Cover and cook … when you should (and shouldn’t) use lids while cooking


Look we don’t like to make assumptions but for the purposes of this article we’re going to presume that you’ve got a few saucepans and frying pans, maybe even a crockpot or Dutch oven in your cupboards, and of course, their lids. We’re going to further assume that the saucepans and frying pans get used fairly often but we bet that those matching lids spend more time in the cupboard than they do out of them. Trust us, it’s not just you.  Most of us have a cupboard with lids that feel as though they don’t do much other than take up space. And while some recipes tell you when to cover with a lid, others just don’t give you any guidance, leaving you to wonder if you should cover or not. Here’s our top tips for when to put a lid on it and when you can leave it off.


1. Retaining heat – trying to bring something to the boil? Put a lid on it and it will come to the boil faster and save energy.

2. Stopping evaporation – got a saucy dish that’s the perfect consistency but the veggies aren’t cooked through (think stews, casseroles, or soups)? Cover with a lid and it will stop the liquid from evaporating allowing you to retain the consistency while still cooking the vegetables.

3. Steaming – the gentle, moist heat from steam is a great method of cooking things like seafood and vegetables. Put those lids to use when steaming for tender results without dryness.

4. Braising – another moist heat cooking method, braising is ideal for tougher cuts of meat that require moist heat over a longer period of time. Pop on a lid to trap in the moisture and you’ll be rewarded with mouth-wateringly tender meat.



1. Reducing – if you’re trying to thicken a sauce or soup, keep the lid in the cupboard. Evaporation is key in the reduction technique, so you want to allow that moisture to escape.

2. Searing or browning – that yummy crust on your steak comes from pan searing, and for that you need a very hot pan with no moisture. No lids for this one.

3. Stir-frying – another cooking method that requires a hot pan is stir-frying, so no lid is needed.

4. Deep-frying – never cover the pan when deep-frying as the steam created will gather on the lid and drip back into the hot oil. This is dangerous because the hot oil can erupt and splash you causing burns.

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