Hey guys! This is Kevin with a handy tip for making your stainless steel pans nonstick.
If you’re anything like me, when you first started cooking with a stainless steel pan, you probably realized that even with oil, food will stick to it like crazy. That is no reason to give up just yet! Read on to find out how you can make your stainless steel pans just as good as nonstick pans for most things you cook!
Stainless steel skillets are great for searing meats and veggies to get that nice char on them but can be a pain to work with if you don’t know how to keep your food from sticking to it. One of my first experiences with a stainless steel pan was when I tried to sear a filet of salmon. The first side had developed a beautiful crust, but when I went to flip it, the meat was stuck to the pan. I ended up scraping at the filet until I could flip it, but in the process, I lost almost all of the crust.
This led me to do some research on how to properly cook with stainless steel cookware. When the pan is cold, the surface is covered with microscopic holes. If you put your meat in too early, these holes will “latch” onto the meat as the pan heats up, which is what causes it to stick.
The secret is to preheat your stainless steel pan on medium-high heat before you put in your food. Don’t put your oil in yet though! You’ll know when the pan is ready when you splash some water on it and the water balls up and dances across the surface of the pan (this is known as the Leidenfrost Effect).
Another important caveat is that the colder your food is, the more likely it is to stick to your pan. That’s because when you put it on the preheated skillet, it will instantly bring down the temperature, causing all the work of preheating the skillet to go to waste. So make sure you let your food warm up a bit on the counter before cooking it! For the same reason, you should never overcrowd your pan, as that will also bring down the temperature of the pan too much.
Follow these instructions, and you should (almost) never have to worry about your food sticking to your stainless steel pan ever again!
Before You Start
Take out whatever you’re planning on cooking and let it warm up a bit to room temperature. Also make sure to pat it dry
Preparing Your Pan
- Heat up your skillet over medium-high heat without oil
- After waiting for a few minutes, try splashing some cold water onto the surface. If the water instantly evaporates, wait a few more minutes. The pan is ready when the water forms balls and dances across the surface (refer to the video below)
- Add your cooking oil and wait for it to heat up
- Put whatever you’re cooking into the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and you’re good to go!
Does this mean I don’t need nonstick pans anymore?
Absolutely not! While these tips will help make most food stop sticking to your stainless steel cookware, some food just need to be cooked in a nonstick pan. Most notably, it will be very difficult to cook a sunny-side-up egg in a stainless steel pan.
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