Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Whenever I'm doing scrambled or fried eggs, I use butter and a regular frying pan (aluminium I think) without any special non-stick coating. They never stick to the pan, it's as if they're floating on top of the butter within the pan.

My wife usually uses oil, and whatever she does, the eggs always stick in the pan, and it's a pain to get them out, and fried eggs usually become a broken mess.

So, why would cooking eggs with oil make them stick to the pan, and doing it with butter wouldn't?

share|improve this question
Could it be that she adds the eggs before her oil is hot enough? – charisis Aug 20 '11 at 17:41
Its possible somebody will come along and give a technical reason for butter vs oil - but you've pointed out there's a difference in the person, and technique counts for a lot in the stick vs non-stick battle. – rfusca Aug 20 '11 at 18:51
@rfusca Good point. I never actually tried using oil myself, because I don't like "oily" eggs and prefer the taste that using butter adds to them. But I'll persuade my wife to use butter next time, then we'll see :) – takrl Aug 21 '11 at 15:41
There is a physical difference: butter contains water and some non-fat solids. Don't know how that affects things, though. – Pete Becker Feb 9 '15 at 15:55
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Technique is the key here. If she is using oil expect she is adding the eggs before the oil is hot, she is probably also rushing her attempt to turn/flip/scramble/move them. One of the hardest things to learn when frying eggs is to walk away immediately after adding the eggs to the hot pan.

I notice you are in Germany, I don't know what your access to the USA's "Food Network" is but this episode of a Alton Brown's "Good Eats" can show your wife "eggsellent" technique.

(pardon the pun, couldn't resist...)

share|improve this answer
Thanks for this, I suspect you may be right re. the "walk away" bit. I'll report our mileage. Re. TV, I currently only get Food Network UK via satellite. – takrl Aug 24 '11 at 7:41
I don't think it's technique. I have the same problem with olive oil, and I let the pan get nice and hot before adding the oil. The eggs always stick. When I use the same pan, same heat, with butter, the eggs never stick. I've noticed that when using oil, when I add the egg it actually seems to slide under the oil a bit, whereas with butter, the egg really stays on top of the butter. I'm not a scientist, so I can't explain it, but that's what I'm seeing. – user17183 Mar 9 '13 at 17:36
I have the same experience. I can get non-stick with oil on a stainless steel pan if I pre-heat the pan before adding the oil, then let the oil get rather hot, and then add the eggs. But then I get the crunchy burnt edges I like and everyone else hates. Butter just works. I feel like there is need for more research on this question. – labyrinth Jun 28 '14 at 15:02

Its technique here most likely and I imagine the difference between using butter and oil here is that you can see that the butter has to melt (and therefore get somewhat hot) before using it. Additionally, you're probably not standing ready to drop the egg at the exact moment it melts. In other words, odds are your butter is reasonably hot.

With the oil, its entirely likely that its a little pour of oil and then a few seconds later the eggs. Oil doesn't have the same visual clue that its ready as oil. (Although 'swish' around the pan will help tell you if its reasonably warm - it'll flow much faster.)

The technique I've always been taught (by a local chef in some classes years ago) in this regard is:

  • Pan on stove.
  • Heat.
  • Wait for pan to get reasonably hot.
  • Put oil/butter/fat/etc in pan.
  • Wait for oil to get hot.
  • Food!
share|improve this answer
I thought one should never heat a dry pan? – Jeremy Mar 10 '13 at 17:29

OP- I've had a similar experience, causing me to search out an answer. My eggs always stick with coconut oil and rarely do with butter. I am quite certain I follow the same process in terms of heating the pan and allowing the fat to get hot.

Here's my only (totally unsupported) speculation, based mostly on what I SEE happening in the pan: I think oils are pure fat while butter contains small amounts of water. As the water in the butter gets heated out it creates large enough bubbles to affect the surface contact of the egg with the pan, causing less opportunity for it to stick. Any one have thoughts on this hypothesis? I'd love to know what's really going on because it seems to make such a marked difference in how my breakfast turns out.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.