How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

I cook almost every meal in cast iron because it heats evenly, it's a healthier alternative to non-stick pans, and just seems to make my food taste the best! When cast iron is well-seasoned it becomes non-stick and eliminates the need to cook with toxic non-stick cook wear.

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet | Real Food RN

I cook almost every meal in cast iron because it heats evenly, it’s a healthier alternative to non-stick pans, and just seems to make my food taste the best! When cast iron is well-seasoned it becomes non-stick and eliminates the need to cook with toxic non-stick cook wear. Non-stick cook wear contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that’s linked to liver damage, cancer, and developmental problems.

When you cook with cast iron it fortifies your food with iron! Plus, it’s very inexpensive, can be used on any heat source, and is super easy to clean.

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet you really should consider getting one. It will change the way you cook! Once you get one, then you will want to know How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet!

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet:

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning the pan
  • If it’s new wash it several times with a strong detergent drying thoroughly between washings.
  • If it’s an old pan you can toss it into a good wood fire and burn the old cooked on stuff off, but let it cool slowly so you don’t crack the iron, or take it to an outfit that does soda blasting and have them take it down to bare cast-iron
  • Make sure the pan is absolutely dry before starting the seasoning process
  • Putting the pan in a warm oven for a few minutes can ensure dryness
  • The best way to season the pan is to coat the cast-iron with oil  (I use coconut oil) and heat it slowly at 350°F in the oven until the oil hardens (polymerizes)
  • This takes about an hour and can get smelly (due to the oil smoking as it cooks)
  • Let the pan cool slowly and check the surface, if it’s sticky put it back in oven for another baking, if it seems dry and hard you’re ready for the next coat.
  • Repeat the process. Three coats should be enough to give you a non-stick surface and the occasional re-coat will help maintain the seasoning.
  • Frequent use of the pans also helps

How to clean your seasoned cast iron pan:

  • Soap is not needed or recommended, since it erodes the seasoning
  • Simply wash with water and a kitchen sponge
  • If needed, lightly coat with oil prior to storage
  • Dry immediately!!! Do not let cast iron drip dry, it can rust!

I have a collection of different cast iron cookware. Here are my favorites:

  1. The Standard 12″ Skillet that I use every day — here is where to get it
  2. The Square Grill Pan for grilling meats on your stovetop — here is where to get it
  3. The Mini Skillet, this one we use in our toaster oven to re-heat food — here is where to get it
  4. The Round Skillet, for making Mickey Mouse Pancakes — here is where to get it

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13 Replies to “How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet”

  1. I recently bought 7 cast iron skillets, and most of them are slightly rusted. Can you recommend a good, non toxic cleaning method for them? Thanks!

    1. Mix water and vinegar 50/50. Let the pan soak in the mixture for an hour or longer, depending on how bad the rust is. Then gently scrub the rust away from the cast iron pan using a good scrubber. You can also add in some salt as an abrasive. Once it’s all scrubbed off, then season the pan.

  2. So thinking about buying some cast irons and I noticed some of the pans you said are your favorites say they are already pre seasoned with vegetable oil. Would you recommend still seasoning it after I buy it? Thank you:)!!

  3. Another way to deal with old gunky or rusted cast iron is to put it in your oven when you run the self cleaning oven cycle. The high heat that is used practically vaporizes anything on the pan and you will end up with totally clean bare metal, ready for seasoning. It takes all day and you might have to open a window. Sometimes there is some powdery ash left over depending how dirty they are. It’s the same principle as putting them in a good fire, but more controlled. I have saved many gross pans this way! I often find them at thrift stores looking horrible- I clean them this way and season them and give them as wedding presents. It’s like magic!

  4. I have never read about ur 3 coat method and letting it harden. I have always dried skillet on stove then wiped on oil with paper towel. I hardly used tho because it always grossed me out when towel was blackened even after repeated wipes. Do ypurs do this? Mine also stick badly. I plan on trying ur method soon. Thanks.ps..I am also RN….plant based and just started fermenting my own kombucha

    1. With my method it creates a non-stick surface so your paper towel should not stick. My paper towel is usually dark, but not black. I think if you try my method you will solve these problems. Keep me posted on how it turns out!

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