How to Cook with Uncoated Stainless Steel Pans

The general principle is, that if food sticks in an uncoated pan, 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 pans. 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.

Frying level 1

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.

Surface Temperature


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. Watch your pan, as if it is too hot, it will burn and then stick.

I was always taught that the first pancake tends to go wrong, and that is because we need to find the right temperature.

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Frying level 3

Fried eggs, fish and food coated in breadcrumbs. These are the situations where coated pans prove to be excellent.

Remember that non-stick coatings are NEVER designed to be used with very high heat, but they do have their place and come in handy in some 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 these foods are more difficult to cook, to be kind to yourself and give yourself a little learning time.



Food coated in breadcrumbs. Some breadcrumbs will come off the food and most likely burn. If you want to cook these without any added fat, you need to use your oven, not your frying pan.

In a frying 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 starts 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.

Don't 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 Demeyere pans allows for chocolate to be melted without a bain-marie.

Saucepans and Casseroles.

If you have 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.

You can do that because the base of the pans are 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.

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 escaping from the pan, reduce the heat further. 

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When we have used only medium heat in an uncoated frying pan, the cleaning is very easy. They will wash well in the dishwasher, or with a sponge or scourer with washing up liquid.

But, if we've used higher temperatures, this isn't always the case.

So first, deglaze the pan. On a medium heat, just add liquid.

Actually, I almost always deglaze the pan sometimes with just water, but often white wine or stock. I then use one of my small spatulas to gently help the welded bits to come unstuck, creating a jus in the process, which will either be poured on the meat or used as the base for a more elaborate sauce.

The pan then looks almost clean long before it get to the washing up bowl!

If we have either burnt the food or used a very high temperature with oil, the food or the oil can appear welded to the pan. So, in this case I am not trying to make something out of the deposits, but I still first clean the pan by adding water and scraping most of it off.

Then with stubborn oil deposits, I use the Demeyere cream cleaner with a strong scourer, I particularly like the scrubby that we stock, they work a dream on a stainless steel finish (and on steel or uncoated cast iron for that matter)

If I burn food at the bottom of a saucier, saucepan or casserole/sauté then good old soaking is the thing to do.

One of the beauties of Demeyere is the finish of its stainless steel (patented Silvinox), it means that even when we burn food, the pan will come back as new.

A Warning

Leaving a pan unattended on high heat is not a good thing to do. It's certainly a fire risk, and in extreme cases you may distort the base or body of the pan.

I have only seen this happen twice in the last 25 years.

In one case, someone had left a Christmas pudding steaming in their saucepan at high temperature and left the house. On returning 3 hours later, the pan base had significantly bowed.

In the other it was the same kind of scenario with a stockpot.

Marks left after cleaning

When your pans have been washed, they can sometimes have white marks, or blue marks. The white marks are a deposit of the mineral salts present in a lot of food, particularly mushrooms or meats, the blue tinge ones are a natural reaction of well-cooked starchy food on stainless steel.

Both of these situations are easily cleaned, without any elbow grease, by adding a little bit of either lemon juice or vinegar to your pan.

The blue tinges disappear on contact, the white marks might need you to gently rub the lemon or vinegar with a sponge or washing up brush.

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