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Old 06-11-2020, 11:04 PM   #1
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Heating the pan

Do you heat the pan first and then add in the oil

or

add in the oil to the pan first and heat them together?

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Old 06-12-2020, 02:19 AM   #2
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I normally heat the pan and then add the oil after the pan has warmed, but you need to be careful because if the pan gets too hot before you add the oil, you may not like the results. Butter, on the other hand, I put in the pan before I heat it so that I can add whatever I am cooking, usually eggs, as soon as the butter has melted so as not to burn the butter.
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Old 06-12-2020, 05:13 AM   #3
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I always heat the pan first. Then swirl to be sure the oil or butter cover the whole surface. For oil I then wait until I see it start to shimmer before I begin adding things.
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Old 06-12-2020, 05:50 AM   #4
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I heat first if using my CI. Add oil/butter first if using none stick coated pan.

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Old 06-12-2020, 09:15 AM   #5
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Heat first, then add oil. Only because the oil could overheat if you add it at the beginning. Otherwise, it doesn't matter.
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:44 AM   #6
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If I remember correctly from a video from America's Test Kitchen, they add oil to the cold pan. Mentioned specifically that it serves a specific, purpose, not related to the food. If a pan with oil gets forgotten while heating, the smoke or smoke detector will alert people to the fact that someone left it unattended and someone better turn the burner off now.
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Old 06-12-2020, 12:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
If a pan with oil gets forgotten while heating, the smoke or smoke detector will alert people to the fact that someone left it unattended and someone better turn the burner off now.
Does that go along with the old joke, "When the smoke alarm goes off, dinner is ready?"
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Old 06-12-2020, 01:00 PM   #8
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The reason for heating the pan first is it will provide less sticking due to immediate reduction of the oil's viscosity to better bond with the surface of the pan. This matters with stainless and other unseasoned cookware.

However, if you're using seasoned or non-stick, it doesn't really matter. Just don't let nonstick pans get too hot if empty.
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Old 06-12-2020, 07:33 PM   #9
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Agreed
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:32 PM   #10
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I've never noticed a difference in performance due to when the oil is added.

I have tested the theory by frying two eggs in a SS skillet. One in a skillet where the oil was added to a cold pan and the other where the oil was added to a hot pan. Both eggs behaved the same. They didn't stick, flipped easily and slid out of the pan.
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Old 06-13-2020, 07:54 AM   #11
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I notice it here. How hot was your pan?
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Old 06-13-2020, 09:09 AM   #12
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I've never noticed a difference in performance due to when the oil is added.

I have tested the theory by frying two eggs in a SS skillet. One in a skillet where the oil was added to a cold pan and the other where the oil was added to a hot pan. Both eggs behaved the same. They didn't stick, flipped easily and slid out of the pan.
I agree..

Years ago (60?) I was encouraged to use oil/butter before heating a Teflon pan. Have no idea if modern pans need that but, I still do it. Old man, old habits.

CI is still heat then add. No idea if that's necessary. I don't use SS.

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Old 06-13-2020, 09:34 AM   #13
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I notice it here. How hot was your pan?
I was frying an egg, so not super hot. Frankly, I'm not sure that makes a difference. The experiment was the result of a discussion with the Chief about whether it made a difference and we were talking about coking eggs specifically.
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Old 06-13-2020, 09:42 AM   #14
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Heating the pan first is overrated and was started by TV cooking shows. (I Think?)
I find it make no difference either way, as long as you do not burn the fat you add.
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Old 06-13-2020, 10:11 AM   #15
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I was frying an egg, so not super hot. Frankly, I'm not sure that makes a difference. The experiment was the result of a discussion with the Chief about whether it made a difference and we were talking about coking eggs specifically.
I don't usually do eggs in SS, but for salmon, scallops, trout, other seafood, and skinless chicken, I definitely notice a difference. I'd say my pan is 350F+ before adding the oil. They oil comes to a shimmer instantly and then the food quickly follows. As long as you don't move it until you get a good sear, it is very non-stick. I always use EVOO for these kinds of things so maybe it is less noticeable with other fats.

But there are times I do start with a cold pan… usually when I have a lot of fat I want to render off.
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Old 06-13-2020, 10:53 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
I don't usually do eggs in SS, but for salmon, scallops, trout, other seafood, and skinless chicken, I definitely notice a difference. I'd say my pan is 350F+ before adding the oil. They oil comes to a shimmer instantly and then the food quickly follows. As long as you don't move it until you get a good sear, it is very non-stick. I always use EVOO for these kinds of things so maybe it is less noticeable with other fats.

But there are times I do start with a cold pan usually when I have a lot of fat I want to render off.
I don't usually do eggs in SS either. As I said, it was an experiment.

The potential issue with starting with oil in a cold pan is that the oil could overheat. Barring that, once the oil and the pan are both up to 350F how does the food know when you added the oil?

Two identical pans side by side on identical burners, etc. One has the oil added cold and the other hot. At some point in time they are both in identical conditions, the pans and the oil are at the target temperature, say 350F. What's the difference?
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Old 06-13-2020, 01:15 PM   #17
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What's the difference?
I am neither a chemist nor physicist. But I do understand pores in a metal surface expand when hot. And the viscosity of oil lowers much faster when added to a hot pan than a cold one, serving to fill and somewhat close those pores due to the minor drop in temp adding the oil causes.

So is the reaction the same when pores are already open, and viscosity of the oil drops immediately on being added vs: slowly heating the oil in the pan? And then there may be issues with the oil being under heat longer in the cold pan, especially on medium high to high heat when you need a very hot pan for searing or similar tasks, where low smoke point oils may start to degrade well before the pan is up to temp.

Also, if you use a surface thermometer (or piece of parchment paper so you can use an infrared unit) to verify your pan temp, you can't do this with oil in the pan.

Just like with freezing, just because you get to the finish temp eventually doesn't mean the result will be anything close to a more instant process.

Bottom line is… I cook a lot a salmon, usually skin side down. I've had the skin tear on the pan when adding oil to a cold pan. I have even had it tear when the pan was not "hot enough" before adding the oil. I have never had it tear when I knew my pan was hot enough (one reason I love induction) before adding oil. I've even been known to (with critical things like scallops) preheat my pan in the oven before taking to the cooktop.

This is why my advice is to "get your pan hot first" to anyone that may ask. If you see no difference, or taste no difference, please feel free to ignore it. As always, let your experience be your guide, but note that the overwhelming majority of quality SS cookware manufacturers may disagree with you, and disavowing the possibility of any real science existing here may be a bit presumptive.
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Old 06-15-2020, 02:22 PM   #18
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never heat the pan without the oil in it. you can crack your pan if its dry. it takes a little while but you might get side tracked and forget so not a good habit to be in.
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Old 06-15-2020, 02:36 PM   #19
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never heat the pan without the oil in it. you can crack your pan if its dry. it takes a little while but you might get side tracked and forget so not a good habit to be in.
What kind of pan do you use that would crack over high heat?
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Old 06-15-2020, 03:03 PM   #20
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What kind of pan do you use that would crack over high heat?
well for one cast iron has a tendency to do this. cast iron maybe strong but also can be brittle. also enamel pans also can cause coatings to crack. its not the high heat that does it its the heat on a dry pan always should at least put a little olive oil or even butter in there first.
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