How to Season and Maintain a Carbon Steel Pan

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Seasoning carbon steel cookware is a necessary step in creating a non-stick surface, preventing rust and enhancing the pan’s performance. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to season a carbon steel pan:

You’ll need an oil with a high smoke point (such as canola or flaxseed oil) and paper towels or a lint-free cloth.

How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan

how to season a carbon steel pan
Getting ready to season with flaxseed oil and paper towels

Step 1: Preheat the oven. Start by preheating your oven to a temperature between 375°F to 450°F (190°C to 232°C). This heat is necessary for polymerizing the oil, which creates the non-stick layer.

Step 2: Clean the pan. If you’re working with a new pan, wash it with warm, soapy water to remove any factory-applied protective coating. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.

If you’re re-seasoning an existing pan, make sure it’s clean and free of any rust or food residue. Scrub away any rust with steel wool or a scouring pad.

Step 3: Apply a thin layer of oil. Using a paper towel or a lint-free cloth, apply a very thin layer of high-smoke-point oil to the entire interior of the pan, including the cooking surface and the handle. Be sure to wipe off any excess oil. The layer should be so thin that it appears almost invisible.

Step 4: Heat the pan. Place the oiled pan upside down on the oven’s middle rack, ensuring that there is a sheet of aluminium foil or a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips.

Heating the pan upside down allows excess oil to drip off, preventing it from pooling in the pan.

Step 5: Bake the pan. Let the pan bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. Some experts recommend extending the initial seasoning time by multiple hours for a more robust non-stick layer. However, 1 hour is sufficient for the first seasoning.

Step 6: Cool and Repeat (Optional). After the initial seasoning time, turn off the oven and allow the pan to cool naturally inside the oven. Do not remove it until it’s completely cool.

You can repeat this seasoning process two or three more times to build up a strong seasoning layer.

Regular Use and Maintenance: Your carbon steel pan is now seasoned and ready for regular use. The more you cook with it, the better the seasoning will become.

After each use, clean the pan with hot water and a gentle brush or sponge. Avoid using harsh dish soap or abrasive scouring pads, as they can strip the seasoning.

If you notice food sticking to the pan or the seasoning seems weak, it’s time to re-season. Simply repeat steps 2 to 6.

Seasoning a carbon steel skillet on a gas burner

Benefits of a Well-Seasoned Carbon Steel Pan

A well-seasoned carbon steel pan offers several valuable advantages:

  1. Non-Stick Surface: The seasoning creates a naturally non-stick surface, making cooking and cleaning easier while requiring less oil or fat.
  2. Improved Flavour: Seasoning enhances the flavour of foods cooked in the pan, as it imparts a subtle, smoky depth to dishes over time.
  3. Even Heating: Seasoned pans distribute heat evenly, reducing the risk of hot spots and ensuring consistent cooking results.
  4. Resistance to Rust: A well-seasoned pan is less prone to rust, making it more durable and long-lasting.
  5. Low Maintenance: Properly seasoned pans need relatively low maintenance, requiring minimal cleaning effort and care.
  6. Environmentally Friendly: A seasoned pan becomes more non-stick with time, reducing the need for disposable cooking sprays or excess oil.
  7. Enhanced Aesthetics: A darkened patina develops with seasoning, enhancing the pan’s appearance.

Seasoning is an ongoing process; with regular use and proper care, your carbon steel pan’s non-stick surface will improve over time.
Seasoning carbon steel cookware is an essential exercise that not only ensures better cooking results but will also prolong the life of your pan.

how to season a carbon steel pan

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