When Should You Use a Lid When Cooking?

Cooks new to the kitchen, and even experienced ones, often ask, “When should I cover my pot when?” This often stems from a lack of knowledge in regards to the purpose of a lid. Many people have no idea what the lid is for, why they would want to use it, and what would happen if they did. Here are a few pointers.


Do not use when steaming green vegetables!

If you are steaming green vegetables for more than five minutes, you should not add a lid to the pot. Adding a lid would trap the released chemicals in the pot and create a grey vegetable. While still edible, this is not a pretty sight! When steaming, you should leave the lid off to ensure that chemicals and steam released can escape. 

Do not use when reducing a sauce!

If you are making anything that requires a reduction, then a lid will be a no-go. Reductions require the steam, or water vapor, to leave the mixture. This will thicken your sauce. However, if you add a lid, you will be unable to let steam escape and therefore, be unable to thicken your sauce. 

Do not use when creating a Cheese or Egg Based Sauces

Sauces like Hollandaise will break or curdle if a lid is added. Rather, you should work at a low temperature to ensure that the mixture cooks without breaking. In addition, adding a lid can cause them to cook too fast and burn, two things that cheese-based sauces don’t need. 

Do use to speed up boiling water!

If you are looking to boil water fast, then you should add a lid to the pot. This will help retain the heat added to the pot so that the water boils faster. However, after the water is boiling, you should remove the lid and read the instructions to make sure it is or is not needed for the perfect meal.

Do use the lid when frying!

Though you should use a steam lid, frying is the perfect time to add a lid. The fine mist created when frying food will be trapped by the lid while the steam created can escape. This is great for busy kitchens or people that don’t like having to clean up the circle of splatter that ends up on the cooktop after a frying session.

Do use the lid when creating a stew!

If you like cooking stews, then lids should be in your kitchen. When cooking a stew, it is important to add a lid once the mixture starts to simmer. This will keep the liquid in the pot while also allowing for the mixture to cook and the flavors to meld together. However, don’t add the lid before the ingredients start to simmer. 

Do use with a crockpot!

Unless otherwise specified, a crockpot will always need a lid to cook. Though not a pot or pan, these do have a lid. The major difference here is slow cooking and the all-around heating that they get. If you forget the lid, then you might run into dry meat or soup at the end of the day. In addition, something sitting out and coking that long will need a lid for safety.