Cast Iron

How to Season Cast Iron

May 24, 2012

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, Amanda shows us how to season a cast iron pan.

Cast Iron Pan

A cast iron pan is a trusty companion for numerous kitchen tasks -- evenly distributed heat and a well-seasoned surface will take you far in your cooking. If you treat a cast iron pan right, it'll last a lifetime (or two, or three). Treating it right means seasoning it, and maintaining that naturally nonstick coating. Here, Amanda shows us exactly how to do that. 

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Do you have any other tips for caring for cast iron? 

   

Today's video was shot by Alex Lisowski, and edited by Kyle Orosz. Photos by Nicole Franzen.

60 Comments

sysrion June 6, 2015
In addition to brewing, I enjoy cooking.<br />But I often burn my pans.Yesterday I found a SySrion Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber was rather helpful. <br />I tried a good way by using a Iron Steel Cloth.Leaving them as new as the first time you bought them and zero scratches! U all should have a look.Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/SySrion-cast-iron-Cleaner-Stainless-Steel-Chainmail-Scrubber/dp/B00XMMKPI0/<br />
 
Bob R. April 27, 2015
April, how about that cornbread recipe?
 
April G. April 27, 2015
My grandmother used to reseason her skillets by making cornbread in them. Worked like a charm, never had a pan go rusty.
 
David C. February 21, 2015
The how to on seasoning cast iron pans is right on...The only thing I would add is do the whole process two or three times; you will never regret that extra time spent perfecting your pans.
 
Melissa M. February 13, 2015
I so appreciate this video. No one would ever tell me the actual steps require to season a cast iron skillet. Thanks for taking the mysticism out of this process and giving us plain old smarts.
 
Rosalie C. December 12, 2014
I like coconut oil for seasoning my cast iron pans.<br />
 
foodie-pretense December 12, 2014
Coconut oil is ~90% saturated fat, making it one of the most highly saturated edible fats. The seasoning process is one of polymerization wherein the unsaturated fats become saturated (think of a bottle of vegetable oil going rancid). I'm not positive, but I would think that coconut oil is probably one of the less appropriate fats for seasoning from both a chemistry and cost standpoint.<br /><br />References:<br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasoning_%28cookware%29<br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drying_oil<br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_oil#Composition_and_comparison
 
jacqueline October 10, 2014
I found an old cast iron frying pan at a garage sale, it was very rusty and dirty.<br />I put it in the oven on my cleaning cycle,it came out great, I then reseasoned it,<br />Jackie
 
Bob R. March 9, 2014
I always used bacon grease/fat (not beef) it always worked great for me. but I wasn't doing the outside. I will try this now.
 
Sujatha March 9, 2014
I've started using a silicone basting brush to brush my skillet w/ oil to season. It distributes the oil evenly, minimizes the amt of oil used (prevents pooling), and avoids the biggest problem I've had w/ seasoning: getting lint stuck in the seasoning layer from the paper towel often used for this purpose. Started using cast iron this year after getting rid of questionable non-stick pans & I've been happy with it.
 
Carrie January 12, 2014
Do you have to season the cast iron pan after each washing? I've never had one but would like to buy a new one and start now.
 
Bob R. March 9, 2014
No, when it hasn't been used, or for some reason is it gets rank which is usually unlikely, or if you leave it on a hot burner and burn off the seasoning.
 
theyearinfood October 12, 2012
I have had such bad luck with seasoning cast iron. I followed the instructions above but I have an uneven, splotchy seasoning now. This has happened before. Thoughts anyone?
 
Amanda H. October 12, 2012
Sorry to hear this -- did the oil pool in the pan? Just wondering if this may have contributed to the unevenness?
 
foodie-pretense October 13, 2012
My guess would be too much oil. You should barely be able to tell there's a fresh layer of oil applied to the pan when you heat it.
 
theyearinfood October 17, 2012
Thanks, both of you! I don't know whether the oil pooled, since the pans were inverted in my oven, but I may have added too much oil - you're both hinting at a similar situation. I will keep trying, and next time with a much more conservative coating of oil.
 
LarainBK October 3, 2012
Hey Amanda, Great video. I have a question about storing my cast iron skillet. After I clean it, do I have to coat it with oil to store it or can I just leave it dry? <br /> <br />Thanks!
 
Amanda H. October 8, 2012
Thanks -- I always coat it with oil before storing it. Just a little bit. Keeps it in good shape for the next time you use it.
 
LarainBK October 3, 2012
Hey Amanda, <br /> <br />Great video, but I have a question about storing the pan. After you clean the skillet do you have to coat it in oil to store it? Thanks!
 
The I. June 27, 2012
First, this is such a useful and practical Food52 feature. This is probably a silly question, but once I've seasoned the pan will I be able to fry eggs, or cook say bacon, sausages or pancakes in it? I'm pondering buying a pan, but I'm not sure how useful it will be - they're not commonplace in England. Thanks!
 
Amanda H. June 29, 2012
Yes, you most certainly can use it for eggs, bacon, sausages, and pancakes -- all of them! Once the pan is seasoned, each of these will cook so much better. Good luck!
 
pattette June 12, 2012
Finally! I've saved at least three or four articles on cast iron seasoning, but this is the first time I have put a how-to to use. It was simple and a lot less cumbersome to apply than most other guides. <br /> <br />My skillet and grill pans are happily seasoned and ready for lots of delicious messes. Thanks!
 
Amanda H. June 13, 2012
Thanks for the follow-up! Glad to have a success story!
 
chocbird09 June 5, 2012
Thanks for the video! I recently discovered your site and fell in love completely :) <br /> <br />I was recently given a new cast iron pan, since the handle from my old, truly loved one (30+ yrs old, from my parents), that was loose for quite some time, completely broke off. It wasn't any brand-name pan, since they were inaccessible then (and brand new are ridiculously expensive now, not to mention I've never seen a used one in a thrift store or on an auction), and the one I was given now isn't either. I attempted to repair it, but well... Let's just say I think it needs help from a pro. Until then, the new one should be fine, except for one thing: it has an enameled handle. <br /> <br />So finally, my question: can I rub oil as shown (rapeseed/canola, in my case) on the non-enameled parts and just stick the pan in the oven, or will it harm the enamel/cause something harmful to fume? I get it that enameled pots and pans don't have to (can't?) be seasoned, but can I put in the oven? I have two or three such pots, but not even once thought of it. <br /> <br />Thank you for your help :)
 
Amanda H. June 5, 2012
The enameled handle should be fine in the oven. Le Creuset pots are just enameled cast iron and they are completely oven safe. Either way, keep an eye on it -- I'd check it every 10 minutes just to be sure it's doing ok. Hope the new pan works out!
 
chocbird09 June 7, 2012
I seasoned the pan yesterday evening, then left it in the oven overnight to cool. Everything was fine, nothing was burnt in the process :) I took out the pan this morning, but noticed it still had some metallic, un-seasoned (I guess) spots, so I did a second round. Now it's evenly coated. I just can't wait to cook in it :)
 
Amanda H. June 7, 2012
Glad it's all set!
 
Sara H. June 3, 2012
Ok, girlfriend. I'm obsessed with my cast iron skillet and your website, but I didn't realize that I needed to season it after the first time until I watched your video this morning. I followed your directions, it's in the oven now, covered in canola oil, and it's smoking like a mother. What did I do wrong???
 
Amanda H. June 3, 2012
Your oven may run hot -- how long has it been in the oven? First turn down the heat to 350 degrees. Is the oil pooling? If so, mop it up using paper towel -- remove the pan from the oven to do this and wear an oven mitt, because the oil will be extremely hot. Please report back and let me know how things are going.
 
Sara H. June 3, 2012
The smoking seems to have subsided, phew. No pooling oil, on the bottom of the pan or on the foil on the rack underneath. It's been in there about 45 minutes. I turned down the heat just to be safe, but maybe it was just dirty? I've been using it consistently for about 3 years. Thank you so much for your reply! (Oh and BTW you were fab when you spoke in Seattle, I was there. :))
 
Amanda H. June 3, 2012
Glad the smoke subsided. While you were dealing with your pan, I had a grease fire in my oven! Strange coincidence. Still not sure why your pan smoked -- could have been residue from past cooking burning off. <br /> <br />Also, thanks for coming to my talk in Seattle!
 
placidplaid May 30, 2012
Cooks Illustrated has a very good way to do this but with flax seed oil. It lasts far far longer than vegetable or other oils. This procedure seems to last a whole lot longer than any other I've tried. If anyone is interested I will post this from the February 2011 magazine. Apparently though it has caused quite a blog stir!
 
Panfusine May 30, 2012
I remember how Cast iron was cleaned using ash and sand and coconut fibers waay back in my grandmothers home. The fibres are tough enough to remove grease w/o scratcing off the seasoning. I'm positive this is still done in the villages.
 
Amanda H. May 30, 2012
Very cool. When my husband and I were in Sri Lanka we ate pittu, a steamed coconut and rice dish, and it comes out of the steamer shaped like a log and they cut it using a coconut fiber. Loved this detail. Probably has many uses.
 
mcs3000 May 26, 2012
GREAT video + series. Love my cast-iron pans.