After the advice I gave about seasoning a cast iron pan, one would think I knew. I don't though. I have 2 large cast iron pans I use regularly but I'd love my good quality small stainless steel pan to have the same hard lasting seasoned non-stick coating my iron pans have. I've injured my wrists many years back so I'd like a pan that's easy to move without the strain. I don't want to use anything like spray Pam either.

Considering how seasoning works, it sounds do-able except for one problem. The top layer of a cast iron pan isn't completely smooth but slightly porous. That's why an oil film is able to initially stick to the pan. I'm not sure a stainless steel pan's surface is porous.

The way most people think of a new stainless pan being seasoned in preparation for use isn't what I mean. That's not a long lasting finish. I want the tough finish you get seasoning a cast iron pan by multiple oiling, heating and cooling. So has anyone tried and if so, what were your results? I don't want to experiment on my one good small pan.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Do I need to season a stainless steel saute pan?
    – Catija
    Apr 7, 2017 at 23:20
  • This is a tentative dupe vote... It seems like a similar question and I think the answers address what you're asking.
    – Catija
    Apr 7, 2017 at 23:21
  • Not quite, Catia so I took your suggestion and edited my question.
    – Jude
    Apr 8, 2017 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


It is not something that I would do - I just use stainless with sufficient oil. But if you really want to try it, then yes, you can make it stick. It is more difficult than with cast iron, but it is not impossible. First, steel does have "pores" (actually crags) on a microscopic level. It is not that much smoother than forged iron, which is also seasoned. Second, we have had enough questions around here of people complaining about "ruining" their stainless when they accidentally polymerized oil onto it. Third, my pans also hold a bit of polymerization on the walls, where splatter meets the hot metal.

I cannot give you the exact conditions under which it will work, but I don't think there is much difference between the best process for seasoning stainless steel and the best process for seasoning iron. The difference is in that you have a much smaller margin for error. But with good technique and patience, you should be able to do it on purpose.

  • I'm going to try and will post results when done. Before I went to bed last night, I spent a while searching for SEM micrographs of the surface of the same type of stainless steel that's used in cookware. Different look to the pores on a cast iron pan but I'm happy enough with its appearance to decide to give it a try.
    – Jude
    Apr 8, 2017 at 21:00
  • It doesn't have to be the same surface - I also seasoned my ceramic after its stopped being nonstick, and I'm happy with it. The seasoning is not great there, slightly patchy, but works OK.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 9, 2017 at 8:20

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