Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware should be a simple process but for some reason it’s not, and it seems that everyone has an opinion of what works best. You can see what I mean by reviewing the comments on our ‘how to season’ videos on Youtube – – people definitely have a strong opinion that their way is the best way.
I’ve studied the most popular methods, read countless reviews, and seasoned more pans than I can count. I understand why people have strong opinions – because they LOVE using cast iron and are getting great non-stick results with their method. When something works, go with it.
There are actually a few ways to get great results as discussed here, but I’m going to discuss pre-seasoning of stove top and oven methods, and post-seasoning or maintainance.
We sell 3 types of Iron Pans.
Spoiler Alert! There is 1 clear winner in the debate of stove top vs. oven. The oven method develops a better seasoning, which is harder and more durable. However, it isn’t the best for all iron cookware.
The Oven Method (see below) is the best for Raw and Enameled Cast Iron (yes, you can and should season enameled cast). The method takes quite a bit more time but it will give you superior results.
The Stove Top method is best for our de Buyer Carbon Steel because the handles are coated with Epoxy and bubble and melt when exposed to high heat in the oven.
How to Season Your Raw Cast Iron in the oven
There are 2 types of seasoning.
- Preseasoning, which is building a hard polymerized coating onto a new surface, or building a hard coating onto a surface that has been stripped down after misuse or neglect. This is done in the oven.
- Maintenance, which is post cooking seasoning, which reinforces and adds to the existing surface. This is done on the stove top.
What is Seasoning (building a polymer coating)?
Not all oil is good for pre seasoning due to smoke point, adhesion and durability. For instance Flax Oil has the highest smoke point for seasoning however it gets poor reviews for smell (fishy) and durability. It seems that the best oils for seasoning are:
- Refined Grapeseed Oil
- Canola Oil
Personally I like Grapeseed and lately I’ve been having great results with Buzzywaxx.
Now for the ‘how to’ but again I’ll stress that there are several ways to get the end results and the variables here are heat, temperature and time. More or less is not that important if you get the same rock hard results. I’m going to share what works for me.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F
- If your pan is fresh out of the box, clean it with soap and water. This is a good point to shed light on the issue of cleaning with soap, which is a point of confusion when using raw cast iron. Many of the leading commercial brands of dish soap that you find at the grocery store contain harsh chemicals, which break down and strip your seasoning. Due to this, many people state that you should NOT use soap, which is good advice, however if you use a gentle soap, like Sapadilla then you should have no problems using soap.
- Put the pan on your stove top to warm for a few minutes at medium heat. Pour in about a teaspoon of Grapeseed Oil and use a small cloth to rub the oil thoroughly all over the pan, front and back. (Use a cloth that you use specifically for seasoning as paper towel will disintegrate and leave little bits of paper stuck to your pan). The pan should have a thin shiny/wet coating all over.
- Put the pan into the preheated oven, upside down so the bottom is facing up. This will ensure that the oil does not pool in the bottom of the pan. Leave for 1 hour. This is a main point of issue with some people, who believe that 1 hour is too long. I have great results with 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, turn off the oven, take the pan out and rub a very small amount of oil on the pan, place the pan back in the oven (upside down) to cool.
- When you take the cool pan out of the oven it will be blacker than when it went in and should have a rock hard, non-wet shine.
This is 1 coating. A new pan can do with at least 3. Some people suggest that 1 is enough as long as you start cooking high fat food right away. I do not cook with much oil nor do I cook animal products so I do at least 3 coatings.
Maintenance: The Stove Top Method
Repair: Once you’ve built up a rock hard surface you need to continue building your layers. Cooking with grapeseed oil will help build your seasoning as you cook, however there are times when things get stuck to the surface, like when cooking with sugar, and it’s critical to scour off the carbon and reseason.
An example of this is, my kids love pan fried chickpeas. I add 1 x cup of cooked chickpeas to my pan to fry until they start browning, add some garlic, ginger, salt and maple syrup. They are a tasty snack, however they leave a chunky sticky mess in my pan. I move my emptied hot pan right to warmish running water, which steam cleans the pan, but there can be some build up of carbon that needs to be cleaned off. I either use Kosher Salt or a metal scouring pad to take the surface down to where it’s smooth, while not going to the raw metal. From here I would assess the seasoning and either do the Oven Method or continue to the stove top.
Day to day use: in regular day to day cooking, a well seasoned pan should cook perfectly, and give non-stick results much like a Teflon pan. Whatever you’re cooking will slide right off the seasoned surface and clean up is as easy as running under warm water and wiping with a wet cloth. Once you’re done cleaning, put the pan on the stove top on medium heat for a few minutes. Add a small amount of Grapeseed Oil and wipe all over the pan. Heat until the oil just starts to smoke and turn off the heat and let the pan cool. This is post seasoning, which can be used for all types of Iron pans.
I hope you have great results using your Cast Iron Cookware and please reach out to us if you need help.