Learn how to season a cast iron pan in a few easy steps.
Whether you’ve just brought home a brand new cast-iron pan or need to give some TLC to an older one, follow these simple steps to get your pan ready for cooking.
What’s so great about cast iron pans?
Cast iron cookware is virtually indestructible and endlessly versatile — buying one or two basic pans will be one of the best kitchen investments you can make. Cast iron regulates heat better than other materials and doesn’t warp.
The other great thing about cast iron pans is that good, well-made ones are not expensive, and they will last a lifetime (or more).
Used pans can often be found at yard sales or flea markets. Look for the classic signs of a well-seasoned pan: a blackened sheen, smooth cooking surface, and no rust.
Check out the pans in the photo below:
- The topmost pan is my oldest (it’s 30+ years old) and most-used. It has a nice dark black finish and smooth surface.
- The smaller middle pan is about 12 years old and doesn’t get used as much. It has a great sheen, but still has a rougher surface on the outside edge.
- The bottom pan is a new one, that was supposedly “pre-seasoned.” Notice the mottled, uneven color. It needs more seasoning.
Why do you need to season a cast-iron pan?
Seasoning a pan means building layers of oil, which bond with heated metal.
Seasoning with oil seals the surface of the pan and prevents rust from forming on the iron material. Over time, the pan develops a smooth, darkened surface for cooking food so that it doesn’t burn and stick.
Even the most loved cast iron pan will begin to show its age if it’s not used often.
After a while it can dull, possibly rust and become less nonstick. Brand new pans, often available “pre-seasoned, ” also usually need a round or two of seasoning.
Really, after going through the easy steps to season your pan, the best way to develop the beautiful black patina of a well-seasoned pan is to use it. As much as you can!
I also love my cast iron grill pan. It gets very hot, and quickly sears vegetables and meat without scorching the food or firing up an outdoor grill (just be sure you have ventilation in your kitchen).
Ready to start cooking with your cast iron pan?
- Cast iron pan
- Clean paper towels and kitchen towels
- Refined oil for high-heat cooking, such as peanut or grapeseed oil
- Cast iron pan
- Clean towel
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Clean the pan thoroughly with warm water and a scrubby pad. Wipe the pan dry with a towel.
- Place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven and increase the temperature to 300 degrees.
- Pour 1 teaspoon oil into the pan. Rub the oil around the inside and outside of the pan with a towel, then wipe off all excess oil.. Add another teaspoon or so of oil if needed, depending on the size of your pan.
- Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes.
- Turn the pan upside down on the oven rack and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Leave the pan in the oven for 1 hour.
- Turn off the oven. Allow the pan to cool in the oven for an additional 30 - 60 minutes.
To oven-season cast iron, follow the steps. Repeat as needed and use the pan often to get a beautiful jet-black finish over time.
To clean your pan after cooking, scrub with a non-metallic scouring sponge in very warm water, with little or no soap.
To release any stubborn bits, apply a cleanser like Bon Ami. Dry the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and rub with a small amount of oil before storing.
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