I recently purchased a stainless steel pan from AllClad, but I'm struggling to use it. Food, and in particular eggs, seem to stick readily to the pan, making it hard to use. There is a question on Seasoned Advice that pertains to cooking an omelette on a stainless steel pan, but I think the challenges of frying an egg are different and more challenging. I've been able to cook an omelette in this pan, but have yet to succeed with a fried egg.
Looking online, I learned that stainless steel pans, like cast-iron, need to be seasoned in order to be non-stick. The process that I followed to season my pan was as follows:
- Pour in 1/4 cup walnut oil.
- Heat pan on medium heat until the oil begins to smoke.
- Turn heat off and let the pan cool completely.
- Remove the oil and wipe the pan dry.
I tried this process, but when I try to fry an egg in the pan, it still sticks readily. There is some improvement, but it is still not possible to cook an egg without sticking that destroys the egg in the end.
I'm not sure what I may be doing wrong, or is a stainless steel pan just not something that one can use for frying eggs? Should I just expect that there will be some stick whenever I use this pan?
After watching this short course on pay frying, I tried to pre-heat my pan, using the water-test as a guide, and adding just a bit of oil to the pan before dropping the egg in. The results were the same. The egg stuck to the pan thoroughly. So again I'm not sure what I'm doing incorrectly. Maybe the oil I'm using isn't right? I've been using ghee.
I've yet to succeed in frying a egg on this pan, but a few additional questions/issues have surfaced:
Some answers here have suggested that despite the presence on the web of tutorials for "seasoning" stainless steel pan this is not necessary and may not be advisable.
The trick may be to fry the egg starting at a much lower heat then you might with something like a piece of meat. For meat, you often encounter the suggestion to use the "water test", but as at least one answer has suggested here that may not work with a fried egg.
These are the possibly insights I've gleaned so far, but I've also yet to succeed, so these may turn out to be wrong as well.
Satisfying Answer (May be others)
The solution that I have settled on here -- i.e. what finally worked for me -- was to work with lower heat than I thought was needed, and not to season the pan. There is definitely a lot of conflicting information out there about stainless steel pans. There are a great number of blog posts and YouTube videos that talk about how to season a pan. Seasoning may still be a useful thing to do, but I was able to fry an egg on an unseasoned pan finally.
The method I used is more or less as follows:
Clean pan thoroughly.
Take egg out of refrigerator and let it sit in warm water for five minutes or so. (This may not be necessary.)
Put pan on stove on medium flame/heat. (I only tried this on a gas stove.)
Let pan pre-heat until it is warm when you hold your hands over the pan. Warm, not hot! This might take 20-30 seconds, maybe less.
Add the oil (1-2 tbsp), and lower the flame to low. Let the oil heat a bit, perhaps another 10-15 seconds, or less.
Crack the egg into the pan. The whites should stay clear, only slowly whitening. If the egg begins to turn white immediately, the pan is too hot. And the egg should also not stick at this point. There may be a bit of sticking, especially around the edges. You can dislodge the sticking gently by hand, but don't mess with the egg too much. Cook until done or ready to flip. Make sure heat stays low. If you see some sticking it may be (I'm not sure about this) because the pan has become too hot.
So that's the best I've been able to do with help from the selected answer.