The Ultimate Guide to Cast Iron Care

Cast Iron Cookware and vintage cutlery.

I would be grateful if you shared this post โค

Cleaning and maintaining a cast iron pan is easy. In this Ultimate Guide to Cast Iron Care, you can find out what is necessary to ensure that you can retain your cast ironware for a long time.

 

Cast iron is perfect for preparing delicious and healthy food. The heat is evenly distributed in a cast iron cookware, which leads to a beautiful cooking result

 

PIN NOW TO SAVE!

Clean and seasoned cast iron skillets - the guide.

 

I remember when my daughter excitedly purchased her first cast iron skillet, and then promptly shoved it into the cabinet never to see the light of day again. 😄

 

It took me a while to get my first skillet, but now I cook with it 90% of the time. Check out my recommendations for the cookware and recipes at the bottom of the post. 

 

Cast iron care

 

If properly cared for, cast iron is a lifetime investment.

 

After learning how to care for, wash, and store your cast iron skillet, it will soon become one of your most used and cherished kitchen gadgets!

 

Set of cast iron pots and pans.

 

Why use cast ironware?

 

There are many reasons why I prefer to use a cast-iron skillet and you should too:

 

  1. It’s versatile – Start something on the stove, and finish it off in the oven. No need to transfer to another dish. You can even use it atop a campfire! Bonus: fewer dishes to clean.
  2. Cleaning is a cinch – all your cast iron needs is a little TLC every once in a while, but if it’s properly cared for, just wipe it down after use and store!
  3. They last forever – If you’ve just inherited your great-grandmother’s skillet, you can attest to this.
  4. They can add iron to your food.
  5. You can use it as a weapon. (Joking, but they are pretty heavy!)

 

The ultimate guide

 

Knowing how to use and care for a cast-iron skillet can seem intimidating, which is why I’ve compiled the ultimate one-stop guide to cast iron care.

 

AVOID THIS WHEN CLEANING YOUR CAST IRON:

A few points one must observe when cleaning and maintaining cast iron pans:

 

  • It is not possible to clean cast iron pans in a dishwasher, as this can result in the loss of their natural protective layer and damage to the patina. 
  • Only use scouring pads to remove flaking or stubborn rust. Don’t use it for regular cleaning as this will destroy the patina that gives cast iron pan dishes their characteristic aroma.
  • You should avoid deliberately soaking leftovers in cast iron pans in water, as this can also damage the surface.

 

Never soak your cast iron or wash in a dishwasher!

 

 

Rusty CI skillets.

 

How to properly care for my cast iron?

 

The great thing about caring for a cast iron skillet is that you can’t mess it up! Even if you’ve made a mistake, or it’s acquired some rust, cast iron is very forgiving, and you can usually rectify the problem. 

 

The most important and the most intimidating part of owning cast iron cookware is seasoning.

 

Seasoning is cast iron lingo for forming a hardened or “polymerized” layer of oil, which will add a non-stick coating to your skillet and prevent it from rusting.

 

Read on for instructions on how to season your cast iron skillet and some other common questions and concerns.

 

WHAT DO I NEED?

  • High smoke point oil
  • Salt
  • Paper towels
  • Kitchen towel (optional)
  • Scrubbing pad (optional)

 

WHAT OIL IS BEST TO USE?

Any oils and fats are okay, according to Lodge, but best is to use high smoke (or high burning) point oils. Those oils are:

 

  • Avocado
  • Almond
  • Corn
  • Canola
  • Grapeseed
  • Peanut
  • Safflower
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower

 

How do I season my skillet?

 

If you search for this online, you will see a thousand different websites with a thousand different methods. I’m going to simplify it for you.

 

Step 1: Wipe the cast iron pan with a paper towel or soft sponge immediately after use. Make sure your skillet is clean and dry. 

Step 2: Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of oil into the skillet (see below which oil to use).

Step 3: Rub the oil into and around the entire skillet with a clean cloth or paper towel. Remove the excess oil.

Step 4: Bake upside down for an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool in the oven.

Step 5: Rub another skinny layer of oil on the pan before storing it.

 

You will know that your pan is adequately seasoned if you have a nice shiny non-stick coat. You’ll know it’s time to re-season when food starts to stick, or your pan starts looking dry and dull.

 

Items needed to clean heavy iron cookware

 

How to clean cast-iron:

 

  • It is generally sufficient to wipe the cast iron pan with a paper towel or soft sponge immediately after use. After your delicious meal of 15-minute Spanish garlic shrimp, let the pan cool a bit and then wipe out any leftover oil with a paper towel.
  • Die-hard ironware fans will tell you to stay away from using soap, but if you need to get rid of harsh food residue, soap is totally fine to use, and here’s why: If your skillet is seasoned correctly the oil is polymerized (hardened).
  • Dish soap is not going to remove your seasoning but is not usually necessary to use in the first place. A gentle scrub and wipe, and you’re done!
  • Make sure you’re not soaking your pan in the sink, as that will cause rust, and ultimately more work to restore it.
  • Thoroughly dry your skillet after cleaning. If you discover seared food when the pan has cooled down completely, hot water can help to remove dried-on residues.

 

Pro tip: Dry your skillet on the stove over low heat while you do the rest of your dishes. Rub with a very light coat of oil before storing it.

 

To avoid damage, never “shock” the hot pan with cold water.

 

HOW TO REMOVE RUST FROM CI COOKWARE:

 

Step away from the trash can! Rust on a cast iron is no big deal, and your pan is easily salvageable with a little elbow grease and a little actual grease.

 

  1. Clean the skillet with warm water and soap if necessary. Wipe it dry with a kitchen or paper towel. 
  2. Scrub it thoroughly with a scrubbing pad, or steel wool to remove rust.
  3. If your skillet is also flaking, add a handful of salt to the oil and rub it into flaky and rusty parts. 
  4. Grease generously inside, outside and the handle with oil. 
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool in the oven.

 

Step by step on removing rust from cast-iron skillet.

 

Pro tips/expert notes:

 

  • Make sure to remove all extra oil from your cast iron skillet before “curing”. Too much oil develops a sticky residue.
  • Depending on the state of your skillet, you might need to repeat cleaning it with salt a couple of times to remove rust successfully. Don’t forget to “cure” it on the stovetop for about 5-10 minutes on medium heat in between; finish process in the oven (step 4).
  • You might want to place a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below the skillet just in case. It might create some smoke.

 

Taking care and maintaining your pans and skillets is easy. You can use the same method to care for cast iron griddle and grill grates.

 

When it comes to enamel cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens, clean them as any other pots and pans you have. No need to “season” them. 

 

Before and after cleaning and seasoning cast iron skillet.

 

How to maintain your cast-iron cookware so you can use it forever. The ultimate #guide! #castiron #skillet #care #maintenance #ironware Click to Tweet

 

Common questions and concerns:

 

1. MY CI SKILLET IS FLAKING

Unlike a Teflon pan, flaking does not mean that your cast iron skillet is ruined. It is time to re-season your skillet, however.

 

Take some coarse salt or a scrubbing pad and clean until all of the flakes come off; rinse and re-season.

 

2. MY CI SKILLET IS STICKY 🍳

The most common reason your skillet could be sticky is that you’ve used too much oil when seasoning it. To get rid of the gunk, use a scouring pad or some coarse sea salt to scrub your pan and rinse it out with water.

 

If you have a thick build-up, or it’s more persistent, pop your skillet in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe it out and re-season.

 

3. WILL CI SCRATCH INDUCTION (GLASS) COOKTOP?

Do not drag or push heavy ironware on the glass/ceramic hotplate. If you lift the pan, you will avoid scratching the surface.

 

Never place cast iron directly on the heat. Heat the pan gradually.

 

4. HOW DO I STORE MY IRONWARE?

Never put a product that is still damp in the cupboard. Store in a dry place and use paper towels in between pans to prevent friction.

 

Store cast ironware with paper towels in between them.

 

5. HOW DO I COOK IN MY CAST IRON SKILLET?

Cooking in your cast iron skillet is no different than cooking in any other pan! The trick is not to add food to a cold pan, so make sure you heat your pan through first.

 

One thing you should avoid cooking in your cast iron skillet is tomato sauce. The acidity in tomatoes can damage the non-stick coating or seasoning of your pan.

 

Always put food in a hot cast-iron skillet.

 

NOTE: There are affiliate links in my posts. This doesn’t change the cost you pay for an item, it just means a tiny (and I mean TINY) commission comes to All that’s Jas to help offset the costs of running this blog. 

 

ESSENTIALS

for Taking Care of Cast Iron


 

Heavy CI skillets and a guide to cleaning them.

 

 CAST IRONWARE RECOMMENDATIONS AND WHAT TO COOK IN IT

 

Lodge mini skillets are perfect for individual servings. Watch your overnight guests swoon over breakfast frittata in these. 

 

Greens and Goat Cheese Easy Frittata Recipe
Greens and goat cheese in combination with sun-dried tomatoes brighten the flavors of this frittata and make it a perfect meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  
Check out this recipe
Easy recipe for greens and goat cheese frittata

 

10 and/or 12-inch skillets are a must-have! Try one these recipes:

 

Chilean Skillet Shepherd's Corn Pie
Delicious Chilean beef pie topped with corn mixture in the style of shepherd's pie is bursting with South American flavors.
Check out this recipe
Corn pie skillet dish on a gray background with tan kitchen towel.
Skillet Gypsy Schnitzel Dinner
Flavorful Gypsy schnitzel with onions, garlic, peppers, and herbs in a tomato and cream based delicious sauce your whole family will love.
Check out this recipe
Overhead photo of the pork dish on the gray wooden background
Easy Bosnian Minced Meat and Eggs - Čimbur
Čimbur is a quick specialty dish of minced meat and fried eggs from the Bosnian cuisine, perfect for summer breakfasts, quick lunches or late suppers.
Check out this recipe
Horizontal photo of the skillet with minced meat and poached eggs
Zucchini Ricotta Spiral Fillo Pie
A creamy, ricotta and zucchini filling is rolled and coiled in delicate layers of fillo dough before baking to a golden brown. It is perfect for a light lunch or supper with a simple salad or served as an appetizer.
Check out this recipe
Zucchini Ricotta Spiral Fillo Pie recipe
Noodles Cabbage and Bacon - Polish Haluski Recipe
Polish Haluski - a simple comfort dish of noodles, fried cabbage, and bacon that the whole family loves.
Check out this recipe
Polish Haluski - Noodles with Cabbage and Bacon | allthatsjas.com
Smoked Salmon Quiche with Gluten Free Crust
This Swedish quiche with smoked salmon, asparagus, and broccoli is gluten-free and makes a wonderful meal for breakfast, brunch or dinner.
Check out this recipe
This Swedish quiche with smoked salmon, asparagus, and broccoli is gluten-free and makes a wonderful meal for breakfast, brunch or dinner.
Baked Honey-Glazed Pork Chops
Enjoy these salty and sweet baked pork chops glazed with honey - an easy and delicious meal option.
Check out this recipe
Baked Honey-Glazed Pork Chops in a iron skillet - horizontal image
Swiss Skillet Mac and Cheese
This epic mac and cheese recipe, traditional to Swiss Alpine, is a comfort dish you absolutely must try. Plus, skillet dinners make easy cooking and cleaning up.
Check out this recipe
Horizontal photo of served Swiss skillet mac and cheese
South African One-Pan Bobotie Casserole
Bursting with flavors and simple to prepare, this one-pan bobotie casserole is a perfect dinner solution for your busy weekdays.
Check out this recipe
Ground beef and apricot jam casserole

 

Cast-iron pot with lid and wire bail is ideal for camping, but I made plenty of crowd-feeding soups and stews in mine like these traditional recipes:

 

Mediterranean Okra Stew Recipe
This hearty Mediterranean okra stew aka bamia with lamb and beef is a celebratory dish equally enjoyed in winter and summer.
Check out this recipe
Okra stew with lamb and beef
Classic Bosnian Sarma - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
This classic Bosnian dish of stuffed cabbage rolls with a piquant flavor of pickled cabbage and smoked meat is perfect for holidays and special occasions.
Check out this recipe
White plate on the black background with sarma and bread rolls.

 

Le Creuset enamelware is out of my budget but this affordable enamel pot is one of my favorites as is this enamel skillet. Some of my most popular recipes are made in enamel cookware:

 

Jägerkohl - German Hunter Cabbage Stew
This German recipe is a fabulous way to use the versatile cabbage. Stewed with kielbasa, ground beef, onions, and potatoes it's a pure comfort meal!
Check out this recipe
Recipe for German Hunter Cabbage Stew
Stovetop Spanish Pasta Frittata
An easy stovetop dish, this Spanish pasta frittata with mushrooms and spinach is a great solution for a fast vegetarian comfort meal.
Check out this recipe
Pasta frittata in a white skillet with cherry tomatoes
Colombian Pork and Sausage Risotto - Arroz Atollado
This traditional Colombian risotto with pork and sausage is typically served for special occasions, but you will love its creamy texture with a spicy kick any day.
Check out this recipe
Horizontal flat lay of the spicy Colombian risotto in a white Dutch oven.
Grenadir with Leftover Potato and Pasta
This excellent, simple side dish is made using leftover potatoes and pasta.
Check out this recipe
horizontal table setting with grenadir

 

Last but not least, the Dutch Oven. From bread to soups and stews, this is one pot every kitchen should have. 

 

How to make Artisan Bread
Whether used for scooping up your soup, dipping in your favorite sauce or just plain, topped with butter, this crusty artisan bread is ideal to accompany any meal.
Check out this recipe
Peruvian Chicken Corn Chowder - Chupe de Pollo y Maíz
This gluten-free soup with chicken and corn is packed with delicious South American flavors and will nourish your body and soul.
Check out this recipe
Holding the hot pot of chupe de pollo with a kitchen towel.

 

IF YOU LIKE THESE RECIPES, YOU WILL LOVE THIS ROUNDUP OF AMAZING DISHES YOU CAN MAKE IN YOUR CI:

 

101 DELICIOUS REASONS TO OWN A CAST IRON SKILLET

 

This may seem like a lot of information, but I promise that you’ll be a pro in no time. If you have any other questions about cast iron care, leave a comment below.

 

 

DON’T MISS OUT!

Become a subscriber for recipes updates, tips, and freebies.

Sign up HERE and get your first freebie!

 

You Might Also Like

previous recipe
next recipe

16 Comment

  1. Reply
    Karen Langridge
    February 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Fantastic guide! My husband has been debating whether to try cast iron cookware as he get frustrated with uneven cooking. I have popped this link over to him for further research! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Great! I hope this guide will make him cook more. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Reply
    Erika
    February 12, 2020 at 11:41 am

    This is a great guide! I haven’t used cast iron in years and I need to give it a go again.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:54 am

      Thank you, Erika! I hope you’ll have fun with your cast iron again!

  3. Reply
    Adriana
    February 12, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for all the tips on how to take care of the cast iron pans learned a lot!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:54 am

      Glad you like the tutorial, Adriana! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Reply
    Cyndy
    February 12, 2020 at 11:22 am

    I have recently become obsessed with my cast iron skillets. THANK YOU for these amazing tips on how to care and especially how to initially season any new ones I buy. Super helpful!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Yay, so happy you like it! Thanks, Cyndy. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Reply
    Lizet Flores de Bowen
    February 12, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Great info! We bought our first cast iron pan a few months ago. We bought a pre seasoned one because we didn’t wan to mess with that part. But every time we cook, we get food stuck in the pan. So, we got tired of it and put it away.
    Do you think we should season it again? would that help?

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:56 am

      Thank you, Lizet! I would definitely season it again, but you might still occasionally get your food stuck (depending on the food). xx

  6. Reply
    Tawnie Kroll
    February 12, 2020 at 10:24 am

    This was such an informational post, I always have this conversation with so many people so I can lead them to this post now, thank you!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:57 am

      You’re welcome, Tawnie! I’m glad you like it. Thanks for stopping in! xx

  7. Reply
    Ron
    February 12, 2020 at 4:53 am

    Having to flee ones homeland must be an awful experience to endure and one many couldnโ€™t imagine. I canโ€™t.
    But, youโ€™ve now started a new collection of cast iron pans to pass on to future generations of your clan.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 13, 2020 at 10:59 am

      You’re absolutely right! I might not have the fortune to leave behind, but sure have heavy cast iron cookware, ha! I think it’s priceless. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Reply
    Ron
    February 11, 2020 at 10:14 am

    A great tutorial on the care and use of cast iron pans. I love using cast iron as well, but then I grew up using cast iron. And, yes I have a 9″ cast iron pan that my great grandmother cooked with on an open fire. I still cook with it today..

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      Aww, that’s a wonderful heirloom, Ron! I wish I was able to save and bring over some of my grandma’s dishes, but we had to flee the country so there’s that. ๐Ÿ™

Leave a Reply

shares