How Not to Burn Stainless Steel Pan (14 Useful Tips)

So you’ve just bought yourself a new stainless steel pan and wondering how not to burn it?

Stainless steel cookware is probably the most useful and versatile type of cookware that you can get.

They are easy to cook with and tend to be much healthier since they are not made with harmful materials. However, looking after them can be just as arduous.

No matter how good a cook you are, food sticking to your stainless steel pan is inevitable. And this leads to the pan burning and ultimately causing food residue to burn and stick to the pan.

However, having a little know-how is all you need to keep your stainless steel pans from burning so that they continue to be spick and span. Keep reading this guide for these tips and tricks.

Why Do Stainless Steel Pans Burn?

Before we go ahead and discuss the ways not to let your stainless steel cookware burn, it’s important to understand why this can happen in the first place.

The main reason why they tend to burn is because of heat; either too little or too much of it can have a drastic negative impact on these pans.

Oil in the pan acts as a barrier between food and the pan and can lead to the food potentially sticking and burning the pan.

The food itself tends to have moisture naturally, and when you add the food to the stainless steel pan, which usually has oil in it, the two react.

If the oil in your pan is not adequately heated, the food is likely to stick to the pan and not lift.

However, if the oil is too hot, it will burn the food, and the food residue will likely begin to stick to the pan and burn it.

How to Prevent Stainless Steel Pans from Burning

Here are some helpful tips that you can use to minimize the odds of your food sticking to the pan and ultimately burning it.

1. Test the Cookware Before Buying It

You know how you take cars for a test drive before buying them?

The same should be done with cookware. If possible, try out your stainless steel pan to see how it functions, how far you can push it in terms of heat, and where you think the pan excels or falters.

This way, you will know exactly what you should be cooking in the pan, how you should be cooking it, and what cleaning methods work best with it.

Before you buy the cookware, make sure that it is of the highest quality and by a reputable company.

Avoid buying cheap cookware. It might save you some bucks, but since it’s likely to be made from low-quality materials, it won’t last you for long and will also likely burn frequently.

2. Ensure Your Stovetop is Clean

Before cooking with your stainless steel cookware, it would be helpful that you clean your stovetop.

Residue from sauces or other dishes that you made earlier can cause the bottom of your stainless steel pan from burning. Not only that, if exposed to flame or direct heat, these stains can be very hard to get rid of.

Therefore, before cooking, wipe your stovetop with a clean damp cloth and get rid of any stains, dirt, and whatnot.

3. Wipe Down the Exterior Surface of Pan Before Cooking

Similarly, it’s important to have a clean pan when you commence your cooking as well.

If the bottom of your pan has any food residue or stains, it will quickly burn, and the food will stick to the pan when exposed to direct heat.

As a result, your stainless steel pain will burn quickly, and the residue will be nearly impossible to get rid of. Hence, never forget to clean the exterior surface of your pan, especially the bottom, before you begin cooking.

4. Use a Burner That Fits the Pan Size

This is especially true for gas stoves where the direct flame is in contact with the cookware.

Try to cook with a smaller burner because the flames from a larger one might lick the handles and exterior surfaces of the pan and cause it to burn too quickly.

If you don’t have a burner that is the exact size of the pan, opt for a smaller one rather than a larger one.

5. Heat the Pan Before Adding Oils or Fats

Before adding food to the pan and beginning cooking, you must add oil, butter, or any other fat and let it preheat.

The oil seeps into the pores of the pan and creates a non-stick coating that prevents food from sticking. Hence you should follow this step every time you cook with a stainless steel pan.

Make sure to add enough oil so that it covers the entire surface of the pan. Moreover, ensure that the oil is completely heated through before you add the food.

More importantly, add the oil or fats to the pan once it has heated up.

Avoid adding it to a room temperature or cold pan. Once your pan has thoroughly heated, add oil, wait for a minute or two for the oil to heat up, and then add the food.

6. Bring the Food to Room Temperature Before Adding It To The Pan

Cold food tends to stick to stainless steel pans much quickly than warm foods, especially if you are not adding too much oil.

As a result, your pan will also burn.

Hence, it’s recommended that you let frozen food sit out for at least ten minutes or till it reaches room temperature before you begin cooking with it.

7. Don’t Overheat Your Pan

As we mentioned earlier, when your pan gets too hot, it starts to burn.

It’s imperative that you don’t cook on very high heat for too long.

This is a common mistake most cooks make with their stainless steel cookware because they want to cut down on their cooking time, but this is not helpful for your food or pans.

If your oil is smoking, then that means your pan is heated up. Consider taking it off the heat for a little while.

8. Use Dry Food

Water can bring the heat of the oil down and lead to burning.

Hence, make sure that any vegetables or meat you cook within your pan has been patted down dry beforehand.

9. Heat Sauces Slowly

Sauces can very quickly heat up, stick to a stainless steel pan, and burn it.

This is especially true if you are cooking the sauce on a high flame. Thus it is always better that you simmer the sauce, preferably on low or medium heat.

This would be time-consuming, but bringing the sauce to a boil and then taking it off the heat is what you should do to avoid burning your pan.

10. Stir Frequently

You should be stirring your sauces constantly when cooking on the heat in a stainless steel plan. This will prevent the sauce from sticking and burning.

This also applies to any solid food; try to flip, move, or sauté them as much as you can.

Food staying in one place on a hot pan can very quickly burn and leave a residue.

11. Rotate and Move the Pan

Some burners, especially older ones, don’t distribute heat to the pan evenly.

This is why we recommend that you constantly rotate or move the pan so that the heat is distributed.

It also prevents the heat from directing itself to one place for too long and possibly burning it.

12. Deglaze Burnt Food Immediately

The sad truth is that some foods, such as eggs, will still stick to your stainless steel pans despite your efforts. Even if you take precautions, your might still end up burning your food.

In such cases, we recommend that you immediately deglaze the pan after you are done cooking.

To deglaze your pan, remove it from the heat and add one cup of water.

Return the pan to the stove and heat the water on medium heat. The warm water will likely be enough to remove the residue of burnt food from the pan, but then use a spatula to lift the food.

13. Clean the Pan Thoroughly

The stubborn food residue will likely be removed after you have deglazed it.

Hence you should only wash the pan with soap and water. Washing your stainless steel plans in the dishwasher is not recommended as that might decrease the quality.

Moreover, don’t use abrasive materials like steel wool or harsh detergents while cleaning either.

14. Dry Cookware After Cleaning

Another important tip for stainless steel pans is to dry them thoroughly after you have washed them.

This prevents calcium spots from forming, which can likely ruin the surface and quality of your pan.

As a result, it would make it more susceptible to burning.

The Bottom Line

We hope you found these fourteen tips to prevent stainless steel pans from burning useful; if you have any questions, you can let us know.

Be sure to not overheat your pans or expose them to direct flames for too long as these can very easily burn them.

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