How To Tuesday – How to Season a Cast Iron Pan
We’re having a Come to Your Higher Power Moment over cookware here people. It’s time.
When was the last time you got a new set of cookware? Or a new pan at all? Odds are, it’s time to replace the scratched up non-stick pans you have. You know the ones I’m talking about…the ones your husband took a fork to that left gouges in the bottom, or the ones you used your metal cooking tongs on stir frying last week’s dinner and now you’re wondering if those little black flecks on your dinner were the pepper you added in or pieces of Teflon…oh wait, you didn’t add pepper to last week’s dinner.
See what I mean?
Versatility in Cooking
When Ben and I got married, we opted to nix all of the old non-stick stuff we had in the house and go the way of stainless steel and cast iron. Okay, there is one remaining non-stick pan that I keep around solely for my occasional scrambled eggs, but other than that – it’s all SS and CI. The versatility of the SS and CI is far and above that of non-stick anyway – since you can use it on the stove and in the oven! It was by far the best decision we’ve made in cookware.
Cast Iron has supreme heat retention and heat distribution compared to many of it’s cheaper non-stick counterparts. You food will sear beautifully, your foods will cook more evenly. Along with the versatility of Cast Iron, it actually has added health benefits too! Say it ain’t so?! Yes, it’s true. While cooking with cast iron, you can actually gleen extra iron into your diet, which is a good thing!
So if cooking with cast iron is something you want to transition to – there are a few steps to make sure your skillets are in good working order for years to come. Now, you can bust out grandma’s old skillets and let her memory live on in the food you create.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron
Step One – Get yourself a Cast Iron Pan. Ben and I use Lodge Cast Iron. We have two enameled 6 quart dutch ovens and two cast iron skillets in 10″ and 12″. We also have a Le Creuset enameled braiser that is a dream.
Step Two – Cook in it! Want to season it fast? Cook up some bacon! Lots and lots of bacon.
Step Two Part Two – Eat the bacon! Best part of the whole seasoning process, I think.
Step Three – Wash pan out with hot water and scrub brush. And yes, a little bit of soap. This can be very controversial, even within my own family! I recommend scrubbing it with a bristled brush, and a scrapper first to remove the large stuck on bits of food. Then if you still have oil that is lingering, use some soap and a sponge to wash it away. You won’t remove all the seasoning, but you don’t want your pan swimming in oil either.
Step Four – Immediately dry with a towel. Don’t let your cast iron drip dry. Residual water that doesn’t evaporate will immediately start to rust your cast iron. Rust doesn’t taste nearly as good as bacon coming out of a well seasoned pan.
Step Four Part Two – If you do have rust accumulation, take a brillo pad to the affected areas and scrape it away until you no longer see any rust spots. Rinse it off and dry immediately.
Step Five – Place your cast iron back onto your stove and heat it up to medium heat. Pour in about 1- 1 1/2 teaspoons of high smoke point oil into the bottom of the heated pan. Take a wad of paper towels and some tongs and wipe the oil all around the cooking surfaces of the pan so it’s evenly coated.
Step Six – Turn off the heat and let the pan come back down to room temperature. I also recommend using another wad of clean paper towels to wipe out any excess oil that is still present after the pan cools. You want a very light coat in the pan, no pools.
Now you’re ready to cook again! The few extra steps are totally worth it for pans that will last a lifetime.
Additional How-To Tuesdays:
How to Make Chocolate Magic Shell
How to Make Quick Cheater Puff Pastry
Loving this post!! When I got one for Christmas (I know – I JUST got one), I was researching this very thing.
#1. I just dragged my husband (also Ben) into the room and made him read the part that says “do not use soap.” I tell him that I’ll the time when he’s washing ours and receive a skeptical look in return. Thanks for backing me up!
#2. You and I are pan soulmates. SS and CI forever!
#3. What is your favorite size CI? I have a 10 3/4 in. flatter CI skillet that I practically tuck in at night I love it so much and am considering investing in a second. Any wisdom to share?
Take THAT Ben!! hahah I say that with all love possible 🙂
My favorite size for my CI is the 10 3/4 inch, too. I can lift it pretty easy by just the handle even when it’s got food in it. I love my 12 inch when I’m cooking for more than two people, but it is heavy and I have to use two hands to move it around or from my burners to the oven (or I have my Ben move it for me if my back is giving me fits – good man).
I buy Lodge, because it’s cost effective and they’re good quality. I love their enameled line as well. Le Creuset is always high quality and totally worth the price – but since most people are on a budget, it’s not always the first choice. I have one of their enameled braisers and utterly adore it, but if it wasn’t given to me, I probably wouldn’t have dropped the $250 for it. My Lodge enameled dutch ovens were between $70-90.
Hope that helps!! 🙂
My cast iron skillet is kind of my best friend in the kitchen! This post is so informative. Really, this is info people NEED to know! Ha!
Guess what I’m doing tonight? De-rusting my cast iron!! You are the best, girl. 🙂
I’ve always wanted to learn how to do this. Thanks friend! I never really got it.
Need a cast iron skillet NOW!
My cast iron skillet has gotten a lot of use over the years. And this tutorial is great for when I need to re-season it!
I do these steps after each time I cook with it – just to make sure its in tip top order. 🙂 It only takes a couple of minutes after you clean it, so it doesn’t suck too much time out of your day!
If I could only use one pan for the rest of my life, it would totally be the cast iron skillet. Love it. But I think I ruined my first one. I’ll have to try and revive it with these here tips.
I left my cast iron skillet on the stove top after cleaning and oiling (too heavy to put away on the top shelf!) and the next morning, my husband turned on the wrong burner for the teapot and I didn’t realize it for 5 – 10 minutes. So, I think the seasoning burned off a little (it set off the smoke alarm) and now there’s a lighter grayish spot in the middle, directly above where it sat on the burner. I realllly don’t want to reseason my skillet, but is that what I need to do? And if so, how?
The lighter gray is probably just burned on seasoning. I would follow the steps that I laid out in this post – scrub it with a brillo pad if you want to remove the gray-ish residue, rinse with water and scrub with nylon brush, dry and re-season it with oil. Hope that helps!
Great how to! My cast iron pan is my work horse for sure!
Question – do I need to do the heat and oil step every time I cook with it? Ps. I also have a husband named Ben. So many Bens, so little time 🙂
Amy – Yes, I do this every time Ben and I cook with our cast iron. It only takes about 2 minutes tops – but it is so worth it. And eventually you won’t have to do it nearly as often when the seasoning builds up . It just takes a little time. 🙂 Hope that helps!
Great tutorial! I love cooking with cast iron cookware!!! 🙂
This is an awesome how-to! I love my cast iron pan.
I always stuck mine in the oven.. What for? I wouldn’t cook with it because it takes to long to clean…(or so I thought) I subscibed to “Taste of the South” This magazine is wonderful for cast iron cooks…
Great post! I LOVE my cast irons pans! I just need to be better about taking care of them 🙂
Thanks for sharing! I also researched this when I got my first cast iron cookware-and I also have a husband who doesn’t believe me about not using soap! He will be reading this 🙂
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I bought a cast iron pan about two months ago, the first time I cooked in it the surface bubbled up and has now flaked off! Should this have happened? Is it a fault of the manufacturer? I’d really appreciate your opinions! 🙂 Great post – so informative and helpful! Thank you
Hi Kate! Is your cast iron pan enameled with porcelain? If it is, it may flake if you use metal tools on it. But cast iron should not bubble. If it begins to rust it will flake off, but you will see evidence of the rust. I would contact the manufacturer about it for sure!! Good luck, I hope you get a new one, they’re such great pans to have on hand.
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After I have used my frying pan, and wiped it out with a paper towel, I liberally, sprinkle with salt. Then I rinse and dry on the stove, so no rust appears.
love your post, a lot of good info. I have been using coconut oil for a while now, have learned if you are storing your cast iron. coconut oil has a longer shelf life that regular vegetable oils. can’t imagine storing my skillets but I do have a dutch oven that doesn’t get used regularly. I use table salt & coconut oil to scrub away any stuck on food.
Great post, Megan. I need to re-season one of my pans, will keep your tips handy!
You all have inspired me. I have my mother’s cast iron skillet hanging on the pot rack with all the non-sticks ones and have not used it in years.
My husband does 90% of our cooking and he prefers the non-stick. All of which he has ruined but insists they are fine. aargh!
Time to dust off the Cast Iron and re-season it.
Thanks for the inspiration! Elaine
So glad to see another cast iron advocate . I have been cooking on cast-iron exclusively for about 30 years. All of my cookware is cast iron with the exception of two Farberware skillets that I got when I was married 50 years ago. I have eight pieces of black cast-iron-LODGE only please, and 40 pieces of LeCreuset enamel cookware which I love to death.
I re-season my black LODGE every time I use them, by doing the same thing you do. I put a very thin coating of Crisco on the bottom and insides then place it on an electric burner for 90 seconds then off the heat and let it cool.
The pans have developed an incredibly beautiful patina which is what you strive for in cast-iron. Nothing, but nothing cooks like cast-iron. You can keep yours nonstick pans because cast-iron does not stick – ever. I cook eggs in mine all the time and never had a problem sticking.
No offence here but it seems like all women bashing their men for not taking care of their pans. I for one am appalled at the fact that a lot of women out there don’t know how to cook let alone take care of a cast iron pan. My fiancé is a clean freak and she always insists on scrubbing and useing a very tiny amount of soap on my pans and always lets them drip dry. It annoys me very much. There are a lot of men now days that can cook etc and are the only ones in their relationship that does the cooking so please don’t stereotype men in general.
I’m sorry that you think I am stereotyping men in general, but it was a moment of levity and humor that made me joke about a man taking a fork to a non-stick pan. But while we’re at it, it also appears that you are casting shadef at “the fact” that “alot of women out there don’t know how to cook”… Way to uphold gender stereotypes on that one… If you don’t want women joke about men who can’t take care of pans, it may not be wise to make a crack about women who can’t cook. The road goes both ways.
But I do hope that you found the How-To informative, and I hope you and your fiance both come to an agreement on seasoning pans.
Just a quick question! What exactly do you like about your enameled cast iron? Pluses? Uses? Any negatives or drawbacks?
I love my enameled and plain cast iron – both are incredibly durable, easy to clean, cheap, and can last forever with proper care.
With enameled cast iron, you have to use the same utensils you would as non-stick just to be careful you don’t chip the procelain, but it is durable and practically non-stick. I don’t really feel there is a down side to enamelware! Good luck with your search and hope you find your perfect piece of cookware!
Hello! I just received my very first cast iron pan (been putting off buying one for years) I followed your directions exactly but now I’m curious if you rinse off your pan prior to use?
I’m not a “clean freak” per say but it does worry me that dust or other undesirable things haha might accumulate on the grease…
Thank you for posting this by the way. We loved eating our bacon 😉
I love the idea of cast iron but am seriously worried by the idea of just wiping it out without soap after using it. What’s to prevent bacteria, germs, E. coli, whatever from multiplying on the surface and tainting whatever gets cooked next?
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