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Seasoning a Stainless Skillet?

I'm not sure this is the correct board or not, but here goes. I recently purchased a stainless steel skillet at a restaurant supply shop. Its a nice skillet with the thicker sandwiched bottom for even heat, but as I feared lots of things stick to it. It's great for doing something you want to deglaze and make a sauce, but not for much else. The thing was only $15 so I thought I would give it a try anyway. Here's the question. To try to give it a more nonstick surface will seasoning this like you would a cast iron skillet (oil, then bake in oven for an hour at around 350 degree F) work? I can imagine the pores will open upon application of heat on this material just like a cast iron skillet. The thing I am thinking is this material, being smoother than cast iron probably has smaller more uniform pores and the seasoning step might not do any good, or will be less effective for that reason.


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  1. It's not going to do much good unfortunately. You'd be better to use the oil and pan sauteing some onions. Keep it hot, let the food sear, don't try to cook an omelet in the thing, and enjoy your (cheap) pan!

    1. That's the reason why there are no stainless steel pans in my kitchen. Useless for building up a natural non stick surface, they don't react as quickly as aluminum and don't hold heat as well as cast iron.

      The worst of both worlds.

      1. I don't agree. I've gotten rid of all of my nonstick pans, and purchased several Cuisinox Elite 3-ply (stainless sandwiched around a core of aluminum on the bottom and sides). As Jambalaya noted, her new skillet IS aluminum (the "thicker sandwiched bottom"), so the heat conductivity is not the problem.

        I cook everything in my stainless pans, including omelettes. The trick is to heat the pan first, before adding any oil or other ingredients. Do it this way, swirl the fat over the bottom surface, and you'll have a virtually non-stick pan. For searing steak, heat the pan on high, lightly oil the meat rather than the pan, and you'll have results that will rival cast iron pans.

        3 Replies
        1. re: FlavoursGal

          I too have been getting rid of my non-stick. But the stainless I have is still not my go-to.
          Nor then always cast-iron, sad to say (even though I love it for sooo many things). What I am loving these days is the plain old carbon steel that can hold a seasoned surface like crazy.
          I have two woks of this material, seasoned. Several steel baking sheets, also seasoned, serve my needs incredibly well.

          I still would love to wake up and find that the All-Clad elves left me a full set. Am I crazy? I've been cooking for years on what I have...I'd love to hear from stainless owners on how they build up their pans, if only so I can whine a bit for a 12 inch All-Clad!

          1. re: cayjohan

            I had an All-Clad frypan and tossed it, though I like AC saucepans.. I too now use French carbon-steel pans and Le Creuset.. According to Jeff Smith, at least, it's impossible to season stainless steel.

            1. re: mpalmer6c

              you must have one happy garbage man

        2. Not to pick an argument, but omelettes gliiiiide out of my cast iron egg pan. I mean, we're talking a Barrie White kinda glide here. I doubt a stainless pan could match that performance without the food virtually swimming in oil.

          But you know, we all cook differently and prefer different tools - and that's just as it should be. It would be a shame if we'd all follow the same rules.

          1 Reply
          1. re: andreas

            I have an ancient, discolored Le Creuset cast iron skillet that used to be my mom's. It's my favorite for cooking eggs. They slide right out.

          2. You don't usually season stainless steel pans. They simply require a different technique. When browning meat or seafood, you have two options (as FlavoursGal notes, heat the fat first):
            1. Let the meat/seafood sit for several minutes until a crust forms; it will then detach quite easily from the pan.
            2. Move the meat/seafood around in the pan for the first minute or two, after which it won't be as inclined to stick.

            Like every other piece of cookware, stainless steel skillets do some things better than others. I much prefer cast iron for eggs, potatoes, liver/sweetbreads and croutons sautéed with lardons for salads. When sautéing most vegetables or browning meat/seafood that's later going to be cooked in liquid (especially acidic liquids like lemon juice, tomatoes, wine or vinegar) or deglazed with wine, I much prefer stainless.

            1 Reply
            1. re: carswell

              Sorry, but I didn't say to heat the fat first. I said to heat the PAN, then add the fat...

            2. For those circumstances I use enameled cast iron. I see your point about acidic liquids especially, but I still can't get myself to cook with stainless - I just don't like the way a stainless steel pan....feels, is the best I can come up with. I realize that this is a personal bugbear only and in no way an absolute.

              1. Stainless steel pans cannot be 'seasoned' to make them non-stick. Sadly, you will need 2 sets of skillets: one stainless steel like you have, and an identical set that is the teflon sort of non-stick skillet.

                One hint, mentioned above a few times: regular stainless pans with a thick bottom can be made to be less sticky by always making sure that your pan is really hot before you add any ingredients.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jerry i h

                  I would hesitate to use the word "sets" there. I would agree with the idea and restate that it's a good idea to have a separate non-stick skillet or omelette pan for things like eggs and occasionally fish. No need for a whole duplicate set of cookware.

                2. I think most people are moving away from nonstick for health reasons. They really aren't necessary.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    I am one of these people. I haven't had a non stick pan for years now, can't say I've ever missed it.

                  2. I don't own nonstick anything any longer as I'm just too hard on my pots and pans, apparently. Thus all of my cookware is either stainless, aluminum, or cast iron. All are fabulous when used correctly, and for stainless and aluminum, the real key is getting the pan hot enough. Put your cooking fat/oil into the pan as it heats, and when you see the oil begin to shimmer (watch it closely, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about), you know you're ready to add your food. If the fat starts to smoke, you know you took it too far!

                    1. Non-stick works for me ... my Calphalon served me well.

                      Regarding non-stick, stainless or otherwise, consider the quote from one of the more controversial food gurus, Jeff Smith: Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."

                      Ya gotta love it.


                      1. No, unfortunately I don't think you can. I bought a Kitchen Aide 18/10 stainless steel 8" skillet and everything known to mankind sticks to it. I have used everything from oil to butter and it does not help at all. Worst purchase I ever made. Stick with cast iron!

                        1. My experience is that Stainless steel pans can't be washed with soap or they'll get sticky. Once it has been used, clean the pan immediately with water, plastic scrapers, and plastic scrubbers. Wipe clean and hang it up. Don't let the inside surface of the pan get scratched.
                          For cooking, pre-heat and then add oil. Allow the oil to get hot. Then add your food. I use a creuset on weekends to make omelets without any sticking.
                          If you've watched cooks in a working kitchen, they keep their pans hot between dishes over a flame, and wipe them with a rag after use.
                          Carbon steel and cast iron are superior, but not always practical for a home cook.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tre

                            Of course you can wash a stainless steel pan with soap and water!!

                          2. Oh, my goodness!!! This a.m. we were ready to through our stainless steel pans out the back door! So, I looked up this site and tried "hot pan-cold oil" theory. We used 1 tsp butter and scrambled 2 eggs. They swirled in the pan like it was teflon coated. AMAZING!! We're keeping the stainless steel! Thanks to you all.

                            1. The instructions that came with my Sitram pan suggested a light coating of oil on a hot stainless skillet, to create a coating sort of like seasoning a cast iron pan (I don't think the oil would get in the pores, though)... IIRC, the directions suggest repeating this later as well. Personally, I think this will just get you a gross, somewhat sticky pan, but just mentioning it here for what it's worth.

                              1. Yeah, "hot pan, cold oil" is the best trick ever... thanks!!!

                                1. The only opinion i've been able to find on the
                                  matter is from Jeff Smith, who says it can't be seasoned.
                                  In my experience this is true. I rate stainless as easily
                                  the worst surface for frying. Sure looks pretty
                                  in the ads, though.

                                  1. It's been eight years but I'll add in my two cents.
                                    I've had luck with a "seasoning" layer of oil for my 7.5 inch All-Clad pan. You can't season it the way you do for cast iron or carbon steel, but I think there's a slight improvement when it comes to food sticking. I follow this method of seasoning from the Pot Shop Of Boston.
                                    But this is only for omelette pans and if you don't wash them or use it for anything but eggs and crepes.
                                    For regular cooking I just wipe a very thin layer of oil on the pan with a paper towel after it has fully preheated, wait about 15 seconds then add in your desired amount of oil when ready. I think food sticks less that way.