Unlike carbon steel and cast iron, seasoning your stainless-steel pans isn’t necessary.
That being said, some professional cooks and chefs still choose to season their cookware.
Seasoning stainless steel pans forms a semi-nonstick surface, a result of polymerized oil molecules sticking to the metal surface.
The seasoning layer helps to protect delicate foods such as eggs or fish as you cook them, hopefully meaning you can avoid a huge mess.
What Is the Surface of a Stainless-Steel Pan Like?
The surface of a stainless-steel pan is very smooth. It is easy to clean and is very durable.
And because of the alloy that is stainless steel, it is resistant to corrosion and can be used in a variety of cooking applications.
While stainless steel pans look smooth and shiny, a closer look under a microwave will reveal tiny crevices and pores.
Under high heat, the tiny pores expand, allowing cooking oil to seep in and creating a barrier between food particles and the pan’s surface and preventing sticking.
But even with these qualities, it’s possible to mess up your pan (and your meal) if you don’t prep correctly. If you want to avoid this, you can try seasoning your stainless steel pan.
What Does “Seasoning A Pan” Mean?
Seasoning a stainless steel pan is the process of coating the pan with a thin layer of oil or fat while heating it to a certain temperature for a long enough time to create a polymer bond on the pan’s surface.
This creates a barrier between the pan and your food, which helps to prevent sticking, makes it so you don’t have to focus as much on getting the exact right conditions for your pan, and makes cleanup much easier.
The best way to season your stainless-steel pan is to coat it evenly with a high smoke point cooking oil (like canola oil) and heating it in the oven at 350 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly one hour. Doing so ensures the oil or fat evenly coats the entire surface of the pan and has a good chance of forming a strong polymerized bond to the cookware.
You can then use the pan as you normally would, adding more oil or fat as needed.
Over time, the seasoning will build up and create an even better non-stick surface.
If you do not have time to heat your pan in the oven, you can still lightly season it by heating some oil or fat in the pan on the stovetop and letting it cook for a few minutes.
Once the pan is heated, carefully wipe away any excess oil or fat with a paper towel. You should then be able to use your pan as usual once this done.
Seasoning your stainless-steel pan is a simple and easy way to make it last longer and perform better.
By creating a non-stick surface, you can prevent sticking and make cleanup much easier, and you also protect your pan from rust and corrosion.
Do You Need to Season a Stainless-Steel Pan?
If you’ve ever used a stainless-steel pan, you know that it’s important to either heat to the right temperature, or season it before use, to prevent the food from sticking to the pan and making it easier to clean.
But do you need to season your stainless steel pan every time you use it?
The answer is no!
You only need to season your stainless-steel pan when you first use it or if you notice that the food is starting to stick to the pan.
How Often Should I Season My Stainless-Steel Pan?
Now that we’ve established what seasoning is, how often should you season your stainless-steel pan?
The answer, unfortunately, is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
The frequency with which you need to season your pan will depend on a couple of things, including how often you use it, what you use it for, and how well you take care of it.
Most experts agree that seasoning your pan once every few months should be sufficient for most home cooks.
If you use your pan frequently or if you notice that the non-stick surface is starting to wear away, you may need to season it more often.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your stainless-steel pan: –
- Use it often – The more you use your pan, the more often you’ll need to season it because the seasoning starts to wear away with frequent use.
- Be careful with what you cook – Some foods are more likely to stick than others. Foods that are high in acidity, like tomatoes, can cause the seasoning to break down more quickly. You may need to season your pan more often if you’re cooking something particularly sticky or acidic.
- Wash by hand – If you put your pan in the dishwasher, the harsh detergents can strip away the seasoning. To help prolong the life of your seasoning, wash your pan by hand using warm water and mild soap.
- Don’t forget about storage – If you’re not going to be using your pan for a while, make sure to season it before putting it away to prevent rust and corrosion.
How Do I Season a Stainless-Steel Pan On The Stove?
If you do decide to season your stainless-steel pans, follow the steps below:
- Place the pan on the stove over medium heat.
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. You can use any type of oil, such as olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- Use a paper towel or clean cloth to spread the oil around the entire surface of the pan, including the sides
- Allow the pan to heat up for about two minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool completely before using or storing it.
How Do I Season a Stainless-Steel Pan In The Oven?
Can you season stainless steel in the oven? Yes, you can!
- Add a small amount of cooking oil to the pan
- Be sure to coat the entire surface of the pan, including the sides.
- Heat it in the oven at a high temperature (around 350 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely.
- Your pan is now ready to use!
Do keep in mind that seasoning your pan is not the same as cleaning it.
You’ll still need to wash your pan with soap and water after each use.
If you don’t, the oil will eventually go rancid and can cause food to stick to the pan.
Additionally, stainless steel pans should never be washed in the dishwasher.
The high temperatures and harsh detergents can damage the seasoning on the pan.