How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

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How to Season and Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is a process that creates a non-stick surface, prevents rust and enhances the flavor of your dishes. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to season a cast iron skillet:

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet With Oil

Step 1: Clean the Skillet

If your cast iron skillet is new, start by washing it with warm water and mild dish soap. For a new skillet, using a detergent is fine as long as you avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive scouring pads.

For a used skillet, scrub it with a stiff brush, chain mail scrubber or steel wool to remove any food residue or rust. Rinse the skillet thoroughly and dry it with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel (see below for detailed instructions).

Step 2: Preheat Your Oven

Preheat your oven to between 350°F (175°C) and 450°F (230°C). The specific temperature you choose depends on the oil you’re using (higher temperatures for flaxseed oil, lower for others).

Step 3: Apply a Thin Layer of Oil

Pour a small amount of your chosen cooking oil (usually about a teaspoonful) into the skillet.

Use a paper towel or a cloth to spread the oil evenly all over the skillet, including the inside, outside and handle. Make sure to coat your cast iron skillet with a very thin layer of oil; excess oil can lead to a sticky surface.

Step 4: Remove Excess Oil

seasoning a cast iron skillet
Removing excess oil

After applying the oil, use a clean paper towel or cloth to wipe off any excess. The skillet should appear almost dry.

Step 5: Place in the Oven

Place a baking tray or a sheet of aluminium foil on the bottom rack of your oven to catch any drips. Put the oiled skillet upside down on the upper oven rack to allow any excess oil to drip away.

Step 6: Bake the Skillet

seasoning cast iron skillet in oven
Seasoning a cast iron skillet in the oven

Bake the skillet in the preheated oven for about 1 to 1.5 hours. This heating process will polymerize the oil, creating a smooth, non-stick surface.

Keep an eye on the skillet during this time to ensure that it doesn’t smoke excessively. If it does, reduce the oven temperature slightly.

Step 7: Cool and Repeat (Optional)

Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool inside. It’s normal for a skillet to appear dark and glossy after this process. You can repeat the seasoning process 2-3 times to build up a better seasoning layer. However, if you use your skillet regularly, the seasoning should improve naturally.

Step 8: Store the Skillet

Once the skillet has cooled completely, it’s ready for use or storage.
Store your cast iron skillet in a cool, dry place.

Read also: 12 Best Ways to Use Cast Iron Cookware

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet: Rinse and Repeat

Regular use and proper cleaning after each use will help maintain and improve the seasoning on your cast iron skillet over time. If it starts to lose its non-stick properties or develops rust spots, simply repeat the seasoning process to restore its performance.

how to season a cast iron skillet
A Cast Iron Seasoning Kit
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

How to clean a cast iron skillet without stripping away its seasoning? This is a frequently-asked question and we have the answer for you. To retain the seasoning on your skillet, you have to clean it the right way.

Sometimes you’ll have oil or fat with food particles stuck on your skillet, other times it might be left with some stubborn residue from eggs or baked goods. Your first thought might be to use some soapy water to scrub off the unwanted residue. However, this may remove much of the seasoning, and you’ll want to avoid having to re-season after every use.

The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is to do so while it is still hot, before the residue has time to cool and become really stuck on. Even if it has already cooled down, it should still be easy to clean.

Cleaning Your Skillet

The first step is to heat your skillet on a burner on medium heat. If the skillet only has fat or oil residue, heat it on its own. If there is also stuck-on food residue, pour in some hot water, enough to cover the solied area; wait until the water starts to simmer, then turn off the heat. You should see the residue beginning to loosen.

Once the water is cool enough to touch, gently brush the skillet with a stiff brush or cast iron scrubber to loosen the residue, then discard the water. Do not use any soap.

Now rinse the skillet with WARM water to remove any remaining greasiness and wipe the inside with a washcloth. The inside of your skillet should still have a slight shine after rinsing, indicating that your seasoning is intact.

To remove badly stuck food residue

There might be times when you have really stubborn food residue that does not come off with the method described above. In these cases, you can use a dough scraper to scrape away the stubborn food residue. Plastic scrapers are popular but sometimes tend to warp, especially when the skillet is warm. To avoid this, use a wooden dough scraper instead. After scraping, rinse the skillet under hot water and dry it immediately.

Using a cast iron scraper cleaner
Using a dough scraper
rinsing a cast iron skillet
Rinsing with hot water
drying a cast iron skillet
Drying with a clean cloth

To summarise: heat, some hot water and a scraper or stiff brush should be all you need to clean a cast iron skillet without damaging its seasoning.

See our Cast Iron Cookware Buying Guide

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