One of the great things about cast iron cookware is how long it lasts. However, as with all good things, it needs a bit of love and care sometimes. If cast iron isn’t cleaned properly and kept well-seasoned, it can rust and become very unappealing to cook with.
Here are two methods for seasoning your cast iron pans, skillets, or pots. Use these to make your cookware last for generations.
Why season your cast iron cookware?
The “seasoning” on your cast iron pot is just a fancy name for a layer of oil which is baked into it. Seasoning your cast iron creates an easy-release cooking surface. It also prevents your cast iron pan from rusting. To protect your cast iron, you should season it regularly. Luckily, this can be done in 30 minutes or less of active time (under 2 hours total)
When should you season your cast iron?
Cast iron usually comes pre-seasoned, so you don’t need to do anything at first. However, many people like to season new pots frequently in the beginning to build up the seasoning layer even more.
When you care for and clean your pot properly, your seasoning layer will naturally develop and deepen over time. Well-seasoned cast iron has that classic black patina. To keep your pot in good shape, you’ll want to re-season it any time the seasoning layer is damaged or appears uneven.
The seasoning layer can be damaged by improper cleaning. However, there’s also a chance it can be affected simply by cooking with highly acidic foods (like lots of tomatoes). If you think seasoning is needed, go ahead and do it. Seasoning your cast iron will never damage it.
What materials do you need to season a cast iron pot?
- The cast iron cookware you want seasoned
- Paper towels or a lint-free cloth
- Vegetable oil (or any high-smoke-point oil)
- Oven or stove
- Oven mitt
- Aluminum foil
Method 1: How to season your cast iron skillet using a stovetop
This method will take you about 30 minutes of active time, since the process needs to be repeated several times before your skillet will be well-seasoned.
- Heat your cast iron cookware over medium-high heat.
- Using tongs, dip a paper towel or clean cloth into 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Coat the entire cookware with oil until it smokes and no oil residue can be seen
- Let the cast iron pan cool slightly.
- Repeat steps 2-4. You should repeat the steps 3-5 times to ensure your pan is well-seasoned
Method 2: How to season your cast iron pan using an oven
This method has the benefit of being mostly hands-off. It will take about 1.5 hours total, but only about 5 minutes of active time is required.
- Preheat your oven to 500°F or 260°C.
- Coat the entire cast iron pot (or skillet) with vegetable oil.
- Place your cast iron in the oven’s center rack.
- Place aluminum foil below the rack to catch any oil drips.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Turn off the heat and let the cast iron pot cool completely before removing it from the oven.
- Once your cast iron cookware is completely cooled, you can use it or store it.