I often cook 85% lean ground beef in a non-stick pan. When I first started doing this, I always added some oil to the pan before I cooked it, but then I learned that the beef had enough fat on its own, so I started cooking it without adding any oil. I just put the beef in the skillet and turn on the heat, and it turns out fine.

I bought 93% lean ground beef today, and I plan to make food with it tomorrow. But I'm not sure if it has enough fat to cook it without adding some kind of oil to the pan. If I try to cook the 93% without oil, will I run into problems?

  • 1
    What kind of non-stick... If you know. My ceramic pans would be fine but I'm not sure about Teflon.
    – Catija
    Dec 9, 2015 at 4:54
  • @Catija It says "Calphalon Unison Slide" on the bottom. It seems that it's the same material as Teflon (PTFE), just not Teflon branded.
    – user37111
    Dec 9, 2015 at 5:36
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    @snailboat I have a pan of exactly that type. I'm pretty sure that you will be fine, just don't use more than medium heat and let the meat develop some sear on all sides before stirring. Are you making patties? Or are you browning the meat as in for a chili?
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 9, 2015 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


There isn't a way to predict this. Non stick pans are produced in different quality and can be anywhere from "water pearls off the surface" to "as bad as enamel". And all of them lose their non stick properties over time, at wildly different rates depending on quality and usage patterns.

If you want to know it for your case, you'll have to try it. Worst case, you'll have to thoroughly clean a pan from clingy residue. If it burns onto a white ceramic coating, it can also leave a permanent discoloration, but this is a purely cosmetic problem.

Update: You can certainly save your meat even if it starts to stick. Use Joe's method from his comment, or simply stir it constantly with a flat edged spatula (I don't know which method is better). If it is patties, loosen them again and again using a spatula, maybe turning them often.

  • If it does end up sticking, and the goal is ground meat (not patties), just add a little bit of water and cook for a minute or so to loosen things up, give it a stir, and then cook 'til the water has evaporated.
    – Joe
    Dec 9, 2015 at 10:16
  • Thanks, everyone! I ended up trying it, and it worked out fine :-) I didn't have to add any oil or water.
    – user37111
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:27

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