I make a lot of stir fry in my frying pan, and I hate cleaning it up. Often, if I do not clean the pan immediately, the stir fry residue (little pieces I have failed to scooped out when moving the food from pan to plate) sticks to the bottom, and I need to soak the pan for a while before I can wash it.

Is there any danger/argument against lining the inside of the pan with aluminum foil, and cooking the stir fry on top of that foil? That way I would not have to clean the pan after removing my food -- I could just take off the foil and throw it out.

  • 5
    If your having to clean up a significant sticky mess I think you are probably not stir frying at a high enough temperature or using the correct pan for the job.
    – Brendan
    Feb 7, 2013 at 18:20
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    Can I ask why this question was downvoted? I believed it to be a legitimate question with very few answers on the internet. I have no dish washer and was wondering if this could be a quick way to clean up after cooking.
    – JSW189
    Feb 8, 2013 at 20:08
  • @JSW189 I think sometimes people just downvote questions they think have really obvious answers, especially when the answer is "no, that's a bad idea."
    – Cascabel
    Feb 8, 2013 at 23:08
  • 1
    Cast iron? I pour in an inch of hot water and bring to boil; soaking bit if necessary. Scrape or 2, pour off and wipe with paper towel.
    – Pat Sommer
    Feb 15, 2013 at 5:15
  • @PatSommer I do deglaze in the cast iron once in a blue moon to get precious fond off the skillet, but cleanup I heat up a small amount of oil and dump in salt and agitate crusty, burnt bits loose then wipe them out.
    – AdamO
    Feb 23, 2014 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


Lining with foil works well with cooking methods like baking or broiling, where the food is not stirred or manipulated much, and so the foil can sit undisturbed.

With stir frying, you are quite likely to break through the foil while doing the stirring, and have to clean up fully in any case. Also, you probably would not get as good a stir fry due the thin layer of insulating air between the pan surface and the food.

This is not something I would try.

  • I agree. You are more likely to end up with bits of aluminum foil that you'll have to dig out of your dish
    – Brendan
    Feb 7, 2013 at 18:20
  • 2
    It's even worse than this - when you break a hole in it, a bit of stuff will get through and burn onto the pan, since it'll just be a small amount and the pan will be hotter than normal. This should be familiar if you've ever roasted things on foil and had a bit leak through.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 7, 2013 at 18:47
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    I'd also be worried about the temperature; while aluminum foil can withstand even the highest conventional oven temperatures, the contact temperature of a fry pan or wok on high heat, depending on the type of stove (e.g. gas), could quite possibly melt the foil and/or cause some nasty reactions with the food. Foil is pretty resilient but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to leave it in direct conductive contact with the primary heat source...
    – Aaronut
    Feb 9, 2013 at 19:38
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    Aluminum melts at 1220 F / 660 C. I would love to have a home burner that even had a chance :-)
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Feb 9, 2013 at 19:40
  • worse, the gunk that accumulates between the foil and the surface of the pan will make the foil very hard to remove, making the cleanup job much harder than had the foil not been there at all.
    – jwenting
    Mar 19, 2013 at 11:37

Can I suggest that may not have a properly seasoned wok? If you have a proper carbon steel wok, this video will show you the method. You need an oil with a really high burning point or else it can discolor your steel, you also need extremely high heat, and to keep your meat and vegetables in constant motion. Lastly, give your wok an oil coating after you have cleaned it and are ready to store it. I find that the cleanup is always really easy.

  • While this may be good advise, does it actually answer the original question?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Mar 18, 2013 at 14:16
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    @SAJ14SAJ When someone asks "How do I do B in order to avoid A?" it's fair to tell them other ways to avoid A - though of course, both your answer and this one assume the OP is using a wok when it sounds like it's probably just a frying pan.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 18, 2013 at 14:22
  • @Jefromi But in that case, one should say why B is not a good idea... and you are right, I should change the word wok. Not sure if the question was edited later or I just missed that since the question now explicitly says that they are using a frying pan.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Mar 18, 2013 at 14:24

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