Following up from my previous question, which I'd raised because I have concerns that my non-stick wok will need replacing very soon (again), and was having a think about "standard" pans.

I'm not currently interested in differences in care/cleaning/etc, I think those are quite well covered in other questions.

So, I'm wondering what's the difference in the required technique when using them to cook food?

3 Answers 3


The big thing that you you are going to see cooking in regular pans vs. non-stick is the addition of pan sauces to your table. It is almost impossible to get a pan sauce out of the non-sticks because they prevent the formation of fond in the pan. As for stick in a regular pan, it is not much of a concern for most items, but there are a few things that non-stick are invaluable for so I generally keep a cheap non-stick around for those. (Talking cepes and eggs, mostly) The biggest trick with regular pans is learning to stop messing with your food while it cooks. You want to let it form that crust which as a by-product will help prevent sticking. Also, you will find that you start at a higher tempature when cooking with regular pans.

  • So essentially - Move the food about less (I would have assumed more) and cook a bit hotter (to make the oil more effective?). And finally use non-stick/standard when it works best for the food (eggs/pan-sauces being your example respectively).
    – DMA57361
    Jul 26, 2010 at 7:37
  • 3
    exactly, although the hotter pan is to help the mallaird reaction which is what browns meats, you are able to use a hotter pan because you don't have to worry about messing up the nonstick coating on your pans. And you are going to see bits of what your cooking stick, that's the fond, and you can just deglaze (pour about a cup of liquid into the hot pan and stir with a wooden spoon) and it will make a tasty sauce out of what's left Jul 27, 2010 at 22:57

You can get the benefits of both non-stick and fond by prepping the stainless steel pan so it's more non-stick:

Use the "water test" to know when a stainless steel pan is hot enough to add oil. Besides being fascinating to watch, passing the water test ensures the pan becomes amazingly non-stick.

When the pan is hot enough, water will ball up like mercury and slide around the pan without evaporating. The temperature required is pretty high, but I've found the non-stick properties remain if I add the oil and let the pan cool to the cooking temperature I want.

Note: preheating the pan like this applies to non-stainless steel pans, but water only balls up like mercury on stainless steel.

Detailed explanation of how/why this works: On properly heating your pan


Well, standard pans 'stick' more. You can either try to prevent it, or gain advantage from it. The common advantage being caramelization / sticking / dissolving, for flavour, or getting a maillard reaction going.

Have a look here as well.

  • I'd assumed more sticking was likely; but I was wondering if to combat this you have to cook differently somehow? More oil? More/Less heat? etc.
    – DMA57361
    Jul 24, 2010 at 21:01
  • @DMA: just the right heat. see Leftium's link and those great videos
    – zanlok
    Jan 27, 2011 at 4:13

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