Heavy, durable, and effortlessly stylish, cast-iron cookware is deservedly popular. Whatever you're cooking, it's always worth making sure that your skillet is up to the task. Here's our guide on how to season a cast iron skillet.
Heavy, durable, and effortlessly stylish, cast-iron cookware is deservedly popular. It's also valued for its ability to retain high temperatures for a long time, ideal for tender meats and delicious sauces.
Whether you're about to get stuck into the family favourite, shakshuka, or you're turning up the heat to sear a steak to perfection, it's always worth making sure that your skillet is up to the task. Here's our guide on how to season a cast iron skillet.
How to season a cast iron skillet: Our step-by-step guide
Ventilate your kitchen
Firstly, you should always open your windows and turn on any extractor fans before starting to season your skillet. The process is naturally very hot and creates smoke.
Using an oil that performs well at high temperatures, cover the entire skillet including the inside, outside, and the handle. Spread an even, thin coating using a kitchen towel or rag.
Well-seasoned cast iron skillets can be oiled lightly after each use. Over time, this creates a sleek, glossy finish on the inside of the pan.
Heat it up
Lastly, you'll need to complete the seasoning process by turning up the heat on your stove. Wait between 5 to 10 minutes for the pan to start smoking.
Once you start noticing smoke on the pan, apply another thin layer of oil with the rag. Keep the pan on the heat until the pan starts to turn a deep brown, almost-black colour. At that point, turn off the stove and allow the skillet to cool.
Wipe it down and dry it
Once you've finished, always make sure your skillet is dry before putting it away. This prevents any extra rust forming.
Nadiya Hussain explains how to preseason a cast iron skillet
Great British Bake Off Winner Nadiya Hussain shows us how to preseason a Cast Iron Frying Pan from our Nadiya x Prestige range!
What is seasoning a cast iron skillet?
Seasoning is a crucial process for any pans made of certain materials. Not every type of skillet or frying pan needs to be seasoned, but those that do include carbon steel, hard-coated aluminium, and cast-iron skillets and pans.
When a pan is seasoned, a natural non-stick coating starts to form on the surface of the pan. Over time, a darker, protective layer known as 'patina' develops as oils and fats are released onto the cooking surface.
Do I need to season a cast iron skillet?
If you're serious about producing consistently high-quality results in the kitchen with your cast iron skillet, we'd definitely recommend seasoning it. Keeping your cast iron skillet seasoned protects it against rust, promoting its overall longevity.
How long does it take to season a cast iron skillet?
Seasoning a cast iron skillet on the stovetop shouldn't take much longer than an hour, including cooling down time. It's important to adjust the temperature used and time taken to season your pan according to the type of oil you use – so we've explained more about oils below.
Which oil should I use to season my skillet?
Oil is necessary to season a cast iron skillet or any other type of pan, but you'll need to choose the right type. Aim for an oil with a high smoke point and a neutral flavour profile too.
Some of the best oils to season cast iron with include:
Popular among cast iron specialists and professional chefs in Michelin-endorsed restaurants, grapeseed oil has a high smoke point and neutral flavour.
Praised for its health benefits, avocado oil is neutral-flavoured and will season a cast iron skillet perfectly. It's also used by professionals and just a little bit on the expensive side.
Canola (rapeseed) oil
Canola and soy-based oils are inexpensive and readily available. They also have very high smoke points, making them ideal for seasoning.
You can season a cast iron skillet with vegetable oil, but you'll need to choose carefully. Vegetable oil is accessible and affordable, but only refined blends provide the best results.
Coconut oil is also suitable, but you'll need to consider the flavour of the oil before you choose to season your cast iron skillet with it. If you do choose to season with coconut oil, the first few meals you make might take on a slightly sweet, nutty undertone.
Can I season a cast iron skillet with olive oil?
It's not recommended to use olive oil to season your cast iron skillet – or any other type of pan. Olive oil has a lower smoke point, so while it is possible to use it to season your pan, you'll need to do so at lower temperatures and over longer time intervals.
If you love the taste and the health benefits of olive oil, you can still use it to season your skillet.
Can you re-season a cast iron skillet?
Once you've learned how to season a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, it's unlikely that you'll need to do it again in a hurry. However, most cast-iron pans – and particularly ones that get used every day – should be re-seasoned from time to time.
If your cast iron skillet has patches of rust, looks a bit dull, or has lost some of its non-stick coating, it's time to re-season it. You can restore it to its former glory by following the same steps you used to season it for the first time, just with some cleaning beforehand.
Nadiya Hussain explains how to clean a cast iron skillet
How to re-season a cast iron skillet
Even if you've been giving your cast iron skillet a quick wipe down after cooking, you'll need to clean it thoroughly before you re-season it.
Scrub it well in hot, soapy water to remove old residue and any food deposits
To remove rust patches, use a nylon scrubbing brush or a steel wool scouring pad
Once you've cleaned the pan, pat it dry inside and out
Then, go ahead and repeat the seasoning process with an oil of your choice
Discover premium cast iron cookware with Prestige
We've teamed up with TV chef Nadiya Hussain to bring you a range of long-lasting, versatile and durable cast iron cookware. Loved for its strength and longevity, Nadiya's cast iron collection is suitable for all hob types including induction. It can even be used on BBQ's for alfresco serving & dining. Look after your cast iron cookware properly and it will last a lifetime.
If you have any questions about caring for your pans and skillets, don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.