How to Season Cast Iron – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
If you are using a cast iron skillet, you know about the benefits of cooking in it. The even heat distribution and cooking throughout the pan, the excellent non-stick capabilities, and cast iron skillets last for decades.
Cast iron pans are perfect cookware for frying, simmering, baking, and more. However, they need love and carefulness regularly. The delicious cooking experience that you get with a cast iron skillet certainly balances this routine care and maintenance.
And, if you are not sure how to care after your cast iron skillet as well as how to season the pan and what to do if your cast iron skillet is rusty, this ultimate guide will walk you through all these routine maintenance tasks of cast iron skillets.
Table of Contents
3 Simple Ways to Season Cast Iron
Below please find the most common ways to season cast iron quickly and effectively.
We call this seasoning method the standard one. For many decades, oven seasoning is the most recommended method to season new and old cast-iron items. And you will not find any other method simpler than the oven seasoning. Here is how you do that:
- Apply a thin layer of oil on cast iron skillet and put it upside down in an oven.
- Pre-heat the oven before keeping the skillet.
- Ideal oven temperature for seasoning is 450 to 500 degrees.
- Let it in the oven for about 60 minutes to 90 minutes.
- Now, turn off the oven and let it cool down.
The method is simple, and you can do it without any hassles. However, ensure that the oven is pre-heated correctly before placing the skillet in the oven.
As compared to other seasoning ways, oven seasoning takes about 3 to 4 hours. So, in this way, it is time-consuming.
Stovetop seasoning is the most preferred method of seasoning for experts and professional chefs. The stovetop seasoning is relatively simple and the most effective seasoning way for cast iron utensils and cookware. Here is how you do that:
- Apply a thin coating of oil, preferably vegetable oil all over a cast iron pan.
- Don’t forget to apply the oil on the backside of the pan.
- Now place it on a stove till you notice a lot of smoke.
- Keep it for at least 20 to 25 minutes on the stove.
- There will be a lot of smoke, so be cautious.
- Now, remove it and let it cool down entirely before usage.
Stovetop seasoning is quick. You can do that in about 30 minutes from start to finish. Another main benefit of this method is that you will not be using your oven for hours.
There will be a lot of smoke. So, if you are suffering from any respiratory problem, stovetop seasoning is not recommended for you.
Some of might be surprised to know that “many experts do not like seasoning” of any kind. And one such expert is Dennis Powell of Butter Pat Industries. According to these class of experts rather than seasoning specifically by using any method you just “grease the pan with lard and cook.” That’s all. Another thing that experts recommend when you follow no seasoning method is that always cook high-fat content first in your cast iron skillet. As per experts, if you frequently cook high-fat content, you don’t need any seasoning.
Factually there will be no work of any kind for you to do. No oven usage, no smoke, no oil.
You might find the uneven surface and dark spots on your cast iron cookware.
Read more: 10 Best Cast Iron Skillets
How to Reseason Cast Iron
If you were not taking care of your cast iron skillet from quite some time, you might need to reseason it before using it or else you will find it difficult to cook in it.
How and When to Re-Season Cast Iron
With the time, the skillet’s finishing may gradually wear off. Mainly it depends on your usage and how you clean or maintain it after the usage.
If you are going through this problem, then it is time to re-season your cast iron cookware. Follow these simple steps to reseason the cast iron skillet:
Clean it properly
The first step includes washing your skillet thoroughly with warm, soapy water. You can also use salt and paper towel to remove the stubborn bits and residues.
After cleaning your cast iron pan, make sure that it is wiped and dried completely.
It is essential because little moisture in your pan can attract rust. For this purpose, you can heat the pan on the stove so that no moisture is left in the pan.
Apply Oil on your cast iron pan
After washing and drying, move on to apply a thin layer of oil on your skillet. Apply the oil on the cooking area, pan sides, and at the bottom. In simple words, ensure that the whole surface is covered with a layer of oil including nooks and crannies of the skillet.
The layer will protect your pan from rust. However, don’t use too much oil, and if you notice that oil is excess, you can wipe it off with a paper towel.
Which oil is best to reseason a cast iron?
You can use vegetable oil, bacon grease, or lard to reseason your cast iron pan. In our opinion, you can use any cooking oil; however, flaxseed oil is mostly preferred by users to reseason a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have flaxseed oil, you can use any other cooking oil.
Reseason the cast iron skillet in an oven
You can also reseason cast iron in an oven, and it is simple.
- First, put the aluminium foil to protect the rack of your oven. (Always apply a thin coating of oil when seasoning or re-seasoning the cast iron skillet). Now, preheat the oven up to 450F.
- Now, put the cast iron pan upside down in the oven.
- Leave it for about 35 minutes to 60 minutes and after that, take out your skillet. Apply the oil again and put it back in the oven. Repeat it for 2 to 3 times. (Your pan will be too hot, so be careful while doing this).
- After last round, take out the skillet and let it cool. It will take approx. 1 to 2 hours. After your cast iron pan is cooled, you can use it for cooking.
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How to Season a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet
Things that you will need
- Steel wool
- Scrubbing brush
- Paper towels
- Vegetable oil or any other cooking oil
Steps to season a rusty cast iron frying pan
Take away all the rust: You can use steel wool to remove all the rust from your pan. Scrub it till all the rust is removed.
Wash the pan properly: After removing rust, wash the pan with plain water and soapy. Scrub the pan gently with bristle brush or sponge.
Dry the cast iron skillet: Wipe it and dry the pan with paper towels.
Apply oil on the pan: Apply a little vegetable oil or any other cooking oil on the entire skillet. If the handle is rusty, apply oil on the handle as well.
Put the skillet in an oven: Now, put the pan overturned in the oven. If there is any excess oil, wipe it off with paper and place aluminium foil to prevent the oven from oil drips. Heat the cast iron at 350 degrees for up to an hour.
Let it cool down completely before using.
Best way to Season Cast Iron
To enhance the working life and efficiency of your cast iron cookware, you need to season it properly before the usage and the best way to season the cast iron is mentioned below:
- First, heat up your oven up to 350 degrees F.Wash and clean your cast iron cookware with hot soapy water.
- Now, dry it completely with a paper towel.
- Now, apply a thin layer of oil all over the pan and handles.
- If there is any excess oil, remove it by using a paper towel.
- Put aluminium foil on the bottom rack of the oven and put the skillet on the head in your oven after it is pre-heated.
- After an hour switch off the oven and let it to cool down in the oven. Never use ice or water to cool it down.
- For the desired results, you can repeat step No. 4 and 8 two or even three times.
How often do you Season a Cast Iron Skillet
Nowadays, cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned, but you should season it before the first use. After the first use, if you are adequately maintaining your skillet, you don’t have to season or reseason it until it loses its effectiveness. However, if you still want to give your cast iron skillet special care, once or twice in a year is enough.
How to Care for Cast Iron
To maintain your cast iron cookware always follow these simple routine tasks:
Wash it with soap once
It’s OK to use soapy water on new cast iron pan or a rusty one but avoid hard detergents or soaps as it will affect the non-stick surface of the pan. Similarly, don’t wash cast iron pan in a dishwasher.
Season your pan before first use
Seasoning your pan creates a non-stick coating, and the surface of your pan will get much better with the usage. Mostly, cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, but you should season them as well before the first usage.
When cooking for the first time
Cast iron cookware is ideal for many food items such as searing pork chops to baking cornbread. Here we will recommend you to prepare a high-fat content because it will harden the non-stick surface. Similarly, never store any type of food in a cast iron skillet as it can affect the seasoned surface.
Keep your skillet clean
Never soak your cast iron cookware. You can use a Luke warm water and a soft sponge to remove cooking residue. Never use harsh chemicals or steel brush to wash your pan.
Dry it completely
Moisture is not good for cast iron pan because it will attract rust. So, dry the pan completely after washing. You can place the pan on the stove for 5 minutes so that there is no moisture remaining in the pan. Similarly, always store cast iron cookware in a dry place to prevent rust and corrosion.
You can cook various delicious items in a cast iron skillet including that classic rustic seasoned taste that you will only find in a cast iron skillet.
As long as you are seasoning the cast iron skillet correctly or taking adequate care of it, a cast-iron skillet will work effectively for a lifetime. And in this guide, you will find all the information regarding the maintenance of cast iron skillet and how to season a cast iron skillet. Overall, cast iron cookware is simple to use and clean. So, you will not have much hassle in taking good care of it.