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    How to Restore, Season and Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

    Published March 25, 2020. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Have an old rusty cast iron skillet?  No need to throw it away because it’s incredibly easy to restore and season back to its glory days.  Once it’s good to go it’s even easier to keep clean after use.

    I’m obsessed with cooking in cast iron.  It’s incredibly safe and easy to metal for cooking.  When pans get hot, they secrete what element they are so when the iron gets hot it secretes iron, which is good for you.

    seasoned cast-iron pan


     

    It’s the perfect pan to cook pork chops, roast chicken, and really just about anything you are looking to cook on the stovetop or in the oven.  The most important part is maintaining once it is seasoned up.  If you do that, a cast iron skillet can last generations.

    How to Clean Cast Iron

    Follow these easy steps if your skillet has any rust spots or if it’s completely coated in rust.

    Scrub with hot water using a nonabrasive scour pad with coarse salt or a brillo pad on all sides of the skillet until all of the rust spots are gone.

    scrubbing a cast-iron skillet with a brillo pad

    Place in the oven at 350° for over a burner on high heat to make sure there is no lingering moisture.  Likewise, you can thoroughly dry with a dishtowel.

    drying a wet cast-iron skillet

    How to Season it

    Now that your pan is clean it’s now time to season it with oil.  Any cooking oil will work to season cast iron, however, it will all depend on availability and affordability.  The absolute best oil to use is flaxseed oil because it is a drying oil and will transform into a hard film coating the pan once it’s seasoned.

    Some other good oils to use are:

    • Coconut Oil
    • Vegetable Shortening
    • Olive oil
    • Vegetable Oil
    • Grapeseed Oil
    • Canola Oil
    • Sunflower Oil

    Follow these directions for seasoning:

    1. Once the skillet is clean, generously rub it down with a paper towel on all sides with 3 tablespoons of your desired seasoning oil to create a thick coat.
    rubbing oil into a cast-iron pan
    1. Using a separate paper towel rub it down again to soak up any excess oil.
    removing excess oil from a pan with a paper towel
    1. Place the pan upside down on a rack in the middle of your oven and cook at 500° for 1 hour. I recommend placing a sheet of foil underneath to catch any oil that may drip off.
    baking a cast-iron pan upside down in the oven

    Now you are ready to use your pan.

    Cleaning the Pan

    After you do your first cook in your seasoned-up skillet now it’s time to clean it and maintain it so that it lasts several lifetimes.  Follow these instructions on how to do so:

    Be sure to drain off any excess cooking oil from the pan before cleaning it.

    draining cooked in oil from a pan

    Scrub with hot water using a nonabrasive scour pad with coarse salt or a soft bristle brush until all unwanted food particles have been removed.

    scrubbing a pan under water

    Place in the oven at 350° for over a burner on high heat to make sure there is no lingering moisture.  Likewise, you can thoroughly dry with a dishtowel.

    drying a pan with a hand towel

    Add a thin coat of oil and rub it down with a paper towel on all sides to create a thin seasoning coat.

    adding oil to a pan with a paper towel

    You can store it at this point if you plan to use it frequently.  If you don’t plan to use the pan for a while, then place it upside down on a rack in the middle of your oven and cook at 500° or over a burner on high heat until it reaches the oil smoking point.  You do this so the oil does not spoil.

    heating a pan on a cooktop
    Chef Billy Parisi

    chef notes + tips

    • There is no cast-iron pan that is too far out of reach to be cleaned using this process.
    • Anything can be cooked in a seasoned-up cast iron skillet, even something as simple as sautéed vegetables.
    • The same process also applies to carbon steel pans
    cleaned cast-iron pan

    Use Your Seasoned Pan in These Recipes

    Be sure to follow me on FacebookYoutube, Instagram, and Pinterest, and if you’ve had a chance to make this, then definitely drop me a comment and a rating below!

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    How to Restore, Season and Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

    5 from 5 votes
    Learn how easy it is to restore, season and clean your old cast iron skillet so that it will last for generations to come.
    Servings: 1 Clean Pan
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

    Equipment

    • cast-iron pan

    Ingredients 

    • 1 cast iron skillet
    • 1 brillo pad
    • 4 tablespoons oil
    • nonabrasive scour pad with 2 tablespoons of salt or soft bristle cleaning brush

    Instructions

    • To Restore: Scrub under hot water using a brillo pad on all sides to remove all rust spots.
    • Dry thoroughly using a kitchen towel or on a stovetop burner on high heat.
    • To Season: Generously rub 3 tablespoons of oil into both sides of the pan using a paper towel.
    • Next, use a separate paper towel to remove any excess left on oil.
    • Place upside down in the middle of your oven rack at 500° for 1 hour. Store or use.
    • To Maintain: Scrub with hot water using a nonabrasive scour pad with 2 tablespoons of salt or a soft bristle cleaning brush to remove all unwanted stuck-on food particles.
    • Dry thoroughly using a kitchen towel or on a stovetop burner on high heat.
    • Add 1 tablespoon of oil and rub it into the pan on both sides.
    • Place in the oven on the middle rack at 500° or over a burner on high heat until it reaches the oil smoking point. You do this so the oil does not spoil.
    • Cool and store.

    Notes

    Chef Notes:
    There is no cast-iron pan that is too far out of reach to be cleaned using this process.
    Anything can be cooked in a seasoned-up cast iron skillet, even something as simple as sautéed vegetables.
    The same process also applies to carbon steel pans
    Course: dinner, lunch
    Cuisine: American, French