Kidding. Everyone has an opinion about how you should to season your cast-iron cookware. Not only does everyone give you different versions of how to season your cast iron, sometimes the same sources gives conflicting instructions. If you ask 25 cast-iron collectors the particulars about how they season their cast iron, you’ll get near-25 different answers. Sometimes the differences are slight; other times not so much. I’ve seen arguments (good-natured, I hope) break out over how to best season your cast iron; I’ve seen people “name” their method after themselves as if it was a trade secret; still others don’t disclose how they season.

The moral of this story? There is no absolute “right” way to season your cast iron cookware. The “right” way for you to season is the method that works best for you.

When I was a newbie to cast-iron restoration, I gobbled up every piece of information I could find. I quickly learned that the web was replete with information, theories, and ideas about how to season cast iron cookware. I saw that the advice was (and is) all over the board – sometimes varying even within the same media outlet. Use vegetable oil? Yes/No. Use flaxseed oil? Yes/No. Lard? Yes/No. Repeat layers of seasoning before use? Yes, 6. Yes, 3. No, unnecessary. Heat? 500° F, 250° F, etc. How long? 10 minute shifts, hour shifts, 2 hours. It’s really quite interesting to read all of the different opinions. At the bottom of this post are just a very few of the instructions on seasoning cast iron that I found on the web from various media and other outlets. In addition to these, of course, there are many other opinions and theories floating around on the great big web – mine included.

I have seasoned thousands of pans. I tried many methods before I arrived at the method I now use. Through that experience, I came up with a method that works for me. Does that mean it’s the best or only method? No – it just means it’s the method that works best for me. Experiment and find the method that works best for you. It should be readily apparent that there are many different methods you can try – with varying degrees of success – from the wide variety of methodologies on the web

Here is how I season my (already cleaned) cast iron pans:

  • Place the cleaned pan in an oven and heat the oven to 450° F. Let the pan “cook” for an hour. After an hour, turn off the heat. The reason I take this step is that the heat darkens the iron. In my tenure at The Pan Handler LLC, I learned that my customers preferred a rich, black patina, as opposed to the light or medium-grayish color of unseasoned cleaned cast iron cookware. Does that mean you have to take this step? No. You can skip right along to the next step if you wish.

Lodge no. 3 Cast Iron Skillet Seasoning Tutorial, 1

Griswold no. 8 Cast Iron Skillet Lid, Step 1

  • Let the pan cool. While still warm, take a small amount (we’re talking teaspoon or so, not quarter-cup) of your preferred oil and rub it into the pan. Cover all surfaces including the cooking surface, bottom, walls, and handle. I prefer to use Crisco vegetable shortening or a mixture of canola and coconut oils and beeswax. You may want to experiment with different oils to see which gives the result you prefer.
  • Using a cotton cloth or paper towels, wipe the oil off the pan. You do not want the pan to look like it has been coated in oil – if it does, you will end up with a mess, your family and neighbors will complain about the smell and smoke, and your fire alarms will go off.

Applying Oil

Applying Oil

  • After the oil has been wiped off the pan, place it upside down on a rack in the oven. If you wish, you can place a baking sheet or aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any drips. If your coat of oil is as light as it should be, however, you shouldn’t have drips.
  • Turn the oven up to 500° F. Let the pan “cook” for an hour. You may notice an odor and likely there will be some smoke. This is normal. When I was seasoning many pans, I did this process in a stove in my garage. Others use an outdoor grill.
  • After an hour – or once the smoke ceases – turn off the oven. Let the pan cool. While still warm to the touch, remove the pan from the oven. Wipe a very small amount of your preferred oil on the pan; again covering all areas.

Voila. You now have a seasoned cast iron pan!

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Seasoning - Final Step - Lodge #3 Cast Iron Skillet

Seasoning - Final Step - Griswold no. 8 Cast Iron Skillet Lid

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Now, just for fun, take a peek at the wide variety of opinions and instructions from some of the better-known sources on the web. I bet you’ll be amazed…just as I was. No wonder there are so many opinions about how to best season your cast iron cookware!

Go ahead and give it a try! It’s just like a science experiment. And if it doesn’t work to your satisfaction, give your pan a good scrub with some Dawn detergent and a stainless scrubbie ball, and have at it again!

Do feel free to post a comment with your method or recommendation, and/or send me links on other methods you’ve found. I’m glad to have the information, and will update the post if anything fascinating or ground-breaking appears.

Happy seasoning!

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Cast Iron Seasoning Methods in the Media and on the Web!

Source

Oil: Thin, even coating of melted vegetable shortening or other cooking oil.

Temperature: 350 – 400° F

Time: At least one hour.

Repeat? As needed. “If food sticks to the surface, or you notice a dull, gray color,” it’s time to re-season.

Source

Oil: “Pour about 1 tablespoon oil into the pan”

Temperature: 300° F

Time: One hour.

Source

Oil: Solid shortening (Martha used Crisco). Liquid corn or olive oil would make the pan “sticky.”

Temperature: 350° F

Time: An “hour or so”

Source

Oil: “neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil.”

Temperature: 350° F

Time: 1 hour

Source

Oil: “Generously coat cookware with vegetable shortening.”

Temperature: 325° F

Time: 1 hour

Repeat? Twice

Source

Oil: Video shows hand globbing about ¼ c. shortening onto the pan and not wiping it off before putting in oven.

Temperature: 350°

Time: 1 hour

Repeat? “if necessary until dark and shiny.”

My comment: If you follow this method, your oven will smoke to high heaven and your fire alarms will go off. Moreover, you will not have an evenly-seasoned piece of iron. More likely you’ll have a pan with burned on areas of heavy oil.

Source

Oil: 1 T flaxseed oil

Temperature: 500° F

Time: Preheat time plus one hour

Repeat? 6 coats. This article followed Sheryl Canter’s method.

My comment: The use of flaxseed oil as the epitome of seasoning oils for cast-iron is hotly debated within the cast-iron community. Some folks swear by it; others are vehemently opposed to it, saying it flakes. It might not necessarily flake right away, but as time goes on…

Source

Oil: Paper towels dipped in 2 T oil. Recommends flaxseed oil, but sunflower and soybean oils “work fine.”

Temperature: 500° F

Time: 1 hour

Note: This source also provides a method for seasoning on the cooktop. “Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Using paper towels dipped in 2 tablespoons oil and held with tongs, wipe surface until oil smokes and there is no remaining oil residue. Repeat oil application 3 to 5 times, making sure oil smokes and letting skillet cool slightly after each application.”

Source

Oil: “whatever fat you have handy” but needs a smoke point over 350° F.

Temperature: 350° F

Time: Preheat time plus one hour.

Source

Oil: “The new standard is that flaxseed oil does the best job.” Canola oil can also be used.

Temperature: 450° to 500° F

Time: 1 hour

Source

Oil: “Thin coat of melted, plain vegetable shortening such as Crisco…” Cooking oil or sprays “will eventually make the surface sticky…”

Temperature: 350° F

Time: “2 hours for the new, natural-finish pans, and 1 hour for older pans…”

Source

Oil: “oil high in unsaturated fat” Flaxseed and vegetable oils do a “way better” job than lard or bacon fat.

Temperature: 450° F

Time: 30 minutes

Repeat? 5 times

Source

Oil: Coat the skillet “in cooking oil”

Temperature: 350° F

Time: 1 hour

Source

Oil: very thin coating of cooking oil (any cooking oil will do) or melted vegetable shortening

Temperature: 350° – 400° F

Time: 1 hour

Repeat? Re-season “if you notice the pan’s surface rusting, graying, or dulling or that food is sticking.”

Source

Oil: 1 T vegetable shortening, lard, or bacon grease. Not vegetable oil – it creates a sticky coating.

Temperature: 300° F

Time: Heat pan 10 min, then apply shortening. 10 more min, pour off excess shortening.

Repeat? “Repeat this process often to maintain and intensify your pan’s seasoning.”

Source

Oil: “coat the inside of the pan with oil…”

Temperature: not given

Time: heat for one hour.

Source

Oil: “[T]hin coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening.”

Temperature: 325° F

Time: 1 hour

Source

Oil: “small amount of shortening”

Temperature: 350° F

Time: 1 hour

Source

Oil: “thin coating of vegetable oil”

Temperature: 325° F

Time: 1 hour

Repeat? “if your pan feels sticky, loses its nonstick properties, or looks gray.”

Source

Oil: Very thin coating of organic flaxseed oil.

Temperature: 500° F

Time: Preheat time plus one hour

Repeat? At least 6 coats.

My comment: As earlier noted, the use of flaxseed oil as the epitome of seasoning oils for cast-iron is hotly debated within the cast-iron community. Some folks swear by it; others are vehemently opposed to its use, saying it flakes.

Source

Oil: 1/2 teaspoon of a neutral oil like vegetable, canola, flaxseed, or shortening.

Temperature: High heat on cook-top.

Time: Heat the pan on high heat on cooktop “until it just starts to smoke then give it one more good rub [with oil]. Let it cool and you’re done.”

Source

Oil: Corn, vegetable, or canola oil

Temperature: 450°

Time: 30 minutes

Repeat: 3-4 times

I searched and searched for something definitive from Alton Brown, knowing that he appreciates the science of cooking. All I could find, however, was this 2000 chat transcript from the “Good Eats” fan page. The web lures me with the promise of some elusive video showing Alton Brown seasoning cast iron on a grill – I, however, cannot find it. If you can, would you send me the link? Thank you ever so much!

Source

Oil: a “small spoonful” of Crisco

Temperature: 350° F

Time: 1 hour

 

Source

Oil: “thin coat of vegetable oil”

Temperature: 400° F

Time: 30 minutes

Repeat? “Repeat this process several times to create a stronger ‘seasoning’ bond.”

Source

Oil: “Grab a little vegetable oil and wipe it around”

Temperature: Low, 250° F

Time: “literally, several hours…all day.”

My comment: I did notice that the seasoning on the skillet that Rachael showed as “done” appeared to be quite blotchy. If that skillet was seasoned using the method that Rachael showed, the blotchiness is undoubtedly a result of the overuse of oil shown in the video.

Source

Oil: canola

Temperature: 400° F

Time: 2 hours