Growing up in the South, I always loved cooking with my grandmother’s cast iron pan. I finally decided it was time to buy one of my own, so I went with Lodge, of course. I’m sure it will be great as soon as I can figure out this seasoning thing. Since a cast iron skillet is literally a hunk of metal, the seasoning process is important. There is advice all over the internet about how best to season a cast iron skillet, and it’s all a little confusing because none of it agrees 100%. Here’s the method I ultimately went with, and I’m happy to say, so far so good.
What is Seasoning?
When you buy a new cast iron skillet, it will likely come with some degree of pre-seasoning, but you’ll want to add more layers to make sure it’s in good shape What does this all mean? In a cast iron skillet, when oil is heated to its smoke point, its fatty acids oxidize into a plastic-like layer of molecules that essentially becomes part of the pan and creates the slick coating known as seasoning. Adding layer after layer makes it even more non-stick—this is the seasoning process.
How to Season Cast Iron
This seasoning method takes a while, but it’s pretty straight forward. Here are my best recommendations:
1. Wash and dry your pan—ALWAYS by hand and never in the dishwasher, which will strip all the seasoning
2. To open up the surface, warm the pan for 15 minutes in a 200-degree oven.
3. Remove the pan from the oven. Rub the oil (vegetable, canola, or corn) all over the pan—inside and out, including the handle—using paper towels. With fresh paper towels, buff the pan to remove excess oil so it no longer looks shiny.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
5. Place the pan upside down on a baking sheet and insert into heated oven. Heat the pan for a half-hour and then let cool.
6. Rub the pan with oil as before and repeat the process up to four more times to set your initial layer of seasoning. The pan should develop a dark surface at looks vaguely like non-stick coating.