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High-Heat Cooking Spray

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2008

How does Pam Professional Heat match up to the original Pam cooking spray?

After purchasing a few cans of PAM Professional High Heat, we headed into the test kitchen to see how it compared with the original PAM. We sprayed one skillet with the original and another with PAM Professional, then placed both over a medium-high flame. After 2 1/2 minutes, the original PAM was nearly black and smoking, and the PAM Professional was crystal clear, just as it had been when it went into the skillet.

A look at the label revealed that the original PAM contains four ingredients: canola oil, grain alcohol, soy lecithin, and propellant. Canola oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which oxidize, or break down, when heated. These oxidized fats burn rather easily. To reduce the risk of scorching, PAM Professional swaps canola oil for partially hydrogenated soybean and canola oils. These fats are more saturated, making them less prone to oxidation and burning. PAM Professional also contains calcium carbonate, an ingredient that helps fats resist the oxidation process.

For our next test, we cooked beef stir-fries using a few sprays of each type of PAM instead of the 2 teaspoons of oil called for in the recipe. The stir-fry cooked with the original PAM was burnt and blackened, with beef drippings that were hard to remove from the pan. The pan sprayed with PAM Professional exhibited only minor charring and cleaned up much more easily. While there might be minor health drawbacks to eating the hydrogenated oils in PAM Professional, very little spray is used for most cooking tasks. If you use cooking spray for high-heat stovetop cooking, you should consider PAM Professional. If you use cooking spray only for baking, there is no reason to add a second can to your arsenal.

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB