How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet

Our Test Kitchen shows you how to season a cast-iron skillet to keep it in tip-top shape.

Cast-iron skillets are one of our favorite kitchen tools (this one won our hearts). But along with those incredible steaks and deep-dish pizzas, these skillets come with a hard-to-clean reputation. Lucky for cast iron lovers, it’s not true!

For daily cleaning, rinse with hot water, using a stiff nylon brush to remove residue. Use a mild dish soap for extremely greasy pans. And don’t submerge a hot pan in cold water; it can crack. Towel-dry and apply a light coat of oil while the pan is warm.

But when you use it as much as Grandma did, even if you clean it daily, you might notice food starting to stick. That means it’s time to re-season the pan.

Psst: Master cast iron cooking with our guide.

Seasoning a Cast-Iron Skillet

Seasoning is the process of adhering oil to the surface to create a nonstick coating. New pans are factory-seasoned, but if you have an older pan, here’s what to do.

What you’ll need:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Stiff brush
  • Hot, soapy water
  • Clean towel
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions:

Step 1: Line the lower oven rack with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 350°.

Step 2: Scrub the pan with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush to remove any rust. (Watch this video if you need help restoring a really rusty skillet.)

Step 3: Towel-dry and apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the entire pan—outside and handle included.

Step 4: Place on top oven rack, upside down; bake for 1 hour.

Step 5: Turn off the oven and leave the pan inside to cool. Now you’re ready to cook.

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