How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets are definitely one of my very favorite cooking vessels. I love that they have excellent heat retention, a naturally nonstick surface, and of course, their durability. I also like that you can transfer the skillet easily from stovetop to the oven depending on the recipe and they cook everything so evenly.

I started out with an old skillet given to me by a neighbor that was a lot of fun to learn on. Eventually, my sweet husband gave me first a 12-inch Finex cast iron skillet and the following year a 10-inch skillet for Christmas presents. I absolutely love them.  I cook most of my steaks, pork chops, and chicken recipes in my cast iron skillet because the meat gets wonderfully cooked and always has the best outer crust or perfectly crisped skin.  Cast iron skillets are also great for making comfort food recipes and casseroles as well as sweet treats like fruit cobblers, buckles, jams, and giant cookies.

Cast iron skillets are virtually indestructible but they can also be easily restored if mistreated. The key to a long-lasting and well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is caring for it each and every time you use it and store it properly.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Materials:

  • Cast iron skillet
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Chainmail scrubberhighly recommend it’s the only tool I ever use for cleaning my skillets
  • Kosher salt (if needed)
  • Paper towels or a clean, dry dishcloth
  • Vegetable oil, shortening or preferred oil – I use vegetable

Instructions:

  1. Clean right away: For best results, always clean the cast iron skillet immediately after use, while it is still warm. Do not soak the skillet or leave it in the sink because it will rust.
  2. Hot water: Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or washcloth or non-abrasive scrubbing pad. Do not use the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool, as these will strip the pan’s seasoning.
  3. Stubborn food grime?: To remove stuck-on bits of food, scrub the pan with the chainmail scrubber under running water. If you don’t have a chainmail scrubber then you make a paste of coarse kosher salt and water and rub it around the pan to loosen stuck-on bits of food. Rinse well and wipe with a paper towel or dry, clean dishcloth. Really stubborn food residue may also be loosened by simmering water in the skillet over low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drying the skillet: DO NOT AIR DRY!!! It will rust. Always dry the skillet over low heat on the stove or in the oven until all moisture has evaporated.
  5. Oil the skillet: Vegetable oil and shortening are the most commonly recommended oils used for seasoning, but you can also use other oils, as well. Apply a light coat (about 1/2 teaspoon) of your preferred oil inside and buff it into the skillet and around interior edges with a paper towel until it looks dark and smooth and no oil residue remains. Let the skillet cool completely.
  6. Storing: Store the cast iron skillet in a clean and dry place. If storing more than one pan, place a couple of paper towels or a clean, dry dishcloth in between skillets to prevent damage and scratching and can absorb any moisture that might lead to rusting.

How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

When to Season your skillet

You’ll know it’s time to re-season your cast iron skillet if food starts sticking to the surface or if the skillet appears dull. A seasoned skillet is smooth, dark, shiny, and nonstick. It will have no rust or any dull and dry patches.

How To Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Materials:

  • Cast iron skillet
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Paper towels or a clean, dry dishcloth
  • Vegetable oil, shortening or preferred oil – I use vegetable

Instructions

  1. Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gather your supplies.
  2. Wash the skillet: Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or washcloth or non-abrasive scrubbing pad. If the skillet is rusted or really neglected then you will need to clean it well with hot soapy water and scrub it with a sponge or stiff brush. Cast iron should not normally be washed with soap, but it’s fine here since the pan is about to be seasoned.
  3. Rinse and dry: Rinse and thoroughly dry the skillet with paper towels or a clean, dry dishcloth.
  4. Add oil and rub: Vegetable oil and shortening are the most commonly recommended oils used for seasoning, but you can also use other oils, as well. Apply a light coat (about 1/2 teaspoon) of your preferred oil inside. Use a paper towel or a clean, dry dishcloth to buff the coat around the entire skillet.
  5. Flip the skillet over!!!: Don’t forget the outside and bottom of the skillet. You want a thin coat of oil around the entire piece.
  6. Bake the skillet: Place the skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack. Place a sheet of aluminum foil below the rack to catch any drips. Bake for one hour.
  7. Let the skillet cool: Turn off the heat and allow the skillet to cool completely before removing from the oven.

How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Store the cast iron skillet in a clean and dry place. If you’re storing more than one skillet, place a couple of paper towels or a clean, dry dishcloth in between your skillets to prevent damage and scratching and can absorb any moisture that might lead to rusting.

How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

 

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5 Comments

  1. Really great post. I was lucky enough to inherit a couple of cast iron skillets from Mrs KR’s grandmother. These gotta be at least 100 years old! There were pretty rusty, but reseasoning them worked wonders. 🙂