How-To: Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Food, How-To
season a cast iron skillet
season a cast iron skillet

Photo: Leigh Loftus

If there is one thing every cook, beginner to advanced, should have in their kitchen, it’s a cast iron skillet. It’s one of my most used kitchen tools and is as perfect for stovetop cooking or frying as it is for baking a batch of brownies or a skillet chocolate chip cookie. 

IGT_81514_6400You can use a cast iron skillet for most anything as long as you take the time to maintain it and keep it in good condition. Before you begin to use it, you must “season” your cast-iron skillet, which makes it super easy to clean. You can take your cast iron from stovetop to oven because it can withstand the super-high temperatures.

How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

To season a cast iron skillet, you need a few materials that you probably already have in your kitchen: dish soap, a sponge or stiff dishwashing brush, a kitchen towel (paper towels will work too) and vegetable oil or shortening. I’ve used olive oil for this step, but there is no reason to use your highest quality, expensive oils here. Store brand shortening or vegetable oil will do just fine.

Step 2: Preheat Your Oven

While your oven is preheating to 325 degrees F, wash your skillet with warm, soapy water and a brush or sponge.  In general, you shouldn’t use dish soap on cast iron, but prior to seasoning, it’s fine. Rinse the soap off and then thoroughly dry the skillet.

Step 3: Season Your Skillet

Using your cloth or paper towel, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or melted shortening to both the inside and outside of the skillet. What this does is create a non-stick coating on the skillet, as you’d get if you purchased a “non-stick” skillet from the 5. Place the skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack, above a sheet of aluminum foil to catch any drips.

Step 4: Bake Your Skillet

Bake the inverted skillet for one hour. Turn off the heat and allow to the skillet to cool completely before removing from oven.

Step 5: Clean Properly After Use

To keep your skillet from rusting or fading, clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. Avoid soaking the pan or leaving it in the sink, which will cause it to prematurely rust. Wash your pain with to water and a sponge or stiff brush; soap and dishwashing liquid may strip the seasoning from the pan. To remove stuck on food, use a paste of salt and water. Dry thoroughly using a towel or paper towel.  As your skillet begins to dull, buff it with a light coat of vegetable oil or shortening and heat over low heat on the stovetop until dry.

Step 6: Re-Season as Needed

You’ll know your skillet is seasoned when it appears smooth and shiny. A properly seasoned skillet is non-stick. Once your skillet appears dull or begins to rust, it’s time to season your skillet again.

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1 Comment

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    Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie - In Good Taste
    October 14, 2014 at 12:06 am

    […] Which brings us to another point, if you don’t have an oven safe skillet it’s completely worth buying one for this single purpose. Cast iron skillets only run about $30 from your average kitchen store and they’re well worth the investment if you treat your cast iron skillet properly. […]

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