How to look after and season cast iron kitchen pans

Seasoning a cast iron pan is the ONE thing you can do to make sure your pans last a lifetime. It’s the essential step in building up a natural non-stick layer. And will also protect your pans from rust.

Sous Chef’s Cast Iron expert Kristin Lohse is our cookware buyer. She has many years of experience using, testing and cooking with a huge breadth of pots and pans. She shares her expertise from her career looking for the very best cast iron pans.

We’ll cover:

  • How to season a cast iron pan for the first time
  • How to season cast iron in an oven
  • How to season cast iron on a stove
  • How long to season cast iron for
  • How often to season cast iron

Become a cast iron expert, with our ultimate guide to cast iron pans. And browse all cast iron cookware at Sous Chef.

How to season a cast iron pan for the first time

How to season cast iron in oven

cast iron pan in oven

Seasoning your cast iron pan for the first time sets the foundation for a non-stick surface and a lifetime of cooking. Here’s a simple way to do it right. This is how we prefer to season for the first time, using an oven.

  • Begin by heating your oven to as high as it will go - about  250°C. This prepares the pan for a thorough seasoning process. While the oven warms, wash your pan with warm, soapy water. Rinse it well and dry it completely to avoid rust.
  • Next, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening to the entire pan, inside and out. Make sure the coating is very thin, and completely even, to prevent a sticky residue or the seasoning flaking off over time. Use a cloth or paper towel for an even application.
  • Place the pan upside down in the preheated oven. Put a sheet of aluminium foil or a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips. Bake for one hour to let the oil polymerize, creating a hard, protective layer.
  • After baking, turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside until it's safe to handle. This slow cooling process helps the seasoning to set properly.
  • Once your pan is cool, it’s ready for use. Your first seasoning forms the base for a durable, non-stick surface that improves with each use. Remember, after cooking, clean your pan with a brush and hot water, dry it thoroughly, and apply a light layer of oil before storing. This keeps your cast iron in perfect condition, ready for whatever you cook up next.

How to season cast iron on stove

season cast iron pan stove

Seasoning cast iron on the stove is a quick method to enhance its non-stick surface. Here's an efficient way to do it.

  • Start by cleaning your pan with warm water and a brush. If it's new, a mild soap can be used. Dry it thoroughly to avoid rust.
  • Next, place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Let it warm up to open the pores of the iron. This helps absorb the oil better.
  • Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the pan's surface. Use a paper towel or cloth to spread it evenly. Ensure the entire pan, including the outside and handle (if it is made of cast iron), is coated.
  • Keep the pan on medium heat. You'll see the oil start to smoke. This is the oil polymerizing, which creates the non-stick layer. Rotate the pan to ensure even heating and oil coverage.
  • After the smoking stops, turn off the heat and let the pan cool on the stove. Once it's cool enough to handle, wipe out any excess oil with a paper towel.

This method quickly seasons your pan, making it ready for cooking. Remember, after each use, clean with hot water, dry thoroughly, and apply a light coat of oil. This maintains the seasoning and extends the life of your cast iron.

How long to season cast iron for

The time it takes to season cast iron effectively depends on the method you use. 

The key to a well-seasoned cast iron pan is the oil's polymerization time. This creates the protective layer that makes cast iron cookware non-stick and resistant to rust.

  • For oven seasoning, preheat your oven to 250°C - or as high as it will go. After applying a thin layer of oil to your pan, bake it for one hour. This duration allows the oil to fully polymerize, creating a durable, non-stick coating. After baking, let the pan cool in the oven, ensuring the seasoning sets well.
  • If seasoning on the stove, the process is much quicker. Heat the pan with a thin layer of oil until it starts to smoke. This typically takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Once the pan stops smoking, turn off the heat and let it cool down on the stove.

How often to season cast iron

Knowing when and how often to season cast iron pan ensures it remains non-stick and rust-free. 

  • Initially, seasoning a new cast iron pan 2-3 times before first use is recommended. This builds up a strong base layer of seasoning.
  • For ongoing maintenance, re-season your pan whenever it looks dull or after cooking acidic foods, which can strip the seasoning. 
  • Typically, seasoning every few months suffices, depending on usage. 

Listening to your cast iron and observing its surface will guide you in keeping it in prime condition. Regular care, including a light oiling after each use, will keep the need for full re-seasoning to a minimum.

What temperature to season cast iron?

Kristin says : “I usually preheat my oven as high as it will go, about 250°C”.

This is optimal for the oil to polymerize and form a durable, non-stick coating on the pan. Before starting, preheat your oven to this temperature range.

Why is cast iron good for cooking?

Cast iron pans are the choice of many chefs, due to their fantastic heat retention properties, heavy-duty pan bases and even heat distribution. A good cast iron pan should last a lifetime, or even longer. Look after your pans with our guide to seasoning and cleaning cast iron.

How to clean a cast iron pan

For everyday cleaning after cooking:

  1. Wash your pans in warm water without any detergent. 
  2. Avoid putting your cast iron in the dishwasher. 
  3. Make sure the pan is completely dry after washing.

If food is burnt on to the pan you can use wire wool to scrub it off, and then season the pan to repair the surface.

For more occasional, thorough cleaning: 

  1. Cover the base of the pan with a layer of coarse salt and a little water. 
  2. Heat the pan at a high temperature for 1-2 minutes until all the water has evaporated.
  3. Rinse away the salt and wipe the pan with paper.
  4. The product will now have a grey tint, which means it is ready to be seasoned again.

How to season cast iron

‘Seasoning’ means adding a protective layer to the pan, which helps to form a non-stick surface and protect your pan from rusting. A seasoned cast iron pan should look black.To season the pan: 

  1. Add a thin layer of canola oil to the dry pan. 
  2. After adding oil, heat the pan to a high temperature, either on the stove or in the oven, depending on the handle. A wooden handle cannot be put in the oven. 
  3. After about 10-15 minutes when the oil has stopped smoking, the product is seasoned, black and ready for use.

What is the best oil to season cast iron pans?

All of Skeppshult’s products intended for cooking are seasoned with canola oil from Österlen. This process gives the products their black color and a natural non-stick protection, without using any unpleasant plastic gasses that can be found in some other non-stick coated pans.

What shouldn’t you cook in cast iron?

Some acidic food can damage the cast iron patina, such as very sharp tomato sauces or dishes with a lot of wine in. However, you can re season your pan to prevent any long term damage. You may find that some very delicate dishes stick to cast iron, before it develops its non-stick quality – such as fish or gyoza dumplings.

How to season and clean cast iron pans

View our range of Skeppshult Cast Iron from Sweden here

Can products from Skeppshult be used right away or to they need to be pre-treated?

All products from Skeppshult are ready for immediate use. No pre-treatment is necessary. You might want to give your pan a quick rinse in hot water to get rid of possible dust. 

Can Skeppshult’s products be used on induction cooktops?

Yes, Skeppshult’s cast iron products are well suited for induction stoves. Induction hobs work by magnetism, which heats up any magnetic substance, such as iron or stainless steel, that is placed on the hob. Skeppshult’s cast iron pans have thick and solid iron bottoms which are superior to thinner pans that cannot take up and distribute heat as well.

Shop all kitchen pots and pans here. Read more about which pan to buy in our Buyer’s Guide to Induction Pans.

1 comment

  • My husband used it for the first time, and followed the instructions to the letter, ie, he rinsed it under the tap, nothing else. The beef fillet he was trying to brown stuck terribly to the bottom of the pan, resulting in the meat tearing. He was rather disappointed, to say the least. Either the pan is not pre-seasoned enough, or the temperature was wrong. (He used the same temperature that he normally does.)
    I would be interested to hear what Skeppshult has to say in response.

    Kathy Grant on

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