While any cooking oil or fat can be used to season cast iron, Lodge suggests using vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil, such as our Seasoning Spray, due to their accessibility, affordability, efficacy, and high smoke point.
The ideal fat for seasoning cast iron is?
We choose these products on our own.
We might receive a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. When the prices were published, they were all correct.
Whether you’ve used cast iron before or are a newcomer, there’s one thing everyone always wants to know: the ideal technique to season these time-honored pans. You’d think there would be a clear-cut solution, but the internet is flooded with ambiguous advice. Put little oil on it and bake it slowly. or quick and hot! perhaps hot and slow! Use lard, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil! Or simply fry some chicken or bacon in Crisco.
Add some fat and cook with the blasted thing—the that’s only thing all of these techniques have in common. In a nutshell, it is how you season a cast iron skillet. Regardless of the technique or oil you select, the concept is the same: Heat it up and add oil.
Harold McGee, my favorite food science nerd, claims that seasoning is just the process of heating a layer of oil into the crevices and pores of metal, causing the oil’s fatty acids to react with the metal and heat, break down (oxidize), and reform (polymerize) into larger molecules that bind to the metal and each other. When the metal is exposed to air and water, this creates a protective covering that is as tough as nails and prevents corrosion. Each time oil is added and heated (as you do when cooking), it gets thicker and thicker (and better and better), eventually making the pan smooth, slippery, and nonstick.
High Smoke Point
The smoke point of an oil is crucial since it indicates the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and degrade. It takes an oil with a high smoke point to resist the heat needed to season cast iron, which are between 400 and 500 degrees.
Additionally, you should choose a seasoning oil with a greater smoke point while cooking at high temperatures, like when you sear the ideal steak in your cast iron pan.
As a general rule, use a seasoning oil whose smoke point is higher than the temperature at which you’ll be cooking. For instance, don’t season your skillet with olive oil with a smoke point of 350 degrees if you plan to sear food in it at a temperature of 400 degrees.
Higher Concentration of Unsaturated Fat
The chemical structure of unsaturated fats is more suited for polymerization, the process required to provide the ideal seasoning for cast iron. So stay away from oils like coconut oil and palm oil that contain a greater percentage of saturated fats.
Look for an oil that is flavor neutral because you don’t want the food you are preparing in your cast iron pan to absorb the flavor of the seasoning oil.
A neutral taste oil will also be more adaptable. Therefore, you can purchase a nice multifunctional neutral flavor oil that can be used for making salad dressings, sautéing vegetables, and seasoning cast iron instead of spending money on an oil that can only be used for one purpose. That seems like a good value to me.
A quality seasoning oil for cast iron can be purchased at a reasonable price. My two favorites, in particular, cost less than $9 for 16 ounces. Additionally, if you frequently use cast iron cookware, you’ll probably want a less expensive seasoning oil.
Is it advisable to season cast iron with olive oil?
To give your cast-iron skillet the ideal, all-natural nonstick coating, follow these simple instructions.
- Use dish soap and water to gently scrub the cast-iron pan, then rinse and let it air dry fully.
- Set the oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking sheet with a rim in the lowest rack of the oven and line it with foil.
- Use a paper towel to apply a very thin layer of vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted vegetable shortening to the pan’s interior and exterior surfaces. All of these fats have high smoke points, so they will bake on cleanly rather than becoming sticky. Avoid seasoning your cast-iron pan with butter or olive oil; these ingredients are excellent for cooking, but not for seasoning.
- Bake for an hour with the pan upside down on the top rack of the oven. As the oven cools down, turn it off, leaving the pan inside to finish cooling. In addition to smoothing down the cast iron’s rough texture and achieving a nonstick finish without the use of chemicals, baking on a coating of oil increases the pan’s protective patina.
- Repeat as necessary; one seasoning cycle is sufficient to get you started, and as you use the pan to cook, it will continue to develop more seasoning. Cooking bacon, thick pork chops, or a steak in the pan during the initial cooking process will add more spice. These meats’ inherent fats will do wonders for the finish.
Every time you use cast iron, do you season it first?
Once seasoned, a cast-iron skillet can serve as a workhorse in the kitchen for a while. A cast-iron skillet that has been properly seasoned will serve as your kitchen workhorse forever. Your cast-iron skillet may gradually lose part of its seasoning as you use it more frequently, making it less effective. So if you notice dull areas, season it once more. Alternately, do as I do and season it whenever your oven is on and it’s outside.
How many times should a cast iron skillet be seasoned?
- What kind of oil should I season my skillet with? You can often use any oil in your cabinet. Canola oil, melted butter, and vegetable oil are common alternatives. Keep in mind that seasoning doesn’t necessarily require your best premium brand!
- How frequently should my skillet be seasoned?
- It is advised that you oil your cast iron skillet after each usage to get the most out of it. However, 2-3 times a year should be sufficient, depending on how regularly you use it.
- How can I know whether my skillet is properly seasoned?
- A well-seasoned skillet will have a lustrous, semi-gloss finish and be visibly dark in color. The best part is that it won’t have any rusty patches and will appear to have been rejuvenated!
How hot should I season my cast iron?
Cookware should be placed in the oven upside down. On the lowest rack, spread out a sizable baking sheet or some aluminum foil. Bake for one hour at 450–500 degrees Fahrenheit.
How much time should be spent seasoning a cast iron skillet?
You should wash the skillet before beginning to season it because it’s difficult to know exactly what happened to it between the time it left the factory and the time it got to your kitchen. Wash the pan thoroughly in warm, soapy water, and then completely dry it. The best course of action is to place the pan over a stovetop flame for a few minutes to drive off any leftover water because even after towel-drying, some surface moisture may still be present.
Step 2: Rub It All Over With Oil and Buff Well
*For the record, we’ve discovered that while flaxseed oil is frequently recommended, it does not form a thick layer of seasoning and tends to flake off over time. We don’t advise it.
The trick is to properly buff the pan after applying the oil so that it no longer even appears somewhat oily. If left unused for a few days, even a small amount of extra oil on the pan might pool during seasoning and develop sticky droplets on your cooking surface.
Step 3: Heat It in the Oven
Place the greased pan in a 450°F oven and let it bake for 30 minutes. Maintain good ventilation in your kitchen as it may become slightly smokey. The oil will begin to polymerize at this point and create the first of several hard, plastic-like coatings you’ll be applying.
We’re using the oven because it offers an even heat that will let the oil evenly spread throughout the pan. Even the greatest cooktop burners will have hot and cool patches, which can result in uneven seasoning when first used.
I like to turn the pan upside down and place a baking sheet or piece of foil below, though it’s not necessary, especially if you’ve wiped away all the extra oil. Since gravity will remove the surplus oil from the pan, it merely serves as additional protection against any excess oil that decides to run and pool.
Step 4: Repeat 3 to 4 Times
Take out the pan once the half-hour has passed. (Keep in mind: It’s hot!) Now use the oil to buff it out once more by rubbing it all over. After that, re-bake it in the oven for 30 more minutes. To lay down a solid foundation of your own seasoning, you should repeat this frying and heating procedure three to four times in total.
How high of a smoking point are certain oils?
Health Benefits and Oil Smoke Points Canola oil, peanut oil, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, high oleic sunflower and safflower oil are examples of monounsaturated oils. The smoke points of these oils are often higher.
Can soap be applied to cast iron?
No! Rust can form on cast iron if it is submerged in water. Use a nylon scrub brush or a pan scraper and rinse under warm water to get rid of sticky or difficult-to-remove stuck-on food. Make careful to dry your pan completely.
Reminder: If you ever unintentionally leave your pan in water for too long and it rusts, don’t freak out! You can get rid of the rust and keep using your cast iron cookware with a little more care.
Contrary to popular belief, you can clean cast iron cookware with a little soap! The seasoning on your pan may be removed by using a lot of soap, but you can easily re-season your pan as necessary.
No! To get rid of any clinging debris, we suggest using a pan scraper or the Lodge Chainmail Scrubber.
Before reseasoning, we only advise using steel wool or a metal scrubber to eliminate rust.
No. Hand washing is recommended for our cast iron cookware. The seasoning will be lost in a dishwasher, and rust will probably result. Check out our heat-treated serveware if you want dishwasher-safe cookware.
Can PAM be applied on cast iron?
My favorite skillet’s manufacturer, Lodge, produces a unique seasoning spray and packages it in a few different sets. The equipment I used includes that bottle of seasoning spray, a scrubbing brush, a scraper, and a silicone hot handle holder. I was far more pleased about the little pan scraper and the scrub brush than I was about the silicone pot holder. The biggest benefit of the entire set for my kitchen turned out to be the seasoning spray, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Although it might seem like a minor part of the package, the plastic scraper works in tandem with the scrubber brush to remove anything that might stick to the pan, particularly in the rounded corners where my husband’s scrambled eggs seem to hang around. Since the nylon scrubber is so mild, I’ve even given up a little bit and allowed my husband to clean up his own eggs once. The seasoning is not removed by its bristles, just everything that sticks! and it is practically impossible to clean too vigorously. The added benefit is that both of these tools are now regularly used on various pots, pans, and bakeware.
Onto the topic about which I had the greatest skepticism: the seasoning spray. To be clear, this is a spray can of unadulterated canola oil. Avoid trying to season your cast iron skillet with nonstick sprays like Pam since they have other components that are bad for the pan. With the help of this canola oil sprayer, you can apply the ideal quantity of oil to season your pan after cleaning and drying it with just one or two spritzes (depending on the size of your pan), and then wipe away any excess with a clean paper towel. No more overdoing it when attempting to pour oil into the pan. And good-bye to extra oil that accumulates on the pan and becomes sticky over time. When this can runs out, I’ll definitely purchase additional cans of this spray for my own use. Compared to how I used to do things, this is just so much simpler and cleaner. Additionally, I really enjoyed the results—they were really similar to what I usually got!
Yes, you could purchase the scrapers and scrub brush separately, but this neat little package is great for those who are just getting started or who are seeking for a simpler way to take care of their cast iron. I’ve always loved giving cast iron pans as wedding presents, and now I know what to get my friends on their one-year wedding anniversaries!
In a cast iron skillet, is it possible to leave oil overnight?
Your cast iron pan was used to cook excellent fish fingers or french fries. You are now satisfied and content. However, you’re also a little too lazy to clean up after yourself (home cooking’s least favorite portion).
Leaving cooking oil in your cast iron pan or Dutch oven is not a smart idea. If the oil is left out in the elements for a long time, it may get rancid, in which case you will need to discard it.
Cooking oil reacts with the elements and microbes in its surroundings as it goes rancid. The oil degrades into fatty acids as a result, giving off an unpleasant taste and odor that many people describe as sour and musty.
Cooking oils have fats that are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated as well as a little quantity of moisture (between 0.005% and 0.03%), which can react chemically with cast iron. In certain circumstances, these interactions can result in dietary iron leaking into the oil and the oil itself oxidizing and going rancid more quickly.
To put it another way, you don’t want cooking oil to sit in your cast iron cookware for an extended period of time (note that this is different from the bubbly layer of oil that makes up its seasoning). The best course of action is to clean it by hand as soon as you’re done using it for frying.
After all, cooking oils at the grocery store are not always inexpensive, and there is no reason why you should discard them after only one use.