I have a secret to confess. I am ashamed to admit it—and, really, it is completely inexcusable in 2015. It hides out of sight, tucked in the back corner of my lowest cupboard, never to be seen or mentioned, and only to be used under the most clandestine of weekend breakfast preparations…
A Teflon frying pan.
Oh, the horror! Yes, I work in a kitchen store. Yes, I know better—way better. And yes, I do own and faithfully use better cookware for almost everything else I make, but there has been one lingering reason I have held on to that Teflon pan: eggs.
That is why I am writing this. Not just to divulge the lurid details of my dirty little secret, but more importantly, to debunk a myth for you that I have only recently debunked for myself: the myth is that you need non-stick to cook eggs. You don’t. I learned firsthand that you absolutely CAN use a stainless steel frying pan to cook eggs.
Customers come in the store all the time asking for precisely that, an egg pan. We don’t sell any non-stick pans (other than Zwilling’s non-toxic Ceramic Pans) because we want you to live long, healthy lives. I think everyone knows the dangers of Teflon and few would defend it, but perhaps, like me, you just haven’t gotten around to actually getting rid of it. All of it.
Well, I finally decided to put my money where my mouth is. Armed with birthday cash, I splurged and bought All-Clad’s 12” Copper Core Frying Pan. (There are other options at various price points: All-Clad’s D5 line, Zwilling’s Sensation, and Zwilling’s Truclad. I, however, really wanted the copper-factor and chose what I deem to be the best pan—other colleagues really like Zwilling’s Sensation, but we can arm wrestle about that later.)
Anyway, for the past couple of years, I’ve heard Jed, Cook Culture’s owner, and my senior coworkers reassure customers that you can fry and scramble eggs in stainless steel pans, but I was always a little bit dubious. I believed that it could be done, but I figured you would need chef-level skill to pull off such a feat—whereas, the rest of us mere mortals would be left with a ruined breakfast and an egg-fused mess of a pan to clean up.
So I wanted to try it out for myself. A few days ago, I took my shiny new pan on its inaugural voyage into the world of fried eggs. The first results were…okay. I managed to avoid making a mess, and I did successfully flip my eggs intact. Where I erred, though, was in being so concerned about over-heating the pan that my heat was way too low. As a result, the eggs took longer than necessary to cook.
I was also too fussed with wanting to keep my eggs moving around the pan, fearing they would stick. This was unnecessary and they DID stick a little bit because I was constantly prodding at them and trying to move them prematurely. Really, you can just leave them alone while the one side cooks. Have a little faith. They need time to firm up and release on their own.
Before my second try, I consulted Kim, Cook Culture Victoria’s manager and my personal kitchen oracle. She shared her egg strategy with me.
Kim’s Method for Frying an Egg
- Heat up your pan. (Around medium.)
- Coat the pan with butter. You don’t need a lot, but you do need to make sure the cooking surface is covered completely.
- Crack in your eggs.
- Leave them alone for a moment to start turning white.
- After they have just started to solidify on the bottom, add about a ¼ cup of water to your pan and cover with a metal lid, so your eggs will be steamed. (It’s kind of like a cross between sunny side-up and poaching.)
- Leave covered until whites are fully cooked and desired doneness is reached. Probably about a minute, depending on how runny you want the egg.
My second try went much better than my first. I followed Kim’s method—and was less anxious about the whole endeavour—and my eggs came out near-perfect. They were a little firmer than I had been aiming for, but they cooked evenly and came out of the pan cleanly on my spatula.
I found this All-Clad video on YouTube that goes over a few styles of eggs.
The second method is similar to Kim’s, without the water. There’s definitely more than one way to get the job done though. Jed has his version too, using grape seed or coconut oil:
All in all, there was a moderate learning curve switching to stainless steel, but it certainly wasn’t as daunting as I originally anticipated. My third try was the charm. I corrected my timing, and by then, my eggs were just right.
- Take your eggs out of the fridge early to take the chill off
- Preheat the pan and don’t add eggs until your pan is fully up to temperature
- Coat pan evenly and completely with a thin layer of butter/oil
- Only flip once (Or not at all if you’re using the steaming method)
- Don’t stress! It’s just eggs.