How to season cast iron cookware in a few simple steps

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Some home cooks may think that cast iron is old fashioned, hard to maintain, and even low quality because it is relatively inexpensive compared to other cookware materials. But experienced chefs know better and rely on it for all types of food preparation.

Cast iron cookware is versatile, and you can find everything from skillets to Dutch ovens to cake pans that are safe to use with electric, ceramic, gas, and open fire cooktops. A cast iron skillet not only conducts heat well, but it also retains that heat for a longer period than other metals. This helps foods cook evenly and at a lower temperature resulting in a crispy exterior and moist interior.

Cast iron cookware has been around since it originated in China in the sixth century BC. The process of creating a skillet from molten metal poured into a mold hasn't changed much in the years since. One change has been the process of coating the cast iron with a vitreous enamel glaze. This glaze, signature to Le Creuset cookware, helps prevent rusting, eliminates the need to season the metal to keep it non-stick, and adds a colorful flair to the cookware.

Almost all cast iron cookware sold today comes pre-seasoned. This means that a coating of vegetable oil has been applied to prevent rusting and to prevent food from sticking. This cookware can be used right away after a quick rinse in hot water and a thorough drying.

However, you will need to season your cookware regularly. Even with proper care, cast iron cookware can become damaged after years of use and develop problem areas causing food to stick. Below, we break down to how to season cast iron cookware.

How to season cast iron pans and other cookware

  1. Heat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash the cookware inside and out with hot, soapy water using a plastic scrubber.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and dry completely with paper towels.
  4. Using a paper towel saturated with at least one tablespoon of vegetable oil or melted solid vegetable shortening, wipe down the inside and outside of the cast iron. Leave a thin coating and mop up any excess oil on the surfaces.
  5. Place the cast iron upside down in the hot oven and bake for one hour. If you are concerned about oil dripping into the oven, place a disposable baking sheet or aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven.
  6. Turn off the oven and allow the cast iron to cool completely before removing.

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Read our full guide on how to clean cast iron cookware.

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