Cooking with cast iron is a classic way to make a variety of meals, especially a nice ribeye steak. But few people know how to properly season a cast iron skillet, and which is the best oil to season the pan.
The correct seasoning will make the skillet non-stick and allow you to more easily cook and clean your pan.
This method is also a great way to restore a rusty skillet after it has been been scrubbed with steel wool. It can also be used on a brand new skillet that needs its first seasoning!
Step 1 – Lightly Wash the Pan with Hot Water and Mild Soap
The first step is to make sure the skillet is clean, since it may still have residue from a prior cooking session. Clear off any existing or burnt food pieces that may still be stuck to the pan.
Completely dry the pan with a paper towel or cloth. Never leave a cast iron pan sitting around wet or it can start to develop rust.
Step 2 – Heat Up the Pan Using a High Stovetop Setting
Next we want to get the pan nice and hot. Set your burner to high and let it ride for about five minutes. This will ensure that any water is completely evaporated and will also get the pan ready for the flaxseed oil that we are going to use.
Step 3 – Apply Flaxseed Oil
While the skillet is still hot and on the burner, apply a light amount of flaxseed oil to the center. Be careful not to pour too much as it can end up causing pools of oil to build up that take awhile to burn off or wipe away.
If you start with a small amount, you can continue to apply more and more over the next few minutes.
Step 4 – Wipe Flaxseed Oil Using Paper Towel
The next step is to liberally wipe the flaxseed oil around the skillet to cover as much surface area as you can. WARNING! The pan is still very hot and the oil can drip from the cloth on to your hand. Be VERY careful as you spread the oil around.
The goal is to cover the entire pan, including the inside edges. You do not need to apply any oil to the outside of the pan where no food touches it.
The goal is to create a “shiny” look to the pan as the oil bakes in and takes hold.
Step 5 – Let the Oil Burn for Five More Minutes
Now you can keep the burner on (or turn it off for a bit) to let the oil bake into the pan. If you keep the burner on, you will notice that a white smoke looking substance will start coming off the pan. This is totally normally, but you will want to turn on your overhead vent if you have one.
Also note that if you do not have good ventilation in your room, it could set off the fire alarm!
During this stage there can also be somewhat of a strong smell. We recommend opening some windows to allow some air flow into the room.
Step 6 – Add Another Light Layer of Flaxseed Oil (optional)
If you have a larger pan, or you feel that the first application did not season the full skillet, then you can repeat the steps to add more oil until the full pan is covered.
That’s it! From here you can feel free to let the pan sit out for awhile and use it to cook about one hour after you season it.