Learn How to Avoid Food Sticking to Stainless Steel Cookware

All-Clad D5 Stainless Steel Fry Pan

Food sticking to stainless steel cookware is a real nuisance. Learn these tips on how to avoid the sticking and love your stainless steel cookware. Stainless Steel Cookware is healthy, safe, hygienic, and attractive. Many cooks have difficulty with stainless steel cookware because of food sticking to the cookware surface. Cooking in stainless steel cookware does not have to be difficult. In this article, I will cover the major reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware, and how to avoid it.

Why Food Sticks to Cookware

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Cookware SetIn my article “Why Food Stick to Cookware,” I covered the 4 major culprits. Here, I will discuss the primary reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware. The answer is: heat. Too much of it.

Stainless steel by itself is not a good conductor of heat. An all stainless steel fry pan will have hotspots where some parts of the pan will get hotter than other parts, causing uneven heating, and making it much more difficult for the cook. The cook has to toss, turn, flip, and move the food often to allow a more even heating. The constant attention can often lead to undesirable results.

Consequently, quality cookware manufacturers (see below) layer, or clad, their stainless steel cookware with aluminum and/or copper to provide a superior and even heat distribution throughout the cooking surface. A result of such aluminum and/or copper cladding is that the pan or skillet heats up and retains heat quicker and longer.

When stainless steel cookware is clad with aluminum and/or copper, the pan or skillet will get hotter at any given heat setting compared to cookware not clad with aluminum and/or copper.

Understand that even when you learn how to avoid food sticking to stainless steel cookware, it is NOT nonstick. Some foods will almost always stick to stainless steel cookware. Make a cheese omelette and cleanup will be difficult. Stainless Steel cookware is excellent when you want a fond for sauces, but not great for some delicate foods. In these cases, a good nonstick skillet will come in very handy.

How to Avoid Food Sticking

The use of proper heat settings is crucial. Here is how I use my stainless steel cookware effectively:

1. Set your stove burner on medium – 50%. Place the pan or skillet on the burner and preheat at this level for about 3-5 minutes. Pre-heating is essential! Pre-heating actually helps the stainless steel close the surface pores giving the food less area to stick. 

2. Add your butter, oil, or liquid to the pan or skillet. Let the liquid heat for 3-5 minutes until it is just about ready to smoke.

3. Reduce the heat setting to medium low – 30%.

4. Add your food.

5. Certain foods may start to sear, even at this heat level. Don’t worry as the food will release from the pan or skillet.

6. Finish cooking at this heat level.

7. After you enjoy your meal, clean the pan or skillet thoroughly, removing all oils or grease. Residual oil or grease will cause sticking also.

Enjoying Your Stainless Steel Cookware

When using the proper heat settings, food sticking to stainless steel cookware will not be a problem. Naturally, there are times when you do want food to stick for browning or searing. The proper heat setting gives you control over when food is to stick, or not stick.

Read more about stainless steel cookware.

Some quality manufacturers to check out include: All-CladCalphalonCuisinart, and Demeyere.



aluminum, clad, copper, food sticking, heat, oil, pre-heat, stainless steel

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