Why Is My Seasoned Carbon Steel Griddle Pan Still Sticking?

When it comes to achieving that perfect sear or crisping up a golden pancake, a seasoned carbon steel griddle pan is often the kitchen tool of choice for home cooks and kitchen enthusiasts.

Why Is My Seasoned Carbon Steel Griddle Pan Still Sticking

When seasoned correctly, these pans are lauded for their exceptional heat distribution and non-stick qualities. But what happens when your trusty pan starts betraying you by causing your favorite dishes to stick? 

Don’t panic if your seasoned carbon steel griddle pan is still sticking. Here are some possible reasons why and how you can fix it.

Improper Cleaning Techniques

Seasoning is essentially the process of building up layers of polymerized oil on the surface of your cookware to create a slick, non-stick surface. However, if you use harsh cleaning methods such as scouring pads or metal utensils, you may inadvertently strip away this protective layer and cause your pan to stick.

To prevent this, use gentle cleaning methods, such as a soft sponge or cloth with mild soap and warm water. Do not use harsh cleaners or scrubbers that could potentially harm the seasoning on the cooking surface.

Understanding Seasoning

In the culinary world, seasoning is not just a flavor enhancer. It is also used to describe the treatment of carbon steel cookware’s surface and a method to create a natural, non-stick coating. This technique involves applying oil to the pan and heating it until the oil polymerizes, forming a protective film that enhances the pan’s slipperiness and durability.

The seasoning process is vital for carbon steel pans. It protects against rust and develops the highly desired non-stick quality. A well-seasoned pan can be a joy to cook with, making clean-up a breeze and adding flavor to your dishes.

Common Causes of Sticking

So, why do seasoned pans stick? Here are some usual suspects:

Inadequate Seasoning

Perhaps the most common issue is that the pan wasn’t seasoned enough. One round of oiling and heating is rarely sufficient. Multiple layers are often required to establish a resilient, nonstick coating.

Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature fluctuations are another common reason for a seasoned carbon steel griddle pan to stick. When cooking, it is important to preheat your pan correctly before adding any food. If you don’t allow the pan to heat up evenly, you may have hot spots that can cause food to stick and burn.

To avoid this, preheat your pan on low to medium heat for a few minutes before gradually increasing the temperature. This will ensure that the whole surface of the pan is evenly heated, which will make for a more non-stick cooking experience.

High Heat

Non-stick surfaces and high heat do not always mix well. If the pan was overheated during its initial seasoning or cooking, it might have damaged the non-stick layer.

Improper Cleaning and Maintenance

Every wash of your pan affects its seasoning. Aggressive scrubbing, soaps, and detergents can strip away the non-stick layer you’ve built, leaving a tacky surface behind.

Tips for Proper Seasoning

Getting the seasoning right on your carbon steel pan is an art. Here’s how to do it correctly:

Prepping the Pan

Before beginning the seasoning process, ensure your griddle is clean and free of residue.

Applying the Seasoning

Coat your griddle pan lightly with a high-smoke point oil, such as flaxseed, canola, or grapeseed oil. Ensure every inch is covered, including the sides and bottom.

Proper Heating and Cooling

Place the oiled pan in a preheated oven (typically around 450-500°F) or on a stovetop at medium heat. Heat until the pan starts to smoke, then continue for a bit longer before allowing it to cool naturally. Repeat this process several times to build up a strong layer of polymerized oil.

Troubleshooting Sticking Issues

If your food is sticking, there’s no need to despair. Here’s how you can troubleshoot:

Identifying the Problem

Check the pan’s surface. Is it smooth, or does it feel tacky? Is there rust, or has the pan not been seasoned after stripping or excessive cleaning?

Re-season the Pan

If the surface is damaged, start the seasoning process again. If necessary, strip the pan using vinegar, water, or a dedicated cleaner, then apply new oil layers.

Adjusting Heat and Cooking Techniques

Sometimes, you only need to lower the cooking temperature or give the oil time to heat up before adding food. Remember, patience is key when cooking with carbon steel.

Preventing Sticking in the Future

To ensure your carbon steel griddle pan remains non-stick, follow these tips:

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

After each use, thoroughly clean the pan using hot water and a brush or spatula to eliminate any lingering food gunk. Avoid soap if possible, dry immediately, and apply a light coat of oil.

Proper Storage

Store your pan in an excellent, dry location to ensure optimal preservation. If you stack it with other pans, use a paper towel to protect the surface.


A well-maintained carbon steel griddle pan is more than a tool—it’s a companion in creating flavorful meals. You can maintain a reliable, non-stick surface on your pan by understanding the seasoning process, identifying the causes of sticking, and implementing proper seasoning and maintenance techniques. So get into that kitchen, apply these tips, and enjoy the fruits of a beautifully seasoned griddle pan. Happy cooking!


What is the best oil to season carbon steel pan?

Flaxseed, canola, and grapeseed oil are among the top choices for seasoning. They have high smoke points and are less prone to turning rancid than other oils.

How many times do I need to season a carbon steel pan?

Seasoning the pan multiple times before use is recommended to build up a robust, non-stick coating. The number of seasoning rounds required may vary based on the manufacturer’s instructions, but performing 3-4 rounds of seasoning is typically recommended.

How do you remove stickiness from a pan?

To remove stickiness from a pan, you can use vinegar and water or a dedicated cleaner to strip the pan of any residues. After that, you can apply new layers of oil and continue the seasoning process.

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