sweating the food instead of browning the food," she explains as she sears meat on the stove. FYI: "Sweating" food is a cooking technique that involves softening it rather than crisping or browning it, like how onions get almost translucent (via The Spruce Eats). The Huff Post cautions that this method will turn your food "wet and gray," which likely isn't the result you're going for.

If you have more ingredients than can comfortably fit in your pan, Rachael recommends cooking your food in two batches instead of trying to force it all in at once. Real Simple adds that you can keep your first batch warm on a plate covered in foil or in the oven at a low temperature while you wait for the second to cook.