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How to season a cast iron pan

Learn how to season a cast iron pan in just 7 steps and why it’s so important to do it!

Updated

Orange wok on a wooden table

Key steps 

Seasoning cast ironadds a protective layer – complete it with these simple steps:

  • Wash and dry your pan first.
  • Rub the entire surface with oil – we like vegetable oil.
  • Buff out the oil so the pan is no longer greasy.
  • Heat it in the over at 230°C for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the oil, buff and heat steps 3-4 times before using it to cook with.

Seasoning cast iron pans and kitchenware is crucial to getting them to work properly; but what exactly is ‘seasoning’ and how do you do it? From defining what seasoning cast iron means to explaining why it’s important and offering a step-by-step guide on how to season a cast iron pan, we’ve got you covered.

If you want to season a cast iron pan, you can use any oil but we recommend vegetable oil or melted shortening for the best results.

What does seasoning cast iron mean?

Unlike seasoning food, if you want to season cast iron pan surfaces it has nothing to do with herbs and spices. Instead, it describes the process of adding a hard, protective coating using heat and fat such as oil. 

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Why is seasoning cast iron important?

With enough thin layers applied, the process of seasoning creates a hard, blackened skin which protects the cast iron. It also has non-stick properties which makes it great for preserving the lifespan of items such as frying pans.

How to season cast iron

The following steps for seasoning a cast iron skillet should only be taken if your pan is new or hasn’t been seasoned previously. Every time you use a seasoned pan to cook with oil or fat you will be topping up the protective layer.

  1. Wash and dry your cast iron pan. Give it a good scrub with warm soapy water, using good quality washing-up liquid. Dry it thoroughly, finishing it off by putting it atop a stovetop flame for a couple of minutes to get rid of any excess water.
  2. Tub the entire pan surface (including the handle) with oil. Unsaturated fats such as vegetable or corn oil are best for seasoning cast iron.
  3. Buff the surface until it no longer looks greasy. This will leave a super thin layer of oil but no excess. Any excess oil, even the smallest amount, can pool during the seasoning process. This will leave hardened droplets on your cooking surface or turn stick which is not something you want.
  4. Put the pan into the oven for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F) and leave your pan there for 30 minutes. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated as the seasoning process can produce a lot of smoke. This process will polymerize the oil. 
  5. Take the pan out. Take care as it will be hot – you may want to leave it to cool in the oven for a short while first.
  6. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 5 at least 3 times. This will ensure you have a good few layers of seasoning to protect your pan.
  7. Allow your pan to cool. Once it has been cooled, it is now ready for you to cook with.

With this quick and easy guide you now know how to season cast iron pan surfaces and why it is important to do it. For more tips and tricks to get the most from your cookware after seasoning a pan, check out our articles on how to remove grease from pans and whether you use a dishwasher to clean pans.

Originally published