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How to Make Any Type of Pan Non-Stick (Step-by-Step)

Nothing is more frustrating than having to hand-scrub a pan full of stuck-on food.

Luckily there are several easy, DIY ways to make a pan non-stick.

Whether you need to fix a stainless steel pan or a cast iron skillet, or your non-stick pans have lost their slipperiness, there’s a solution waiting for you in this simple guide.

Say goodbye to frustration and read on to learn the simple steps you need to take to make any type of pan non-stick.


Use the links below to navigate this guide:


Key Takeaways

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview of how to make any type of pan non-stick. Read the complete guide for detailed instructions, necessary supplies, and helpful tips.

How to Make a Stainless Steel Pan Non-Stick: Preheat the pan, add oil, and spread it evenly. When the oil starts to smoke, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool completely. Use a high smoke point oil like peanut, sesame, or avocado oil, and repeat up to three times for a longer-lasting effect. Skip ahead to learn more about this process.

How to Make a Non-Stick Pan Non-Stick Again: Clean the pan with baking soda and water, then heat the pan until it’s hot. Next, coat it with vegetable or canola oil, let it cool, and wipe the excess with a cloth or paper towel. Note: this process won’t work on pans with severely damaged non-stick coatings. Skip ahead to learn more about this process.

How to Make a Bare Cast Iron Skillet Non-Stick: First, scrub off any stuck-on residues and thoroughly dry the pan. Next, lightly coat the surface with a thin, even layer of high smoke point oil. Then, bake the skillet at 25°F above the oil’s smoke point for 1 hour. Allow the pan to cool in the oven so the oil can fully polymerize and create a non-stick surface. Skip ahead to learn more about this process.

How to Make Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Non-Stick: Clean with Bar Keepers Friend, coat the interior with wax or seasoning paste, and bake in the oven upside down for 45 minutes. Apply an additional layer of wax while the cookware is hot for a smoother finish. Skip ahead to learn more about this process.

How to Minimize Food Sticking to the Pan While You Cook:

  1. Ensure the pan is clean before using it.
  2. Preheat the pan before adding oil. If a drop of water glides around the cooking surface, the temperature is ideal for reducing sticking (Leidenfrost Effect).
  3. Bring ingredients to room temperature, dry them before cooking, and avoid overcrowding.

How to Make a Stainless Steel Pan Non-Stick

how to make a stainless steel pan non-stick

One of the most common complaints about stainless steel pans is that food sticks.

Why does this happen?

Stainless steel has tiny pores, and when you heat the pan, the steel expands, and the pores shrink. As the pores shrink, they grip onto the food, causing it to stick.

You can minimize food sticking by preheating the pan to medium, adding the proper amount of oil, and drying proteins, and bringing them to room temperature before cooking.

However, in this section, I teach you another method; one that transforms stainless steel pans into non-stick.

Here’s how it works.

Supplies

  • One tablespoon of oil/fat with a high smoke point (peanut, sesame, avocado, canola, lard)
  • Paper towel or cloth
  • Oven mitt

Instructions

  1. Hand wash the pan with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly.
  2. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat to high.
  3. Heat the pan for a few minutes until it’s really hot.
  4. Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan.
  5. Quickly spread the oil across the cooking surface with the paper towel. Make sure the entire surface is covered evenly. Wear an oven mitt or use tongs to protect your hand.
  6. Once it starts smoking, turn off the stove.
  7. Let the pan cool down completely.
  8. Once you can see your reflection in the pan, you’ll know it’s seasoned. That’s because the molecules have expanded and the oil has become embedded into the pan’s surface. The oil and fat molecules are stuck to the surface of the pan, making it reflective.
  9. Use a cloth or paper towel to wipe off excess oil from the cooking surface. Now your stainless steel pan is non-stick!

See the process in action in this quick video.

Tips and Considerations

  • Repeat the seasoning process up to three times. The additional layers of seasoning will help prolong the non-stick surface.
  • Instead of an oven mitt, you can use tongs and a paper towel to spread the oil on the hot surface.
  • When cleaning your seasoned pan, use warm water and a soft cloth. Soap and stiff bristle brushes will remove the seasoning, causing food to stick again.
  • After seasoning, you’ll still need a tiny bit of butter or oil when cooking.
  • Eventually, you will need to re-season the pan when the non-stick layer wears off. It will usually last five to ten meals.
  • Test out different oils to see which works best for you. I’ve found lard to be the most effective. This Made In Seasoning Wax works well, too.

How to Make a Non-Stick Pan Non-Stick Again

how to make a non-stick pan non-stick again

With a new non-stick pan, food slides right off. But over time, the non-stick coating wears down and scratches, and, before you know it, food starts sticking.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make non-stick pans non-stick again.

Here’s what to do.

Supplies

  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Dishtowel
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • Paper towel or cloth

Instructions

  1. Clean your pan as usual with warm soapy water.
  2. Apply about half a cup of baking soda to the surface. Add a few drops of water to form a thick paste.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the pan for a few minutes. This will clean off any build-up.
  4. Once the pan is clean, rinse off the baking soda and dry the pan thoroughly.
  5. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat to high.
  6. Heat the pan for a few minutes until it’s really hot.
  7. Add canola or vegetable over the surface of the pan. Spread it with a clean paper towel. Use tongs or an oven mitt to avoid burning your hand.
  8. Heat the pan over medium heat for another 1-2 minutes.
  9. Let it cool down completely.
  10. Wipe off the excess oil with a cloth or paper towel. Now your pan is non-stick again!

Tips and Considerations

  • If you’ve had the pan for many years, or the non-stick surface hasn’t improved this process, it may be time to throw it out.
  • If the pan is rusty, don’t try this method. Rust is a sign that it’s time to replace the pan.
  • If the pan was made or purchased before 2013, throw it out. Before 2013, pans were made with PFOA, a dangerous chemical linked to many illnesses.
  • Avoid metal utensils on non-stick surfaces because they can cause scratches and wear-and-tear.
  • Continue to use butter or oils when cooking. You only need a little, but it’s important even if the pan is seasoned.
  • Repeat the seasoning process as needed.

How to Make a Bare Cast Iron Skillet Non-Stick

how to make a bare cast iron skillet non-stick

Bare cast iron cookware is super durable with unmatched heat retention.

However, this cookware needs ongoing seasoning and maintenance to become and remain non-stick.

Here’s a simple way to make bare cast iron pans non-stick.

Supplies

  • Brillo pad
  • Dish soap
  • Dishtowel
  • Vegetable oil
  • Oven
  • Baking tray
  • Aluminum foil
  • Separate cloth

Instructions

  1. Wash the skillet thoroughly to remove stuck-on food, rust, or uneven layers of baked-on oil from previous seasonings.
  2. Thoroughly dry the skillet with a towel, then place it upside down in the oven preheated to 250°F or heat it on the stove for a few minutes to evaporate any remaining moisture.
  3. Once cleaned and dried, rub a small amount of high smoke point, neutral flavor oil over the entire skillet using a lint-free cloth (I like to use soybean oil). Spread the oil evenly into a thin layer, then wipe off any excess until the surface has a slight sheen.
  4. After preheating the oven to 25°F above the oil’s smoke point, place the skillet upside-down on the middle rack with a baking sheet on the lower rack.
  5. Let it bake for 15 minutes, then wipe off excess oil and return the skillet to the oven for 45 more minutes.
  6. After baking for a full hour, turn off the heat and let it cool in the oven for an hour so the oil can fully polymerize.

I break down the steps in more detail in this quick video.

Tips and Considerations

  • Once you’ve seasoned your cast iron pan, clean it with hot water and a cloth. Soap and abrasive sponges will strip the seasoning and make the surface sticky again.
  • Cast iron will last a lifetime when properly maintained. So season it when necessary. You’ll know when to season it when it starts to wear down or loses its non-stick ability.
  • Always dry your cast iron right away after rinsing it to avoid rusting.
  • Rub a light layer of shortening over the surface before putting the cast iron skillet away.

How to Make Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Non-Stick

how to make enameled cookware non-stick

As the name suggests, enameled cast iron pans are made with cast iron that’s been coated in a smooth, shiny enamel surface.

The enamel makes the cooking surface non-reactive, easier to clean, and stick-resistant, but it doesn’t make it non-stick.

If you’re looking for something a bit slicker, here’s how to transform your enameled cast iron cookware into non-stick.

Supplies

Instructions

  1. Apply some Bar Keepers Friend to the pan and scrub with a soft sponge to remove build-up.
  2. Rinse with warm water and scrub residue with a cloth.
  3. Dry thoroughly.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Heat the pan on the stove at low heat for a couple of minutes or until the pan is warm.
  6. Apply the wax or paste to a non-abrasive cloth and spread it evenly across the cooking surface. Make sure it’s evenly coated.
  7. Place the pan in the oven upside down.
  8. Leave it in the oven for 45 minutes. The moisture evaporates from the wax and creates a tight non-stick finish.
  9. Remove the pan.
  10.  If the wax has beaded together while it’s still hot, take a tiny bit of oil and spread it over the pan evenly. It will start to smoke a bit but don’t worry; this step adds a smoother finish.
  11. Repeat steps six to 10 one more time.
  12.  Add one more coat but don’t put it back in the oven.
  13.  Let the pan cool completely. The extra layer of wax will dry as the pan cools.
  14.  Wash as normal. Your pan is now non-stick and ready to use.

Want to see these steps in action? This video does a great job walking through this process.

Tips and Considerations

  • Don’t season the exterior of the pan. Although you can do that with bare cast iron, you shouldn’t do that with enameled cast iron.
  • Scrubbing excessively will wear down the seasoning. So hand-wash gently.
  • You can use grapeseed oil instead of wax or paste.
  • Only use Bar Keepers Friend if there is a lot of build-up on your pan. Otherwise, a scrubber and soap will do the trick.

How to Minimize Food Sticking to the Pan While You Cook

When it comes to making your pans non-stick, seasoning is step one.

Step two is practicing the proper cooking techniques to maintain the non-stick layer and minimize the chances of food sticking.

Here are my top tips for minimizing food sticking while you cook:

  • Always make sure the pan is clean before you start cooking.
  • Heat the pan before adding oil or butter. Once the pan is hot and well-greased, then add your food.
  • Do the water test. Once the pan is heated, add a drop of water. If it sizzles and glides, the pan is ready for oil. If it just sits there, you need higher heat. If it darts all over the place, you need a lower heat. 
  • Let your ingredients reach room temperature before adding them to the pan.
  • Dry your food before cooking and pat off any excess moisture with a paper towel.
  • Don’t move the food around too much, especially meat. It needs time to brown on each side. Flipping it too quickly will cause sticking.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. This causes a temperature drop, which releases moisture from the food and leads to sticking.
  • Use at least a little bit of butter or oil. Spread it evenly across the pan. Even if your pan is non-stick and requires less oil or butter, it’s best to use some.

Final Thoughts

Even with the highest-quality cookware and proper cooking techniques, as the pan wears down, food will inevitably stick.

But with these simple techniques, you can make any pan non-stick and even restore your non-stick pans.

To recap, here’s how to make pans non-stick.

For stainless steel, heat the pan before adding one tablespoon of any cooking oil. When it starts smoking, remove the pan from heat and let it cool completely. Remove excess oil, and your pan is ready to go!

For making a non-stick pan non-stick again, deep clean it before coating canola or vegetable oil evenly over the pan. Heat the pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes before letting it cool down completely and wiping off excess oil with a paper towel.

For bare cast iron pans, deep clean it first. Dry it thoroughly. Apply vegetable oil or solid shortening to the pan with a clean cloth on both the interior and exterior. Place it upside down on a baking tray with aluminum foil in a 350-degree oven for 1-2 hours. Turn off the oven but don’t remove the pan. Let it cool completely before wiping off excess oil with a cloth.

For enameled cast iron, first deep clean the pan. Then, apply wax or paste to a cloth and spread it evenly across the interior of the pan. Place it in a 450-degree oven for 45 minutes. Repeat this process before adding another layer while the pan is still hot. Let the pan cool completely before washing as normal.

If you try these methods and still have trouble with food sticking, it might be time to buy a new non-stick pan. I recommend one with multiple layers of PTFE non-stick, such as All-Clad HA1 (view on Amazon), Made In (view on MadeInCookware.com), or Calphalon (view on Amazon).

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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