Why You Need to "Season" Your Cast Iron - Home & Texture
Kitchen Seasoning Cast Iron

This Is How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet and Why It's So Important

Master this must-know kitchen skill to enjoy long-lasting cookware and flavorful dishes.

January 26, 2024 at 7:36 AM PST

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is a crucial step in unlocking its full potential and ensuring its longevity. This age-old culinary practice goes beyond mere kitchen tradition—it’s a fundamental technique that transforms a simple cooking tool into a powerhouse of flavor and versatility. It’s important to know the secrets to achieving that perfect non-stick surface, enhancing your dishes, and embracing the timeless allure of a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Here’s how.

What is seasoning and why is it important?

Seasoning is not about adding salt and pepper to your skillet. Rather, the term refers to the process of creating a natural, non-stick cooking surface by coating the cast iron with oil. This process helps prevent food from sticking to the pan and creates the foundation for adding unique flavor to your dishes.

Photo credit: Cathal Mac an Bheatha

1. Prevents Rusting

Cast iron is a material that is prone to rust when it comes into contact with moisture. By seasoning your skillet, you create a protective layer on its surface. This layer acts as a barrier, preventing moisture from reaching the iron and causing rust. Just following this simple step can significantly extend the lifespan of your cast iron cookware.

2. Enhances Flavor

It sounds a little odd, but trust me! When you season the skillet, the oil used in the process becomes baked onto the surface. Over time, this infused oil adds a subtle depth of flavor to your food. It’s like having a secret ingredient that makes your meals even more delicious and unique.

3. Non-Stick Cooking

The seasoning process creates a smooth and naturally non-stick cooking surface. This means you can cook a wide range of dishes with ease, from pancakes and eggs to stir-fries and meats, without worrying about food sticking to the pan. The non-stick quality of a seasoned cast iron skillet also allows you to use less oil in your cooking, making your meals healthier without sacrificing flavor.

Brussel sprouts in cast iron
Photography Credit: Sebastian Coman

How To Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

The process itself is fairly simple and just requires a few items you likely already have on hand.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

  • Your cast iron skillet
  • Cooking oil (preferably one that has a high smoke point, like vegetable oil or flaxseed oil)
  • Paper towels
  • Oven mitts

Step 2: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the oven rack below the skillet to catch any potential drips during the seasoning process.

Step 3: Clean Your Skillet

If your skillet is brand new, it’s a good idea to wash it with warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any manufacturing residue. For older skillets, a quick rinse and thorough drying will suffice. Make sure you dry it completely!

Step 4: Apply Oil

Using a paper towel or a clean cloth, apply a thin layer of your chosen cooking oil to the entire skillet, both inside and out. Make sure to coat all surfaces evenly, including the handle.

Photo credit: Anshu A

Step 5: Bake

Place your oiled cast iron skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack. This positioning keeps any excess oil from dripping away during the seasoning process. Let the skillet bake for one hour.

Step 6: Cool and Repeat

After the hour has passed, turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool inside. Once it’s cool to the touch, repeat the oiling and baking process two to three more times. Each cycle of oiling and baking helps build up the seasoning, resulting in a well-seasoned skillet.



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