How to Cook with Uncoated Stainless Steel Pans

"The general principle is that if food sticks in an uncoated pan, in 99% of the cases, it is because it is burning, and it is the burning that sticks. Most of us, having used non-stick coated pans for years have no knowledge of cooking in uncoated... so here are a few tips to help you navigate your way round them."

Frying pans

The more layers a pan has, the more leeway you will have. A 3-ply pan is very good, a 5-ply is excellent, a 7-ply is bloody fantastic (pardon my French). The main difference is that the thicker a pan is the more room for error (in heat distribution) it will allow you. And remember that with uncoated pans, the worst that can happen is that you may burn the food and ruin it, but then you can try again and you have NOT damaged your pan.

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Frying level 1

With oil on a medium high temperature. For frying sausages, bacon, onions, mushrooms, omelettes, when we put oil in a cold pan, it is rather thick and moves about slowly. As it heats up, it looks “thinner” and moves about faster.

Bearing this in mind, put your pan on your hob at a medium to medium high temperature, put some fat in your pan, when you see that the oil is moving quicker then add the food in. It should NOT spit and splash about, just gently sizzle. Reduce your heat accordingly if necessary.

The official temperature of frying is 180°C, which is not a lot. Some of us were led to believe, have been tempted to believe that higher heat will create quicker cooking... well that is not always the case.

Frying level 2

Dry frying meat and pancakes. To get a juicy steak, we need to sear it, in order to create an outer crust that hardens and keeps all the juices inside.

To achieve this we need a very high heat to begin with. Put your pan on the hob, maximum strength. Have a glass of water nearby, and as the pan heats up, check the temperature by flicking a bit of water in your pan. The water will probably evaporates in a mini cloud of steam, this is NOT hot enough, try again a few moments later, and at some point, when the water hits the pan, the water turns into little balls of water that do not evaporate but just roll about rather like mercury.

This IS the right/highest temperature. Take your steak, or your chicken breast or your pork chop and put it in the pan, use a fork to press the meat to ensure it touches the pan evenly. Then, and this is the very important bit, REDUCE your heat by about 1/3, so on my induction hob with a max number 9, I turn it down to 5 or 6. (If you don’t the food will burn) At that stage, your piece of meat is actually completely sticking to the pan, but this is a good sticking.

Don’t worry! Stay there, and observe your meat, after a few minutes, you will see the sides of the meat lift up gently, take a fork or a fish slice, and gently lift it, it should come away from the pan with ease. If it doesn’t, just wait a bit more, if the juices that come out of the pan are dark brown you definitely have too much heat, so turn the heat down, and wait for the lift. As you turn the meat over, you will see the lovely golden colour of a properly seared surface. Now cook the other side.


I always cook crêpes in uncoated pans because the result is nicer. Put some butter in your pan and use a brush or piece of kitchen paper to coat the whole surface on a medium high temperature, pour a small quantity of mixture and WAIT, until the sides start to lift off. Use a fish slice to turn it around. Observe your pan, as if it is too hot, it will burn and then stick. I was always taught that the first pancakes tend to go wrong and that is because we need to find the right temperature.

Frying level 3

Fried eggs, fish and food coated in breadcrumbs, These are the situations where coated pans prove to be excellent. Remembering that the coatings are NEVER designed to be used with very high heat, they do have their place and come in so handy in these situations. However neither our grand-parents nor Auguste Escoffier had “non-stick” pans and they could still cook very well. So here are some pointers, but do remember, as they are more difficult, to be kind to yourself and give yourself a little learning time.

Eggs are the natural glue of the food world, you definitely need to ensure that there is fat all over the cooking surface. Some like the white of their fried eggs to remain white, some like the white to be crispy and golden. The first one is easy enough, use medium temperature as in Frying level 1. For the crispy results, you do need enough fat in your pan, and very hot. You can then drain your egg on kitchen paper to remove excess fat.

Fish, unless extremely fresh off the boat, will easily flake away stick and break up as you try to unstick it. So it is easier to cook filets with the skin on. Use high temperature, enough oil and a bit of butter, and cook skin side down first. Reduce the heat when flipping over. Food coated in breadcrumbs, easily some breadcrumbs will come off the piece of food and likely burn. If you want to cook these without any added fat, you need to use your oven, not your frying pan. In a fry pan I use a generous amount of oil or butter on a medium heat.

Sauciers and Sauté Pans

Generally start on medium/medium high temperature, with some oil and/or butter, and observe what is happening in your pan. If the food start to stick reduce the heat. In some cases, like if I start a chicken pie, brown a few onions, then a bit of bacon, (if the bacon was honey cured, the sugar content might make the food stick), sweat some leeks, then add butter and flour, often this combination starts sticking. No panic, just reduce the heat, and as I add liquid to make the sauce, it will naturally deglaze the pan, and all those bits of browned food have become pearls of flavour which add taste to the whole dish.

You can also use the saucier to melt chocolate directly on the hob. Use the smallest amount of heat possible, and check with your hand that you can still touch the pan body (yes, I know, but remember that chocolate melts in our mouth, hence at body temperature). If it gets too hot to the touch, it would be too hot and separate your chocolate, but on a low setting, the 7 ply of the Demeyere pans allows for the chocolate to be melted without bain-marie.

Saucepans and Casseroles

If you have some Demeyere Atlantis saucepans, then we might have told you that you can cook in them with a minimum of water, like just a few tablespoons of water. You can do that because the base of the pans is so thick and the lids fit so well that you do not lose any of the water content of the ingredients. This means that your vegetables are even more delicious than if you had steamed them, really worth doing. To do this, put your rinsed vegetables in your saucepan, add ½ inch to 1 inch of water, put on the hob and wait for the water to boil, put the lid on and reduce the heat by half. If you see some steam escape from the pan, reduce the heat further.

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