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How to Prevent Meat from Sticking to Pan

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2010

Is it possible to prevent meat from sticking to the skillet when even oil doesn't do the trick?

Steak sticks during cooking when the sulfur atoms in the protein react with the metal atoms in the pan, forming a strong chemical bond and fusing the meat to the skillet. Once the pan becomes hot enough, the link between the protein and the metal will loosen, and the bond will eventually break.

To prevent steak from sticking, follow these steps: Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until it is just smoking (on most stovetops, this takes 2 or 3 minutes). Sear the meat without moving it, using tongs to flip it only when a substantial browned crust forms around the edges. If the meat doesn’t lift easily, continue searing until it does.