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Fried eggs (not scrambled) in a Stainless Steel or a Cast Iron pan

  • c


It seems that both of these pans require preheating before frying something in them, I'm a beginner in the kitchen and I have both a stainless steel and a Cast Iron pan in the kitchen and I'd like to know how to properly fry eggs in them so that they won't stick or burn.

1) Stainless steel:
It requires preheating on a medium flame, and then you add the oil, wait for it to shimmer and then go the eggs.

I've tried this but it did stick a little (not too much) and the eggs got a little golden on the bottom VERY QUICKLY.

I assume that this is because I preheated the pan on medium. Is this how it's supposed to come out?

2) Cast Iron
I haven't tried on this one yet because I'm not sure how to start.

How long do I preheat it for? When do I add the oil?


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  1. I cook almost exclusively with cast iron, and I use the same method you describe for your stainless steel except I cook w/ bacon grease.
    Heated pan, add cool grease, heat more, add eggs. Don't get the pan so hot if it browned the eggs last time. Most people think browned eggs are a cardinal sin, but they never really bothered me too much.
    Well used cast iron is non-stick. Just let the eggs cook a while undisturbed before trying to lift them. And I cover the skillet to keep all the heat in, since eggs are cooked with a gentler heat, I want to hold it all in.
    Yea for cast-iron clean-up: a paper towel : )

    1. I only use cast iron, so I'll speak to that. I'm a little different than Weewah. I preheat my pan dry. I at least want it hot enough to make water droplets sizzle. I'm shooting for just hot enough to very quickly melt a pat of butter, but not instantly brown that butter. (Not such a concern if you use a fat with a higher smoking point/less particles). I pop my eggs in and leave them alone. I actually really like the slight browning, so I keep my pan pretty hot. I flip once, let the whites set, them pull them off before the yolks cook through. I never cover them. My pan is very well seasoned and if eggs stick, I know it's time to give the pan some TLC. I don't use paper towels, so I clean my pan by either wiping it out with a clean rag or by popping it hot under the faucet and wiping it out with a sponge or dishrag. Back on the warm burner to dry (pan is still hot from the cooking).

      4 Replies
      1. re: Vetter

        I pre-heat a dry pan (how long? As long as it takes to pop the toast in the toaster and crack the egg in a small bowl and add salt and pepper) and then add a pat of butter. When the butter is melted, starting to foam, but not browning, in goes the egg. As mentioned above, I've found that a "hands off" policy works best: if something seems to be sticking, leave it alone for a moment, as usually the pan will "release" the item shortly.

        This egg just slid right out onto a plate:

        1. re: Beckyleach

          +1 ~~~ This method works perfectly for me whether cooking in SS, CI or aluminum!


          1. re: Uncle Bob


            If you are still experiencing sticking with this method -- either with SS or CI -- then you need to add more oil, butter, or grease, or whatever.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              agreed that adding a bit more fat.

      2. just read what Becky said. she nailed it better than I therefore I erased my blathering

        1. On stainless steel pan, you need to turn down the heat a little after you put the egg in.
          The egg should not be cold either. Let it sit in room temp for 5-10 mins before cooking.

          1. Thanks for all the responses, I'm going to try tomorrow morning :D

            1. First of all, despite what anyone may have thought of him, the Frugal Gourmet was right when he said, "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick"
              As for how long to preheat/how hot, this method works for me - Heat the dry pan over medium like you're doing, and after a few minutes toss a couple drops of water in it. You'll get one of three results:
              1. Water just sits there - pan still cold.
              2. Water droplets bounce across pan - perfect temp, add the fat of your choice.
              3. Water droplets explode and disappear immediately - pan too hot

              Lastly, just wanted to say thanks to the CH that posted somewhere in another thread about adding a little water to the pan after the egg white has started to setup and then putting a lid on to slightly cook the yolk in a poached/over easy fashion - much safer method for people like me that tend to overcook the yolk after flipping.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                I finally, after 15 years of marriage, learned to make fried eggs for my husband using similar information as provided by Pepperseed. An 83 year man who cooks on a wood stove using cast iron pans taught me to gauge when the pan was "just right" and to put a little water in the pan to keep the white soft and to steam the yolk. He uses a bit of bacon grease to lube the pan.

                ETA - I use stainless pans

              2. This might sound stupid...but why don't you get a nonstick pan?

                I have a well-seasoned cast iron pan that I could easily cook eggs on, but I still reach for a small nonstick pan when cooking eggs. I don't see any reason to use a cast iron pan to fry an egg when you have even the worst nonstick pan money can buy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: joonjoon

                  I have many cast iron skillets and I'd not dare do fried eggs in there, too much of a chance, sorry, they'd stick. joonjoon, I agree..

                2. Like others have suggested: keep the heat on medium low and use plenty of oil in your cast-iron. You want it hot enough that the white begins to set when the egg hits the pan, rather than runs all over the place. I'm with you on avoiding brown, crispy whites (yech). The pan should feel warm, not scorching hot when you hold a hand close above the surface.

                  You can drain/pat off some of the oil when the egg is done if you like.

                  Follow these tips and you should be good to go.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    I've also found that butter or lard or bacon grease works best. Vegetable oil of any sort isn't nearly as "greasy" as non-liquid stuff, so I find that eggs stick more easily no matter what.

                  2. I do my fried eggs from a Cooks Illustrated recipe. Put pan on stove, lowest setting for 5 minutes. Break eggs into bowl. Put pat of butter in pan, let melt for 2 minutes. (if it doesn't melt well, increase heat, starts to burn, turn down). Slide eggs into pan, cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes for "over easy" which aren't over easy of course but with the lid the top cooks too. .

                    Of course, I use nonstick for eggs, so maybe this won't work.