How to Season Cast Iron Cookware


Cast iron is much beloved by serious chefs for its even heating and non-stick surface. And cast iron lasts nearly forever if you take care of it. Seasoning cast iron cookware is necessary to maintain its ongoing non-stick surface and to prevent the pot or pan from rusting. If seasoned correctly, your cast iron cookware can last a lifetime.

Part 1
Crusty Cast Iron Cookware

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

1
For crusty cast ironware that you inherited or picked up at a garage sale, this cookware may have some combination of rust and thick crackly black crud. It may look awful but rest assured that it can be restored fairly easily to good as new condition!

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

2
Run one cycle. Alternatively, place in a campfire or directly on a hot charcoal fire for 1/2 hour, and heat until it turns a dull red. The crust will be flaking, falling and turning to white ash. After allowing the cookware to cool a bit (to avoid cracking the cast iron), use the following steps.[1] If you have more rust than crust, try using steel wool to sand it off.[2]

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

3
Scrub using a scouring pad.[3] If you have purchased your cast iron cookware as new, then it will be coated in wax or an oily coating to prevent rust. This will need to be removed before seasoning so this step is essential. Soak in hot, soapy water for five minutes, then wash off the soap and air dry.

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

4
It helps to put the pan in the oven at 350F for a few minutes to make sure it's really dry. Oil needs to be able to soak into the metal for a good seasoning and––oil and water don't mix.

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

5
Over time, oils will make your pan sticky. Bacon fat is the best choice. Ensure that both sides of the lid are also coated.[4]

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

6
Heat for at least an hour to bake on a "seasoning" cover that will continue to protect the pan from rust and provide a stick-resistant surface. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or a large disposable foil roaster under the pan, on a lower rack or on the bottom of the oven, to catch drippings. Let cool to room temperature in the oven.

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

7
For best results, repeat steps three and four and five.

Crusty Cast Iron Cookware on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

8
Every time you wash your cast iron cookware, season it without fail. Place the cast iron cookware on the stove and pour in about a 3/4 teaspoon of corn oil (or other cooking fat). Wad up a paper towel and spread the oil across the cooking surface, any bare iron surfaces, and the bottom of the cookware. Turn on the burner and heat until smoke starts to appear. If using an electric stove, heat slowly as hot spots can crack the cast iron. Cover the cookware and turn heat off. Leave until cooled before placing in storage. Wipe off any excess fat before storing. If your cast iron gets sticky from using oil instead of bacon fat, use it over a campfire to make some bacon or other item which renders pig fat, and the stickiness will burn off.

Part 2
Second Cleaning and Seasoning Method

Second Cleaning and Seasoning Method on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

1
Place the utensil in your self cleaning oven on the shortest cleaning cycle (usually 3 hours on most models). It will come out looking like the day it came out of the mold.[5] Allow it to cool overnight. Wash the residue off with water only in the sink, using a stiff abrasive pad. Dry the cast iron utensil off with a paper towel, and immediately place the cookware back in the oven at 350ºF/180ºC for 10 minutes or so.[6]

Second Cleaning and Seasoning Method on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

2
Lightly brush the utensil with a paper towel coated with Crisco (or other solid cooking oil). Liquid vegetable oil will do in a pinch, but it's better to save the liquids until after the initial seasoning.[7] It is important in this step only to lightly coat the cast iron with a thin coating of oil, just enough until it barely glistens. Do not allow any puddles or pools of liquid as this will cause problems at a later time.

Second Cleaning and Seasoning Method on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

3
Set to 500ºF to 550ºF/260ºC to 290ºC degrees. Have the cooking side of the cookware facing the bottom of the oven. This allows for any excess oil to drain off to the sides, and prevents pooling during the seasoning process.[8] The higher heating temperatures allow for the oil to truly "cook" as opposed to just "gumming up" at lower temperatures. Cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Note: During this step, it will be best to turn off any smoke alarms in the immediate area as the cookware may smoke quite a lot. Ceiling fans also aid in ventilation.

Second Cleaning and Seasoning Method on How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

4
Immediately wipe it down with another extra-light coating of Crisco. Allow it to completely cool before storing.