For most cooking, I like to keep the lid on the pot as much as possible, except if the technique requires otherwise (e.g. reducing a sauce). From what I can tell, most flavour comes from Mailliard reactions, which do not require oxygen.

Are there any reactions in food which require the presence of oxygen (i.e., lid off)? Of so, with what ingredients, flavours and/or techniques are these reactions associated?

  • 7
    I doubt you are eliminating or limiting oxygen with the lid on a pan. The lid mainly limits evaporation and evaporative cooling.
    – moscafj
    Oct 17, 2020 at 11:32
  • +1 for @moscafj's comment. Moisture retention seems like a much bigger differentiator. Steam trapped by the pan lid will certainly affect the final dish in many cases.... But I'm not sure that oxygen/oxidization plays a part in most dishes
    – AMtwo
    Oct 17, 2020 at 13:01
  • I mostly used the lid-on-pan as an example. There are many processes (preserving, sous-vide, ...) which limit available oxygen. I just wondered how that influences the final result from a chemical point of view. Of course, this would be one of many factors.
    – Sanchises
    Oct 17, 2020 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Oxygen will oxidize food, and oxidized food is a sign of degradation (brown bananas, brown apple ...)

The only thing that comes to mind with oxygen, is its use in wine making.

"In some wines, oxidation is used to create an effect or to ensure that the wine conforms to a particular style. In others, it’s a misstep that leads to a spoiled bottle. And yet oxidation, in which juice comes into contact with oxygen, is an unavoidable part of the winemaking process."

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