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Eggs+All Clad=Sticking Mess

Quite a while ago, i bought a lovely little 8" All Clad pan, primarily for making eggs in the morning. I usually scramble them, and use a combo of oil and butter. For the first few months, the eggs released fine and clean up was easy. Then, at some point, no matter the amount of fat used, the eggs began to stick to the pan. By sticking, I mean that a significant portion of the protein adhered fast to the metal. Not only was I losing part of breakfast, but the pan was a complete pain to get clean. Yeah, I'd get most of the egg off, but it left these white discolorations with a very fine film that could be scraped with a fingernail but was resistant to cleaning. I didn't want to start scouring it each morning, as that's not rec'd by the manufacturer, so I pretty much stopped using this pan. I'm now using non stick for that purpose.

Anyone have any ideas why this happened? I suspect that another family member cleaned it with something inappropriate for the stainless steel. Anyone know how I could get it back to perfect release cooking?

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  1. Stainless just doesn't play nice with things like eggs -- better to stick (sorry for the pun) with teflon-coated aluminum or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. But before totally giving up on what is otherwise a perfectly fine skillet, try this: let the pan get nice and hot (water drops dance on the surface), then add your oil or butter, then add your food. It isn't foolproof, but it cuts the sticking way down.

    1. What Mike suggests is the usual recommendation
      for stainless steel. But for eggs and such, I use
      a $23 Wear-Ever non-stick pan. When the coating
      wears off, I'll just replace it.

      1. give it a thorough cleaning (scrub)with Barkeeper's Friend ... but IMHO a SS All-Clad type pan is a poor choice for cooking eggs.

        1. I was trying to get away from teflon at the time. I'll try your suggestion, Mike. Otherwise, I guess I'll be using a LOT less often than I'd hoped...

          3 Replies
          1. re: amyzan

            I think that's the wrong way to look at it. Your pan performed exactly the way it should. Stainless, even clad stainless, is designed so that some stuff sticks to it. It's called fond, and it's the basis for sauces of all kinds. Mike is absolutely right, in my experience. Hot pan, cold oil should result in less sticking, but not to the extent that a well seasoned cast iron or a non-stick pan would. Use your All-Clad stainless for searing meats or cooking veggies, then deglaze it with a little wine and you'll have a great sauce to go with your meal. I'd suggest getting a cast iron pan and seasoning it (there's a wealth of information on this board for how to do it properly), and that can be your eggs pan. We have a cast iron frying pan we use for eggs and omelets all the time with nary a stick. Good luck and hang in there

            1. re: chuckl

              I have an 8" AC saute pan, the one with high, straight sides, and a larger 12" one I use for meats and veggies, pan sauces, etc. in our two person household. But, this little 8" pan isn't really useful for meats and vegetables, because it has sloping, shallow sides. What do you all use such a shape SS pan for, excepting you're cooking little portions of meats and veggies for a single person?

            2. re: amyzan

              yeah I'd just get a cheap cast iron, and start seasoning it up. It probably will never be teflon nonstick, but if you use fat, it'll work.

              What about scanpans, those aren't teflon right? Not sure how non-stick those are though

            3. Start with really clean pan.

              Get pan really hot.

              Drop in some butter.

              Let butter heat up.

              Drop in your eggs.

              Let the eggs set before moving the pan around.

              Eggs should slip right out without sticking.

              If all else fails, revert back to cast iron ..

              7 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Do what he said.

                I have to ask why the OP is resistant to scouring a SS pan? These pans are abuse proof so don't worry about giving it a proper cleaning with a 3M green pad and BKF.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  Kelli, it's not a good idea to clean ss with harsh cleansers, steel wool, or anything with bleach as they get into the metal's pores. The residue wasn't coming up with a nylon scrubbie. What are the 3M green pads you mention made of?

                  1. re: amyzan

                    Bar Keepers Friend is not a harsh cleanser, and metal doesn't have pores to clog.
                    http://www.scotch-brite.com/wps/porta...

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Yeah, okay, ss is nonporous, but bleach still isn't appropriate. BKF wasn't cleaning off this residue, or baking soda, with the nylon scrubbie.

                      1. re: amyzan

                        Do you put your SS pans in the dishwasher? DW detergents and the minerals in your water supply will leave a mineral residue on the pan surface which will cause sticking, you won't be able to see it but it will be there. This is true for aluminum and SS. If you have been using the dishwasher - stop and clean throughly several times with BKF. Also never put good knives in the dishwasher either.

                        1. re: JRCann

                          I don't have a dishwasher. I do have hard water however, and the water at the kitchen sink is untreated in this old house. JR, I think you solved the mystery. Mineral deposits built up after the first few months of use have probably caused the poor performance. I'll use baking soda during the final rinse to buffer the minerals and dry the pan right away. Thanks.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Agree absolutely with ipsedixit's advice (except that I heat my pan for a significant time to a moderate heat). I make my scrambled eggs and omlettes by moving the cooked mass around with just the tines of a SS fork.

                  I rarely have any sticking at all and only give my AC SS a scour once a week or once very 10 days with Softscrub. Between I just wash it in very hot water and a swish with a nylon brush.

                  I have abandoned non-stick altogether in favor of my AC 8" omlette pans.

                3. My SS pan does that. pain in the ass.

                  1. I ran into the same problem with my All-Clad SS 8" pan that I bought specifically for making eggs. After some research and experimentation, here is how I got my eggs to slide right off the pan:

                    1. As everyone has been saying: hot pan, cold butter. The butter should bubble the instant it hits the pan.
                    2. Room temperature eggs! I took my eggs out of the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking them, and it made a huge difference.

                    That's it! The first time I did these two things, my sunny side up egg just slid right out of the pan. Since then I've done scrambled eggs, egg in a hat/basket/hole, and omelets with no sticking at all. Good luck!

                      1. re: rcspott

                        Generally LOTS of fat, which is the secret ingredient I was taught, a big knob of butter for french omelette, which will slip right around in the pan (eons ago, when there was no teflon! )
                        Strange that your pan was good for a while, and then mysteriously started sticking. I have had sticking with eggs an 8" all clad skillet ( which is the perfect size for small omelette) from the beginning, and but it seems to get better the more I use it.
                        For the small pan or for what I do in the large all clad skillet that is eggy and sticky, such as a big omelette, a frittata, or noodle stir fry with egg, I find that letting the pan sit off the heat for 30 seconds or so helps to release the protein. As an earlier poster suggests, how a fond forms, by the proteins sticking to the hot stainless, a very good point. You don't want to let the food steam too long, but, by letting the pan release, you get all the flavor of the crispy bits in your food, not left on the pan.
                        I think if you follow the previous advice of hot!! pan, a bit more fat, and a few seconds cool down to release, you will start to have a better relationship with your all clad.

                        1. re: rcspott

                          This from that linked thread really cracked me up: Jacques Pepin is very funny about this. He says (insert accent and manner): "I have a pan like this that I don't use. Why don't I use it? Because it sticks. Why does it stick? Because I don't use it."

                          Thanks, I needed a laugh today!

                        2. First of all you are getting a lot of bum dope here. Follow the directions for the use of All-Clad pans!!
                          That is only use a medium heat and rub out hot spots with salt! Rinse your pan and wipe it dry after use. NEVER cook eggs on high heat!!!!! If you want a good quality pan that doesn't stick check out a Scanpan.

                          1. My partner says to cook a tomato based sauce in it. That should make it sparkle. Anyone else found this to work?

                            1. Thank you to all who replied with advice. The advice below about heating up the pan and then adding fat is spot on. I always had problems with tofu sticking when I made a stir fry. I let the pan heat up on med until droplets of water would dance around. Added some oil and then added my onions and tofu. Nothing stuck and I proceeded to cook my disk as usual. Worked for me!