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Old 06-03-2006, 11:53 AM   #1
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Any difference in adding oil before or after pan is hot?

My wife says to me "and be sure the pan is hot before you add the oil".

But is there any reason why you should heat up a fry pan first before adding the oil?

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Alex R.


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Old 06-03-2006, 12:04 PM   #2
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I was always tought to heat the pan then the product. I think it has to do with viscocity break down. Unless you are talking about frying? Then I am at a loss. On the rare occasion I fry at home, it is in thick cast iron, and I bring the oil up to temp, versus letting the pan get hot first and then adding the oil.

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Old 06-03-2006, 12:34 PM   #3
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With nonstick cookware you are ALWAYS supposed to add oil or anything else BEFORE heating the pan so as not to release toxic substances into the air. Nonstick cookware should never be heated without anything in it.

Aside from that, seasoned cookware like steel woks & cast-iron cookware should be heated first, then the oil is added & brought to cooking temp.

I don't use my stainless cookware for any sauteeing/frying, so can't help you with that.
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Old 06-03-2006, 12:44 PM   #4
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The conventional wisdom is that you heat the pan first then add the oil and wait for it to be hot before adding the food. This procedure is supposed to minimize sticking.

I have read and tested on my own and believe adding the oil to a cool pan and heating them to cooking temp at the same time will have the same effect. The key in both cases is that the pan and the oil must both be hot before you add the food.

Ask yourself how would the food know whether the oil was added before or after the pan was hot as long as they both were hot when the food arrived.

Others will disagree.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 06-03-2006, 07:22 PM   #5
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Sorry Andy, I can't disagree, but key is add food after oil and pan are to temp.
May you eat well,
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:10 PM   #6
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Mario had that question asked on one of his shows...he said to heat the pan first, no sense in heating the oil with the pan as that can create a hazard (hot oil burns if the pan gets dumped). Add the oil once the pan is hot, get the oil up to temp and go from there.
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Old 06-03-2006, 09:29 PM   #7
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Oh my gosh! I learn something new all the time on this forum. This is something I never even thought about. I've always added the oil to the pan & then turned on the heat. Who knew?!
I'm all about the food!
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Old 06-03-2006, 09:58 PM   #8
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Before I read it a long time ago in DC somewhere, I always brought the oil to temperature with the pan. That is, I added the oil to the cold pan. After reading that the oil should be added only after the pan is hot, I did some camparison cooking. The results were very clear. When oil was added to the cold pan and brought up to temperature in my well-seasoned cast-iron, it made little difference. But when using stainless steel, the difference is dramatic. When I added the oil to the cold pan, nearly everything stuck to the pan. However, when the oil was added to the hot pan, and brought up to cooking temperature, even things like fried eggs virtually slid accross the pan surface.

My results were duplicated by my eldest daughter. She has a very large stainless pan, with a copper-clad bottom. She didn't like the pan because most foods stuck to the cooking surface, even though it was mirror smooth 18/10 stainless. I informed her of my results and she tried heating the pan before adding the oil. She reported that the pan worked far better.

I am convinced that oil must be added to the stainless pans after the pan is hot. I don't know the physics behind this phenomenon, but could do some searching and see if I can find any info. But for me, the empirical evidence is sufficient.

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Old 06-04-2006, 04:06 AM   #9
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Humm ... some people obviously either never watched The Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith) or have forgotten his mantra - "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick." I think he said that every time he heated a pan - like Rachel Ray's incessant, "How yummy does that look?" This works for my SS, aluminum, carbon-steel and cast iron (although my carbon-steel and cast iron are so well seasoned it probably wouldn't make a difference - like Goodweed said).

Of course, if you are heating any large quantity of oil for frying - it really doesn't matter as far as "sticking" and it makes little sense to not just bring the pot and oil up to frying temp together.

Regarding nonstick cookware ... the only reason to add oil to a cold pan before heating would be to let you know you are over heating the pan since the oil will generally begin to smoke before the pan reaches the "maximum safe temp" of 450-F (of course that depends on the smoke point of the oil you are using). 1-2 Tablespoons of oil will NOT keep the temperature of the pan below the safe temp - you do that by regulating the heat under it and by the time before you add food to it. The problem is that when heated above 450-F (as low as 464-F) the chemicals in the nonstick coating, or the material used to bond it to the surface of the pan, begin to emit toxic gases ... about 15 have been identified according to the last report that I read. Yep, this is the stuff that kills birds and causes "Teflon Flu" symptoms in humans. This is why most nonstick cookware is only rated "oven safe" to 450-F and is not safe for use under the broiler. I generally put my cold skillet on a cold electric burner, turn to to MEDIUM, and let it heat for about a minute before I add oil.
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:40 PM   #10
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Goodweed, it's interesting your empirical evidence differs from mine.

As I respect your input and the fact that you always back up your statements, I performed another test today to validate or invalidate my claim that when you add the oil to the pan is immaterial as long as the oil and the pan are hot when you add the food.

I used a tri-ply stainless 8" Tramontina skillet, 2 tsp. of peanut oil each time and 1 egg each time.

First test - hot pan, add room temp. oil and heat to cooking temp., fried egg over easy.

Second test - room temp pan and room temp. oil heated to cooking temp together, fried egg over easy.

The results were the same.

In both cases, I broke the egg into a dish and slid the egg into the hot pan/oil combination.

In both cases, the egg was stuck to the pan in a minor way when it was time to flip and I easily freed it with a nudge from a spatula.

In both cases, I flipped the egg and cooked it briefly on the second side.

In both cases, I had to use the spatula again to free the egg from minor sticking.

Both eggs were successfully plated with yolk intact.

I can't say why we had different results. I have had the same results when cooking salmon and meats.


I remember the Frugal Gourmet. I doubt he ever actually tested the options. Rather, he probably just picked up on the mantra and went with it.

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