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Fricassee vs. Ragout — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 3, 2024
Fricassee is a French stew made by sautéing meat without browning and then simmering it in a white sauce, while ragout involves browning the meat and cooking it in a thicker, often tomato-based sauce.
Fricassee vs. Ragout — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Fricassee and Ragout


Key Differences

Fricassee involves lightly sautéing meat, typically chicken, in butter without allowing it to brown, which helps retain a delicate flavor. On the other hand, ragout requires browning the meat first, enhancing its flavor and color through caramelization.
In fricassee, the meat is cooked with vegetables and broth and then finished with a white sauce, often made with cream or egg yolks, providing a creamy texture. Whereas ragout is generally cooked in a red wine or tomato-based sauce, contributing to a richer and more robust sauce.
The cooking process for fricassee is relatively gentle and done over low heat to maintain the tenderness and moisture of the meat. In contrast, ragout is often simmered for a longer period over low heat to break down tougher cuts of meat and meld flavors.
Fricassee is typically served as a refined, light dish suitable for elegant dining experiences, focusing on the delicate balance of flavors. Ragout, however, is more rustic and hearty, often served in casual settings or as comfort food.
Herbs and spices in a fricassee are usually more subdued, with bay leaves, thyme, and parsley being common. Ragout uses a broader and bolder range of seasonings, including garlic, rosemary, and sometimes stronger spices like paprika.

Comparison Chart


No browning of meat
Meat is browned

Sauce Base

White sauce (cream or egg yolks)
Red wine or tomato-based sauce

Cooking Time

Shorter, gentle cooking
Longer, slow cooking

Dish Type

Elegant, refined
Rustic, hearty

Common Spices

Bay leaves, thyme, parsley
Garlic, rosemary, paprika

Compare with Definitions


A method of cooking meat where it's sautéed and simmered in a white sauce without browning.
The chef prepared a chicken fricassee that included a smooth, velvety sauce.


A hearty stew of meat and vegetables, where the meat is browned before being cooked in a thick sauce.
She served a beef ragout that had simmered all day, filling the kitchen with rich aromas.


Often uses chicken as the main ingredient, sometimes including vegetables.
Their special today is a rabbit fricassee with garden fresh carrots.


Usually made with tougher cuts of meat that benefit from long, slow cooking.
The lamb ragout was tender and flavorful, thanks to hours of slow cooking.


Characterized by its light, creamy sauce which is integral to the dish.
He thickened the fricassee sauce with a roux to achieve the perfect consistency.


Often served with pasta or polenta to complement its robust sauce.
The wild mushroom ragout paired beautifully with the creamy polenta.


Fricassee or fricassée is a stew made with pieces of meat that have been browned in butter that are served in a sauce flavored with the cooking stock. Fricassee is usually made with chicken, veal or rabbit, with variations limited only by what ingredients the cook has at hand.


Ragout (French ragoût; French pronunciation: ​[ʁaɡu]) is a main-dish stew.


Poultry or meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy.


A well-seasoned meat or fish stew, usually with vegetables.


To prepare (poultry or meat) by cutting into pieces and stewing in gravy.


A mixture of diverse elements.


Meat or poultry cut into small pieces, stewed or fried and served in its own gravy.


A stew of meat and vegetables mixed together


To cook meat or poultry in this manner.


(by extension) any stew, soup, or sauce


A dish made of fowls, veal, or other meat of small animals cut into pieces, and stewed in a gravy.


(transitive) To prepare (food) as a ragout.


To dress like a fricassee.


A dish made of pieces of meat, stewed, and highly seasoned; as, a ragout of mutton.


Pieces of chicken or other meat stewed in gravy with e.g. carrots and onions and served with noodles or dumplings


Well-seasoned stew of meat and vegetables


Make a fricassee of by cooking;
Fricassee meats

Common Curiosities

Is fricassee considered a healthy dish?

Yes, fricassee can be considered healthier due to its use of lean meats and gentle cooking process.

How long does it take to cook a fricassee?

A chicken fricassee typically takes about 30-45 minutes to cook, depending on the recipe.

What type of meat is best for ragout?

Tougher cuts of meat like beef chuck or lamb shoulder are ideal for ragout, as the slow cooking tenderizes the meat.

How do I thicken a fricassee sauce?

The sauce in a fricassee can be thickened using a roux or by adding cream.

What is the main difference between fricassee and ragout?

Fricassee is cooked without browning the meat and includes a white sauce, whereas ragout involves browning and uses a richer, often tomato-based sauce.

Can I use fish in fricassee or ragout?

Yes, fish can be used in fricassee, ideally suited for its gentle cooking method, while ragout typically uses tougher meat cuts.

Is fricassee suitable for a formal dinner?

Yes, fricassee is often considered elegant enough for formal occasions.

What side dishes go well with fricassee?

Lightly steamed vegetables and rice are perfect complements to fricassee.

How can I make ragout more flavorful?

Using a variety of herbs, spices, and a good quality wine can enhance the flavor of ragout.

Is fricassee always made with chicken?

While chicken is the most common meat, fricassee can also be made with other meats like rabbit or veal.

What herbs are typically used in ragout?

Common herbs in ragout include rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves.

Can ragout be made vegetarian?

Yes, ragout can be adapted for a vegetarian diet by using hearty vegetables and legumes instead of meat.

What is the origin of ragout?

Ragout originates from French cuisine, similar to fricassee, but has taken on various forms in different cultures.

What makes ragout different from other stews?

Ragout is characterized by its thick sauce and the initial browning of meat, which sets it apart from other types of stews.

Can leftover ragout be reheated?

Yes, ragout often tastes better the next day as the flavors meld overnight.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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