How to Season a Stainless Steel Pan
It’s always much easier to cook with pans that don’t stick; however, the majority of nonstick pans on the market contain harmful chemicals that make them less than ideal for cooking. The best, easiest, and healthiest solution to nonstick cookware is seasoning your pans at home! Add oil to a clean stainless steel pan and let it heat to kick off the seasoning process. Afterward, you’ll be able to use your freshly seasoned pan to whip up all kinds of tasty meals for you and your family!
Seasoning the Pan
Wash your pan with soap and warm water.Scrub the pan with a dishrag or sponge. Clean both the inside and outside of the pan as thoroughly as you can. Rinse the pan off with warm water, then let it air dry. Oil will adhere better to a clean pan.
Choose an oil with a high smoking point to season your pan with.Sesame, vegetable, peanut, and soybean oil are all great choices for seasoning your pan. An oil with a high smoking point will react more readily to the heat as you begin the seasoning process, and will “stick” better to the pan. This helps your seasoning to last longer and be more effective.
Pour just enough oil into the pan to thinly coat the bottom.For most pans, this will measure out to about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of oil. Swirl the pan around to spread the oil to the sides. Aim to cover the inside of the pan as thoroughly and evenly as possible so the entire interior is seasoned for cooking.
Heat your pan on the stove for 2 minutes over medium heat.Avoid cranking the burner up to high to start off the seasoning process; this will cause the pan to heat unevenly and may burn the oil. Medium heat is not only gentler on the pan and the oil, but will ensure they heat up at an even rate.
- Alternatively, try seasoning your pan in the oven. Place your pan in the oven and set the temperature to 350 °F (177 °C). Let the pan heat in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the pan from the heat once the oil starts to smoke.The oil is ready once thin wisps of smoke begin curling up from the pan. It may take around 3 to 5 minutes for this to develop. Immediately take the pan off of the burner and move it to another burner.
Let the oil cool for at least 30 minutes.The oil should at least be lukewarm, if not room temperature. You want the oil to be cool enough to not scald to the touch. This will ensure the oil is safe enough to handle for the rest of the seasoning process.
- Don’t touch the oil to test whether it’s cooled down enough.
Pour all of the excess oil from the pan down your kitchen drain.Turn on your faucet to help the oil flow down the drain more easily. You will still be able to see some oil in the pan once you’ve finished; this is okay.
Wipe the inside of the pan with a paper towel.Wad up the paper towel and run it along the pan in circular motions. This will both sop up any remaining excess oil, as well as give the pan a noticeable shine. The shininess indicates the pan has been sufficiently glossed and is now nonstick!
Preventing Stick During Cooking
Preheat your pan to medium heat before cooking.Doing this will ensure your pan and food heat evenly, and prevent the likelihood of burnt cooking. It should take around 10 minutes for your pan to reach medium temperature.
Monitor the stove temperature as you cook.Avoid setting the burner to high when you use any pan—especially a seasoned pan. The higher the cooking temperature, the more likely your food will stick to the pan as it cooks.
Thaw foods to room temperature before you cook.Cold food will ultimately stick to hot pans, causing burning and creating a mess. Let your food thaw in the refrigerator, but take it out for 1 to 2 hours before cooking so it can rise to room temperature.
- Don’t let raw food sit out for any longer than 2 hours, or you increase the risk of bacteria and food poisoning!
Don’t crowd the pan with ingredients.Filling your pan up with more ingredients than it can hold leads to unbalanced temperatures and sticking. If you want to cook multiple ingredients in the same pan, stick to only 2 or 3 at a time, and space them out so they each have their own section in the pan.
Only cook acidic foods, water-based foods, and sauces in your stainless steel pan.Fruits, veggies, tomato sauce, gravies, and broths are all great foods to cook in a seasoned stainless steel pan. Alternatively, you can use your pan to cook your morning eggs, or sear a cut of salmon for dinner. Stainless steel pans are best designed for cooking these types of foods.
Storing and Cleaning a Seasoned Pan
Place a few paper towels inside your seasoned pan before stacking it.Stacking pans is a common and useful storage method, but it can easily scratch up the insides of your pans. A scratched pan can’t be seasoned as effectively. Stuffing a few paper towels inside will give your seasoned pan the protection it needs.
Wipe your pan out with a paper towel once you finish cooking.Washing a seasoned pan with soap and water after every cooking session will strip away the oil, forcing you to reseason. The oil left in the pan is meant to protect it from stuck-on food, making soap and water unnecessary until your pan becomes too messy to use.
Clean out a messy pan with soap and water.Eventually, your seasoned pan will become messy with residue. In this case, it’s fine to clean it out. Use warm water and a nonabrasive cleaning tool, like a soft sponge or cloth dishrag.
- Don’t wash your pan until it is totally cool to the touch.
- Wipe your pan dry with a paper towel as soon as you finish washing it. This will keep it from spotting.
Remove stubborn, stuck-on food by boiling water for 5 minutes.If there's any residue left over, add dish soap to the pan before submerging the residue with water. Place the pan on the stove and turn the burner on high. Let the pan boil for 5 minutes, then pour out the hot water. The rest of the residue should scrub right off!
Reseason your pan with fresh oil after you wash it.Once you wash your pan with soap and water, it's no longer seasoned. To make sure it continues to be a perfect, non-stick pan, repeat the seasoning process!
QuestionHow do I season a red copper pan?Ashley RidgeCommunity AnswerYou can season a red copper pan using the same method as you would a stainless steel pan. Add oil to the pan, then heat it up until it smokes. Take it off the burner so it can cool down completely. Pour out the oil and wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Hope this helps!Thanks!
Before you season a stainless steel pan, wash and dry it thoroughly, since the seasoning will stick better to a clean pan. Thinly coat the inside of the pan with about 2 tablespoons of an oil with a high smoking point, like sesame, vegetable, or peanut oil, then heat the pan on the stove for 2 minutes over medium heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, take the pan off of the burner and let the pan cool for about 30 minutes. Pour out the excess oil, then wipe the inside of the pan with a paper towel.
- Scrub a sticky pan with salt and oil to get rid of constant sticking.
- Don’t use any cooking sprays on a seasoned pan. This will only leave behind extra oil to gunk up the pan, and make your food more likely to stick.
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