Solving Food Sticking To Stainless Steel

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Sometimes food sticks to your stainless steel pan, right? You might want to cook without the sticking, especially with eggs — It’s tricky. While, the first thing that might come to mind is the amount of lubricant in the pan – oil or fat – it may not be the case. Here I cover cooking with stainless steel and tips on remedying the sticking…

cooking with stainless steel so food does not stick

Everything sticks to my stainless steel pan…why?

If the food is sticking to your stainless steel pan, it’s a good chance there’s not enough oil or fat in your pan to lubricate your cooking. Or, it’s the heat source heating too fast or too intense. Else, residue left in the pan or some other reason is causing the issue. Read on…

If you’re using open flames of gas, the heat will warm the cookware much faster and with more intensity than electric cooktops. Yes, gas heats much faster. My advice is to get to know and have a feel for how the settings of your cooktop works with your stainless steel cookware and try adjusting them as a first-off remedy.

Cooking with stainless steel vs Nonstick

Cooking with stainless steel vs nonstick cookware means adding oil or fat to the pan prior to adding the food to avoid the food sticking to the pan. Compared to nonstick, stainless steels allows for more cooking styles. Make sure you’re using a cooking oil with the right smoke point.

What you might use stainless steel in your kitchen for:

  • Sautéing, browning, deep-frying, stewing, braising, and boiling.
  • Searing or browning proteins adds the perfect crisp texture to the outside of your meats and other proteins. This cooking method requires high heat and the food to adhere to the pan. Something you are not going to get with most non stick frying pans.

You’ll find stainless steel cookware robust and versatile. My guide to stainless steel cookware has what to look for and includes options of nickel-free and USA-made in terms of stainless steel cookware.

Stainless steel pan by Made InUSA Made Stainless Steel Frying Pan
by the Made In company
Induction compatible
Oven Safe Temperature: 800ºF

How you can cook with stainless steel

With stainless steel, you can cook just about anything involving the following methods:

  • High temperature styles of cooking
  • Deep frying
  • Shallow frying
  • Searing 
  • Deglazing 
  • Browning 
  • Crisping 
  • Steaming
  • Boiling

How to cook with stainless steel pans without sticking

The following are simple steps to answering how to use a stainless steel pan without the sticking every time you wish to flip an egg or remove crumbed food from the pan. The main step to stop the sticking is pre-heating the pan.

Steps to avoid food sticking when frying:

  1. Allow chilled food to reach room temperature.
  2. Pre-heat pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Test to see if it is ready (A bit of butter sizzles when added to the pan; A sprinkling of water on the pan forms bubbles and moves around; the rim is near on too hot to touch).
  4. Add a spoonful of oil or fat. It will thin and spread (you might need to lift and tilt the pan to cover the surface).
  5. Now add your food.

Why pre-heat the pan

Preheating helps stop food sticking. Reasons to pre-heat:

  1. Oil or fat thins and spreads better.
  2. Less oil is needed.
  3. Hot spots even out.
  4. More control over the oil.
  5. Less chance of oil burning and tarnishing your stainless steel pan.
  6. Oil is more likely to be at the right temperature when adding the food.

Moist foods will stick more than others and some food will always stick. Other tips: Make sure the pan is completely clean; it has no remaining residue from the last time it was used. I wrote about how to clean burnt-on food from stainless steel to help in stubborn cases.

Bottom line

Experiment with these tips and see what works for you.

Here are my tips on cookware in general:

  • Think of your lifestyle as well as your cooking style
  • Match the cookware with how you cook and eat

Try the tips above to see what results you can achieve with your stainless steel cookware. Otherwise, you could complement your cooking set with a nonstick skillet as an option for fat-reduced nonstick cooking.

Why would you do eggs in a stainless steel pan? For one, it may be the only type of cookware on hand and some people just love using stainless steel cookware.

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