How To Season Cast Iron Cookware

So many people get scared of cookware that requires maintenance. I get it. We’re a time-poor society. Learning how to season cast iron cookware is a skill all cooks should know. Cast Iron cooking is easy, reliable & will provide you with a healthy, non-stick surface to cook on.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you may have heard me talk about my love for cast iron cookware. It’s quite simple. We have a relationship. Most of my cookware is Le Creuset enameled cast iron, however, my collection also includes Lodge and Staub cast iron as well. This stuff is the bomb for slow cooking. It just makes everything you cook oh-so-melt in your mouth. 

A well-seasoned cast iron skillet on a linen tea towel.
a freshly seasoned, Lodge cast iron skillet

Quality, enamel cast iron cookware is an investment, but if you are looking for something a little lighter on your wallet, then consider seasoned cast iron. While there is no initial seasoning required, learning how to season your cookware is a skill that all cooks should know. I re-season most of my cast iron frypans on a monthly basis. It keeps them in perfect condition, as well as ensures a healthy non-stick surface at all times.

What does it mean to season cast iron?

Firstly it isn’t adding salt and pepper! Seasoning a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven is a simple process of adding layers of oil which is then baked onto the pan at a high heat to give a habitable cooking surface to cook on. Over time and with use the layers build up a protective coating eventually giving you an easy-release, nonstick surface.

A well-seasoned pan makes cooking a dream and you’ll find it to be a very functional piece of cookware. While many brands like Lodge already come pre-seasoned, you still need to keep your pan well-seasoned by rubbing the cookware with a protective layer of oil after each use.

What is the best oil to use to season your cookware?

Seasoning your cast iron is really a very simple process. The most important thing is to use the correct cooking oil. While many use vegetable oil, avocado oil, canola oil, or even Criso, I generally prefer to use grapeseed oil. As long the oil has a high smoke point (don’t use extra virgin olive oil, it is way too low!), you’ll be just fine. 

How to season a new cast iron pan…

  1. To start the seasoning process, make sure the cast-iron pan is clean and dry.


  2. Rub the entire pan with the cooking oil. Give it a good coat all over by covering the pan with a thin layer of oil, but don’t leave excess rolling around the pan. Think of it like applying sunscreen. A good coverage but you don’t want to see big blobs of sunscreen left on your face so remove any excess oil!


  3. Pop the pan into a preheated, 180-degree oven, upside down on the oven rack. Make sure you pop a roasting pan underneath to catch any excess drips. Bake the pan for at least 30 minutes. If you have the time and can leave it in there for an hour, well that’s even better!


  4. After it’s been baked, turn the oven off and leave it to cool to solidify the surface of the pan. You now have a well-seasoned skillet/piece of cookware with a beautiful layer of seasoning ready to use!

Maintaining your cookware

Cast-iron cookware without an enamel coating will need maintenance. But with proper care and a few easy steps, looking after your cookware will become second nature. After cleaning, using a piece of dry paper towel, wipe a little oil over the surface before storing your cookware. This will help maintain the layers of seasoning you have created.

The best way to maintain your cast iron cookware is to simply use it! Every time that you cook in it builds up layers of seasoning and get you closer to having a non-stick pan.

FAQS

We had guests and one of them “cleaned” my cast iron pan and stripped it of its seasoning! What do I do?

While devastating, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Just start the seasoning process from the beginning and build up those layers again!

Can I use steel wool to clean my cookware?

No. Big No. Steel wool belongs in the garage, not the kitchen. It will do more damage to your cookware than good. To clean cast iron, a nylon pot brush suitable for cookware is the best option.

I’ve heard I shouldn’t use dish soap on my seasoned pan. Is this true?

Ideally, hot water is the best thing to clean your seasoned cast iron with. However, this is not always possible and a little soapy water is needed. Just be sure to wipe down with a layer of oil afterward and if you’re unsure, it doesn’t hurt to season the pan again.

Can I put my cast iron in the dishwasher?

Seasoned cast iron pans are not dishwasher safe. If you would prefer dishwasher-safe cookware, enamel cast iron may be more your style.

How often should I season my cookware?

I season my skillets on a monthly basis. It’s one of those jobs that I do when I’m having a day in the kitchen. With the oven already on, it’s super easy to season a couple of pans and pop them in the oven with whatever I’m cooking that day.

Want to give cast iron cooking a try? Start with my favorite cast iron cooking recipes…

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