Find a rusty old gem of a cast iron skillet? Here’s how to season a cast iron pan so you can put it into glorious use on your stovetop!
Season a Cast Iron Pan in 4 Easy Steps
I first jumped on the cast iron train more than a decade ago—and a big part of that was learning about how to season a cast iron pan properly.
Back when I was a kid, I remember we had some old cast iron pans we didn’t use. They were rusty things and were eventually consigned to lying alongside the carport. Now, I wish I could go back in time and save them. All but two of the cast iron pans I now own were originally discovered in antique shops and thrift stores … then reclaimed through cleaning and seasoning.
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When I was younger, I never thought all that much about cookware, other than to quit using aluminum and Teflon in favor of stainless steel. I used to have some really nice stainless pans. No more. Now I’m a hard-core cast iron pan user—especially for frying.
Once you’ve cooked on a well-seasoned cast iron pan, you’ll never want to go back to weird, nonstick surfaces and stainless scorch-fests.
To show you how I season a cast iron pan, I created a video on how I clean up and season cast iron quickly and easily with just some steel wool, oil, and my oven. Check it out…
Seasoning cast iron well can convert an old pan from being a pain to cook on, to being a delightful surface.
How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Pan
Here’s a quick overview of the steps I follow to prepare the pan in the video:
Step #1—Clean Up the Cast Iron
A metal brush can work for this step, but I like good old steel wool. I’ve also sanded cast iron smooth with some light sandpaper. The idea is just to get the rust and junk off your pan so you can start fresh.
Step #2—Wash the Pan
Wash any gunk and metal filings from the pans with simple dish soap and water, then towel dry your pan thoroughly.
Step #3—Oil the Pan
My favorite oils for seasoning cast iron are lard and tallow. I think the saturated fat does a nicer job than just vegetable oil. Coconut oil works, too, but if you don’t have any of those three, just use whatever cooking oil you have lying around in your pantry.
Step #4—Bake the Pan at 500°F
Some directions will tell you to cure cast iron at 350°F. This has never, ever worked well for me. When you season the cast iron pan at 500°F, it really bakes that oil coating into the iron and gives the cast iron a glossy, solid black surface.
Follow these 4 steps when you season a cast iron pan, and you’ll be transported into a new realm of sauté bliss. (And, for more on everyday cleaning and maintenance of your cast iron, check out the tips in the comments below!)
What Do You Think?
What’s your favorite way to season a cast iron pan? Let us know in the comments below!
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David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.