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I like to make pancakes. I like to make them on a nonstick surface.

I know that nonstick surfaces don't last forever, but my specific experiences with griddles, both electric and stovetop, has been ridiculous. A few sets of pancakes, even with careful plastic utensil usage, and the sticking commences.

Can anyone suggest either (a) a brand of griddle with a half-life of over a year, (b) anything I may be doing wrong in managing the object, or (c) some alternative approach to cooking pancakes that requires neither a nonstick surface or a lake of lubricant?

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Are you greasing the griddle at all? –  Chad Aug 23 '10 at 16:48
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I use a large non-stick skillet for pancakes and have never had this issue. So don't have an answer. What is your process? My pancake batter has butter as an ingredient and I use ~ 1TBSP of canola oil in the skillet. When done I wipe down the skillet with a paper towel. –  wdypdx22 Aug 23 '10 at 16:50
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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

One thing you might be doing that will severely reduce the lifetimes of these pans is overheating them. Anything over 260 °C (500 °F) will cause the coating to deteriorate. Usually this happens when you leave the pan preheating on high without any food on it.

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Your question doesn't indicate that you are using any fats when making your pancakes. Many people make the mistake of thinking that just because it's nonstick that you can get away with not greasing the griddle. This is just wrong.

I always run a stick of butter over the heated griddle a few times, then rub it in with a paper towel. You want a really thin layer of butter on your griddle. After cooking a few pancakes you will need to do this again.

I've used really cheap electric griddles just fine with this method, the problem you usually have with a cheap electric griddle is hot spots, not sticking.

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Indeed, my expectation was that, given a batter with butter in it, and a nonstick griddle, that I had no need to supply any other fat. –  bmargulies Aug 23 '10 at 18:07
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You can use well seasoned cast iron with very little fat. My cast iron skillet is actually slicker and less sticky than some of my teflon non-stick ones. It's also more tolerant of having metal utensils used on it. So if you have helpful housemates like me it's perfect. It is just NOT dishwasher safe in ANY way.

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So far, my best pancakes come off stainless steel. The method is pretty simple--if the recipe calls for shortening or oil, I substitute the same quantity of unsalted butter. I melt the butter in the stainless steel pan at very low heat, then add the melted butter to the mix. The pan goes back on the stove at medium low heat.

After the first pancake, I give the pan a swipe with a paper towel to get the excess butter off and prevent smoking. This is producing very good pancakes and there's no sticking at all. I expect that the same basic method would work with a cast iron skillet.

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