The challenge to keep your cast iron cookware seasoned is real. So many people straightforwardly choose not to explore with it. That’s regrettable because caring for your cookware doesn’t need to be that intricate. New cast iron pans and pots come pre-seasoned. But that isn’t as good as a methodical seasoning.
The real answer to how to season cast iron pan is that its seasoning is not a one-time deal. A good cast iron pan with years of usage will be layered in hundreds of coatings of polymerized oil. You are either developing the seasoning up or breaking it down while cooking in it each time.
Our article here will provide answers on how to season cast iron pans with possible step by step guidelines.
How to Season Cast Iron Skillet
Your reliable cast-iron skillet will in due course lose its sheen. As a result, its super non-stick powers will be gone too. Bringing back its gloss and saving it from rusting is as easy and quick as a scrub, oil, and bake. Here’s how to season a cast iron skillet.
- Scrub your skillet well in soapy hot water.
- Let it dry thoroughly.
- Spread a thin layer of melted vegetable oil or shortening over the skillet.
- Now place the skillet upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°. Place foil on the lower rack to catch oil drips.
- Bake for one hour. Let it cool down in the oven after the baking ends before getting it out from the oven.
How to season a rusty cast iron skillet? Or a just plain cast iron skillet of yours?
- First, make sure that your house has good ventilation first, otherwise don’t go for this method. Turn on ceiling fans, open up your windows, kitchen fans because there will be a dose of smoke.
- As with cooking anything in a cast-iron skillet, it will need 5 -10 minutes to completely come to temperature. Pay heed to when your skillet starts to smoke.
- When it starts smoking, apply a light coating of oil. Dab a cloth or paper towel in your seasoning oil of choice. Wipe it all over your skillet. Wipe the extra oil away then with a paper towel. Be patient, in this way of seasoning will only take a fraction of the time the oven process would.
- When the skillet starts to look dry and smoking again, that’s when you do another quick wipe. The longer you have the skillet smoking and turned up, the better the resulting seasoning will be. Ten minutes should be good and fifteen minutes is more than necessary. When it starts to turn dark chocolate color to full black color, you’re set.
- Now turn your stove off. The skillet will be hot for up to half an hour after your seasoning is completed. Let it rest on the stovetop or you can even slide it in the oven to cool down. Your cast-iron skillet should obtain a deeper color and release foods from its surface way easier than before.
For the First Time
While most new cast iron skillets arrive already seasoned, that’s not always reliable. To avoid Follow these steps to thoroughly clean and prepare an unseasoned pan.
- Start by heating up the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile wash the skillet with soapy, warm water.
- Dry the skillet completely by using a dry fabric or paper towels.
- Pick your choice of oil and add 1 to 2 tablespoons to the skillet. Use a paper towel to coat the skillet, both on the outside and bottom.
- Place your skillet face-down on the center rack of the oven. To catch any dripping oils, place an aluminum foil or baking sheet underneath the cookware. Bake it for an hour.
- Once it’s over, turn off the heat. Allow the skillet to cool before bringing it out. Your skillet should have a shiny coating that’s not oily to the touch.
Oils Best for Seasoning Your Cast Iron Skillet
All cooking fats and oils can be used for seasoning a cast iron skillet but based on affordability, availability, effectiveness, and has a high smoking point, we recommend vegetable oil, canola oil, melted shortening, or any commercial seasoning spray.
On the process of how to season a cast iron skillet, it really comes down to using enough heat to break down the oils and kick start the polymerization. These mentioned oils all have high smoking points. That means it takes a bit of high heat to break them down.
Low and slow isn’t going to do for these oils; it’ll just leave them sticky. Too high and the oil will just burn up and create smoke. The correct level is 350°F – 500°F for at least one hour. If you think you can pour a ton of oil in your pan and have a really fat polymerized surface, that won’t work here either.
You want to keep each layer of oil superbly thin and repeat the cycle over and over to develop the thickness.
How to Season Cast Iron Pan
This method creates a more thorough coating of seasoning onto the pan, strengthening the chemical bond to the iron. It can be favorable to season your cast iron pan in the oven couple of times a year. We recommend seasoning in the oven when repairing a rusty cast iron pan.
Follow our simple steps to season a cast iron pan in the oven below.
Scrub your pan with soapy, warm water. It is fine to use soap as you are preparing to re-season the cookware. Rinse and then hand dry properly.
Apply a thin, even layer of cooking oil of your choice to your pan both on the inside and outside. Your cookware may turn sticky if you use too much oil.
Place the pan in the oven upside down. Place an aluminum foil or a large baking sheet on the bottom rack. Bake at 450 to 500 degrees F for an hour. Allow the pan to cool. Voila! That takes care of your “how to season cast iron pot or pan” headache.
What you have to do for seasoning a cast iron pan on the stovetop is as follows:
- Clean the skillet properly. You can use hot soapy water. Remove any oil or food bits, and then dry the pan using wipes.
- Swab fat or oil onto the pan on all sides using a paper tissue or clean dry cloth. It is safe or not recommended to dip the pan in the oil. As dribbling hot oil from the next step may scald you.
- Place your pan over the flame and heat up the pan. Make sure that you rotate the pan and get the flame into all the sides of the pan. Protect your hand when performing this step.
- Let the pan cool down and redo steps 2 and 3 a couple more times. Or as needed, depending on the condition of the pan surface.
A thoroughly seasoned pan will be glossy and non-sticky. That’s what exactly you are looking for. You might have to repeat the seasoning when you started to see the pan gets sticky or turn dull.
A coating of any kind of fat or oil on the cast iron pan creates seasoning. Canola oil is one of the most popular oil used for seasoning any cast iron, but vegetable oil, corn, olive oil, and shortening are also fine choices. The difference is the oil’s smoking point. The temperature at which the fat or oil starts to generate smoke. Canola oil has a high smoking point of 400 degrees F. Meanwhile extra virgin olive oil begins smoking at between 325 to 375 degrees.
Seasoning a cast iron pan with olive oil is simple, and you can do it just like a pro by following these steps.
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a paper towel to rub the entire surface of the pan, including the handle and bottom, in olive oil.
- Place your pan in the heated oven. Let it bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the pan and let it cool down completely.
- Use a paper towel to add another layer of olive oil and buff your pan to a sheen.
For the First Time
- It’s difficult to say exactly what occurred to that pan between the times it came off the production line and when it entered your kitchen. So you will have to wash it before getting into the seasoning. Give your pan a good wash with soapy, warm water. Then dry the pan thoroughly. Even after this, some surface wetness may remain. So you better put the pan on a stovetop for a minute or two.
- Now rub the pan with cooking oil all over, inside and out, and includes the handle too. Unsaturated cooking fats, such as vegetable, canola, and corn oil, are all good for seasoning our pans. They work well and are easier to layout than other saturated fats, like lard and shortening.
- The focus here is that you rub the oil all over. Then buff it well so that your pan no longer looks even a bit greasy. A small quantity of excess oil on your pan can pool during seasoning. Forming little hardened droplets on the pan’s cooking surface. Or turn sticky if you left it unused for a few days.
- Put the oiled pan inside of a preheated 450°F oven. Leave it in the oven for 30 minutes. It may get smoky, so keep the kitchen well ventilated. During this time the oil will polymerize and create the first of few hard, plastic-like coatings.
- Using an oven here in this process because it provides an even heat that will effectively set the oil all over your pan.
- While it’s not essential, you can put a piece of foil or baking sheet underneath. It just gives insurance against any oil drips.
- When the 30 minutes is up, take your pan out. Remember: It’s hot and you should take the necessary precautions. Now rub the pan once more all over as before. Then put it in your oven for another 30-minute session. Overall, you’ll want to redo this oiling-and-heating process three to four more times. It will set down a good fundamental layer of seasoning.
Let the pan cool down and now it’s ready for cooking. Voila! Now you know how to season cast iron pan for the first time.
How to Season Cast Iron Griddle
All modern cast iron cookware comes with a layering that stops rust. It’s like a thin veneer of candle wax.
- So, the wax needs to be taken out with a scourer. Use hot water and washing up the mixture before the seasoning process can take place. The metal scourers are a perfect choice. You will end up with a black/gray metal surface.
- The water and moisture need to dry out thoroughly. Put it on the stove on medium heat for 15 minutes. You will see that, the griddle pan sweat out all the water drops that will evaporate.
- Pick your oil. Any animal fat or vegetable oil. Grapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, lard, or many other edible oils can be used here.
- Once your griddle cools down, pour some oil all over the griddle. It needs a thin coating, get it into here, there, and everywhere.
- With a paper towel wipe away all the oil you just put on till there is nothing you cannot get off anymore. There will only be a thin layer left. Too much oil will cause smoke and set your fire alarms off.
- Place the griddle in the oven, top shelf if it is possible. Put on gas mark 9 or on the hob on max heat. The temperature needs to reach over 392 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for an hour. Turn off the heat. Allow the griddle to cool down for a couple of hours.
- Your griddle pan will have a blackened brown or black color instead of grey. Repeat steps 4 to 6 a few times until your griddle pan turns to a shiny black color.
With continuous usage of the griddle pan will gain a shiny patina. Never put your cast iron into a dishwasher. A little soap, water, and a light scrubbing will be enough to clean it.
How to Season Cast Iron Grill Pan
This is one of the important first steps on how to season cast iron grill so that your seasoned cast iron pan can be a rust-resistant, non-stick surface before your first use.
- Start by washing your grill pan with soapy, warm water.
- Meanwhile heat up the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dry the grill pan completely by using a dry fabric or paper towels.
- Pick your choice of oil (we recommend olive oil) and add 1 to 2 tablespoons to the grill pan. Use a paper towel to coat it, both on the handle, outside, and bottom.
- Place your pan face-down on the center rack of the oven. To catch any dripping oils, place an aluminum foil or baking sheet underneath the cookware. Bake it for an hour.
- Once it’s over, turn off the heat. Allow the pan to cool before bringing it out. Your grill pan should have a shiny coating but not greasy to the touch.
How to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates
- Rinse the grates first to remove any dust. Then dry them with a clean towel.
- At 200 degrees Fahrenheit heat up the grates for 15 minutes.
- Using tongs and some paper towels, rub a thin layer of vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or shortening on the grill grates. Carefully rub oil to all sides of the grate. Nonstick spray is also an option. But some nonstick sprays can cause viscosity on the cast iron surfaces. Think of a spray that doesn’t carry lecithin to prevent sticky buildup. Also for the same reason avoid using olive oil.
- Now, put the grates back in the oven. The oven should set on the highest baking temperature available. Turn off the oven after one hour. For two hours allow the grates to cool down. Repeat the process five more times to settle the cast iron.
After seasoning the grill grates for the first time, you need to maintain a simple care routine. Also, you can strip your grill grates and cookware to prevent buildup, or to re-season the cast iron after summer ends.
Cast Iron Grill Grates: Old Fashioned Seasoning
Cast iron cookware is placed and washed traditionally, in the oven. Alternatively, on the stovetop over low heat. Then it gets wiped down after each use with oil on a paper towel. You can also use this procedure to maintain rust-free, clean grill grates.
To apply this simple method, you have to leave the heat on after grilling. It will burn away any food particles. Wipe the grill grates down with a paper towel that is drenched in a small amount of vegetable oil. After coating it with oil, you should be able to see the cast iron grates shine slightly.
Leave the grill grates to give the oil chance to penetrate your cast iron for another few minutes. Redo this method every time you use the grill to have nonstick, rust-free grill grates that are ready for operation at a moment’s notice.
How to Season Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Scrub your Dutch oven with soapy water and a stiff brush. Properly dry it with a clean dry towel.
- With an aluminum foil line a baking sheet. Put it on the bottom rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Apply a layer of oil (any vegetable oil) with a paper towel. Rub it on the entire oven and that includes the lid too. Make sure you get into all over your Dutch oven.
- Place the Dutch oven and the lid upside down on the upper rack of the oven. Bake it for one hour. You may see smoke coming out for the oil. So it’s a safe bet to open the windows and provide adequate ventilation.
- Turn off the oven after an hour. Let the Dutch oven cool down for 30 minutes before taking it out.
That’s it! Your Dutch oven has now been seasoned. You might have to redo the process if you see any chinks in the shiny black patina until you achieve the desired finish.
How to Re-season Cast Iron Dutch Oven
As you cook with oils and fats in your Dutch oven, the surface will get better after each use. But sometimes the layering can deteriorate. Rust or losing its nonstick characteristics over time. Acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, are specifically harsh on your cast iron. Here’s how to re-season cast iron a Dutch oven in between uses.
If your Dutch oven has considerable rust, you will need to first strip it completely with a special rust cleaner. Only after that begin the seasoning process from the scratch.
But, if your Dutch oven just requires an afresh, ensure it is free of any bits of food residue by thoroughly scouring it with hot water. If you need soap, use just mild dish soap. Towel dry it and start following steps 1 and 3 to 5 on the above.
How to Season Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Oil
There are different opinions on how to season a cast iron pot and what oils or fats to use. Some prefer vegetable oil, olive oil, vegetable shortening, or commercially available cast iron conditioner. We would advise our readers to use olive oil over vegetable oil or vegetable shortening as extra virgin olive oil has a minimal likelihood of going foul.
As for the seasoning process with any oils just follow our How to Season Cast Iron Pan with Oil section above.
How to Season Cast Iron Wok
The method is recommended for cast iron woks with oven-safe handles.
- Complete the primary rinsing to remove factory oil.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line your sheet pan with aluminum foil.
- Use a paper towel to layer the entire wok with oil or lard, including the exterior of the pan.
- Place the sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven to catch the oil droplets.
- Now, place the oiled wok on the top rack of your oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes and remove the wok from the oven.
- Rinse the wok properly with warm water and a soft swab.
- Dry it completely on your stovetop at high heat.
- Complete elementary washing to detach factory oil.
- If the wok has wooden handles, wrap them in aluminum foils to avoid burning /scorching, or remove them.
- To open the wok’s metal pores, preheat it over high heat. The wok will get extremely hot and begin to release smoke. So make sure the area around your burner is clear. Also check if your kitchen hood fan is switched on, and keep your windows open.
- To heat the back, front, and sides tilt and flip the wok. Your wok will switch colors when exposed to high heat.
- Throw a drop of water on your pan. If the wok is hot enough, the water will vaporize within a second. Now it’s set to be seasoned. Allow your wok to cool down until it’s safe to touch.
- Use a paper towel to wrap your wok in a high smoking point oil. Keep the oil layer even and thin to achieve a nonstick, smooth surface. Make sure to coat the outside of the wok in oil too.
- Return your wok to the burner over moderately high heat. Once the oil stops smoking, that part of the wok is seasoned now. Advance to flip and tilt your wok to season each part.
- The wok seasoning process is finished when all of its surfaces have turned into a matte finish and with a dark hue.
- Rinse the wok with hot water. Use a bamboo wok brush to wipe your wok without damaging your seasoning.
- Place your wok back onto the stovetop and over high heat to dry out the remainder of water particles.
- At this point you can either store the wok until the next use or repeat the seasoning steps. Season your wok up to at least three times to get a nonstick slicker surface and a thicker protective layer.
Only kosher salt is used for this method to develop a dark patina on a wok. It can also be used to re-season or refresh a pan that hasn’t been used for a while.
- Remove factory oil by completing the initial washing.
- Pour one cup of kosher salt into your wok.
- Place the wok on a gas stovetop, filled with salt, and maintain high heat.
- Stir salt continuously for 20 minutes. Push the salt up and around all sides of your wok.
- After 20 minutes, remove your wok from the heat. Dump the heated salt. Let it cool down before you discard it.
- Wipe your wok clean with a paper towel or, an oil-covered fabric. Spread a thin veneer of oil onto your wok’s surface.
Seasoning Oils for Cast Iron Wok
The ideal oils to use for seasoning a wok must have a have high smoking point. Also, they should be pure and free from a neutral flavor. Avoid olive oil and sesame oil because they can be unrefined and have low smoking points. Choose these listed oils and fats below for seasoning your wok instead:
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Grape seed oil
- Lard or pork fat
- Sunflower oil
Is There any Natural Way to Season Cast Iron?
You should know that only two ways to keep up the seasoning of a cast iron cookware. Among those, the easiest and naturally the best way is to cook in it regularly. Because, each time you cook with fat or oil, you are adding another layer of seasoning to the skillet of yours. Gradually, these layers will build up to form a nonstick, strong cooking top.
Remember though, these early layers of seasoning added as you cook in a new cast iron skillet will be irregular. Don’t worry, take a deep breath. What and how you cook, hot spots on your cooker, and the temperature setting will all affect where and how the oil bonds to the skillet. So, our best advice to you is just kept cooking in it! Eventually, these patchy layers will interlock like puzzle pieces and will create an enticing cooking surface.
How to Care for Cast Iron
- Try your best to keep the cooking temperature low. Use lower temperatures than you usually do with other skillets or pans.
- You can be generous with the usage of fat or oil. This tip just boosts the non-stick behavior of a well-seasoned cast iron pan. Purified fats, such as ghee, work truly well because they don’t have any impurities to gunge up the cooking surface of your pan.
- Choose traditional fats like tallow, lard, goose/duck fat, butter, coconut oil, or ghee. With higher smoking points, these oils or fats are less likely to burn and gunk up your cast iron pan.
- You should not be afraid to use any soap when cleaning your cast iron pan. This is contentious because some people argue to never use any soap. Yes, they really do mean it and think it is as good as a sin to do so. Because they are sure that it will destroy the seasoning of a cast iron pan. We will argue that it depends on how the seasoning was created. If it is the prototypical seasoning that has built up over time by not washing off cooking fats or oils, then yes, any soap could take that seasoning off. If you season or re-season as we have discussed at high temperatures to develop a non-stick plain then soap will not take that off.
- After washing a cast iron pan, dry with a kitchen towel and put it away. Be careful to not let your pans air-dry or they will rust.
Twice in a single year is a good way to go when it comes to season and re-season your cast iron skillet/pan.
If you have the patient and the time, seasoning and maintaining your cast iron will really pay you back in the long run. But honestly, if you come to a decision to skip this step, the pan will be fine or even better than okay. Because if you use it daily the cooking fat and oil will slowly build up the polymerized layers also known as seasoning. But it is a very long process, please do remember that.
Depends on the oil or fat you will be using. But overall it’s between 350 to 500 degrees of Fahrenheit.
As one of the most dependable, durable cooking processes of all time, there’s no basis why anyone should be afraid by working with cast iron cookware. After all, it’s been able to stand the test of time from the Puritans to the pioneers to professional chefs throughout the many centuries and generations.
But before you jump straight into a lifelong affair with a cast-iron pan, you’ve got to know how to season and take care of one first. That was on our mind throughout the flow of this article and prepare you for the best in the coming days.