How to Sauté Vegetables 🌱 Here is everything you need to know to prepare your own deliciously easy sautéed vegetables and mushrooms! Vegan, gluten free and oil-free option.
Sautéing is a quick and simple way to tenderize and cook garden fresh veggies. By heating vegetables for a few minutes in a hot skillet, you can enhance the bright colors, flavors and textures of those gorgeous veggies, allowing them to shine through! Plus it's such a quick, easy & simple way to cook. Just my style!
Once you try it, I think you'll love this easy technique for preparing the best vegan sautéed vegetables. Follow my recipe at the bottom of this post to create the perfect side dish to serve with slices of Savory Herbed Tofu , Easy Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Mushroom Gravy.
Table of Contents
What is Sauté Cooking?
Easy Sautéed Vegan Vegetables sprinkled with homemade vegan parmesan
Sautéing is a cooking method that involves using a very small quantity of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. This process allows foods to lightly brown and cook quickly. Unlike roasting, air-frying, or baking, which can cause some vegetables to lose moisture and dry-out, sautéing allows vegetables to retain more of their juices. You'll also preserve more of the healthy, nutritional qualities by not over-cooking the vegetables.
The term sauté is from the French word meaning "jump" - in reference to the flipping or tossing motion some cooks use when turning the vegetables in a pan. I've always been impressed watching chefs use that technique. It's a skill I've yet to attain, primarily because I prefer to use cast iron pans, and would likely injure my wrist if I tried!
Vegetables - Select from an assortment of fresh veggies to sauté such as:
- Zucchini, summer and yellow squash
- Green beans
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Bell peppers
- Sweet peppers
- Snap peas
Cooking oil - I prefer to use a light oil with a higher smoke point, meaning the oil won't begin to smoke or burn at a lower temperature. I also like oils that won't impart a strong flavor into the veggies as they are cooking. Avocado oil, grape seed oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil are good choices. Olive oil is fine when cooked over reduced heat. Some vegan butters work well too.
Oil-free sautéing - If you prefer not to use oil, see the FAQ's below.
How to prep the vegetables
Rinse vegetables in water. Air dry or pat with a clean dish cloth or paper towel.
Zucchini and other squash should be cut into small pieces.
These mini squash have been quartered and sliced.
I prefer to peel carrots before cutting, but you can leave them on as well.
Root veggies, like carrots, should be cut in thin strips or rounds.
Slice or dice tender veggies, like onions and bell peppers into thin strips.
You can cut them into smaller pieces if preferred. Garlic can be minced into small pieces.
Mushrooms can be sliced, halved, or quartered. Small button mushrooms can be left whole.
Cherry tomatoes can be left whole or halved.
How to cook the vegetables
Place skillet over medium-high heat. You can test the temperature of your heated skillet by sprinkling a few drops of water into the pan. If the water sizzles, the pan is ready.
Pour a very small amount of cooking oil in the bottom of the pan. Use only enough to lightly coat the pan - about a tablespoon. Don't overheat the oil, as you don't want it to smoke or burn.
Next you'll be adding your vegetables. Carefully place your sliced veggies into the pan. TIP: Avoid getting splattered by making sure your veggies are dry before you add them.
I like to add veggies in this order:
- Onions, shallots, leeks, and garlic
- Root or dense vegetables - carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans
- Tender skinned vegetables
- Leafy vegetables - sauté just long enough to wilt - don't over-cook
As the vegetables cook, they tend to sweat, creating added liquid. Try not to overcrowd them. Be sure to leave room for some of the juices to evaporate. If you have a lot of veggies to prepare, it's better to sauté them in batches than cook them all at once.
Turn the veggies every minute or so with a flat spatula or tongs. It's ok if they get lightly browned, but not burned. Keep a close eye on onions and garlic, because they can burn quickly. Veggies should cook in less than 10 minutes or until just tender - not mushy.
How to season sautéed vegetables
While the veggies are cooking, add your dry seasonings. By incorporating the dried seasonings during sautéing, the heat and oil help awaken the flavor. Keep in mind that dry seasonings are more concentrated and intense in taste than fresh herbs, so use them sparingly. It's easier to add more as needed than vice-versa.
You can adjust the types of seasoning to use depending on the type of veggies you will be cooking, such as:
- Root veggies - I love rosemary, sage, thyme, dill
- Zucchini (any squash), bell peppers, tomatoes - Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, bay leaves (remove before serving).
- Mushrooms - basil, chives, sage
- All veggies - salt & pepper and my favorite all-purpose seasoning.
Fresh herbs - I love using fresh herbs, adding them after the veggies have cooked, to preserve the color and freshness. A sprinkle of chopped fresh basil, parsley, oregano, thyme or dill adds color and flavor.
Tips on how to sauté mushrooms
Mushrooms are ideally suited for sautéing, as it really brings out their flavor. I add them to rice dishes, pasta, sauces and gravies. They're a key ingredient in our fabulous vegan spinach mushroom quiche, mushroom seitan Wellington, and our cozy gardener's pie.
I like to sauté button mushrooms with fresh minced garlic, a small amount of olive oil, a splash of white wine and a pinch of sweet basil. Mushrooms sweat as they cook, so do give them some extra room in the pan. Once they are tender, it's time to remove them from the heat and enjoy.
Depending on the veggies you sauté, after they're done cooking, you might find bits of caramelized onion, garlic, mushrooms, or herbs stuck to the bottom of your pan. As long as they're not burned, that leftover stuff or "glaze" is ideal for making a gravy or sauce. Simply de-glaze the pan by adding some vegetable broth or wine over medium-high heat, and whisk in a small amount of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot powder until it thickens to the consistency you like. You can also add non-dairy milk to create a cream gravy or sauce. Learn more about making your own easy vegan mushroom gravy here.
Boost flavors by adding a splash of wine, vegetable broth or soy sauce while the veggies are cooking. I love to squeeze a bit of fresh lemon on top after the veggies have been removed from the heat. I enjoy them right out of the pan with a sprinkle of my favorite plant-based parmesan.
Can vegetables be sautéed without oil?
Yes, you can sauté without oil or fat - simply by replacing it with water or vegetable broth. The trick is to use only a very small amount, one to two tablespoons at a time, as needed. Be sure not to overcrowd your pan, as the veggies will steam from excess moisture. You want that to evaporate while cooking. Keep flipping or turning over the veggies so that they don't stick to the pan. Pull them from the heat as soon as they are tender.
Are sautéed vegetables vegan?
You would certainly hope so, but unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Many home cooks and restaurants prepare vegetables in butter, bacon grease, or lard. Whenever I dine out, I always ask if their dishes are cooked with animal fats. It's surprising how many do. I know, it's gross. That's why it is such a good idea to learn how to prepare your own using all vegan ingredients.
What can I serve with sautéed vegetables or mushrooms?
You can enjoy sautéed veggies as a simple side dish all on their own or paired with any of these delish dishes:
On top of pasta for a delicious & colorful pasta primavera sprinkled with this Easy Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots are perfect partners with Vegan Mexican Rice and soft tortillas for fajitas.
If you love this recipe ★★★★★ please be sure to rate it below! Sharing your experience lets me know that you enjoyed it and will help other readers decide if they should give the recipe a try too. Thanks a bunch!🥕
How to Sauté Vegetables (and Mushrooms)
- 10" or 12" Skillet or frying pan - stainless steel, cast iron, non-stick
- Heat-proof turner or tongs
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil Avocado, olive, grape seed, canola - your choice of oil without a low smoke point. 🥕See notes below for preparing without oil
- ½ red onion chopped
- 1 cup zucchini cut in small pieces
- 1 cup summer squash cut in small pieces
- 1 cup yellow squash cut in small pieces
- 1 cup green beans ends removed, cut in thirds
- ½ bell pepper red, yellow or orange - cut in thin strips
- 1 cup tomatoes cherry tomatoes - halved
- ½ teaspoon dried herbs or Italian seasoning I used Spike all-purpose seasoning in this recipe
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- Wash and slice your vegetables. Once your veggies are prepped, blot them dry with a clean towel.
- Place skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Test the temperature of your heated skillet by sprinkling a few drops of water into the pan. If the water sizzles the pan is ready.
- Pour a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Use only enough to lightly coat the pan - about a tablespoon or less. Don't overheat the oil as you don't want it to smoke or burn. 🥕See notes below for sautéing without oil.
- Carefully place sliced veggies into the pan. I suggest adding them in this order: 1. Onions 2. Green Beans 3. Bell Peppers 4. Zucchini and Squash 5. Tomatoes.Try not to overcrowd them. Be sure to leave room to allow some of the juices to evaporate. If your pan isn't large enough, it's better to sauté them in batches than to try to do them all at once.
- While the veggies are cooking add your dry seasonings. salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
- Turn or flip veggies with a heat proof spatula or tongs about once a minute. Sauté until the veggies are only slightly browned or tender - about 8-10 minutes or less. Be careful not to overcook them. Remove from heat.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.