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How to Season a Skillet

When you season a pan you are literally burning fat into its pores.  The burned matter forms a slick “non-stick” sort of coating.

First, remove all packaging and labels from your new piece of cookware.  Give the pan a quick soap and water cleaning, then dry on the stovetop or with a paper towel.  This is the last time you will use soap on your skillet.

Stove-top method for seasoning a cast iron skillet

HEAT * FAT * SMOKE * COOL
1. Be prepared to have some smoke in your kitchen.  If you have a great stove exhaust system, great.  If you don’t, open windows and turn on some fans.
2. Place the skillet on high heat and allow the skillet to get very hot ( cast iron takes a little time to thoroughly heat. . 
3. Remove pan from the heat. 
4. Rub a thin film of lard or coconut oil (about 1- 1 ˝ teaspoons) over the entire inside surface.  You can use a paper towel to rub the oil over the surface.  You may want to use tongs to hold the paper towels. Another way is to use a basting brush for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
5. Heat the skillet again on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. Remove pan from the heat. 
7. Wipe off the excess fat with a clean paper towel. 
8. Repeat steps 4-7 until the skillet has a nice dark sheen (about 3 times, more if the skillet has been really abused). The pan is now ready to use.

Oven method for seasoning a cast iron skillet: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Apply a liberal amount of lard or coconut oil to the surface and sides of the skillet.
Place skillet in the oven with a cookie sheet underneath it to catch any drippings.
Bake for one hour.
Let cool, wipe any residue off and you are ready to use it.
 
Long-term care:
1. Use solid fats in your cast iron skillets as much as possible. Cooking sprays and oils tend to build up a sticky film in the skillet. 
2. Never wash a seasoned skillet with soap or place in a dishwasher. Simply scrub out the skillet with a stiff brush and very hot water. If food matter accumulates, use some salt and a piece of newspaper to scrub it out. 
3. Dry your cleaned skillet on stovetop over low heat.  Once it is completely dry, give your skillet a thin film of fat and let it remain on the heat for a few more minutes.
4. Once cooled it is ready to store or use again.


26 Comments:

Megs S
Question, once an iron skillet or griddle develops that sticky film you mentioned, is there any way to get rid of it and bring your skillet/griddle back to it's wonderful state.
May 17, 2011, 6:55 pm

Sondra K
I heard that flax seed oil is best. What do you think about that?
May 17, 2011, 10:51 pm

Cynthia Lair
Meg - once the skillet is sticky use hot water, soap and scrub. Then you will need to start from the beginning to season the skillet. Sondra - flax see oil is a fairly expensive polyunsaturated fat known for its omega 3s. I don't recommend it for seasoning pans. Saturated fats work much better.
May 18, 2011, 7:14 am

Olga Y
I’d definitely love to see a video on how you render lard. How to store it, use it and a little bit about health benefits of lard versus other oils. And how you keep and use cracklings. Thank you!
May 19, 2011, 9:00 am

Bunny Fong
What about a video on how to sharpen knives? I'm getting tired of having to beg my son to do it for me, and he rolls his eyes better than he explains.
May 19, 2011, 12:00 pm

sharon barshay
Two of my cast iron pans are peeling inside the pan. Is this bad? Also, I use olive oil with a reusable rag. Is olive oil an ok oil?
May 23, 2011, 1:42 pm

Cynthia Lair
Sharon, Peeling is not good. Olive oil is not the best lubricant. A solid fat is much better. I would recommend scraping off the peeling parts and start over; begin seasoning the skillet as instructed in the video - heat, fat, smoke cool. Several rounds will be needed.
May 23, 2011, 2:19 pm

Esther Garcia-Cuellar
Thank you!! This made it so simple!
May 27, 2011, 11:47 am

Rebecca
Thanks for this video! I was given a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet for Christmas and haven't used it yet. I was told that I still need to scrub it thoroughly before I start using it because all cast iron skillets come with a waxy film on them even if they're pre-seasoned, but wouldn't this take off the seasoning? Any advice on using a pre-seasoned skillet would be much appreciated!
June 19, 2011, 2:20 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Rebecca, I would treat the pre-seasoned skillet exactly the same. Scrub it well then season it as we show in the video. Since it is new and pre-seasoned it will likely only need one round of seasoning, not 3.
June 21, 2011, 8:38 am

Mac Williams
I have a cast iron pan, and love it. Now the bottom of it and the handle have soutlike that rubs off onto my hands. Is this what peeling is?
June 28, 2011, 6:11 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Mac, Might want to take some steel wool and rub all of the peeling parts, then season the bottom and the handle with some fat.
July 3, 2011, 9:37 pm

Brenda Hall
Does this method also work for seasoning a wok?
April 4, 2012, 8:12 am

Cynthia Lair
Brenda, YES. I've seasoned many woks this way.
April 4, 2012, 1:24 pm

Melissa
Would love a video on caring for stainless steel cookware! Ours have stubborn stains that we can't seem to get off. Already tried a cleaning paste (i.e. Bon Ami).
April 7, 2012, 10:08 am

Kathy
In our area you can buy Lard in the Mexican section. Would that lard be good for seasoning.
October 19, 2012, 1:50 am

Cynthia Lair
Kathy, Lard works best! Be sure to find lard that has not been bleached and refined (should have a clean pleasant, but animal-ish smell)
October 20, 2012, 7:57 am

lisa d
The bottom of my skillet is rusting. Do I season it as well? What can I do?
December 29, 2012, 8:12 pm

Cynthia Lair
Yes Lisa, if the bottom is rusted season it with a light coat of fat. In future always dry the skillet completely on the stove and you shouldn't have further rusting problems!
December 30, 2012, 6:09 pm

kimberly Buehler
I was taught to use half a lemon and kosher salt to get rid of any rust or sticky build up then season like normal it works bc I got a cast iron pan from a flea market an scrubbed the pan with the lemon and salt an it worked
February 26, 2013, 2:30 pm

Karen Sandy
Hello from a devoted follower. Can you recommend what brands of cast iron skillet might be best?
May 16, 2013, 10:12 pm

sue dehmlow
Can a thoroughly rusted cast iron dutch oven be saved?
May 17, 2013, 12:38 am

Cynthia Lair
Karen, the Lodge brand is perfect and inexpensive, we have one in our amazon store. Sue - YES definitely!
May 17, 2013, 6:55 am

David Z
I just tried to season my cast iron dutch oven and I used left over bacon grease I had collected. I rub both inside and outside of the pot as well as the lid. I turned it upside down in my oven and set it to 350 degrees. I baked it for 1.5 hours. When finished I have a very sticky residue all over the pot and lid. What did I do wrong??? Should I try to bake it again as is or strip the pot clean and start all over again?
June 10, 2013, 7:53 pm

Deb Str
don't you want to get the rust off the pan first?
January 18, 2014, 12:29 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi David and Deb, Bacon grease has too many other elements in it. I would scrub the pan clean and start over. Use lard. Deb - the rust should come off with an initial wipe or two of fat and cloth on skillet.
January 20, 2014, 9:02 am

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