Treat your stainless steel pans right and they'll last a lifetime.

By Kelly Vaughan
February 19, 2020
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Durable and excellent at conducting heat, stainless steel pans are kitchen essentials. From searing to sautéing to oven roasting, stainless steel pans can do it all, but removing food residue or burnt bits from this type of cookware can seem impossible. However, a little know-how is all you need to keep these pieces looking great. Wendy Dyer, All-Clad's international product director, shares how to properly clean and maintain a stainless steel pan.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

How to Prevent Burn Marks on Stainless Steel Pans

Have you ever turned your back on an in-progress dinner recipe for a minute or two, only to return and find that the food stuck to the bottom of the pot? You're not alone. Luckily, there are two easy ways to prevent a pot from scorching. First, always ensure that there is enough fat or liquid in the pan; if you're searing meat, make sure that there is plenty of oil to keep it from sticking; if you're cooking pasta or rice, add enough water so that the grains don't absorb all of the liquid before they've finished cooking. The other way to prevent food from scorching in a stainless steel pan is to move it around frequently with a spoon or tongs. This way, the food won't have a chance to sit at the bottom of the pan and will ultimately cook more evenly.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Pan

Let's say the worst has happened and there is scorched food on the bottom of the pan—how do you clean it? For many people, the immediate reaction may be to soak it in water, but a hot pan should never be immersed in cold water. The temperature shock can cause permanent warping. "Always allow the pan to cool prior to cleaning," says Dyer. Once the pan is fully cooled, rinse off any excess food with warm water. "You can then soak the pan in warm, soapy water, then wash with a sponge or soft cloth—or a nylon scouring pad for more difficult cleaning," Dyer advises. Last, rinse the pan with warm water and dry it immediately to prevent spotting.

Another helpful tip? "For burnt food, sprinkle the surface generously with baking soda, add water, and bring to a boil," says Dyer, explaining that this will help to loosen food particles from the surface.

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