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How to Use and Season Cast Iron Pans 05:14

Tim Ma

Learn the best ways to use and care for this extremely versatile and traditional piece of cooking equipment

How to Use and Season Cast Iron Pans 05:14

Tim Ma

Learn the best ways to use and care for this extremely versatile and traditional piece of cooking equipment

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. To season a cast iron pan, place it over high heat and allow it to get extremely hot. Once almost smoking, add oil that has a high smoke point like canola or vegetable oil*. The oil should will smoke upon adding it to the pan. 03:18

  2. 2. Turn off the heat. Using a dry dish towel, wipe the oil around the pan so it coats it completely as well as soaks up any excess oil. Repeat this process a few times until a coating forms on top of the pan. 03:33

What You'll Need


- Cast iron cookware (pan, grill top, baking dish)
- Dish towel (2)


- Canola, vegetable, or safflower oil

Chef Notes

Cast iron pans have the distinct ability to retain consistent heat for long periods of time because the cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat. In a conventional oven, the temperature fluctuates during cook time. A cast iron pan will stay at a consistent temperature in a conventional oven, ensuring an even and controlled cook.

Cast iron is great for creating crusty and caramelized sears on steaks, fish, chicken, and other proteins.

The term “seasoning” in reference to cast iron refers to the polymerization of oil on the pan, or the binding of oil through high heat to the cast iron to create a non-stick coating.

Canola and vegetable oils have smoke points around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making them ideal for seasoning cast iron pans. Safflower oil has a smoke point of around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an even better option, when available. This high smoke point means the oil won’t break down at the high heats required to season and, from a flavor standpoint, it won’t be bitter. Olive oil, with a smoke point of 325 degrees Fahrenheit, should not be used to season cast iron.

Washing household cast iron is not particularly necessary unless a notable mess has been made in it. Wiping down pans with a clean dish towel after use is a perfectly sufficient method of cleaning. Chef Tim, who uses his cast iron pans in the busy environment of his commercial kitchen, washes his cast iron pans with soap if necessary, and even runs them through the dishwasher. The most important thing to note about this process is that the cast iron must be re-seasoned after a heavy wash.

In addition to seasoning on the stove, cast iron can also be seasoned in the oven. For this method, heat the oven to as high as it will go, or around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow the cast iron to get up to temperature in the oven. Once extremely hot, employ the same process of oiling the pan, wiping it down, and repeating until an oil coating forms on the pan.

The best way to season a cast iron pan is to continually use it. Oiling, cooking food, and wiping down the pan after use will achieve natural “seasoning.”

A carbon steel pan has similar properties to cast iron, but it cools down much faster. Similar processes of cooking and seasoning can be used when using carbon steel. Chef Tim uses the carbon steel pan to cook fish and scallops.


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Taught by


Chef Tim Ma

Washington D.C.

Tim Ma is the owner and chef at several Washington D.C.-area eateries: Arlington, VA restaurant Water & Wal... read more