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I’m a novice cook and mostly use nonstick pans for ease of clean up. Would I get better browning with stainless steel?

I’m imagining scrubbing stuck on food off the pan...

What are some general rules about things that are better cooked in stainless vs non stick. Are there certain foods to avoid in stainless (to avoid ruining the pan or scrubbing all day).

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    ChefShab, you are asking for many different things in this question. Can you narrow it down to just one thing you want to know? Then you can follow up with a second question when that's answered.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 2 '20 at 5:49
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    Also, if you search on "stainless steel", you'll find answers to almost all of the things you mention above.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 2 '20 at 5:50
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Would you get better browning with stainless steel vs. nonstick?

In general, yes, because you can heat stainless steel to a higher temperature without ruining the pan.

But not all stainless steel pans are the same. Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, and so there needs to be some other metal attached to the stainless steel to ensure that heat spreads evenly through the pans. In less expensive pans, there's a disk of aluminum attached under the pan. And there are more expensive 'tri-ply' pans in which the other metal is sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel, and the other metal typically extends up the sides of the pan as well.

If you have a stainless steel pan that does not have this other metal, or only has a thin sheet of aluminum, it will likely still brown better than a non-stick pan, but it may not brown your food evenly, which is less than ideal.

As for the scrubbing issues and differences in general, I'd recommend seeing some of the other questions on this site, such as

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Would I get better browning with stainless steel?

Not necessarily; the browning mostly depends on the temperature and grease on the pan. Stainless steel pans tend to be thicker than non-stick pans (though there are countless variations), hence they take longer to heat.

What are some general rules about things that are better cooked in stainless vs non stick.

You'll basically want to be extra careful to make sure the food doesn't stick to a stainless steel pan. A trick used in my household is to

  • Heat the pan until really hot

  • Turn off the stove

  • Let the pan cool for a few seconds

  • Pour in the oil and start frying

Are there certain foods to avoid in stainless (to avoid ruining the pan or scrubbing all day).

I've never encountered a dish that can be fried in a non-stick pan but can't be fried in a stainless steel pan.


Here are the only pros and cons between those two types of pans considered in my household:

Non-stick pans

Pro: They allow us to cook with less fat.

Con: If food gets stuck (it happens... a lot), scraping the pan detaches tiny bits of that non-stick coating, which could be hazardous to your health.

Stainless steel pans

Pro: They increase the iron content of the food cooked in it. If food sticks on them, some hard scraping wouldn't do anything bad to your health.

Con: They require more oil to avoid sticking.


Believe it or not, we've entirely converted to not using non-stick pans due to that con.

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