A cast-iron pan or skillet can be your best friend in the kitchen, but it requires extra attention. Known as the first “non-stick” skillet, cast iron utensils are used by people worldwide. And since they are not chemically treated, they require some extra help, unlike your Teflon cookware. Today I will teach you how to season cast iron skillets properly and the best oils/fats to use to season them.
With so many options for oils out there, starting from olive oil to coconut oil, the possibilities are endless. So it is normal to get confused when choosing the best oil for seasoning your pan.
I shall help you narrow down the list.
What to Consider While Choosing Oil for Seasoning
Neutral oils: Oils that have mild and low flavor. Examples: canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc.
High smoke point oils: Oils that start smoking or burning at high temperatures. Example: coconut oil, palm oil, corn oil, etc.
Cheap and inexpensive oils: Budget-friendly oils.
Things to Avoid:
× Flavored oils: Oils made from nuts are usually flavored oils: Peanut oil, almond oil, etc.
× Low smoke point oils: Never use oils with low smoke points.
× Infused oils: Infused oils are simply a waste when it comes to seasoning and should be left for cooking
Always choose neutral oils and oils with high smoke points. And if you are on a budget, go for the cheaper options as long as they are neutral and have high smoke points.
Considering those facts, I came up with a top 5; are Seasoning sprays, Canola oil, Vegetable oil, Flaxseed oil, and, lastly, Grapeseed oil.
These oils had very few differences, but overall I found Grapeseed oil to be the best as it is cheap, versatile, readily available, and yes, it gets the job done perfectly.
Now you might be wondering, are cast iron products worth all the hassle? Let me explain.
To begin with, let us first see what seasoning cast iron skillet means.
What Does Seasoning Mean in Cast Iron Skillets?
“Seasoning cast iron skillets” in simple terms means adding a thin layer of oil or fat on the surface of cast iron cookware to make them non-stick and prevent rust and oxidation. In the case of cast iron utensils or Dutch ovens, the seasoning has nothing to do with salt and pepper.
Cast iron skillets are made from pure iron and carbon and are molded into a skillet or pan. They have a very porous surface, and as a result, they have small gaps and bumps on the surface. These may not be visible to the naked human eyes, but it is a very uneven surface.
To fill up these uneven cooking surfaces, they are seasoned with oils. The oil gets inside these uneven parts, creates a smooth surface, and bonds with the cast iron cookware. That is why cast iron skillets get smoother over time, and the more you use them.
Now let us learn how to season cast iron and the seasoning process.
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How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet or Dutch Oven?
First of all, you need to wash and clean your utensil.
How to Clean Cast Iron?
To clean it, follow these simple steps:
- Scrub the pan with steel wool or scrubbers.
- Add water or dish wash to remove dirt or foreign matter further.
- Rinse it off.
- Towel dry it.
- Heat it on the stovetop to further remove any water.
- Add a small amount of oil to it.
- Rub the oil all over it and buff it.
- Make sure to rub out any droplets that might have formed.
Your pan or skillet is now ready for seasoning.
Tip : You can follow the same steps for any cast iron products. Remember to wash, scrub and oil the handles as well.
Never leave even the tiniest bit of water behind as it can cause rusting and oxidation.
How to Season Cast Iron Pans or Skillets?
To season your cast iron utensils, follow these steps:
- Clean the utensil.
- Oil and buff it.
- Add small amounts of oil, rub it with a paper towel, and keep buffing it and adding more oil. Make sure it’s not dripping in oil.
- Heat it in the over.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and place the oiled cast iron utensil upside down. It will help the excess oil drip off. After 10 minutes, take it out and carefully wipe off any extra oil, raise the temperature from 400 degrees C up to 450 degrees and let it bake for an hour.
- Take it out and let it cool down.
- It is ready to cook in!
Tip : After it has cooled down, you can repeat step 2 to add another layer. It can be repeated up to 4 times.
In steps 3 and 4, remember the pan will be VERY HOT. So take care when taking it out of the oven. ALWAYS wear heatproof gloves or oven mitts.
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Why Use Cast Iron? Is It Worth It?
The short answer: Yes.
Like I said earlier, cast iron utensils will become your favorite cooking utensil once you start using them.
A few benefits of using cast iron are:
- Cast iron products are some of the most common knives handed down and used generation after generation. They will never break. You may think I am exaggerating, but in reality, I am not. They are durable and will outlast all your other utensils.
- Cooks evenly.
- Can be used on stovetops, open fires, ovens, etc.
- It is environmentally friendly and reduces your carbon footprint.
- Adds iron to your food.
So I would suggest you get yourself a cast iron utensil if you don’t already have one. It will change your life for the better and allow you to cook tasty and Instagram-worthy dishes.
Eva M. Smith is the owner of this website. She is a 4 year old mother of two and a professional chef. Eva loves to cook for her family, but being a working mom has a lot of challenges. From squeezing in time to do the groceries to make three meals for the day. Eva knows how challenging cooking can be without a kitchen gameplan.
That’s why she perfected techniques of preserving staple ingredients and several foods so that you have something pre-cooked or pre-baked to use for an array of meals. And they do not come short in flavor! And she does not want to sacrifice flavor with convenience. That’s why she is the best person to ask.