How To Stop Food From Sticking to Stainless Steel Pans

Updated on January 3, 2022

While many people shy away from the best stainless steel cookware because they have a reputation of food sticking to them and burning to the bottom of the pan, that doesn’t have to be a problem you have to deal with moving forward. Once you learn how to stop food from sticking to stainless steel pans, the way you cook will be forever changed. You won’t have to choose between stainless steel cookware and nonstick cookware.

First, you should always make sure that your food is at room temperature; food that is too cold will stick. Never overcrowd the pan since adding too much will cool the pan too much, causing things to stick, and make sure you use enough oil; this one is tricky because not enough oil will cause your food to stick and too much oil isn’t healthy.

Preventing Sticking

There are a few things you can do to prevent things from sticking to your pan. Proper cooking methods can make a huge difference in the quality of the food you cook.

How to Cook in a Stainless Steel Pan:

  • Always allow the food to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before cooking. Food that is too cold will stick to the pan, leaving you with destroyed food and a big mess.
  • Be sure to preheat your pan over medium heat. This allows you to brown your food while it cooks through rather than burning the outside and leaving the middle raw.
  • Test the pan with a tablespoon of butter. If the butter bubbles and turns brown, the pan is too hot. If the butter just melts but doesn’t start bubbling, the pan is too cold. If you drop butter in the pan and it melts and bubbles rapidly without darkening, then the pan is just right.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. Adding too many things to the pan cools it off and makes things cook slowly and stick.

Seasoning a Stainless Steel Pan:

  • Heat your pan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes
  • Add about a tablespoon of a high-smoke oil such as coconut oil and let it melt in the pan
  • Swirl the oil around, allowing it to coat the entire inside of the pan. Leave the pan on the heat until the oil smokes
  • Once the oil is smoking, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool completely
  • After the pan cools, pour out the remaining oil and wipe the pan with a paper towel to remove any excess

You can even season your pan in the oven:

  • Wipe your pan down with canola oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil. Basically just pick a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point.
  • Put it in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let the pan cool and repeat another 2-3 times to build up a natural non-stick coating.


Overall, keeping your food from sticking in a stainless steel pan is pretty easy. As long as you follow the proper cooking methods and you season your pan, your food should slide right out with ease.