With just a little care, a cast iron skillet can last a lifetime… and beyond! 
Cast iron is wonderful to cook in… it distributes the heat like no other material… it produces the most beautiful browned meat… and is virtually non-stick! Cooking in cast iron also adds much needed iron to our diets!
Before you begin to cook in a cast iron pan the pan must be “seasoned” properly… here’s how…

Many new cast iron pans come already “pre-seasoned”. But  I would season them again…
By seasoning a cast iron pan you are placing a barrier between the cast iron and the food. Cast iron is porous and will absorb the oil in the seasoning process to insure a non-stick surface.
Here are a few tips to keep your cast iron in tip-top shape…
*If you don’t like the sticky feel that seasoning with vegetable oil can often leave, season your pan with lard. This however can be a smokey process! I find my pans do just fine seasoned with vegetable oil.
* Wash your pan while it is still warm. Try to avoid steel wool scrubbers or soap. This can ruin the seasoned surface.  Use hot water and a plastic scrubber. If there is any stuck on bits, fill the pan with a couple of inches of water, turn on the burner, bring the water to a boil and let the bits dissolve. You can also scrape up any bits with a wooden spoon.
* Make sure your cast iron is completely dry after washing. Cast iron can rust.
* Swipe a little vegetable oil on a paper towel on the inside of your cast iron before putting it away. (Again, this might cause a sticky feel… it’s really a preference.)
* Occasionally repeat the seasoning process. Cooking acidic foods and cleaning can slowly remove the seasoned barrier.  To help preserve a well seasoned pan, cook fatty foods in it such as bacon, steaks and hamburgers.
*Store in a dry place.
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  1. says

    I just bought my first cast iron skillet and am so happy to read about how to take care of it! I had no idea about the “pre-seasoning”, got to do that! Thank you so much Yvonne!

  2. says

    My 10″ cast iron skillet was given to me by an elderly baby sitter twenty five years ago. She said it was fifty years old at the time.
    Nothing sticks to it and we love using it and thinking of her.


  3. says

    For all of the cooking I do (or used to do), I never use cast iron. I had a skillet once many years ago and it would rust and get that sticky surface that you mention…I couldn’t get past the fact it never felt clean to me. When I read your post and see it is supposed to be like that, I’m sorry I got rid of it! I know so many people swear by cast iron. I really do wish I had one when I make cornbread etc. Great information! Hope all is well with you.

  4. says

    There may be some confustion to new cast iron users because the instructions written in the picture of the iron skillet say “wash in hot sudsy water” then on down in your paragraph it states not to use soap. I use iron skillets and griddles almost everyday and have done so for many years. I have never used any type of soap to clean them. The safest and best way to clean them is hot water, a sponge and kosher salt. Also, I have found that if I dry the pan very well and use a paper towel to lightly rub vegetable oil on the surface there is never that sticky residue. Also, I put a clean, dry paper towel between the skillets when they are stored. Never a drop of rust or sticky residue and nothing ever sticks. Ever! LOVE cast iron!

  5. says

    Thanks for this Yvonne. My cast iron pan is in the cupboard as I never use it. The outside of it (not the bottom) is really rough. Is that normal? The inside appears to be quite smooth and rust free. I need to start using it again. I remember bacon and eggs cooked in it growing up. Have a wonderful day. Blessings, Pamela

  6. says

    You make it sound so easy! I’ve always been a little intimidated by cast iron from reading about smoke points and which oil to use, etc. (I actually have a bottle of flax oil in my cupboard that I’ve been too afraid to try in case it’s smokey. I’ve heard it creates the best seasoning, though. . .) Maybe I’ll give it a go with vegetable oil. :)

    Have you ever done any tutorials or posts about your photography/image editing? It’s one of my favorite things about your blog. :) I did a quick search but couldn’t find anything. . .

  7. says

    I bake cornbread in mine most of the time so I really never wash it in soap. I wipe it out with a paper towel. I just bought a vintage square cast iron chicken fryer. It’s sides are about two and a half inches high. I have not made cornbread in it yet but when I do it will be pretty and thick.

  8. says

    That’s all my parents would cook out of when I was growing up. I can’t believe I haven’t added one to my kitchen … yet! Thanks for the wonderful tips to season them properly because I’m sure I would’ve skipped that step and ruined it! LOL

  9. says

    I love cooking with cast iron pans. I have three: one with deep sides bought new, a large skillet that was my grandmother’s, and a tiny skillet that my mom gave me that she inherited from someone. Your seasoning tips will be helpful to many readers.

  10. says

    I will never forget my Grandmother’s steak cooked in her cast iron pan in butter. And, the gravy she made with that was so good. I know it had tea in it. It was amazing!

  11. says

    Great post, Yvonne! I love cast iron too. My mother made the best cornbread ever in her skillet! When I was much younger, my husband thought I was crazy to ask for a cast iron skillet for Christmas one year. I was so thrilled when I received it. I have two skillets and a cast iron stew pot today and wouldn’t take anything for them. I fully intend to pass them on to my daughter one day because there’s just no way to replicate the wonderful effect that years of use has on cast iron. In the beginning, I always used sudsy water to clean mine and could never figure out why it never stayed seasoned (even when wiping down with oil). Finally, someone told me to never ever use soap, but to use kosher salt instead. It acts as a great scrub and I rarely have to pull out the plastic scrubby thingy. Just dump a generous amount into a hot (be careful!) skillet and “scrub” the salt around with a paper towel. The only time I ever use suds is if I’ve cooked something like fish in the skillet and even then, I just give it a quick swipe.

  12. says

    I was just thinking about re-seasoning my pans a couple of days ago. I LOVE cooking with cast iron!!! My large one makes a great “griddle” when I’m doing burgers. It’s big enough for me to do the burgers, grill the onions and then toast the buttered buns like they do in greasy spoon restaurants. Love it! I have always washed mine with soap and water with no ill effects, but I’ll give this way a try. Maybe I won’t have to re-season as often!

  13. Jackie says

    I just cooked a roast in my brand new cast iron dutch oven. I’m unsure how much to “clean” the pot. I ran hot water into it and scrubbed the insides with a plastic scrubber, and a copper scrubber (hope that was ok), and there’s still a ring of gunk around the upper inside of the pot. Do I need to keep scrubbing? Use salt? Please help me settle my nerves.

  14. says

    If you inherit a cast iron pan that is gunky and rough you can clean that all off by building a campfire and put the pan right down in the flames. Put it right on the coals and all. Let it get almost red hot and it will burn away all that built up grease etc. Let it cool completely before touching it or you will get a nasty burn. After you have done this, wash the ashes off and season as usual. My Mother and Grandmother taught me to do this years ago. Sometimes you can find one cheap at a yard sale because people think they are nasty or ruined. It is a simple think to correct. Great tute..

  15. says

    I had two very rusty cast-iron pans that I was ready to get rid of because no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get rid of the rust. I had an Ah-Ha moment today, and decided to try the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I ran it under water and then started lightly scrubbing, and the rust lifted up and was rinsed down the drain! Now I have to reseason the two pans and will finally be able to use them again! Easy, easy, easy!

  16. says

    I wonder if you could do the re-seasoning on a covered gas grill. We have several sizes, but my favorite is the one my husband cooks cornbread in and he won’t let me use it for other cooking. I keep looking at Good Will and yard sales for an expensive one for me.

  17. says

    I love my cast iron skillets. I wouldnt use anything else. Plus there are no chemical residues like with teflon. I use coconut oil to season my pans and they dont get sticky at all. Thank you for the article!

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