Today I had… hard conversation with my girlfriend whether to use or not oil (semi refined sunflower) when cooking scrambled eggs on a non-stick pan.

My point is that there is no reason for oil, because coating of the pan will prevent eggs to stick. Was I right or adding oil is essential for some other reason than prevention eggs to stick?

  • I'm afraid your gf has you on this one, but it's not about non-sticking. I've noted the science of it in the answer below. – MandoMando Sep 22 '13 at 13:32
  • Things cook differently in hot oil. Take potatoes, slice them into stick-shaped cuttings. Put half in a hot oven at 375, but half into a bath of 375 hot oil, and tell me whether there is a difference or not. It doesn't make enough difference to me, for eggs, to add oil, but people might like the "fried" effect. – PoloHoleSet Sep 2 '16 at 18:03

Adding oil or butter makes scrambled eggs more creamy by giving the egg protein something to hold onto and not curl as tight.

The ideal formula for scrambled eggs is one extra yolk for every 4 eggs plus a little fat.

I didn't like scrambled eggs until I tried this formula and it's awesome.

Credit goes to either Jack Bishop (Cooks Illustrated) and/or Nathan Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine) unfortunately I can't remember which of the two clever gents I heard it from.

  • 1
    I saw it on America's Test Kitchen, so Cook's Illustrated. – Jolenealaska Sep 23 '13 at 12:34
  • Any suggestion what to do with extra white? Don't like wasting food… – Kentzo Oct 4 '13 at 15:04
  • @Kentzo make a delicious pink omelette. Fry onion and tomatoes in pan till soft, then add the egg whites. You can do this with regular eggs for even better result, but the pink omelette is cute, healthy and uses up the egg whites. – MandoMando Oct 5 '13 at 14:58
  • @MandoMando you mean in addition to the scrambled eggs or as a different meal? – Kentzo Oct 6 '13 at 7:49
  • You can serve them side-by-side or different meal later (observing storage guidelines for shelled eggs). – MandoMando Oct 7 '13 at 14:56

I always add butter, as much for the flavor as to keep the eggs from sticking. In scrambled eggs, butter is as necessary for me as salt and pepper.

  • Does butter work good on non-stick pans? I was under impression that only semi refined oils are suitable. – Kentzo Sep 21 '13 at 9:09
  • 1
    Sure, butter away, I use it in every kind of skillet and pot that I've ever owned. – Jolenealaska Sep 21 '13 at 9:21
  • 1
    You can use any kind of fat in a non-stick skillet. I don't know anything about the new "green" skillets, but I've used just about everything else – Jolenealaska Sep 21 '13 at 9:24
  • You might find this link of interest americastestkitchen.com/recipes/detail.php?docid=29694 its America’s Test Kitchen’s method for perfect scrambled eggs. They do a free 14 day trial. Just between you and me, you can really suck the marrow out of the site in 14 days and there is a lot of good info there. – Jolenealaska Sep 21 '13 at 9:41
  • 2
    Non-stick may actually apply to NEW teflon or similar pans, but after a few months use, they all become Less-stick pans. Eggs are particularly sticky, and tough to get off when bonded to the pan, so a little oil is a reasonable precaution. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 21 '13 at 13:42

You can certainly try your pan without oil, and see how it goes. If the nonstick coating is still in good shape, you'll be able to cook your eggs just fine. You might still miss the flavor of butter, and if you try fried eggs, you may find that they don't brown the way you want. But once your pan ages a bit, the coating won't work as well, and you'll want to start using oil again. The pan will last a long, long time after that, so you'll probably end up using oil for most of the life of the pan.


Oil is not just about keeping things from sticking, it also helps with heat transfer. With eggs it is not such a big issue although it does help some, however with something like a piece of chicken or stir frying vegetables adding oil is necessary.

  • This is the most correct answer. – wootscootinboogie Sep 21 '13 at 18:47
  • @wootscootinboogie Kind of. Most of the oil ends up mixed into the eggs, with very little remaining on the pan when you're done. It does help a bit with heat transfer, but assuming nothing sticks, the main effect is simply that you don't get quite the same texture and browning on the surfaces against the pan. It doesn't make them cook faster or more evenly. – Cascabel Sep 22 '13 at 4:05

Non-stick is not the only reason for using oil. The oil ensures good heat transfer, especially after the egg is no longer liquid, has an uneven surface and may not contact the pan evenly when you have flipped it. Some oils do have flavors as well. If you cook with spices, sometimes these are placed in the pan prior to the egg, you will need the oil to sauté and meld the flavors together.

  • As I noted on GdD's answer, by the time the egg isn't liquid, the oil is essentially all mixed into the egg anyway, and isn't really aiding in heat transfer. – Cascabel Sep 22 '13 at 14:14

To me, it just makes it tastier.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.