5 Foods You Shouldn't Cook in Stainless Steel Skillets

Avoid stained skillets and sticky situations!

Stainless steel skillets are versatile workhorses that grace the kitchens of home cooks and professional chefs alike. With their sleek appearance and durable construction, these pans can handle a wide range of culinary tasks. However, stainless steel cookware is not without its quirks and limitations. Keep reading to learn about five foods that you shouldn’t cook in a stainless steel skillet, and why it’s best to opt for a different kind of pan. 

Related: How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans (With Less Scrubbing)

<p>Uncle Podger/Getty Images</p>

Uncle Podger/Getty Images

Tomato Sauce

Highly acidic foods, like tomato sauce, can react with stainless steel over time and cause it to become discolored. It’s also possible for stainless steel to leach nickel and chromium, depending on the state of the skillet. It’s better to use non-reactive cookware, like enameled, cast-iron, or nonstick pans, for tomato-based sauces.


Eggs have the tendency to stick to stainless steel surfaces, especially if the pan isn’t properly preheated and seasoned. Using a nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan that’s been used before is often a better choice for cooking eggs.

Related: 5 Things You Shouldn't Cook in a Cast-Iron Skillet


When cooked in a stainless steel skillet, pancakes—especially thin, delicate crepes—are likely to stick to the surface and resist flipping. A nonstick griddle or cast-iron skillet are better options for successful pancake-making.


Although fish can be cooked in a stainless steel skillet, delicate filets may stick to the surface and break apart when flipped. To be safe, it’s best to cook fish in a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron pan instead of a stainless steel one.

Related: 4 Things You Shouldn’t Cook in an Air Fryer


Stainless steel skillets can handle relatively high heat, but for extremely high-heat searing, grills are a better option. Steak, for example, is best grilled to develop a charred, caramelized flavor, and a crispy, grill-marked crust. Grilling the steak also means that you don’t need extra fat to avoid sticking. Lastly, grilling steak results in a much more minimal mess than cooking it in a skillet does.

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