How to Cook Fish in Stainless Steel Pan?

Fish is one of the most popular types of seafood around the world. However, cooking delicate fish in a stainless steel pan can be tricky because it sticks to the pan.

This is how to cook fish in stainless steel pan:

  • Bring the fish to room temperature, and then pat dry it.
  • Make sure that the pan is hot enough.
  • Season the fish and cook skin-side down.
  • Don’t move the fish until the time.
stainless steel fish
Credit: canva

What are the details of the above steps? And why should we do that? This article will teach you how to cook fish in a stainless steel pan.

Why Does Food Stick to Stainless Steel Pan?

Stainless steel surfaces have tiny pores and crevices, despite appearing to be glossy and smooth.

When the pan is heated, the pores contract and expand when it cools or comes into touch with cold food.

Food will stick if you don’t maintain a constant temperature and properly grease the pan to fill the tiny gaps and create a frictionless barrier.

Lean, delicate foods with proteins like eggs and fish are more likely to stick to the pan because they do not contain enough fat. Unfortunately, they also fall apart easily when they stick.

Below are the four main factors that contribute most to food sticking to stainless steel pans.

Too Much Heat

Food might get stuck to stainless steel cookware if it becomes too hot.


Do not forget that heat closes the pores on a hot pan. When a cold piece of food hits the hot pan, the drastic temperature difference causes the pores to open and hold onto the food quickly.

Not Enough Heat

On the other hand, cooking at low temperatures is sometimes problematic.

When you add oil to a hot pan before adding the food, there is a reaction between the oil and the food’s moisture. The steam lifts the food so it is not in contact with the stainless steel cooking surface.

When you put food on the pan, listen for a sizzling sound. This means that oil is reacting to moisture in the food.

Steam will not happen if the pan is not hot enough and you do not hear a sizzle. This means the food will stick to the pan and burn.

Cooking the “Wrong” Types of Food

Protein-rich foods, like eggs, chicken, and steak, are prone to sticking because the proteins create strong bonds with the metal atoms in your pan.

Eggs and fish are susceptible to friction and fall apart.

Improper Cleaning

Do not use rough scrubbing pads and harsh chemicals on your stainless steel pans. It can scratch the surface, which will make it bumpy, and food will cling to it.

If you don’t clean your cookware, there will be food left on it. As a result, it can burn when you cook again.

Burned bits make it harder for food to cook and also make the food taste bad.

How to Prevent Food From Sticking to Stainless Steel Pans?

How to Cook Fish in Stainless Steel Pan?
Deep-frying fish on stainless steel pan. Credit: canva

Now that you know what causes food to stick, how can you avoid it?

Here are the steps to keep food from sticking to your stainless steel cookware.

Preheat the Pan

Preheat the pan to make sure it is hot before you put food in.

Let it heat up for 3-4 minutes. Keep in mind that it’s during this time that the pores are contracting.

Test to Make Sure the Pan Is Hot Enough

To check if your pan is hot enough, run this quick test.

After preheating but before oiling, put a small drop of water in the pan.

When the pan is at the correct temperature, water should make little balls and roll around. This is when you should add the cooking oil. Then you can start cooking.

Start on Medium Heat and Adjust Accordingly

When you are cooking, try to use the right cooking temperature.

If you are not sure, start on medium and then adjust. Every pan is different, so find the one that works best for you.

Season the Pan

Seasoning stainless steel pans are important. This prevents the food from sticking and makes it easier to clean afterward.

Oil fills the pores and crevices on the pan. It can create a frictionless surface that helps cook food.

The best oils for which purpose are olive oil, grapeseed oil, butter, and avocado oil.

Bring Food to Room Temperature Before Adding to the Pan

Always bring the food to room temperature before cooking.

Cold meat is more likely to stick to the pan. This is because it makes the oil colder (which means there will be less steam). But, unfortunately, it also causes pores in the cooking surface to open up and latch onto the meat.

Dry The Food Before Adding It to the Pan

When you are cooking, make sure the ingredients are dry. If they’re wet, it might be hard to cook them. That’s because the moisture from the food can lower the temperature of the oil.

During this time, the oil and food combine to form the steam barrier. As a result, it raises the likelihood of food adhesion.

Don’t Overcrowd The Pan

Too much food in a pan will make the temperature drop and release moisture from the food.

Like my last point, the steam barrier won’t hold when this happens, and food won’t lift from the pan’s surface.

Don’t Move the Food Too Frequently

To prevent food from sticking, do not move the food around.

If you flip the food too early, it will stick to the stainless steel. So instead, grab a pair of tongs and gently pick it up. If it doesn’t come off, wait more time.

Clean Appropriately

It’s important to clean stainless steel properly.

It’s best to wash the stainless steel by hand. Even though other brands say that their stainless steel is dishwasher-safe, you should always try to wash it by hand instead.

Non-Stick Pan for Problem Foods

Protein-rich foods such as eggs and fish are a bit tougher to work with while using a stainless steel pan. Use a non-stick pan for these types of foods.

How to Cook Fish in Stainless Steel Pan?

Here we’ll use salmon fillets to illustrate how to cook fish in a stainless steel frying. Of course, you. But, of course, you can also use any other white fish.

Follow these steps for perfectly crisp skin results.

Bring fillets to room temperature

Remove the piece of fish fillets from your refrigerator about 15-20 minutes before you start cooking, so it is closer to room temperature.

Dry the fillets before cooking

Before you cook the salmon, use a paper towel or dishtowel to dry and remove excess moisture.

If the fish is wet, it will stick to the pan, and the skin won’t get crispy.

Preheat until the pan is really hot

When cooking, keep the flame medium to medium-high heat, but let the pan get really hot for a minute before adding anything.

This will help it from sticking to the pan.

Use water to test

To test if the pan is heated enough, flick a few droplets of water into it.

If the water sizzles and runs away, the pan is ready to cook. If not, let it heat up for another minute and check again.

Add oil to the pan

Add some oil to the pan. Make sure it is thin. Put the pan on the stove and heat it until you see ripples on top of the oil and not smoke.

Season the salmon

Just before adding the salmon to the skillet, season the pieces of fish fillets with salt.

Always Start with the Fillets Skin-Side Down

You can cook the salmon on both sides. But for fish with skin, always start by putting it in the pan with its skin down.

The skin is tough and durable. It will not overcook on the pan when it’s hot.

Don’t move the fish until the time

This is the hardest part of cooking salmon. Once it is in the pan, you need to let it do its thing. You should not touch it too much or take it out of the pan as the fish cooks.

This will come to a total time of 8 to 9 minutes for thick fillets and 6 to 7 minutes for thinner fillets.

Let the color of the meat change from a dark pink to a lighter color to find out if it is done cooking.

Once the color change has moved up about three-quarters of the way from the bottom, it’s time to flip.

If you want to cook salmon, turn the fillets over and cook for a few more minutes. Use a fish spatula to flip the fish away from you.

Cook the fish for 2 minutes more if it is a thicker fillet and 1 to 2 minutes more if it is a thinner fillet for crispy skin and golden brown.

Remove the salmon from the pan

Transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels.

Rest the fillets

Rest the fillets for about 3 minutes before serving.

Why Do You Cook with Stainless Steel Pan?

Stainless steel is superior to nonstick for high-heat cooking, such as boiling.

Stainless steel cookware is commonly used in restaurants because of its durability and ease of maintenance.

Here are a few more reasons:

Better for Your Food

Stainless steel cookware does not react with food, so it is safe to use.

A low and long simmer in a pan made with a reactive substance, like aluminum, copper, or cast iron, may sometimes create an unpleasant metallic flavor in your food.

A damaged nonstick coating is good for just about nothing.

Even Cooking

Stainless steel has good heat transfer. But it can be improved when aluminum is added because stainless steel allows even cooking.

Pay attention to the bottom of the pan. The best pans will be made with a lot of metal, and they will heat evenly on both the top and bottom.

Easy Maintenance

Stainless steel pots and pans are easy to maintain and clean.

If you have a problem with your food and it gets stuck to the bottom of your pan, let it soak in the sink. You can’t do this with a cast-iron skillet.

Stainless steel is safe to put in the dishwasher. But please don’t do that. The detergent will leave a film on the stainless steel and make it not shiny.

If you wash your stainless steel cookware with an automatic dishwasher, it might even end up with little scratches on the surface.


How do you keep fish from sticking to stainless steel pans?

Preparing the pan with oil. The hot surface of a well-prepared skillet will create steam that separates your food from it, preventing any sticking.

How do you keep fish from sticking to the pan?

Flip the fish only once and let it cook.

How do you cook cod in a stainless steel pan?

Season the cod and add a thin layer of oil to a hot pan.

What pan is best for frying fish?

Cast iron or stainless steel.