How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

cast iron cooking

Do you enjoy cooking and baking with cast iron cookware? I do a lot of cooking! My kitchen cabinets and drawers are stuffed with all sorts of cooking implements, including some expensive items. My favorite one of all, however, didn’t cost a cent. It’s my old black cast iron frying pan that was handed down to me by my mother. She got it from her mother, so it’s been in the family for generations. In fact, I think it might have belonged to my great-grandmother when it was new. I use this cast iron frying pan for many dishes, including fried chicken, country fried steak, fried ham and bacon, blackened redfish, pan-seared shrimp, fried vegetables, pineapple upside-down cake, and cornbread. There’s no telling how many meals my cast iron frying pan has made. Since it’s old, I didn’t have to worry about cast iron seasoning with this pan, but I have with other pieces of my cast iron cookware.

I used cast iron cooking for these pan-seared shrimp. (raspberry tartar sauce on the side)
I used cast iron cooking for these pan-seared shrimp. (raspberry tartar sauce on the side)
Cast iron cookware works great for veggies, too.
Cast iron cookware works great for veggies, too.

Cast iron cooking

There’s really nothing that equals cast iron cooking. I’ve tried all sorts of cookware, but I’ve never found anything that beats my cast iron pans and Dutch oven for browning. I don’t admit to know all the science behind it – I just know that cast iron pans will give cornbread a thick, beautiful crust, and it will also provide a crispy coating on foods that have been battered and fried. Cast iron cooking is also great for pan searing and pan frying, even when you’re using just a small amount of oil. Because cast iron heats evenly and holds in heat for a long time, it’s also a great choice for cooking chili, stews, chicken and dumplings, and soups.

My cast iron frying pan is great for baking cornbread.
My cast iron frying pan is great for baking cornbread.

How to season cast iron pans - new cookware

When you buy a new cast iron frying pan, don’t expect it to be ready to use. Cast iron pans need to be seasoned first, before you ever cook with them. Seasoning cast iron requires several steps, but believe me – it’s definitely worth the effort. To season cast iron that’s new, you’ll first need to clean it and remove any rough spots inside the cooking surface. First, wash the pan in mild soapy water. While the pan is still damp, add about ½ cup of coarse salt to the pan and scrub it thoroughly. The salt will serve as an abrasive to smooth out any rough spots left behind by the manufacturing process. Next, rinse the pan and dry it completely with a soft, absorbent cloth.

To season cast iron properly, it needs to be coated with fat or oil and cooked. You’ll find lots of differing tips and advice on how to season cast iron. Depending on who you listen to, you’ll be told to use corn oil, avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil, or flax oil, but I don’t use any of those. I’ve tried them all, but I’ve found that the best fat for seasoning cast iron is lard. If you don’t want to use lard, use a solid vegetable shortening, like Crisco.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Coat the inside of your cast iron pan with the lard, making sure to include the bottom and the sides. I don’t season the outside of my cast iron, although many cooks do. Place the pan on the top rack of your oven and let it cook for one hour. Remove the pan from the oven and pour off as much melted lard as possible. Using paper towels and an oven mitt, remove more oil, until just a light coating is left. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another three hours. Turn off the oven and leave the pan in it until it cools completely.

In my opinion, seasoning cast iron should be done twice for new pans. You don’t need to repeat the washing and “sanding” process. Just repeat the cooking and oiling process.

How to season cast iron and protect it:

Seasoning cast iron pans:

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Comments 28 comments

mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

habee, that was a great hub. I used to use cast iron but gave it all to my kids when we moved into an RV. It is heavy to haul.


SirDent 4 years ago

Great hub. I believe we have about 10 cast iron skillets. All different sizes too. As a matter of fact, I have an old rusty one hanging on an outbuilding out back.

I remember mom using cast iron for everything. I believe she used one skillet to fix breakfast which would consist of biscuits, eggs and gravy.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

mljd, how do you survive without your cast iron?? lol. Thanks for reading!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Dent, my mom used the black cast iron frying pan all the time, and so do I! Really, I'd be lost without one.


SirDent 4 years ago

I am thinking of building a fire and putting the old rusty one in it to burn the rust off then season it and start using it also. I have no idea how long it has been out in the weather. I just happened upon it a few months ago.


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

I am thinking of getting my cast iron pieces out of storage. I like baking cornbread in my cast iron frying pan. Nothing like it.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Dent, try some oven cleaner. Ya know, I think you'd make a pretty good southerner! lol


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Arlene, I soooo agree! Cast iron gives the cornbread a wonderful crust.


THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 4 years ago

Oh my goodness. With a picture like that how could I not click on this hub lol. Now I'm hungry. I don't yet own a cast iron pan but I've heard so many people saying that they are the best and I can't wait to get one, I love cooking! Thanks for this great hub, voting way up.


Joe Macho profile image

Joe Macho 4 years ago from Colorado

Ah... I'd trade you my car for your skillet. I've been wanting to get into the world of Cast Iron for a long time now. I'll probably go for a cast iron dutch oven, but it would be cool to have something that has been passed down as much as your's has.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hug, cast iron cooking is awesome! Of course, I could be biased - I learned to cook this way. Thanks for reading!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Right, Joe! Everytime I use that cast iron frying pan, I feel sort of like my mom and grandmom are in the kitchen, cooking with me. Thanks for visiting!


Francesca27 profile image

Francesca27 4 years ago from Hub Page

I agree, there is nothing like a cast iron skillet. I'm afraid to use mine on my new glass top stove. Do you know if it's OK to use cast iron on the glass top stove?


Leaderofmany profile image

Leaderofmany 4 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

I have never used cast iron, but my son swears by it. Maybe I should take his lead and go get a couple of skillets. Nice informant to refer to.


Tuesdays child profile image

Tuesdays child 4 years ago from In the garden

I too use cast iron that's been in the family for at least 4 generations! Is yours Griswold by chance? I love your hub and your writing style is very personable! Lori


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Francesca, I've never used that type of stove. My aunt had one years ago, and she said it didn't get hot enough for her southern-style cooking. They've probably improved a lot since then, however.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Leader, in all honesty, my cast iron frying pan is the most useful piece of cookware in my entire cooking arsenal!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Tuesday, my old cast iron frying pan is a Wagner. The company began making cast iron cookware in 1881.I also have some Lodge cast iron pieces.

Thanks for the kind words!


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

habee it is really hard because I loved cooking with cast iron. Now we are no longer traveling I will probably hit my kids up to give up their inheritance and get back my cast iron. Or maybe save myself a headache and hit the auctions, flea markets or garage sales around here.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Habee, no normal Jamaican kitchen is without the cast iron pot. As a matter of fact, every Jamaican "country" family only use the cast iron pot. We call them "dutch pots". We use them to cook everything, from stews, to frying, soups, rice and vegetables.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Thanks for the great tips! I will have to acquire a cast iron pan at some point. Your raspberry tartar sauce looks amazing, too.


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 4 years ago

Truly -- nothing like cast iron! My favorite pic -- cornbread. I love it thin and crispy! I'll be dragging mine out tomorrow to make dressing -- a mid-Thanksgiving Christmas treat. My college-boy is coming home!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

mljd, you might have a hard time the cast iron away from the kids! lol


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Cardisa, we call the deep, lidded cast iron pots "Dutch ovens." I like my Dutch oven, but I LOVE my cast iron frying pan!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Random, the recipe for the tartar sauce is on my cooking site!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Sally, I like my cornbread thick - crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Enjoy your son's visit!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

I can't lift the damn pan!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Bpop, I know you have to use a cast iron frying pan to make all those wonderful breakfast dishes! lol

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