How to Season a Dutch Oven

Versatile and reliable, Dutch ovens are kitchen powerhouses. Here's how to season a Dutch oven so it remains in great shape year after year.

Dutch ovens are a perennial favorite for a reason. Not only are they great conductors of heat, but their durable cast iron construction will last for years to come, making them cherished family heirlooms. If you’ve received Grandma’s well-loved Dutch oven and it’s looking worse for wear, a little TLC will have it looking good as new—and ready for one of these delicious Dutch oven recipes. Here’s how to season a cast-iron Dutch oven.

What Does It Mean to Season a Dutch Oven?

Seasoning a Dutch oven is the process of adhering oil to protect the cast-iron material, prevent rust and create a nonstick surface. It’s important to season before the first use to remove any residual contaminants from the factory. As you continue to use the Dutch oven, the coating will be reinforced and should make the cooking process better each time.

Enameled Dutch ovens do not have to be seasoned. While they are made from cast iron, their enameled coating gives them a nonporous surface, which is easier to clean and less prone to rusting.

How to Season a New Dutch Oven

Although many new Dutch ovens are factory-seasoned, it doesn’t hurt to season it yourself. If you’re in the market for a new one, here’s a list of the best Dutch ovens our team recommends.

Some manufacturers apply wax to new Dutch ovens to prevent them from rusting before purchase, which you’ll want to remove before use. To do that, place an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven, and place the Dutch oven upside down on the top rack. Bake at 400° for an hour. Once the wax is melted off, you can begin the seasoning process.

Here’s how to season a new Dutch oven:

What you’ll need:

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

Instructions:

Step 1:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, stick it on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 400°.

Step 2:

Scrub the Dutch oven with soapy water and a stiff brush. Thoroughly dry it with a towel.

Step 3:

Apply a layer of vegetable oil with a paper towel to the entire oven and lid. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 4:

Place the lid and the Dutch oven upside down on the upper rack of your oven. Bake for one hour. You may see smoke from the oil, so it’s a good idea to open the windows and have adequate ventilation.

Step 5:

Turn off the oven and let the Dutch oven cool for 30 minutes before removing it.

That’s it! The Dutch oven has been seasoned. If you see any gaps in the shiny black sheen, you may have to repeat the process until you reach the desired finish.

How Do You Reseason a Cast-Iron Dutch Oven?

As you cook with oil in your Dutch oven, the surface will improve after each use. But sometimes the coating can deteriorate, rust or lose its nonstick qualities. Acidic foods, like tomatoes, are especially harsh on cast iron. Here’s how to clean cast iron in between uses.

If your Dutch oven has substantial rust, you’ll need to strip it completely with a special cleaner and begin the seasoning process from the start. Here’s our full guide to removing rust from cast iron.

Otherwise, if your Dutch oven just needs a refresh, ensure it’s free of any baked-on food by thoroughly scrubbing it with hot water. If you need soap, use just a little mild dish soap. Towel dry it, and follow Steps 1 and 3-5 above.

Your revitalized Dutch oven will soon be ready for one of these quick and simple recipes.

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Alexa Hackfort
Alexa is a writer who believes there’s always room for ice cream. Based in Milwaukee, she enjoys exploring the city, tackling new recipes and planning her next trip.