HOW TO: (RE)SEASON A CAST IRON SKILLET

HOW TO SEASON YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET // WIT & VINEGAR

A few weeks ago I  wanted a simple buttermilk cake and a way to use up some strawberries. I remembered seeing this on Joy the Baker. I needed to have it.

That meant I also needed a cast iron skillet.

They’re actually super affordable, but I’ve just never made the leap to buy one. Until that day of needing the pan because I needed the cake. MTV True Life: I needed that cake.

I went out and bought a Lodge Logic, brought it home, and although it said it was pre-seasoned I decided to go against that and season it myself because I thought that was the badass thing to do.

FAIL.

Technically I think it was the right thing to do, but instead of going to the Lodge Pro website that has a catchy video I went to another website that I should have been able to use and had an epic fail on my hands.

Their instructions were so nice: oil it up, foil the bottom of your oven, pan upside down, bake for 45 min at 325. Seemed simple enough, but I usually appreciate instructions to have some sort of warning. The warning for these should have been in large capitals, maybe some bold: DO NOT OVER OIL YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET BECAUSE THAT BUSINESS WILL GET STICKY AND IT’S A PAIN IN THE ASS TO CLEAN THAT MESS UP.

Consider that my capital bold warning to you.

The other issue the instructions had was that 325 was definitely not hot enough and 45 min wasn’t long enough. Lose, Lose. There’s no real way to check the finish until it’s completely cooled so I had no idea what was going on until I pulled the world’s heaviest fly trap out of my oven.

When this happens, steel wool is the only option. Do not use your gentle no scratch sponge because the stickiness grabs hold of all the blue fibers and doesn’t let them go. I had a 30 min anger confusion explosion and threw it in a cupboard for a good couple weeks and waited until I didn’t want to throw it out the window and I had a free afternoon.

Shit happens (incompetent roommates, terrible instructions, satan breaking into your house and putting it in the dishwasher)  and I knew people had to re-season or restore their skillets. I told myself it’s not the end of the world, recollected thoughts, and went at it again, this time following the Lodge Pro website:

Step One: If needed, clean off the old business (rust or sticky oil), use some steel wool (dollar tree) and scrub with soap (only time it’s okay) and hot water.

If you don’t have rust or sticky oil and you have to re-season after your pan’s had a love affair with the dishwasher then just use a stiff brush or the scouring side of a sponge instead of the steel wool.

Step Two: Dry well and apply a very small amount of oil. Enough to lightly coat and say you did. I’m talking 1 TEASPOON of oil for a 10″ skillet. Once again, to drill it in your head: DO NOT OVER OIL YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET BECAUSE THAT BUSINESS WILL GET STICKY AND IT’S A PAIN IN THE ASS TO CLEAN THAT MESS UP. Use a paper towel or your hand to help spread it over the pan evenly coating everything, including nooks and crannies.

Step Three: Before preheating the oven, lay down some aluminum foil on the bottom rack to catch any possible drippage. Don’t be like me and preheat the oven first and then attempt to lay out foil on a hot rack.

hot rack.

Step Four: Bake that business. 400 degrees, 1 hour. The Lodge Pro website says 350 but I didn’t want to relive that dark place and went extra safe with 400, it worked perfect.

Step Five: Do nothing, let your pan cool completely in the oven. I opened the oven door and locked up the dog for about an hour and it was cool when I went to check on it.

I pulled it out of the oven and realized I had successfully accomplished something that’s very simple and had a reaction comparable to this:

Very, very comparable.

For cleaning instructions the lodge pro you tube channel has a couple really sexy videos on caring for your cast iron that are definitely worth checking out.

Now I’ve got to go make a cake.

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  • I’m in the middle of skillet scare as we speak! After having mine for 4 years with no incident, I had a sweet baked potato sugary glaze incident. The sticky goo won’t come out after scrubbing, salt scrubbing and boiling water + scrubbing. I did read (and am SO happy to hear it worked for you) that a small amount of soap in this case is ok. Will be trying it tonight!

  • I really love the first photo AND thanks for this post! Seriously! I feel like I haven’t been caring for my skillet correctly. I think it might need some love. #hotrack

    • Thanks girl! I need to make sure I actually clean and care for it like I’m supposed to, we’ll see how long that lasts. #hotracksforlife

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  • I recently scored a cast iron pan at Goodwill, and was thinking how I should sanitize it and (re)season it…and low and behold…you read my mind! I’m going to have to stretch myself out before I take it out of the oven, if I have a reaction simular to that clip! Thank you so much for this informative and hilarious post!

    • Thank You! I’ve always been on the hunt for a good cast iron at the thrift store but I haven’t been able to find one, lucky!

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  • This was amazing + hilarious! I have a cast iron skillet that I used for awhile and then I let it air dry accidentally causing it to rust. I was scared of the rust for about 2 years and finally decided to figure out how to clean it and now I use it at least once every single day. Cast iron pans rule.

    • Thanks! I am slowly learning how to use mine for as much as I can. After that fiasco I think I owe it that much hahaha

  • david

    I have inherited some cast iron skillets from my mamaw and in her alzheimers state washed all the cast iron in the dishwasher and i finally found out how to reseason them, thankyou so much

  • Thank you! I’ve always been slightly mystified about how to do this properly, so I never use cast iron. It’s soooo hard to clean when it’s not seasoned right.

  • Anita

    YES!! I’ve ended up with the sticky oil mess more than once using a variety of seasoning tips. Thank you

  • wendyb

    Buying my first cast iron skillet (lovely 8″ size) at retirement, I seasoned mine on the gas grill outside with the lid down: no smoke in the house, any drips quickly burned off, and cooled overnight without heating up the house.

  • Cece

    I have a “seasoned” nonstick skillet. Honestly. It is only ever scraped with a nylon spatula and wiped out with a paper towel. IF I have to wash it, I just do a “fry up” – a couple pieces of bacon, followed by an egg, scrape off the bits (with the grease still in it), then wipe out the grease and reheat on the stove top, scraping it flat with a nylon spatula, shut it off and let it cool. It looks like sh*t, but it’s my “favoritest” fry pan! I also have a cast iron skillet that’s been bouncing around my kitchen for about 10 years because I’m afraid I’ll ruin it if I use it. ROFL!

  • mary ann

    I wash my cast iron skillets and dry them, then I rub a light coating of oil and just put it on the stove and leave it on the burner for about 10 minutes and it’s perfect to cook in as if I were using a non-stick skillet and I’ve never had any trouble with food sticking

  • Angela

    I also messed up seasoning my cast iron griddle, using too much oil and it came out a sticky mess. I put it in the sink and scrubbed it with soap, it was hard but it somewhat came off. Now I notice that my hands are sticky. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to get the stickiness off my hands? I know I should have worn gloves but didn’t think it would stick to me. also, is the stickiness hazardous at all?

  • I just killed my double sided skillet with, you guessed it, too much oil. Been scrubbing for days. Buying steel wool and following your directions. And then chopping my nails off because they look gross. Thanks for saving me.

  • If you screw up your seasoning, just start up the grill. Throw your pan on there UPSIDE DOWN, close the grill and wait til it stops smoking. You will have a new pan to start over with. My boyfriend thought I was crazy when I told him don’t turn the grill off when you are done cooking. He thought I was starting a fire when it started smoking. I told him what I was doing with 2 pans I had had for years. I proved my point about 30 minutes later when I opened the grill and pulled out 2 pans that looked like I had just picked them up from the factory.

  • If you screw up your seasoning, just start up the grill. Throw your pan on there UPSIDE DOWN, close the grill and wait til it stops smoking. You will have a new pan to start over with. My boyfriend thought I was crazy when I told him don’t turn the grill off when you are done cooking. He thought I was starting a fire when it started smoking. I told him what I was doing with 2 pans I had had for years. I proved my point about 30 minutes later when I opened the grill and pulled out 2 pans that looked like I had just picked them up from the factory.