The Best Oil For Seasoning Cast-Iron Cookware

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about why it’s necessary to season your cast-iron cookware and how exactly to go about it.

It can be tricky to figure out precisely what is and isn’t needed in this process, so I have compiled an “all you need to know” guide.

For more kitchen guides, have a look at How to Clean a Microwave With Lemon or the Best Methods To Clean Your Oven.

 OIL FOR SEASONING CAST-IRON COOKWARE.

Why is cast-iron cookware seasoning important?

The seasoning of your cast-iron cookware involves a process of building and leaving a layer of oil on the surface of your pans and skillets. The purpose of this is to create a non-stick and rust-resistant coating.

When cast iron is manufactured, the surface is porous, which can result in food sticking to it. By seasoning the cookware, a layer of oil is baked into the pores of the metal, filling in the rough surface and creating a smooth, non-stick surface.

To season a cast-iron skillet or other cookware, you first need to clean it and remove any rust or food debris. Next, you’ll need to brush on a thin layer of oil to the cookware’s surface and bake it in an oven at a high temperature for an extended period.

The heat causes the oil to polymerize, creating a challenging, non-stick layer on the surface of the cast iron.

The process of seasoning cast-iron cookware may need to be repeated periodically to maintain the non-stick surface. When properly maintained, a seasoned cast-iron skillet or griddle can provide excellent cooking performance for many years.

THE BEST OIL FOR SEASONING CAST-IRON COOKWARE

Choosing the right oil for seasoning cast-iron cookware

First, choose an oil with a high smoke point, meaning it can withstand high temperatures without burning or smoking.

Oils with low smoke points, such as butter or olive oil, can burn and become rancid. This is not great regarding taste and the impact this can have on the end dish.

Good options for seasoning cast-iron cookware include vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and flaxseed oil.

Another thing to consider is the oil’s ability to polymerize or form a hard, non-stick coating on the cast iron.

Flaxseed oil is often considered the best oil for seasoning cast-iron cookware because despite having a low smoke point. Other oils, such as vegetable, canola, or grapeseed, can also work well for seasoning cast-iron cookware but need a couple of rounds of seasoning to build up an excellent non-stick coating.

Top oils for seasoning cast-iron cookware

What to look for in a cast-iron seasoning oil

Here is what you want from your seasoning oil:

What to look for in a cast-iron seasoning oil

High Smoke point

Smoke point and stability are essential to consider when choosing an oil for seasoning cast-iron cookware.

When oil reaches its smoke point, it can release black smoke and unpleasant flavors and break down into harmful compounds that can be really bad for you.

For seasoning cast-iron cookware, choosing an oil with a high smoke point is important, as the cookware is often heated to high temperatures during the seasoning process.

Taste

In terms of taste, the seasoning layer can impart a subtle flavor to the food being cooked. This flavor can vary depending on the oil used to season the cookware, and some oils may have a more pronounced flavor than others.

For example, oils such as coconut oil or bacon grease can impart a more robust flavor to the food. The flavor contribution of the seasoning layer is generally minimal and should not significantly impact the overall taste of the food.

Top oils for seasoning cast-iron cookware

Here is a selection of oils that work really well in seasoning cast iron.

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Peanut oil

How to season cast-iron cookware

The process of seasoning cast-iron cookware is relatively simple. It involves applying a layer of oil to the cookware’s surface and heating it in the oven to create a durable and non-stick surface.

Here are the steps for seasoning cast-iron cookware:

How to season cast-iron cookware
How to season cast-iron cookware

Preparing the cast-iron surface

Clean the cookware: Before seasoning your cast-iron cookware, you should clean it thoroughly to remove any dirt or grease. Use a stiff brush to remove any debris, and wash the cookware with hot water and a sponge but avoid using soap, as it can strip away the seasoning on the cookware.

Dry the cookware: After cleaning the cookware, dry it thoroughly with a clean towel. You can also heat the cookware on the stove for a few minutes to ensure that it’s dry.

Applying the oil

Apply a layer of oil: Once the cookware is dry, apply a thin layer of oil to the cookware’s surface. Use a paper towel or a clean cloth to spread the oil evenly over the surface.

Heating and cooling the cookware

Heat the cookware in the oven: After applying the oil, heat the cookware in the oven to a high temperature. The exact temperature and duration of the heating process will depend on the specific type of oil you’re using and the size of the cookware.

The standard method is to heat the cookware in the oven at 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.

Let the cookware cool: After heating it turn off the oven and let it cool. You can leave the cookware in the oven as it cools down, or you can remove it and let it cool on the countertop.

Repeating the process

Repeat the process: Depending on the condition of your cookware, you may need to repeat the seasoning process several times to create a durable and non-stick surface. Each time you season the cookware, you’ll build up a layer of seasoning that will help prevent food from sticking to the surface.

Wrapping it up

Learning to love and care for your cookware will ensure you keep it as long as possible. I hope this helped you figure out the best oil for seasoning your cast-iron cookware and that you have fun doing it.

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26 Comments

  1. This information is excellent. I’ve been wanting to clean and season cast iron cookware that I received several years after my grandparents passed away. How do you clean cast iron skillets and pots that have fairly heavy rust. These were not stored properly when my grandparents passed away.

    1. Tamira Houston says:

      I love all the advice that I get from Miss Keesha’s website and I’m sure any advice that you get from her will help you be a great success your own kitchen, nice to meet you πŸ‘ and may God BLESS You πŸ™.

      1. Thanks for your info. I’ve been using high quality olive oil, have to season quite often!
        I’m switching to flax seed oil.

        1. K E Froeschner says:

          Sand paper. The water proof kind.

        2. david wilson says:

          Best oil for seasoning cast iron is good old bacon drippings. Two or three applications results in a beautiful layer of non stick

    2. Maggie Doyle says:

      Get a drill with a wire brush bit and brush the rust off.

      1. Do you think a Dremel with one of the gold colored wheels would work for this? I don’t have a drill? I did watch a YouTube vid of a man using a drill with sandpaper I think, once. He really made it a huge process cleaning and preparing his skillets.

    3. If you’re familiar with electrolysis tanks you can build one. Lye bath also works. Google both of these things to learn the proper set up and process. You need a vinegar bath after the lye if you choose lye. The vinegar will neutralize the lye and render it harmless. Please never take a wire wheel or brush to your cast iron. It will ruin it.

    4. Hey Rod, I use a Brillo, or SOS pad. Sometimes several times before adding oil and putting into the oven. After washing, I put on a burner ( on high) to let the water evaporate. Hope this helps.

      1. Good tips! I didn’t know you had to put it in the oven after greasing the skillet. I’ll have to try that soon.

        For a natural wire brush alternative, you can use Kosher Salt. Pour some on & rub it around to clean off any cooking remnants & give it a rinse afterwards.

    5. My Grams searched thrift stores, and eventually gave all us girls a set of cast iron.
      First thing she did was a vinegar scrub. Then progressively finer steel wool scrub with oil and table salt, inside and out.
      Finally, baked 3 separate times with bacon grease (although I use flaxseed oil now).
      Fried eggs and pancakes slide out better than a teflon pan!

      1. Can you give a description of what flaxseed oil may impart into the food? If you can taste it at all? I’m just really curious how the different oils flavor the pans…thanks

    6. If you have a self-cleaning oven, put them through a cycle.
      I’ve restored several this way.
      If there is rust remaining, brush it off, then seal with oil several times.

    7. Scouring pans or
      100 grit sandpaper

      Depending on the amount of rust start with a lower number on the sandpaper grit and move to a higher. I wouldn’t go lower than 80.

    8. Try Kosher salt.
      Use the salt by scrubbing into the cookware.
      Roise and dry.

  2. Darren McCauley says:

    After 49 years of not knowing exactly how to season a cast iron pain…πŸ˜„ Now I will never forget! Thank you fer explaining in a way that was simple and effective!

    1. Tamara Byrd says:

      They make chainmail scrubbers to clean cast iron with, they’re available at Walmart, Amazon etc and come in all different shapes, sizes and designs.

      1. Treshana Bryce says:

        I am looking to search for food.

  3. Syida shakur says:

    I have wanted a cast iron cookware once I became an adult..first off fione was a very little on ..( for eggs)
    Finally brought the rite size and after receiving it didn’t know how much work my mom put into hers.Thanks.

  4. HikingStick says:

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with your assessment of the best oils for cast iron. In my opinion, the best oil for seasoning cast iron is sesame oil.

  5. I have found that Ghee, clarified butter, is best for seasoning my cast iron.

  6. Being born and raised in the south, this is the way my old timer grandparents seasoned their cast iron. When bought new, it has a silver tinted finis to it. My grandfather would always build a bond fire, coat the pan in crisco cooking lard, and throw the pan it the fire and leave it there til it was completely red. We actually think it was melting. But he never melted any of them. Hed take it out of the fire, let it cool, and it would by then be black. My grandmother never wiped with cloth either. She’d use paper towels or news paper to dry the extra oil out as cloth will dry it out too dry. They taught me and all my cousins how to use cast iron and how to cook on a wood stove. I still use cast iron but no longer have a wood stove. And I still season my cast iron the way my grandparents taught me as I’ve taught my daughter and my cousins have taught their children. My mom and all my aunts knew this also but my grandparents taught it. They only did it for the first seasoning tho. After that, my grandmother would use bacon grease and put the skillet in her oven section of her cooking wood stove to keep them seasoned. I miss my parents and grandparents very much but I still remember things they taught me. I’ll always take those lessons and continue to teach my daughter and her daughters all that I was taught. Younger generations need these lessons as I make sure my daughter is teaching them to my two granddaughters. God bless the south and the way things here was and still are being taught.

    1. Hi, do you use this combination of oils for the flavor it imparts an also, do you still heat it at the same high temps 375-400Β° for approx 1 hour?
      Thanks

    2. Hi,
      I think my 1st comment to your post was actually for another post. I have heard of coating the skillet in something like lard or crisco and putting it in a fire until red… That does make total sense to me, I think the next time we go camping I’m going to load up all (9) of my skillets and Dutch oven and do just that! You mentioned you use bacon grease after that…I’m assuming you coat the skillets with bacon grease and heat them in the oven in high heat?
      Thanks,
      Bobbi