Tips for preventing food from sticking to the pan!

We had an interesting email this week from a person who wanted to know how to prevent food from sticking in a pan. Sometimes when I’m using my stainless steel sauce and fry pans I do have a problem with food sticking in the pans. I read up on this problem and thought that it might be something interesting to share in our blog. I particularly liked this article from the Science of Cooking.

I do have some nice stainless pans and have been frustrated in the past when I’ve had something stick to the pan. I also have some non-stick pans and I tend to reach for them first if I’m cooking something that could stick to the pan.

I’ve learned that I should start with a hot pan and add a small amount of oil to prevent sticking. Cold oil placed in a hot pan will spread out very thin and allow me to use less oil when cooking. Waiting until the oil is hot before adding food is also very important. Also, remember to listen to the sizzle when the food is frying. That is an interaction between the hot oil and the moisture in the food. When the sizzling stops, the food may be starting to stick to the pan. This is a great reason to stay close when frying food.

It might be tempting to squeeze all the food into the fry pan, but frying food in smaller batches will result in a better quality product with less chance for the food to stick to the pan. Crowded food tends to release moisture into the pan. Foods fried this way tend to be soggier and less crisp.   After all the batches are fried, you can place them into the pan together to be sure the food is nice and hot and crisp.

I may also be guilty of moving the food too quickly when I’m browning it in a pan. Allowing the food to cook a bit longer before turning it can allow it to naturally release from the pan.

There are two more common sense tips for avoiding food stuck onto the pan.   First, always start with a clean pan and second, always start with dry food that is not too cold.

The next time I need to fry some food, I’ll reach for my stainless steel skillet and try these suggestions.



Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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