How To Use A Stainless Steel Pan

Are you new to using stainless steel pans? Stainless steel pans are prized for their excellent heat distribution and durability, making them a favourite among home cooks and professional chefs alike.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the essential first steps of using a stainless steel pan

  • Starting with proper cleaning and care.
  • Then, we’ll explain how to heat the pan to just the right temperature - to avoid food sticking.
  • We'll share insights on the best oils to use that won't smoke.
  • Plus tips for frying and deglazing.
These initial steps not only boost your cooking performance but also extend the life of your pan.

Shop all stainless steel pans here

Using a stainless steel pan for the first time

When using a stainless steel pan for the first time, you can do a few little things to prepare it correctly. Start by washing the pan with warm soapy water to remove any manufacturing residues. Rinse it well and dry it thoroughly.

Before you start cooking, heat the pan medium heat. Once hot, add oil and spread it evenly over the surface. This creates a temporary non-stick layer - for the first time you cook with your pan.

How do you keep food from sticking to stainless steel pans?

Preventing food from sticking in stainless steel pans is simple with the right technique.

  • Apply the water droplet 'dance' test
  • Use the right oil
  • Do not move your food too early

First, heat the pan properly before adding oil. Splash a few drops of water on the hot pan surface. If the water turns into little balls that 'dance' you're ready to start cooking. 

Next, add oil and swirl it around to cover the pan. This creates a barrier that prevents sticking. Always use oil with a high smoke point, like rapeseed or vegetable oil, for the best results. Olive oil will smoke if it gets too hot.

Add food only once the oil is hot but not smoking.

Cold food is more likely to stick, so let items like meat come to room temperature first.

Remember, don't overcrowd the pan. This helps maintain the right temperature and prevents sticking.

Finally, do not move your food until the 'maillard reaction' has taken place. This is the browning process of cooking, that means food creates a crust. Food will lift off from the pan itself once this has taken place.

To know more on how to prevent food from sticking to your stainless steel pan, read our guide here.

How do you cook with stainless steel pans?

Stainless steel pans are a staple in kitchens for their durability and versatility. Here’s a straightforward guide to cooking with them.

  1. Preheat the Pan. Place your pan on the stove over medium heat. Let it warm up for a few minutes. 
  2. Test the Temperature. Drop a small amount of water into the pan. If it dances or sizzles, it’s ready for cooking. If it evaporates instantly, lower the heat.
  3. Add Fat. Once the pan is preheated, add a thin layer of oil or butter. This creates a non-stick surface and adds flavour to your dishes.
  4. Cook Your Food. Place your ingredients in the pan. For meats, let them sear before flipping. Vegetables should be stirred occasionally.
  5. Adjust Heat as Needed. If ingredients start to stick or burn, reduce the heat. Stainless steel conducts heat well, so lower temperatures are often sufficient.
  6. Deglaze for Extra Flavour. After removing your food, add a splash of wine or broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to lift the brown bits. This is great for sauces.
  7. Clean Promptly. Once finished, soak the pan in warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge to clean it. Avoid steel wool to maintain the surface.

By following these steps, you’ll make the most of your stainless steel cookware. Whether searing meat or sautéing vegetables, these tips ensure successful, tasty outcomes.

Why does everything stick to my stainless steel pots and pans?

Food sticking to stainless steel pans is often due to the wrong heat - either too hot, or not hot enough. Ensure the pan is hot before adding oil; it helps create a natural barrier. 

Using too little oil can also cause sticking; always coat the surface lightly. Proteins, especially eggs and fish, are prone to stick more than vegetables. 

How do you fry eggs in a stainless steel pan without sticking?

Frying eggs in a stainless steel pan without them sticking is simple if you follow these steps:

  1. Preheat the Pan: Place your stainless steel pan on the stove over medium heat. Let it warm up for about two minutes. A properly heated pan ensures eggs won't stick.
  2. Add Fat: Once the pan is heated, add a thin layer of oil or a small knob of butter. Allow the fat to melt and coat the bottom of the pan. The oil should shimmer but not smoke.
  3. Crack the Eggs: Break the eggs into a bowl and then gently pour them into the pan to keep the yolks intact.
  4. Cook Undisturbed: Let the eggs cook without moving them. Watch for the edges to firm up, which usually takes about one to two minutes.
  5. Check for Stickiness: Use a spatula to gently lift the edge of the eggs. If they release easily, they are ready to be flipped.
  6. (Optional) Flip the Eggs: Carefully flip the eggs over to cook on the other side. Cook for another minute or until they reach your preferred level of doneness.
  7. Serve Immediately: Remove the eggs from the pan and serve them right away.

By following these steps, the eggs should slide out of the pan without sticking, making for a simple and enjoyable breakfast. The key is the initial heat of the pan and the amount of fat used.

Is it hard to cook with stainless steel?

Cooking with stainless steel is easy - and that’s why it’s such a popular choice with chefs. Stainless steel pans are favoured for their even heat distribution and durability. They can handle high heat and sear meat beautifully.

To know more on how to clean stainless steel cookware, read our guide here.

Why do chefs use stainless steel cookware?

Chefs prefer stainless steel cookware for its robustness and versatility. This type of cookware handles high temperatures well, making it ideal for techniques like searing meat and sautéing vegetables. Stainless steel doesn’t react with acidic or alkaline foods, so it’s excellent for cooking tomato sauces or lemon-infused dishes without altering flavours.

Another benefit is its durability. Stainless steel pots and pans resist warping, scratching, and tarnishing over time. They are also easy to maintain and can be cleaned without special products. This makes them suitable for the demanding environment of professional kitchens.

Moreover, stainless steel offers excellent heat conductivity and distribution, ensuring that food cooks evenly. For instance, a well-constructed stainless steel pan can provide the perfect sear on a steak without hot spots.

Can you use butter on stainless steel?

Yes, you can use butter on stainless steel cookware. Butter has a lower smoke point compared to oils like vegetable or canola. So it will bubble and start to brown quickly in a hot stainless steel pan.

For cooking at higher temperatures, consider clarifying the butter first, which removes the milk solids and increases its smoke point. This makes it more suitable for frying and sautéing without burning.

Using butter in stainless steel pans is common for browning meats, sautéing vegetables, and creating rich, flavorful sauces. The key is to manage the heat to keep the butter just below its smoking point to maximise flavour while minimising stickiness.

Can you use olive oil on stainless steel?

Yes, olive oil can be used on stainless steel cookware. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils, and is better suited for medium heat cooking or finishing dishes. It’s not the best choice for deep-frying. For higher heat, like searing meat, use light or refined olive oil which can handle higher temperatures without burning.

Browse our Stainless Steel Pots & Pans collection here


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