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How to Season an Iron Skillet

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This family is in love with cornbread. Here is a true statement – cornbread is best in an iron skillet. I’m not even going ask if you think that’s true, because it is. And I don’t care what you say. :-p If you haven’t tried the cornbread recipe above, you might want to. It will make your family love you and bring you flowers. Barry gets really excited when I say I’m making cornbread. BUT in order for your cast iron skillet to work, it needs to be seasoned. Why? Seasoning makes it just like a non-stick pan….well, except for all the hazards of using non-stick. I really am not fond of non-stick pans, but I have several. As they die, I will replace them with nicer iron skillets, cast iron enamel, or stainless steel. I’m secretly feeding them arsenic so they die quickly. SHHHHHHHH!

You need your pan, and some oil/shortening. I used coconut oil because it’s my new favorite kitchen food. It needs to be a solid shortening. You could use Crisco, but try coconut oil or palm shortening. You won’t be sorry. This pan was given to me and I wasn’t sure if it had been seasoned or not, so I went ahead and did it just to be safe. I hate food that sticks. I have nightmares about it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat that skillet down. I mean, really lay it on thick. Cover every inside surface that might come into contact with food.

Pop your skillet into the oven. I like to put mine upside down and put a piece of foil underneath. That keeps any drippage from making my fire alarm go off….and let me just tell you, sometimes it does. Barry said recently “Uh honey, the house is smoky.” There’s always a critic. I choose to think the smoke is good for my complexion.

So, why are we doing this? Cast iron has a porous surface….sorta like a teenager. When you season it, the shortening fills the holes and makes a smooth surface. As the skillet gets hot, the oil goes into the holes. When the skillet cools, the holes close back up and trap the oil. Cool, huh? The more you use and season your skillet, the more non-stick it will become.

After one hour, take your skillet out and let it cool. While mine is still warm, I wipe it down a bit with a paper towel, hoping to push more oil down into the holes and also to wipe up any extra oil. When it’s cool, you’re ready to go! You may only have to do this a few times a year if you use your skillet regularly and let the butter/oil in your recipe work its magic. If your skillet ever looks “dry” you need to do this process again.

Here’s a tip, don’t clean your skillet with soap. When mine is dirty, I just wipe it out with hot water and a dishrag. If it’s really dirty, you might have to use a scrub brush….but NO SOAP. Soap is not happy for an iron skillet. You’ll have to start your seasoning process all over again. When you’re done washing, dry your skillet thoroughly. Water can make your iron skillet rust. We don’t want that! If you take care of it, an iron skillet can last for generations. You can put it in your will and let all the kids fight over it……and it also doubles as a weapon in case of a home invasion.Now, here’s another tip… don’t always have to clean your skillet. Nope. Leave some of that oily goodness in there baby. If I make cornbread, when I’m done I usually just wipe the crumbs out and put the skillet away. The less I have to wash, the better. I love my cast iron baby…..uh, skillet.

Now, I’ve been meaning to get one of those mitt handles just for a cast iron handle…..but I haven’t. So, here’s a warning. That handle is STINKING HOT! I have grabbed it on numerous occasions and gave a big holler. Please be careful. In the event of a burn, apply salve immediately. I use Skinners (thanks Suzanne!). Really, it’s the best I have found. I use it and my mom uses it. Last year I gave it as Christmas gifts. It’s good stuff, y’all. I’ve stopped several blisters right in their tracks by applying Skinners immediately. I keep it in the kitchen if that tells you anything. I really should look into getting an aloe plant too…….but my Black Thumb of Death keeps me from it.

Now, go forth and fry something!

This post is also linked at Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy’s Recipes and at Traditional Tuesday on Whole New Mom.


Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. Interesting – thanks for sharing. I have been doing it wrong all along! Drats!!

  2. Joyce Shelton says:

    Stacy, I just took a pretty potholder, wrapped it around the handle of my skillet, held in that position and started sewing it up the side.

  3. thanks for the tip on the Skinner’s Salve – we could’ve used that in our house 3 times this past week – aside from the hazards of a baking marathon – curling irons & straighteners have been know to get a little feisty around here.

  4. Thanks for demystifying this for me. I’ve always wanted a cast iron skillet – but had no clue how to season it! Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and get one now!

  5. Thank you I’ve been wondering how to season my cast iron!

    I included this post in “Recent Posts I’m Loving” on my blog :)

  6. I have my skillet and 2 grill pans, my moms skillets (3 different sizes and my grandmothers chicken fryer which is two skillets that fit together. I’d be lost without them.
    btw you are so right about cornbread in iron skillets. I melt/heat the oil/bacon drippings in my skillet in the oven. Then pour the hot grease in my cornbread batter, stir pour it all in the sizzling hot skillet then pop in the oven, once bottom is good and brown I flip it over and cook a bit longer. That’s the way my mama always did it and it’s the way I do it now.

  7. If your seasoning can’t take soap, your not doing it right. Seasoning should be like paint, paint does not wash off. How can you cook a steak, and not wash it afterward? You NEED soap!

    Coconut oil does work, but try this: clean, heat the pan to 250 degrees. Coat pan with a THIN coat of oil, really thin. Bake at 500 dgrees for an hour, LET IT COOL IN THE OVEN, down to 250 degrees, repeat.

    This surface will stand up to any soap you got. The key is to really heat it up, and keep the coats thin. Just like paint.

    • I’ve always been taught to NEVER wash your iron skillet with soap….and I’ve been doing it for years with great success. :-) The less I have to scrub, the better. LOL Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. I never thought of using coconut oil. I have read most people say to use vegetable oil.

  9. I absolutely luv my cast iron. I’m wanting to get a dutch oven. I have my eye on a Lodge on Amazon. If buying new I’d rather buy a Lodge since it is American made.

  10. You are 100 percent right about the iron skillets. I have all sizes and have 2 more non sticks to throw out and I’m done. You are right about not using the soap, also after I wipe mine out I apply a thin layer of oil and wipe with paper towel to coat so they always have oil on them.

  11. You have an awesome sense of humor! Cracked me up. Thanks. Can’t wait to try this with my new coconut oil.

  12. Finally!! We got SIX cast iron skillets as wedding gifts two and a half years ago and they have never been used because I had no clue how to season them! Thanks!!!

  13. I’m looking to buy an everyday fry pan for things like scrambled eggs, and really want enameled cast iron, but I’ve read that they still stick. Does anyone know if that’s the case? Any brand in particular?

  14. I wash mine out with soap and then dry it by heating it up on the stove. No rust. Then I just use oil when I cook with it (choosing the oil depends on who I’m cooking for). The reasoning is because there are so many people with allergies at my church (including my husband) that I don’t want to cook with something in it that will cause someone to have an allergic reaction. So I just get all food proteins out of there; I don’t want a build-up of proteins. I bring food to church all the time, or it’s for when we have people over.

  15. I have just decided to switch my Teflon pots and pans for stainless steel and cast iron. I got a bunch of stainless steel for Christmas and my Dad is giving me the cast iron stuff that has been in our family for generations!! I am so excited. And I’m excited for this post because I knew I needed to season them but had no idea how. Thank you for posting this Stacy!! :)

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