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Okay, I received a nice stainless steel saute pan for Christmas and in looking around online there are people that say I need to season it. Most of the techniques I've seen involve oil and salt and cooking that for a bit and then wiping it out. Is this necessary? Do I need to do it every time I use the pan? Are there other techniques that you folks use? I had never heard of this for stainless steel, but I want to make sure I'm taking care of the pan correctly.


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up vote 11 down vote accepted

I've never heard of doing anything other than giving it a good cleaning, as you would with any new item before first use.

I've only heard of seasoning used for cast iron and carbon steel, not for stainless steel. Looking online, I did find instructions for seasoning stainless steel, but I'd be inclined to look at the paperwork that came with the pan -- if the manufacturer recommends doing something, follow their instructions. If they don't, just give it a good wash.

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Yeah, that's all I've done so far. And the paperwork that came with the pan just says the same thing: wash with soap and warm water before the first use. – Dante617 Dec 26 '10 at 16:55
Same here. No need to do anything special with stainless steel. Happy Sauté! – BaffledCook Dec 26 '10 at 19:15

Seasoning the pan will make it less likely to stick, but will also give it a brownish tinge, so it won't be "shiny and new" looking. And if you ever scrub it with steel wool, you'll have to do it all over again.

Seasoning the pan basically creates a surface of oil that has been baked on so that your food is on that rather than directly touching the metal, so less sticking. It is brownish on stainless (I have a whole bunch of pans that look like that, which annoys the wife, but since I do the cooking, she lets it go) and is unnoticeable (other than the deeper black) on cast iron. Because of the porous nature of cast iron, seasoning is absolutely essential if you don't want sticking...or rusting. Stainless has no rust issue and the metal, although it has surface texture, is not as open as cast iron, so the seasoning is optional.

If you use enough oil when you cook and get the oil hot first, you will not experience sticking problems with an unseasoned stainless pan, but if you are trying to do low fat cooking on a barely oiled pan, proteins, in particular, will tend to stick.

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NO! You never season stainless steel. Seasoning is the result of carbon "binding" with a cast iron surface creating a natural non stick layer. The chrome in the stainless steel keeps that process from happening properly and/or evenly, which is likely to leave you with a badly stained and sticky pan.

You keep stainless clean and shiny.

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Actually seasoning SS pans is very common in the professional culinary world. Keep in mind you would need to re-season each ti e you wash the pan. Most of us typically wipe them clean much like you do with a cast iron pan. To season SS pans you cover the bottom with salt, add oil and heat until it just begins to smoke on medium high heat. Allow it to cool and then wipe the pan, crushing the salt with paper towels. Then discard the salt and oil and wipe with another paper towel. You can cook eggs, pancakes, etc without sticking. I prefer SS over Teflon all day long. Theres the secret, enjoy cooking with your SS pan.

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No, don't season stainless steel unless the manufacturer recommends it. Read the accepted answer here: Why does my food turn out poorly using an All-Clad Stainless-Steel Fry Pan?. That's how to best to use and treat a "nice stainless steel pan". Also from that same thread, s_hewitt shares a great video on temperature testing. Getting your pan to the proper temperature before you add oil or food is the key to food not sticking to stainless steel.

One more important point about caring for your pan: Please, never run it under water or put it in water while it is still hot. That is how even very good pans get warped. You can and should deglaze your pan while it is still hot by adding liquid and scraping up the tasty bits, that's the start of a great pan sauce and the bonus of a cleaner pan, but absolutely don't rinse or wash your pan until it's cool enough to touch.

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There are some uses for seasoning a stainless steel pan to give it an inherit non-stick property. However just to note, most people just use teflon.

EG: If you want to cook scrambled eggs with stainless steel, you will need to season the pan. Else all the stirring will cause the proteins to bypass the oil (it was resting on this) and to touch the bare metal.

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