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Dec 2, 2006 01:22 PM

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.

      5 Replies
      1. re: andreas

        I refuse to use aluminum pans. I worry the aluminum slowly leaches into whatever your cooking and is a contributor to Alzheimer disease. Especially when cooking acidic foods.

        1. re: delsgarden

          You'll likely want to avoid eating out, then. Straight aluminum pots are common in commercial kitchens.

          1. re: delsgarden

            There has been no proof that aluminum is a contributor to Alzheimer's Disease.

              1. re: sparrowgrass

                I'm sure you meant to tell that to delsgarden and not me. I never pay attention to those "natural" articles or blogs where people tell their readers to avoid all cookware except glass. It's just paranoia fear mongering.

        2. 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.

          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...