Used since the days of yore (or “olden times” or “Pilgrim Period”), cast iron is the most even-heating, durable, and versatile material out there in the land of kitchen crap.
Once seasoned well, a cast iron skillet can be used for cooking anything. I mean ANYTHING. Eggs, bacon, bread, stir-fry, pancakes, steak, chicken feet, horse balls. Literally anything you want to put in your mouth will benefit from being put into a cast iron skillet first. And every time you use it it gets smoother, blacker, and better. Hey-Oh!! You know I’M single! (Not really.)
How To Season a Cast Iron Skillet in 7 Easy Steps
- Take off all the packaging and labels, duh.
- Wash the skillet. Use a plastic scrubbie or brush and clean all the surfaces of the skillet with hot water. Don’t use a wire brush or anything that might scrape the surface.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Put some shortening, cooking oil, coconut butter, or lard in the skillet. (If you’re using a solid, heat it up in the skillet to melt it before spreading.) Then smear a thin layer of your chosen substance all over your skillet, inside and out. Get nasty with it. Wipe off any excess pools or puddles.
- Put the skillet in the oven upside down so that as the skillet heats up, any excess lube will drain away from the cooking surface. If you want to save yourself some trouble, put a cookie sheet on the lower rack so you don’t have to clean your oven after this.
- Cook Your Skillet! Don’t freak out if it starts to smoke. This means the oil or grease is filling up the pores in the cast iron and making it nice and smooth. Let it cook for an hour. Then turn off the oven and leave it in there for an hour.
- Carefully remove the skillet. Use oven mitts because it’s still gonna be hot. Put it on a heat resistant surface. Let it cool more.
That’s about all there is to it. Watch the video above to see this demonstrated. The skillet won’t be non-stick right away. But start using it! Repeat the seasoning process a couple times if you want, or just start cooking bacon and fried chicken for every meal. It will be as smooth as my perfectly porcelain cheeks in no time.
Long-term Care of a Cast Iron Skillet
The most important thing to remember is not to use soap! Soap and detergents will remove that beautiful patina you’ve worked so hard for. Instead, just scrub it lightly with hot water and a plastic scrubby thing. The first few times you use it, before it’s well seasoned, you might get some stickage problems. But they will not be a problem if you use a little salt or baking soda as a gentle cleaner to get off any stubborn bits. To help prevent stubborn bits in the first place, make sure you preheat your skillet when cooking.
Once cleaned, dry the skillet and smear a drop of oil inside it and put it away. You can also dry it by setting it empty and wet on a hot stove eye and letting the water evaporate then rubbing in the oil while it’s still hot. This is a great quick way to maintain the seasoning but I often forget I have the skillet on the stove until the house is getting smoky so I hesitate to recommend this to anyone as pea-brained as myself. I kid. My brain is more like a Brussels sprout.
Some people recommend re-seasoning your cast iron periodically, but I’ve found that as long as you’re using it regularly and washing it right, it’s not really necessary to go through all that again.
Try this at home and let me know how it works out for you.