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I've recently bought a Thermoworks IR thermometer. I'm hoping to use it with my pan when frying meats, to get more ideal temperatures.

There's plenty of content online about what the internal temperature of the food should be (e.g. http://www.thermoworks.com/blog/2010/10/chef-recommended-tw-approved/).

However, there doesn't seem to be anything online on what actual quantifiable temperature the pan should be (it's all very unscientific - e.g. hold your hand over the pan, does it feel hot? Can you hold it there for 3 seconds?)

I know that the actual number will probably depend on a number of factors (e.g. type and cut of meat, equipment etc.). However, it'd be good to get a rough idea of the range for the pan's surface temperature I should be aiming for.

The pan I have is a Scanpan non-stick pan, reasonably thick (similar to http://www.amazon.com/Scanpan-Professional-12-5-Inch-Fry-Pan/dp/B000NI6DMS), and I'm using grape-seed oil.

The meats I'm frying are things like kangaroo burger patties (http://gourmetgame.com.au/products/kangaroo/), or chicken breast pieces.

Would 250 C be too hot? Lower?

How about frying eggs?

(I wish there was a table, like there was for internal meat temperatures...haha).

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I was looking at this same question awhile back when I got an IR thermometer, what I found was 2 things. The first thing is that there are too many variables to have a single answer that would work. The pan temperature you want at the start depends on a number of factors including:

  • Material of the pan: how much heat it conducts
  • Mass of the pan: how much material is in the pan
  • Type of burner/element
  • Heat output of burner/element
  • Food being cooked

So you would have to develop all these numbers for each pan on each burner, with different heat settings through experimentation. Other people's numbers would mean nothing unless you are using the same equipment.

Another reason is that the pan's starting temperature isn't actually that important. When you put food in a pan the temperature is going to drop, how quickly depends on the factors above, however the total amount of heat it will take to cook your food and the rate you want to apply heat remains about the same no matter which pan and material you use. It's a question of heat supply to the pan over time, all you really need to know is that your pan is hot enough to start. It's the temperature of the pan while the food is on it that is important. You can measure it quite a bit but at the end of the day all you conclude is you need to have your burner set to a certain level.

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