How To Season Cast Iron Cookware To Cook Evenly & Fast

Written by: Kaushik Jethva

Last Updated: January 31, 2023

seasoned cast iron cookware
A seasoned cast iron cookware on a table with some cooking ingredients.

There’s nothing better than cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware is versatile, sturdy, and strong. Cast iron cookware can be your alternative to non-stick cookware if you know how to season a cast iron cookware. Everything from perfectly fried chicken and lasagna to fluffy Dutch baby pancakes and sausage pasta can be cooked in cast iron.

From going over to seasoning, cleaning, and storing your cast iron, we will teach you everything you need to learn about caring for cast iron and making it look brand new.

1What is seasoning?

During the seasoning process, carbonized oil is baked onto the top of your cookware, which acts as a protective layer to prevent rusting. Applying a protective coating to cast iron and carbon steel pans and skillets is necessary. When you season the cast iron surface, you create a thin layer of carbonized fat or oil that makes it more water-resistant and prevents food from sticking. The combination of water, cooking, moisture, and exposure to oxygen can cause cast iron to rust without this protective coating. Seasoning your cast iron skillet maintains its natural, easy-release finish during cooking and cleaning. When cast iron cookware is well-seasoned, it has similar non-stick properties to non-stick cookware.

Most people need to learn how to season a cast iron pan correctly. They believe that seasoning takes a lot of time and effort. But if your cast iron is in bad shape, you can bring it back to life with these simple steps!

2How to season a cast iron pan?

In most cases, a new cast iron pan will come pre-seasoned up to some degrees, but it’s still an excellent idea to re-season it further.

Make sure your pan is clean and dry

cleaning a dirty cast iron pan
Cleaning a dirty cast iron pan

Before you begin to season your entire pan, if you see your pan has a surface of rust, scrape off the pan with a ball of steel wool and bring it down to the raw metal. For an easy experience, you can sprinkle some kosher salt on the rust patch. Just scrub around the salt in a circular motion with the steel wool. You will eventually notice the salt starts changing its color from white to rust color. Scrubbing in this manner will also eliminate debris on the bottom of the pan.

Now, it’s time to wash the pan in soapy water to ensure it is free from any food particles. Scrub the pan thoroughly in hot water mixed with soap and clean it well. After you dry the pan with a towel, some hardened droplets of water may remain. To drive off any remaining water, put the pan on a stovetop flame for 1-2 minutes on low heat.

The oiling and heating process

oiling and heating cast iron cookware
Oiling and heating a cast iron cookware while seasoning.

Once your pan is clean and dry, rub cooking oil all over your pan, inside and out, including the handles. You can use any oil, including vegetable oil, corn oil, or canola oil. Put a teaspoon of oil into the pan and rub it evenly across the surface with a paper towel. Flip the pan upside down and add additional oil if required. Be sure not to cover the pan with too much oil and remove any excess oil from the surface. Repeat the rubbing process until the solid layer of the pan is evenly coated with a thin layer of oil. The oil gets inside the porous surface of the pan and seals it up. This process is known as polymerization.

Polymerization is when the oil is heated at a high temperature while forming a slick, solid surface in our pan. It means that you are seasoning the pan with a non-stick coating.

It has been noted that flaxseed oil can produce a rapid layer of seasoning, but it tends to flake off over time. Also, you should avoid butter and unrefined coconut oil since they contain trace amounts of dairy solids and pulp that will burn your food.

Bake the pan inside the oven

baking the cast iron pan inside an oven
Baking a cast iron cookware inside a microwave oven,.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and bake the oiled pan for half an hour. It is crucial to reach the oil’s smoking point to trigger polymerization, which bonds the oil to the pan. The oven will effectively distribute the oil throughout the pan because it provides even heating rather than a stove. After the pan is oil baked for 45-60 minutes, you can turn off the oven and leave the pan to normalize inside the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Cool completely in the microwave oven

Now, remove the pan with the help of thick oven mitts and let it cool down naturally. Once again, buff it out with the oil all over. Finally, reheat the pan for another 30 minutes inside the oven. This process of oiling and heating should be repeated 3-4 times to build up a good base of seasoning.

Once you’re finished, let the new pan rest for a couple of minutes. We are now ready to cook with your seasoned cast iron pan.

3How to maintain a well-seasoned cast iron skillet

Cleaning a cast iron pan properly takes a little time and effort, but maintaining this highly regarded kitchen appliance is well worth it.

Clean your cast iron pan each time you use it

Rub a carborundum rust eraser to add a layer of re-seasoning to your cast iron pan. Then, while the cast iron is still warm but cool enough to handle, clean it with a stiff brush or plastic scrubber under running water. Use protective gloves if the water or pan is too hot.

Rinse thoroughly with water

After properly seasoning cast iron pans and cleaning them with water, use a sponge to scrub the cast iron. We do not recommend adding dish soap. However, it can remove the pre-seasoning of the pan.

Keep it dry all the time

Place the cast iron over low heat to allow water to evaporate from the cooking surface, then dry it thoroughly with a towel. For future use, you can coat the skillet’s surface with vegetable oil before storing it in a dry place.

4Wrapping Up

We hope these tips keep your pan in excellent condition for your next cooking adventure. The seasoning process and method work the same for any cookware made with cast iron. If you’ve seasoned your cast iron pan right, you will have a nice hard coating that can not easily be ruined by water and detergents! If you are looking to upgrade your existing kitchen, do not miss our list of 9 essential kitchen cookware to give your complete your kitchen for cooking any type of recipe.

FAQ's about Seasoning Cast Iron

How often do you season a cast iron skillet?

If you use your cast iron skillet regularly for cooking. You should season a cast iron skillet once in a month with regular use. If you see that your cast iron pan has started rusting, you need to oven-season it immediately. Read our step-wise guide to season your cast iron skillet properly.

You need to season your cast iron cookware at specific intervals. However, you should season your cast iron cookware if you feel that your cookware is losing its non-stick properties, losing its shine, or if the cookware has started rusting. Even the most heavily used cast-iron pans require re-seasoning occasionally. You can easily restore a rusty cast iron to its original smooth and glossy appearance with just a little effort. Keep reading our guide to know the best practice for seasoning your cast iron cookware.

If you do not season your cast iron, there are chances that your cast iron cookware may rust easily. Also, you may experience that the food you are cooking may start to stick with the cooking surface of your cookware.

While seasoning your cast iron cookware, always make sure that you use oil to season it. You can use any type like vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, or any cooking oil you use regularly. We do not recommend using butter or any dairy products to season your cast iron cookware since they contain trace amounts of dairy solids and pulp that will burn your food.

If your cast iron cookware feels sticky or if you feel the food has begin to stick with the cooking surface of the surface, its a sign that you have used too much oil while seasoning your cookware. To get rid of this, you can wipe the cookware with a paper towel and put the cookware inside the microwave for an hour. Let it cool for some time and you are ready to use it again!

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About This Article

Kaushik Jethva
Written by: Kaushik Jethva author

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Updated: January 31, 2023
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