Cast iron skillet--what am I doing wrong?

I've seasoned my pan(s) several times and the food still sticks. What am I missing. BTW---I'm cooking eggs (sunny side up) and chicken :) Thank you!!!



bamcnamara October 20, 2013
Thank you everyone for your answers!!!! This question certainly sparked a lot of conversation. I've been taking all the advice and I've cooked twice in both my pans this week with great success. I am def going to keep my eyes peeled for an old pan! I love this site :)
Pegeen October 17, 2013
Such great information in all these posts. I was wondering if anyone has a specific preference on when they use cast iron vs metal or non-stick. Only for certain dishes? Or just because you have one and are attached to it? Thanks
sfmiller October 17, 2013
Old cast-iron skillets were polished on the inside to get that smooth surface, and subsequent seasoning made them even smoother. Modern cast iron generally isn't polished, hence the rough cooking surface. It smooths out somewhat with seasoning, but you'll never get that glass-smooth surface that you do with old cast iron.

You can polish new cast iron yourself with sandpaper intended for use on metals--a pretty big job by hand but less so if you use an electric drill with a sanding disk. Just be aware that if you do that to a preseasoned piece like a Lodge Logic, you'll remove the preseasoning in the process.

Better, I think, to just buy old cast iron at a flea market or junk shop or on Craigslist or eBay.
pierino October 17, 2013
Excellent point sfmiller. The 100 year old skillet I picked up cost me only $17 at an antique store and it outperforms my Lodge ones.
dymnyno October 17, 2013
Polishing a new cast iron pan with sandpaper or electric sanding disk?? This really takes "seasoning" cast iron to a new level. (but I'm going to give it a try on that new Borough Furnace pan)
dymnyno October 17, 2013
I have noticed that some cast iron pans have a smoother surface than others . I just bough a Borough cast iron pan which is gorgeous, but the surface is pretty rough and things stick to the bottom which not a problem with many of my other cast iron pans.
pierino October 17, 2013
Speaking to dymnyno's point I've had similar experiences with cast iron. But last year I picked up a cast iron skillet that is 100 years old and was beautifully maintained. It's smooth as hell.
pierino October 16, 2013
For cleaning I use both salt first, followed by soapy water and then burn it dry on the gas range. You scrub but you don't "scour". Bacon is outstanding for adding the "seasoning" to the pan. This may sound like heresy but for eggs, well I cook them separately in a non-stick pan with butter and use no metal implements.
catalinalacruz October 16, 2013
Soap seems to strip surface oil from the pan, therefore, food sticks. I use very hot water when I clean my cast iron pans, dry over a low burner on the stove, and oil again while it stays on the stove a few minutes longer to "set" the new oil coating. Ceeteebee is right -- use the pan occasionally for fatty cooking. With enough oil in the pan, eggs will not stick. I have been treating my pans like this for over 20 years and they are as good as ever.
ATG117 October 16, 2013
Thanks! I am aware of the salt technique, but still wondered why this was a safe method for cleaning. Don't get me wrong, I know how commonly used and well loved cast iron is...
ceeteebee October 15, 2013
ATG117 - you do clean a cast iron pan, just not with soap. After cooking with it, use coarse salt to remove any stubborn stuck food, the pan back on the range on med-low, and warm it up. The heat basically resterilizes the pan, and locks in the seasoning from whatever you just cooked. I also usually wipe a very tiny amount of oil on the pan after taking it off the heat. This is, of course, just how I clean my pans--there are a lot of different variations of the scrub/reheat/re-oil method to be found. Lodge's website also has some good info on cast-iron cleaning in their use and care section.
ATG117 October 15, 2013
What is it about cast iron that makes it okay not to clean it? I don't use mine enough, partly because I hate the idea of putting away a non-soaped, cleans and dried pan.
Steph October 14, 2013
I am a naughty cast iron user- sometimes I clean it with soap, gasp! But my eggs never stick because I use LOTS of butter. :)
msmely October 14, 2013
Eggs have a habit of sticking to any pan if the heat that you're using is too high without enough oil in the pan. Make sure your pan is warm and the oil is warm before adding your eggs, and like Meghann says, don't use a super high heat. Eggs are best cooked at lower heat than most people are used to, and because your cast iron pan is a great conductor of heat you won't need to use much more than medium or medium-high.
ceeteebee October 14, 2013
In addition to everything said above, I've also found that before trying to cook eggs it helps to cook foods with higher fat content (bacon, beef/lamb, etc.) in the pan at least once or twice. They seem to help the pan reach the non-stick level more than other foods. Also, I found this food52 video very helpful when I inherited my husband's great-grandmother's pans and needed to clean and reseason them:

Voted the Best Reply!

petitbleu October 14, 2013
How often do you use your cast iron? Use it often, and for a variety of things, and make sure it's always well-oiled. After using it, wipe it out rather than washing it. If it's really dirty, pour salt into it and scrub it (dry). I think the real trick to cast iron is just using it all the time. As you use it, the seasoning will build up on it and eggs are less likely to stick.
susan G. October 13, 2013
When I cook eggs in cast iron, they do not stick... Good luck -- the suggestions from Meghann are good.
Meghann C. October 13, 2013
Eggs are pretty much always going to stick. That's just what they do. You should only ever wipe out the skillet to clean it and re-oil it every time you use it. Never use it on super-high heat,., and make sure it's good and hot and lubed up before putting food in it. If you already do all of that, then I have no idea!
Shawn G. December 13, 2016
Eggs should not stick if seasoned. One of my cast iron pans the eggs slide around in. It was sanded and seasoned 4 times with Flax Oil. The other sanded and seasoned only twice eggs stick. Will need a few more seasonings
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