How To Season a Cast Iron Pan

Cast iron pans are one of the most durable, economical and versatile pieces of cookware you can own. Did you know it’s one of the healthier options to use for cooking? Find out how to use it, how to season it, wash it and maintain it properly so it will last you for years.

Cast Iron Pans
How to season cast iron pans
how to use, clean and maintain cast iron pans

I have had my cast iron pan for more than a decade and the more I use it, the more I appreciate it. I like it so much, I made a list of it’s wonderful qualities.

  1. It’s very versatile. It can essentially replace all your skillets, if you wanted it to, since it can create great sears and at the same time have a natural “nonstick” coating after you’ve used it for awhile.
  2. This pan is one of the most economical. It is not expensive to buy it in the first place. The one I own is the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet (I have the 10 inch and the 12 inch sizes), and they were less than $30.
  3. It’s Very Durable. You don’t need to keep replacing it, like you would a typical nonstick skillet, so it will last you a lifetime, if you take care of it properly. You also don’t need to worry about using only wooden or plastic utensils, like you would with a nonstick skillet.
  4. Cast Iron doesn’t have any harmful ingredients in the coating. It is a very “healthy” skillet to cook your food in, unlike so many teflon coated skillets.
  5. It actually improves with time! The longer you use it and season it, the more “nonstick” the coating will become. After using my pan for more than a decade, I can easily make omelets in it and it slides right out.

Watch This Comprehensive Video About the Cast Iron Pan, How to Season Cast Iron, Clean It and Maintain It

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

I have the Lodge Cast Iron skillet* in 2 sizes, the 10.25″ and the 12″.

I also recommend getting the handle cover*, because the handle can get really hot.

*affiliate links

What Does It Mean To “Season” a Cast Iron Skillet?

Seasoning cast iron is simply rubbing oil into the surface of the skillet and then baking it in the oven or on the stove. Seasoning protects the skillet from rusting and creates an surfaces that releases easily – a natural “nonstick” surface.

I use a paper towel to rub a thin layer of oil all over the skillet until it’s evenly distributed, then place it on medium low heat on the stovetop for a few minutes, until it looks like the oil is absorbed.

How to season cast iron pan

If your skillet is well seasoned, you only need to do this once. You can also place it into a preheated 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 5-10 minutes.

How To Season A Cast Iron Pan the First Time

Even though most companies preseason the skillet before they sell it, you should still wash it really well in hot, soapy water, dry it, rub it with oil and then place it into a preheated 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about an hour.

How to season a cast iron pan for the first time in the oven

Which Oil Should Be Used For “Seasoning”?

The best oils to use are ones that aren’t too strong in flavor and have a high smoke point.

I use avocado oil most often, but most mild flavored oils will also work, such as sunflower oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, grape seed oil, etc. You can also use shortening.

What If the Cast Iron Pan Is Sticky?

This means there is a buildup of too much oil. Wash it in hot water, adding the salt to create some abrasive action. Then, place it in the oven (400F) for an hour and that should fix it. Cool and repeat if necessary.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Pan?

The easiest way to clean a skillet and remove the “fond” or the brown bits at the bottom of the skillet, is to deglaze it. That means you pour in some sort of liquid and use a spoon or whisk to scrape the bottom of the skillet and it cleans up so well. This is a perfect way to create a delicious sauce to go along with your meal. You can add some minced onion, shallot or garlic, saute for a few minutes, pour in wine, broth or water and it will create a tasty sauce.

If you don’t want to make a sauce, you can just pour in water, scrape up the brown bits until the bottom of the skillet is clean and then rinse out the skillet. DONE!

Do’s and Don’t of Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan:

  • Use hot water to wash the skillet. A regular sponge should clean it well enough.
  • Don’t use anything too abrasive to clean the skillet, since it will take off the “seasoned” layer.
  • Do use coarse salt. It works great!
    • If your skillet is really dirty or has some stubborn cooked/baked on bits, pour in some kosher salt into the skillet and use a sponge or brush to scrape it clean. The salt will soak up any excess grease, it’s abrasive enough to scrape off anything from the bottom of the skillet, but it will not take off the seasoned layer from the skillet.
  • Do NOT put it in the dishwasher, it will remove the “seasoned” and built up layer and everything will stick to your skillet.
  • Do NOT air dry the pan too long, or it will rust.
  • Soon after washing it, dry the skillet with a towel, then season it one more time before storing it away.
How to clean cast iron pans
kosher salt to wash cast iron pan

Can You Restore a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet?

Yes! Wash it with hot soapy water (use a brush or kosher salt to scrub it clean, if needed). Dry and season with oil and it should be back to normal. In this case I would season it in the oven or multiple times on the stove again.

Cast Iron Recipes

Cast Iron Recipes


  • Larisa

    Thank you! Ive been waiting for this video for so long. i have a cast iron skillet, but i fried potatoes in it too soon, and the potatoes got so stuck, i couldn’t get it off. I read some comments that said i shouldn’t use water ever to wash my cast iron skillet, so its been sitting for a few months now. I think i know what i need to do now. Thank you again for this awesome video!

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad you found this helpful, Larisa.
      I can’t believe that someone told you not to use water to wash the cast iron skillet:). I hope you can get it restored and working again.

  • jessica

    Olga you said: When doing it for the first time, place the skillet into a preheated 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about an hour.Did you mean to do it after seasoning it 5 times? Thanks

    • olgak7

      Hi Jessica,
      In the oven for an hour IF you are using the oven and only the first time.
      If you’re doing it on the stovetop, you don’t need to put it in the oven.

  • Ksusha.A

    Wow i needed this.
    My cast iron is a color brown and no matter how much I scrubbed it it just turned rusty. I wish I read this earlier!
    Who knew that cast iron pans are so sophisticated..

    • gail

      just scrub the cast iron pan really well to get any rust off…dry it really well with an old cloth towel as any residual rust may transfer to the towel…then put oil into the pan as well as on the outside of the pan and put in a hot oven to season… remove any excess oil in the pan or on the outside after the pan has cooled and you should be good to go…..I’ve done this several times and always brought my pans back to a good seasoned condition…

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.