How to stop food sticking to the pan


We’ll show you how, in 3 easy steps

Last updated May 14, 2022 at 1:43PM | Published on Mar 2, 2020

droplets of water floating on a hot surface

See how this droplet of water is virtually floating on the surface of the pan.

This is exactly what your food should be doing.

Cook better, scientifcally, with the Leidenfrost Effect !

hand picked tiny juicy passion fruits

Image from the free encylopedia Wikipedia, and this is what they have to say…

The Leidenfrost effect is a physical phenomenon in which a liquid, close to a surface that is significantly hotter than the liquid’s boiling point, produces an insulating vapor layer that keeps the liquid from boiling rapidly.”


Heat your frying pan to the right, non-sticking temperature.

So how do we know when the pan has reached that point ?


What we all usually do wrong

The trouble with most of us is that we are either in a hurry, or we just don’t know what we’re doing but just get into a habit of cooking the same way hoping for the best ! But wouldn’t you like to be a little more sure about how your cooking will turn out ? Now you can. Your pancakes, your tortilla, or whatever, can be nicely browned, easily flipped, and should just slide out of the pan without overdoing the oil !

Paul is a more confident, skilled cook than me. So if you’re more like me, you’ll probably heat up the frying pan on full heat, wait a few mins and then pop some oil in. Then I pop my food into the pan to brown it a bit and turn the heat down and hope for a good result – which is variable.


It shouldn’t matter what kind of frying pan you use

To be fair, we are in rented accommodation at the moment, and the frying pans are well used and abused over the years.  The non-stick ones are pretty scratched from the previous renters so we needed to buy some new ones. We do miss having our old frying pan, one of the main essentials we used. We listed the most useful pan set we had on our foodie wishlist page. We’d order the same ones in a flash, if only we could, but we don’t get Amazon deliveries easily here on the island ( boooo !). So I’m turning to fool proof science to help me out .

 How it works

Here’s what you need to do… no matter what your pans are like, sticky pans, steel pans, or non-stick pans.

When you heat up your pan, you need to wait till it is the right temperature before you add the oil. Be patient. But I know I know you’re asking…  how do you know when it reaches that point ?

Just follow the next 3 steps.

3 easy steps for non-stick cooking

Remember, the Leidenfrost point is the perfect temperature to get that non-stick browning effect on your food.


1. Let the pan heat up for a few minutes as usual but don’t be tempted to add oil yet.


2. When it  gets above 100℃ (212℉),  put your fingers under a running tap, and then sprinkle a little on the pan’s surface… and observe !


3. You just want one big bubble, so raise of lower the heat a little to get that pure Leidenfrost effect. Do your water droplet test every 15 seconds. Apparently the actual Leidenfrost temperature will be just above 195℃ (320F).


If it’s not hot enough then it will sit there bubbling in one place.

If it evaporates away quickly then you are too low, but getting toward the right point.

If the water dances around the pan like little bubbly droplets,  you’ve gone a little too far ( a little too hot I mean) !

 The result

The water bubble looks just like a big blog of mercury floating on the pan surface. That’s effectively what your food will do… just float a little above the surface so it won’t stick.

Learn how to make your pancakes levitate !


The video below, by ACS Reactions,  is just the best we have found for you to see the Leidenfrost effect in action.

Scientists love this  – and use the effect to make water go in different directions, even uphill.

Don’t forget these final 3 tips


Before you get the pan ready, get your food ready

At the Leidenfrost point, after testing, don’t forget to wipe the water droplet off before you add oil

For the best round pancakes, pour from high above the pan, to control the flow, like a chef !

I’ve tried it now with water and food and lo and behold… it works !

Have fun,

Aoibheann and Paul


  1. Seth Rothenberg

    This sentence
    should read

    (The above conversion may not be exactly correct.
    Another source mentions 379 Fahrenheit or 193 Celsius)

    • aoibheann

      Ah, how kind of you to let us know. Well-spotted!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Affiliate disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I may earn a commission.

Follow us…

Aoibheann & Paul

We love great food & cooking… & simplifying life.
We want to help you find the right tools to cook better.

But we’re all suffering from information and salesmen overload online !  So… we want to simplify and clarify it,  so you can make faster and better choices.

We’re professional, honest, authentic. We owned the No. 1 restaurant in Marrakech for over 8 years – we understand cooking, hospitality, and customer satisfaction.

Our daily mantra is to eat well, cook better, live more.

We want the same for you !