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Jan 7, 2014 04:57 PM

How to season a stainless steel, uncoated Calphalon pan?

I bought this uncoated, steel 12" pan a few years ago but have never been able to get it not to stick. My heavy steel pans I carried home from France don't stick. What gives? How can I season this one, or should I just get something different? I don't like Teflon coatings.

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  1. I don't believe that Calphalon makes carbon steel pans, only stainless steel, which is nowhere near as slick as the French stuff you have.

    1. Like sal acid, I am not aware that Calphalon made carbon steel. They may, but I have not heard of it.

      If you are talking about stainless steel, then I will say that you don't have to season your stainless steel cookware. You can wash them, and hot oil treat them, but you cannot really season them by conventional definition.

      99% of the time when you hear people talk about seasoning a cookware, they are talking about carbon steel or cast iron, not stainless steel.

      1. Calphalon has some advice, like bringing foods close to room temp, patting meat/chicken/fish dry before cooking, etc... :

        Also, heat the pan on medium heat until it passes the Leidenfrost (mercury ball) test. Then add oil and drop the heat. My fish and chicken don't stick at all, I can slide it around as soon as it hits the pan. It goes into a hot pan, it's dry, and it's not chilled. Makes a huge difference in stickiness.

        But yes, it can be seasoned, although not in the permanent way that carbon steel or cast iron is seasoned. There are 2 ways, baking and stovetop heating.



        EDIT - I forgot to mention that I've been cooking in Calphalon stainless for 12 years, and like it a lot. I don't use high heat under my frypans, medium to medium high (no more than 70%) works better. If food should stick initially, let it sit until it releases on it's own, with just a little nudge. Most food releases easily once it browns. Following the tips from Calphalon and waiting for the pan to get hot will cure almost all of your problems. Happy cooking! :)

        5 Replies
          1. re: DuffyH

            Thanks for this, have you tried to season your stainless pan? I have a stainless 5qt All Clad pan that has started to stick (and I'm devastated i actually thought i was going to be buried with it) but maybe I got careless about hot pan/cold oil?
            In any case I will try to season mine and post my results soon.

            1. re: Marianne13

              I do season my pans from time to time, when I want to cook with minimal oil. I've only done it on the stovetop, because it can easily be done just a few minutes before dinner. Remember that it's only temporary.

              With your pan sticking, I'd also recommend a really good scrubbing with baking soda or BKF. It can't hurt.

            2. re: DuffyH

              Hi Duffy,

              You have Tri-ply series, I'm guessing?


              1. re: randallhank

                Hi Randy,

                Yes, I cooked on Calphalon Tri-Ply for over 12 years, until I switched to induction. The older pans aren't compatible, so my son and DIL are using them now.


            3. It is indeed stainless and not carbon steel. Thanks for the answers.

              4 Replies
              1. re: betsbloomington

                And the advantage to the stainless over the carbon steel is it doesn't need to be seasoned and will not react with acidic foods. You can cook tomatoes, wine based sauces and such in your pan and don't have to worry about cooking off the seasoning or any metallic taste.

                1. re: Cam14

                  Another advantage is that they are much lighter and easy on the wrists.

                  1. re: sal_acid

                    <Another advantage is that they are much lighter and easy on the wrists.>

                    Oh my, yes. I can still lift my 12" Calphalon Tri-Ply (empty), with one hand, but need both hands to struggle with an empty deBuyer 12" frypan. HUGE difference!

                2. re: betsbloomington

                  Stainless steel is a good surface to sear on, so that you can develop fond and use acidic liquids to deglaze with, without worrying about reactivity with the pan just as Cam14 mentions.

                  I think that they also clean up easier, as one can leave them sit in soapy water for hours without needing to worry about rust.

                  On the other hand, they will not be as non-stick as carbon steel/cast iron pans and will need a different technique to cook in. As others have mentioned, get the pan hot, add oil, and then place your food in the pan.

                3. You do not need to season stainless steel

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    All the things mentioned by Cam14, sal acid, Cynic2701 and little Hamster buddy are so very, very true and the reason that I love cooking on stainless steel.

                    For cleaning, I'm a big fan of deglazing. After serving, pour a cup of water into the hot pan and use whatever spoon or spatula is handy to scrape the pan. Food comes right up. I let it sit during dinner, then use a soapy sponge or my new chain mail scrubber toy to clean it right up, easy peasy, no elbow grease needed. On the rare occasions when I've munged it up so badly that an overnight soak doesn't work, I bring out the oven cleaner.

                    I do love me some stainless steel. :)

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      That for the reminder. Just got my new Tramontina 18/10tri-clad ss today. Been so long since I cooked in anything but non stick that is for got about the hot pan, cold oil cooking. Made raw fries for first try in pan. At least I remembered how to deglaze. What kind of cleaning toy do you have?

                      1. re: Sniggles

                        Hi Sniggles,

                        Glad you're enjoying your new pan. I use the Ringer XL. It's great for knocking stuff off, and loosening anything that won't soak off or deglaze.



                        1. re: DuffyH

                          Hi Duffy.
                          Does that the ringer also work on 18-10 stainless steel with out scratching.

                          1. re: Sniggles

                            Hi Sniggles,

                            High Polish? It would depend on the pressure used. The rings don't have any sharp edges, requiring some force to leave a scratch.

                            I've scrubbed out my mirror finish saucier with no ill effects. The floor of that pan already has scratches all over from using a whisk. The Ringer left no new ones. I've only used it lightly on the exterior, as the exterior walls just don't get that gunky. The exterior has no scratches.

                            Most of my current pans have a brushed finish and it leaves no marks on them, no matter how hard I scrub with it.

                            I hate using "it depends" to answer a question, it sounds squishy. If I didn't exactly address your concern, let me know and I'll try again.


                            1. re: DuffyH

                              I haven't had anything but non stick for years. Even with that there has been occasions that I have had to use a sos pad to get off gunk. I just bought some bkf. Thinking I may need that in the future. I don't know how any of that works.
                              So last night I fried a couple of hamburgers. I see on the inside bottom of my new 8" 18/10 stainless steel that there is darkening where the hamburger first set. Did I do something wrong when cooking them or is than normal? I got the pan hot first, turned down, then put in hamburgers , but no oil. Was that wrong?
                              Old brain needs some help!

                              1. re: Sniggles

                                Hi Sniggles,

                                <...there is darkening where the hamburger first set.>

                                Can you describe it? What color? Is it a change in the color of the steel or do you think it's a residue of some kind? If it's a slightly golden/brown or blue color change in the steel, pour a little bit of white vinegar on the pan, swish it around to wet the area, let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Rinse it out and dry the pan. Is it gone?

                                It's also possible that you've got a little polymerized fat going on. If you think the dark area is *on* the metal and not the metal itself, here's where Barkeeper's Friend comes in handy. Assuming you don't want to take an SOS pad or oven cleaner to your new pan. Make a slurry with the BKF and let it sit a little while the oxalic acid does it's acid thing.

                                As for doing it wrong, not likely. I tried a Tramontina saucepan and found that it showed what's known as a "rainbow" stain almost every time I used it. Blue and brown discolorations don't affect performance, they're just annoying to cooks like me.

                                If you want to make sure you're not overheating your pan, learn to use the Leidenfrost Effect to judge pan readiness. It won't tell you how hot your pan is, but you'll know it is hot enough, and that's what we're looking for.


                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Hi Duffy,

                                  Thanks for the info. The link was very helpful. The stain looks a little whitish so I guess it little fat thing from the meat. I am going to try the bkf I think that wil do it.
                                  I watched a few of the videos. Very helpful, and thanks again. Now my new Tramontina tri-ply clad. Should stay looking great.

                                  These old brains.
                                  Yes I should have known all this, as I have been using really inexpensive ss with the disk on the bottom. Don't know what brand or that they were induction. But I bought them 7yrs ago for under $50 for a 5 pc set. Just needed something that wouldn't scratch when traveling in our RV. But luckily they are induction so we can use the PIC in the RV.