Your ultimate guide for turning a stainless steel pan nonstick

Stainless steel cookware is great for charring meat and cooking veggies, but it can get annoying when food constantly sticks to the surface. If you’re tired of scraping food off of your pans but don’t want to buy a whole new set, you’re in luck. There are two easy ways you can make stainless steel nonstick (one just involves heating the pan until it's really hot!). Keep reading to learn both simple hacks so you’ll never have to struggle with messy pan clean-up again.

Things You Should Know

  • Quickly make a stainless steel pan nonstick by heating it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. This causes the pores in the steel to close up, making the surface of the pan nonstick.
  • You can also make your pan nonstick by heating up canola or vegetable oil in the pan until it smokes.
Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Easy Nonstick Hack

  1. The goal here is to get the pan really hot. Stainless steel pans are actually covered with small pores, and when the pan is exposed to heat, the pores close. This creates a smooth surface that your food won't stick to.[1]
  2. When your pan is hot enough, the water will bead up and easily glide across the surface. Once this happens, your pan is effectively nonstick, and you’re ready to add oil and start cooking. If the water splatters, evaporates, or starts boiling, your pan isn’t ready yet.[2]
    • If the pan is too hot, the water will break down into several droplets instead of forming a bead. If this happens, reduce the heat and try again.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Using Oil to Make the Pan Nonstick

  1. Don’t add any oil at this point and allow the skillet to heat for about 2 minutes. This allows the pan’s pores to close, and when you add the oil, it will create a nonstick surface that can be used repeatedly. This is called seasoning the pan.[3]
  2. It’s important to use an oil with a high smoking point like canola oil or vegetable oil. There should be about an ⅛ inch of oil in the bottom of the pan.[4]
  3. The pan should start smoking after about 6 minutes. When it does, remove it from the heat and allow the oil to cool completely.[5]
  4. Use a paper towel to remove any excess oil, leaving a glossy sheen in the base of the pan. This becomes your nonstick surface.[6]
  5. If possible, just wipe it clean between uses. When the pan gets too dirty, wash it with soap and water, then season it again using the same process.[7]
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About This Article

Raven Minyard, BA
Co-authored by:
wikiHow Staff Writer
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Raven Minyard, BA. Raven Minyard received her BA in English and Creative Writing from Sweet Briar College in 2020. While in college, she served as the Coeditor-in-Chief of Sweet Briar's literary magazine Red Clay and has since gone on to write for publications such as The Zillennial Zine and Halloween Every Night. Raven recalls reading articles from wikiHow's early days during her childhood and is thrilled to now write for their content team. She enjoys learning about new interests and topics with each article she writes and hopes to help audiences of all backgrounds continue to learn new and exciting things.
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Co-authors: 2
Updated: December 20, 2023
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