Can you make crepes/pancakes (and other pourable batter flatbreads) on a stainless steel pan without oil or butter so that it doesn't stick? Assuming the batter itself has no oil or added fat.

  • I did not try it with crepes, but I also have good experience with ceramic coated pans and meat, fish, chicken (no butter or oil).
    – akhmeteli
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 16:20
  • Not sure about the outcome, but you could use some cooking paper (or maybe aluminium foil). Put that inside the pan, wait for it to be hot enough, and pour the batter on it.
    – Déjà vu
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 16:35
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    Deja: that would give you batter-coated tin foil. Real fun to eat if you have dental fillings!
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 18:48
  • also wouldn't have the same texture I suspect Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 23:23
  • 3
    @Déjàvu other arguments against it aside, this will most likely produce terrible crêpes. They are quite sensitive to the heating properties of the pan, and a sheet of aluminum foil, loosely touching a pan, is the opposite of what you want. As for cooking paper, pretty much all its coatings will melt into the batter, if it doesn't catch fire outright. It is intended for baking, not for use in pans.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 23:26

4 Answers 4


No. Any starchy batter, without oil, fat, or teflon*, will adhere to a stainless steel pan, and will be removable only with a scraper.

(* or other nonstick surface, such as ceramic nonstick or silicone)

  • 10
    @BasilBourque with oil.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 23:22
  • 18
    Or, more likely, with butter.
    – Aubergine
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 0:02
  • 5
    Butter. Both butter in the pan, and butter in the batter. Heck, I still make crepes in a rolled steel pan ... works better than nonstick.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 0:36
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    @BasilBourque I've made crepes for decades. What is Teflon?
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 13:56
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    @rumtscho Even the French seem divided between butter and oil. But the taste of a pancake with apple rings fried in brown butter cannot be achieved with oil. (OK, tomorrow is pancake day now ;-).) My personal experience is that cooking with butter needs careful temperature management: While the batter is liquid evaporation cools the pan. As soon as it congeals, surely after flipping it, the temperature needs to be dialed down a lot. And after one pancake has been taken out remove the pan from the fire or immediately put in another piece of butter and very quickly follow with the batter. Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 3:00

There is some magical relationship between steel (or cast iron) and oil. Engines usually use steel (or cast iron) for the cylinder. These metals seem to have a sponge-like affinity for oil which stainless steel and aluminum do not. The pistons, which rub against the cylinders, are aluminum. You can have steel rubbing against aluminum, but you can't have aluminum rubbing against aluminum because oil just doesn't have the same affinity for aluminum.

I have an engine with 100,000 km on it. The aluminum pistons have gone back and forth in the same 3" steel cylinder 10 trillion times with no measurable wear to the steel. All because oil sticks to steel.

If you want a non-stick pan (other than Teflon), you need oiled cast iron or ugly old oiled steel. Always store your iron and steel pans with a thin coat of oil. Don't waste time trying to make stainless or aluminum non-stick.

  • 1
    Physics & Mechanics has entered the kitchen :)
    – Alex S
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 12:44
  • 3
    (It is the piston rings, which are made of cast iron or steel, which rub against the walls of the cyclinders. Nevertheless, the lubrication is still essential.) Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 12:57
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    Sorry, I had to downvote. The analogy is misleading. Aluminium and stainless steel are suitable for oiled moving parts, indeed many engine blocks are made of cast aluminium, and so are e.g. some bicycle sprockets. The reason that specialised non-stainless alloys are generally preferrable (and indeed aluminium engines tend to use steel liners) is simply that they can be made harder, but in some cases the weight advantage of aluminium or corrosion resistance of stainless steel may outweigh this aspect. ... Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:02
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    ...With cast iron pans, there's a completely different story going on: a cast iron pan in proper working condition has a nonstick surface of polymerized fats, which works in much the same way as a PTFE nonstick coating. Such a coating would not properly attach to aluminium or stainless steel (probably because of the passivation layer), but that's a different matter from how monomeric liquid oil coats surfaces, Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:02
  • 4
    And finally, oiled stainless is perfectly suitable for some frying tasks, including pancakes. It's just that a liquid oil layer will never be as reliable as a solid polymer one, but that applies to unseasoned cast iron just like it does for stainless or aluminium. Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:05

FuzzyChef's answer is technically correct, but rather than saying "no", I'll say "no, but...".

I often make pancakes on a steel plate that I've seasoned like a cast iron skillet. However, I don't use no fat like your question. My pancake batter has some butter in it, and I apply a very thin layer of oil to the steel, and then wipe it off with a paper towel. The oil on the steel is a nutritionally insignificant amount of fat.

You should be able to season your stainless steel pan and use it like I do. If it's unseasoned, the food will definitely stick strongly.

  • You do add fat, so it is not as OP requested.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 20:58
  • @Willeke I'm not aware of any diets or medical conditions that would forbid trace amounts of fat. Avoiding fatty foods is a common approach, as roughly twice the calories in the same volume tend to make meals that leave one hungry and craving for more, easily leading to exceeding the recommended calorie intake. Avoiding even trace amounts of fat serves no culinary or medical purpose.
    – SF.
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 9:29
  • I agree that your method works and is more sensible, but it does not answer the question. Which is clear 'no fat'.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 11:08

Only with a Parchment layer, though I wouldn't expect great results. Peeling off paper may be necessary

  • Have you tried this?
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 8:05
  • Yes, pan over campfire. Where there's a will, there's a way.
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 22:16

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