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Stainless steel fry pan - how to fry eggs without them sticking!!

Well, I've generally always used a non-stick fry pan for eggs, but I decided to try out my Kitchen Aid stainless steel version and can't figure out how to fry eggs, even bacon, without turning the pan into an absolute mess and leaving a good amount of the eggs crusted on the pan.

Anyone here have some tips???

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    1. re: thew

      I agree with thew. The egg should not be sticking if it's a good quality stainless pan and you're coating it with butter or a cooking spray like Pam. Infact the egg should slide around in the pan and then you can flip it over in the air to cook the other side. Try it...it's fun.

      1. re: thew

        More heat, less butter. Better yet, no butter (burns to easy). Use veg oil or lard or bacon fat.

        What the pan is made of is not very important. You can fry eggs in stainless, mild steel, aluminum, cast iron, enameled cast iron, or copper and if the temperature is right, you will be pleased with the results. Too cold and the eggs will stick. Too hot and the eggs will burn before they are ready to flip. It's a trial and error thing.

        1. re: thew

          If you do use butter -higly recommended to add flavor to your eggs. Use clarified butter,
          a little goes a long way AND it wont burn or scorch your eggs. While giving you a great flavor that other cooking oils wont give.

          1. re: thew

            Agree with less heat. I HATE a fried egg with brown edges. I either fry or scramble one egg every day in a stainless steel pan and never have sticking issues with the fried egg. I set the heat on low for scrambled and med-low to med. for fried. And I used a cooking spray to coat the pan. Bacon fat is the tastiest but I don't want those calories every day.

          2. What you need to do is "quick season" your pan. It's an old restaurant trick that works really well with modern multi-clad type pans. First, get the pan very hot then remove it from the heat and add about 1 tsp. veg oil. Swirl it around to coat the pan then add about a Tbsp. kosher salt. Using a wad of paper towels, grind the salt into the entire cooking surface of the pan like you're scouring the crap out of it. Dump out the salt and wipe clean with another paper towel. When it comes time to cook your eggs, heat about 1 teaspoon of oil to medium high, swirl it in the pan and add your eggs. It's important to keep this pan as an "eggs only" pan and NEVER wash it with soap and water, just wipe it out after you use it and repeat the seasoning process when necessary.

            17 Replies
            1. re: cheflars

              Great idea if you have the space and money for a eggs only stainless steel pan in your home. Not so great if you don't.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                I have no idea why you would ever dedicate a SS pan as an "egg only" pan instead of getting a nonstick.

                1. re: joonjoon

                  cause they're pretty and will last a lifetime as opposed to a year or two before wearing out?

                  1. re: adamf663

                    My "eggs only" pan is a big Silverstone skillet, it was a wedding gift in the mid 1970s. I treat it gingerly because I don't want the coating to wear off!

                2. re: HaagenDazs

                  You sound a little defensive. What's wrong with wanting to keep an eggs-only pan? It doesn't take up much room, after all, and they don't have to cost a lot.

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    I have an eggs only Silverstone pan, so old fashioned but I've never even thought about it really. Only for omelettes, I do my fried eggs on a cast iron grill. As long as you eat eggs often enough, makes sense to me! But we love our home cooked egg meals, I can't stand to get eggs out.

                    1. re: coll

                      Having a pan just for eggs only makes sense. Professionals season their steel pans and guard them against the dishwashers who might wipe out the finish. I use a small lodge cast iron pan. With the novelty of the stainless steel I want to try every way of cooking with them. But if they aren't as good as the good'ol'cast iron, I'm ok with that. Stainless is great for sauces; or if hot enough and have enough cooking oil like flash frying corn tortillas.

                3. re: cheflars

                  Cheflars,

                  Great tip!! It worked excellent. I fried eggs in my Cuisinart 8" SS frying pan last Sunday and it was a total disaster! I decided to search for a better idea and found your post. I followed the directions and the eggs did not even come close to sticking. They would slide around the skillet with ease. The difference was amazing. So much better than a non-stick pan. I wonder about the health aspects of frying on a "plastic" non-stick surface!

                  As for the dedicated egg pan idea that is a great idea too. I have done that in the past for other things.

                  I am not sure why some posts made such a big deal about keeping a pan dedicated for egg purposes. Here is my point. So what if you don't have the means to have a dedicated one. Cheflars’ "Quick Seasoning" process took all of three minutes. Literally! Besides, even when camping in a tent I have room for more than one skillet!

                  Anyway, thanks again. This may be the best tip I have picked up on this site.

                  Jered

                  1. re: jeredpilot

                    Not sure how on earth having a dedicated egg pan can be considered a great idea. Why not just use a cast iron skillet or something instead?

                      1. re: Jay F

                        +1- no need to swoop in and question somebody's preferences when it wasn't asked for

                      2. re: joonjoon

                        I think the 'great idea' here is not keeping a seperate egg pan, but the quick seasoning tip, and the not washing with soap.

                        I have several skillets and sauté pans that NEVER see soap, but get scrubbed with coarse salt and water only so they remain seasoned and non-stick.

                        I try not to use a non-stick pan due to health concerns, which is not uncommon.

                    1. re: cheflars

                      Thank you Cheflars for sharing the "quick season" method. Neither wanting nor needing a fried egg, I took up the challenge for my "new" Wagner pans (nobbly base type). I bought the set last year while in San Diego and hauled them to the UK as a culinary reminder of "Made in the USA". Reluctance to embark upon the long, drawn out task of seasoning, kept the pans in a state of suspended decoration, i.e., hanging on the wall.

                      A few minutes spent on your "quick season" procedure had me frying an egg using just a few drops of oil.

                      The ability to deep fry an egg in any type of receptacle with any type of fat is not the issue. What is astonishing is that a cast iron pan could be made non stick by such a simple and elegant process.

                      1. re: cheflars

                        Thanks for the great tip. It worked perfectly and only took a few minutes. I now have a dedicated egg pan, but if I want to use it for something else, it's an easy fix.

                        1. re: cheflars

                          I have an "eggs only" aluminum pan, it's an individual omelet size (6"). Use butter, oil, whatever. Hot pan, cold oil, add eggs when oil is hot. Wipe out pan afterwards with a paper towel. I guarantee your eggs won't stick! My pan has a shiny, well-seasoned interior, and the exterior is a real mess, which for aluminum pans is pretty typical. My skillets are nested with paper towels separating them, so storage is fairly compact. CIs stored separately, also nested. This pan is probably the cheapest one, and one of my favorites. Good luck, with some experimenting you'll get there.

                          1. re: cheflars

                            I am assuming that this works as well as the cast iron seasoning done at severely high (well for home) temps in a "Green Egg" style cooker? I used to have friends if friends of friends calling asking to newly season their cast iron in my egg.

                            1. re: cheflars

                              even easier, same results:
                              heat pan over high heat, add about enough high smoke point oil (veg, grapeseed, canola, etc) just to coat. as soon as oil smokes, remove from heat and wipe out pan.
                              now you can immediate cook with pan using butter without eggs sticking. you likely don't even need to apply any more heat to cook with as pan should be pretty darn hot already.

                            2. Use cast iron. I don't find stainless steel to be a very good cooking surface for anything fried or that has the potential to stick. A nice cast iron pan (they even come pre-seasoned now) is $15-25 and for me, is the ultimate fry pan.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Thanks, everyone, for your replies. Will give your tips a try.

                                I do also have a cast iron pan--StriperGuy, do you just use yours for eggs, or other things, too? How do you keep it clean?

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  This reminds me of my SIL who wanted a cast iron griddle so bad because my eggs came out so good on mine. Well, I got her one and she complained that the eggs were sticking, turns out because she thought she could cook with it the same as teflon, no grease at all!! Grease is a major component of fried eggs, they should just about float on it, if it's hot enough they don't absorb all that much. You should just crack them in the pan (cast iron or not) and they should shimmy in there, and be done in a minute or two..

                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                    You do have to use some oil/butter to cook eggs in cast iron but they turn out beautifully.

                                    Increasingly I use my cast iron for darn near everything. I have tons of fru fru cookwear that I tend to use less and less. Stir fry, certainly pancakes, you can cook a killer steak in one: sear on each side, and finish in oven, etc.

                                    There are those who say no soap and water in cast iron... nonsense, you do effect the cure a tad, but not much. To clean I get the pan real hot, then while hot, scub with a scotchguard green and yellow pad with minimal soap (more water then soap) when all the gunk is off I put it back on the burner (or wipe with with dishtowel) to dry. If you really had to scrub hard to clean apply a light coat of oil after it is dry.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      I am with you on the soap and water. You would need a hammer and chisel to take the surface off my pans. Even steel wool doesn't get through. I use the steel wool when something bumpy becomes part of the seasoning.

                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                        I find if you get the pan heated a decent amount before putting in the sink you don't ever really have too scrub much, though you sound like a fairly serious cast iron fan not in need of much instruction ;-)

                                      2. re: StriperGuy

                                        I started using my cast iron pan so often that it now just stays on the stove all the time. I cook almost everything on it...

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Respectfully, I disagree and my pans are the proof I need to back up my claim.
                                          Lodge, one of the largest cast iron cookware manufacturers offers the following:

                                          Cleaning your Lodge Cast Iron

                                          After cooking, clean utensil with a stiff nylon brush and hot water. Using soap is not recommended, and harsh detergents should never be used. (Avoid putting a hot utensil into cold water. Thermal shock can occur causing the metal to warp or crack).

                                          TIP: If you are having trouble removing stuck-on food, boil some water in your pan for a few minutes to loosen residue, making it easier to remove.

                                          Towel dry immediately and apply a light coating of oil to the utensil while it is still warm.

                                          TIP: Do not let your cast iron air dry, as this can promote rust.

                                          Store in a cool, dry place. If you have a cover, or lid, for your utensil, place a folded paper towel in between lid and utensil allowing air to circulate. This prevents moisture from collecting inside the utensil, which can cause rust.

                                          TIP: The oven is a great place to store your cast iron; just remember to remove it before turning on the oven.

                                          NEVER wash in dishwasher.

                                          If for some reason your utensil develops a metallic smell or taste, or perhaps rust spots (maybe a well-meaning relative washed your utensil in the dishwasher or with soap thinking they were being helpful), never fear. Simply scour off the rust using a very fine grade of sandpaper or steel wool and refer to our section Re-seasoning Your Lodge Cookware.

                                        2. re: Full tummy

                                          I use the same cast iron pans, wok and dutch oven for almost everything I cook personally. the only exception I can think of is an enamel glazed large saute pan with a lid for tomato dishes and sauces, which avoids the acids breaking down the "wok hay" in the cast iron.

                                          1. re: bearfromobx

                                            Hi. I too use cast iron a lot, but I also use carbon steel, and to blanch asparagus I have no problem using stainless steel. But while people say that cast iron and carbon steel when seasoned are at least as good as non stick, I don't find it so. They're fairly easy to clean, but it's not nearly as smooth as non stick -- which I don't use.
                                            Abba

                                        3. re: StriperGuy

                                          stripeGuy, yes um, an iron skillet is the ultimate fry pan for ANYTHING.....just take care of your pan & it will take care of you. I guess that could be said of any type of pan, now that I think about it. But Cast Iron rules in my kitchen.

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            I'm with you cstout, that original post goes back a ways, but I use Cast Iron for everything these days. Did a nice Porterhouse steak in it last night. Happy cooking.

                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                            however since cast iron holds it heat so well, anything cooked that requires a quick reduction in heat, for those who mentioned not liking any brown on their fried eggs, etc., it is not the right tool.

                                            1. re: kitchenkoach

                                              Totally disagree. When you want a quick reduction in heat... wait for it...

                                              Take it out of the pan ;-)

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                What are you on commission for cast-iron pans? Was that supposed to be sarcastic?
                                                The whole point of reducing heat quickly is NOT waiting for it.
                                                And certainly if you want to complete cooking something that requires lower heat, removing it, as you suggest, will stop the cooking not slow it. Thus the folks who want nice tender but fully cooked and not browned whites on their fried egg would be plain old outta luck.
                                                But they aren't. A seasoned stainless pan heats and releases heat very quickly allowing for the desired result.
                                                That is why cast iron is used so effectively to create an oven effect (Dutch ovens always made of cast iron) when no oven is available...it retains heat far longer than any other type of vessel even with an uneven or unreliable heat source like a campfire.
                                                While cast iron is great for some things like your dense porterhouse (on which you want to develop a good brown crust), it is unlikely you will find any pros using it for egg cookery and that is who to look to for most efficient use of equipment.

                                                1. re: kitchenkoach

                                                  I just love cast iron. I use it for anything except sauces and really acidic things. And I think you can do a delicately fried egg in one without browning the white with ease.

                                                  A chacun son gout.

                                          3. thanks for posting this. I got a few stainless pans i don't use often because of this.

                                            I assume the seasoning will help my scallops and fish skins from being stuck to the pan? I was told that my pan wasn't hot enough for the fish, is this true or was it too hot??

                                            and then there's the cleaning... it's never shiny anymore =(

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jeniyo

                                              Barkeeper's Friend will bring back the shine on stainless steel. Works like a charm.

                                              1. re: aravenel

                                                aravenel, yes I agree to Barkeeper's Friend, but I am not worried about the shine, I want performance, & an old cast iron will be right there waiting for you to thorw some love into the pan.

                                            2. I agree that for some reason a lot of us seem to be afraid to use oil in quantities necessary to properly fry foods, including eggs. I see so many people trying to fry an egg with no more than a slight film of oil in the pan. That ain't enough. You will also find that your eggs will stick in the KA stainless less if they're at room temperature when you drop them in.
                                              I cook eggs in everything from cast iron to pyrex and never have a problem with anything sticking.