Stickiest Food Ever (How to Cook Them Anyway)

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Everyone has dealt with the sticky pan situation. You go to flip your food or get it off the pan, but it sticks like glue and ends up burning. Plus, the clean up is absolutely awful! Soak, scrub, soak, scrub, it’s a nightmare that you never want to face again. We’re here to share the stickiest food ever so you know what you’re in for.

You’ve probably discovered some of the stickiest foods already through your own cooking ventures, but are you curious about what the stickiest ingredients are? More than that, don’t you want to know what to do about it?

We’re going to cover the top sticky foods to cook on a pan, why they’re sticky, and what you can do about it.

As you might guess, a lot of this comes down to your cookware. If you’re finding lots of your food sticking, then check out Ninja Foodi Neverstick.

Stickiest Food Ever: Liquid and Sugary

Perhaps the stickiest ingredients to cook with are those that are liquid and sugary. We’ll give you a few examples in a moment, but these are difficult because they spread over the whole pan’s surface, cook down into an even stickier (and sweeter!) concoction, and burn fairly quickly.

Plus, if you’re adding these ingredients to anything else you cooked and something is already stuck on the pan, then these ingredients stick to that surface coating! It can be a nightmare. We’re sure you’ve already thought of a few things, but let’s cover some examples.


Molasses is super dark, super sweet, and everything that your pan hates. It’s easily the stickiest food ever. Molasses is packed with sugar, and it’s sticky no matter what you do with it. At the same time, it’s wonderful in sauces, works great with many confections, and is so yummy when used correctly. However, all that sugar can burn dark spots into your pan if you’re not careful.

Maple Syrup

Similar to molasses, this is packed with sugar and very sweet, but many consider it more palatable and easier to work with. Nonetheless, you still need to think about all the sugar and how it can stick to the pan. It might be easier to work with than molasses, but don’t let that fool you! This can still stick to many stainless steel and nonstick pans.


Though thicker than maple syrup or molasses, honey’s firmness goes away with a little bit of heat, leaving it a thin, sweet liquid that can quickly stick if you’re not careful. Cooking with honey is incredibly delicious, but it can lead to long cleanup times unless you know how to handle it.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup might be clear, but it’s just as hard to work with as other syrups. This sticky, sugar mess might taste fantastic in many recipes, but it’s also hard to work with if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ll give you some tips later, but consider using a premium nonstick pan that doesn’t let anything stick to it.

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Stickiest Ingredients Ever: Nut Butters

We’re including peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, and all other similar foods here. While they tend to thin out and usually have a fair amount of sugar, they also have more fat and protein than our “liquid and sugary” section.

Similar to syrup and honey, these butters quickly spread throughout the pan once heated. They also have a fair amount of sugar that sticks to the bottom. A major difference though is that the fat and protein can also chemically bond to stainless steel pans, which makes them tough to scrape off (especially once the stuck bits cool off and harden).

Stickiest Food Ever: Proteins

Many proteins stick just as much as peanut butter or maple syrup. Do you know why? This happens most often with proteins that are low in fat but high in protein. Higher fat proteins tend to lubricate the pan and don’t stick as much. Let’s find out what the stickiest proteins are to cook.


Have you cooked eggs on a stainless steel pan? If not, let me tell you, it’s a traumatic experience. The eggs stick everywhere, don’t cook evenly, and quickly burns to the pan’s surface. It’s awful, especially if you don’t properly heat the pan. Plus, as a liquid-like protein, it spreads everywhere, so it sticks to the entire pan. Scrambled eggs are tough with stainless steel, believe me.


I don’t know if there’s an ingredient with less fat and more protein than fish. This leads to it firmly sticking to your pan’s surface until it’s ready to be flipped. Be sure to use lots of oil when cooking white fish, salmon, or anything other aquatic protein to make things a little easier for you.


This is especially true for chicken breast (which is close to fish in terms of low fat), but even some fatter parts might stick. The proteins form a tight bond with the metal and won’t let go until they are ready. Prepping your pan beforehand and giving the chicken time is often the only thing you can do.


Yes, believe it or not, some cuts of steak will stick to your pans. Eye round and side steaks tend to have the least amount of fat, which leads to them sticking pretty firmly to your pans. Ground beef rarely has this issue, unless you’re getting like 90% lean or higher.

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How to Cook Sticky Ingredients? Tips and Tricks

Tired of always scraping off burnt food? We’ve got a few tips that can help with that.

Buy Quality Nonstick Cookware

We’ve covered Ninja Foodi Neverstick fairly extensively and compared to it a variety of competitors, such as All Clad, Hexclad, Granitestone, and Blue Diamond. This turns the stickiest food ever into a walk in the park. It always comes out as the top or one of the best in nearly every category.

Just as the name implies, you’ll find that food never sticks to your pots and pans. That’s because Ninja uses a proprietary process that fuses plasma ceramic particles to the pan. Best of all, the coating should never chip or come off (unlike with cheap pans).

Save yourself the hassle and get Ninja Foodi Neverstick. You’ll never need to worry about sticking again.

Preheat the Pan

This is essential with stainless steel, but several other pans benefit from this as well. Simply let the pan sit on the burner and warm up. Don’t add butter, oil, or any other fats. Just let the pan heat up for a few minutes.

This allows the metal to close its pores. Stainless steel is naturally somewhat porous. These pores are what latch to food. Even normal ingredients can become the stickiest food ever. Preheating the pan lets it become nonporous, which allows you to more easily cook food.

Want to know when your stainless steel pan is preheated? There’s a simple trick. Take a drop of water and put it on the pan (my favorite way is to get my fingers a little wet and flick the water on the pan). If the water just evaporates, then the pan’s not ready.

Wait until the water turns into little beads and rolls around. That’s when your stainless steel pan is preheated.

Add Fat After Preheating

Many people think stainless steel is the same as nonstick cookware and you can just add fat while heating the pan. Not true! The butter or oil can stick a little, plus, this doesn’t allow the pores to close properly.

Start by preheating the pan. Then, once that’s finished, you can add the oil. You should then give the oil about a minute to heat. You don’t want it to burn, but you want it to get hot for even better protection against sticking.

Season the Pan

Seasoning stainless steel and cast iron allows fat to adhere to the surface and create a nonstick coating that works amazingly well. This process is fairly easy, but requires oven-safe cookware.

Scrub the pan thoroughly before starting. Allow it to completely dry and then apply a layer of fat, oil, or shortening to the cookware. Preheat your oven. Some people suggest 375F while others suggest 400F or 450F. The higher the temperature, the shorter time needed to season the pan.

Place the pan in 375F for an hour or 450 for 30 minutes. It should all end up the same. This should be done on the middle rack with the pan upside down. It’s also good to place a pan underneath it to catch any dripping oil.

Allow it to cool and the pan is now seasoned. Be sure to only wipe it clean from now on. Using soapy water can rub away the seasoning.

Adjust the Heat

Adjusting the heat on your pan can help. If the pan is too hot, then it burns and sticks right to the surface. If it’s too cool, then the food won’t cook quickly enough and won’t let go of the surface. Make some adjustments and see if that helps.

Pat Proteins Dry

This applies mostly to meats and other proteins, but it might help with some other sticky foods as well. Patting meat dry before placing them on the pan removes any moisture or water that might be on the surface. If you don’t do this, then the water cooks first. This disperses the oil and makes it more likely that the meat and pan surface will directly touch.

A quick pat is all it takes to reduce stickiness.

Final Thoughts

Have any other sticky ingredients we should add to the list? We did our best to make the most comprehensive stickiest food ever list, but we may have missed a few. Or maybe other tips that can help reduce stickiness. We’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts about this annoying cooking misfortune.