Food & Nutrition

13 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Cast-Iron Skillet

Cast iron can be fickle. Here are some habits to avoid when you’re cooking.

Old-fashioned fried eggs in cast-iron skillets on wooden backgroundYuliaKotina/Shutterstock

The cast-iron skillet is the workhorse of many a dedicated home cook, and for good reason. Constructed in one seamless piece of metal, it’s virtually indestructible, conducts heat extremely efficiently and, when seasoned properly, has a nonstick surface that even fried eggs will slip right off of. There’s almost nothing a cast iron skillet can’t do—just look at these amazing one pan meals—but you have to treat your pan right. Learn what the most common cast iron mistakes are and how to fix them.

You don’t understand seasoning

Cast-iron frying pan, fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil and spices.Elena Hramova/Shutterstock

You know all that talk about “seasoning” a cast-iron skillet? It’s not just talk. Seasoning refers to a layer of polymerized oil that has been baked onto the surface. Seasoning makes your skillet release food easily, clean up quickly and remain stain- and rust-free. Some cast-iron skillets, including those made by Lodge, come pre-seasoned. You’ll notice they have a smooth, non-greasy, softly lacquered surface. Those that don’t come pre-seasonsed have a matte gray finish—until you season them, at which point they become shiny and closer to black in color. However, even if your skillet comes pre-seasoned, for best results right out of the box, consider seasoning it yourself before you use it.

You’re not seasoning the skillet right

Frying pan made of cast iron, various fresh vegetables and spices on a white wooden kitchen table.Elena Hramova/Shutterstock

If you’re just swiping a layer of oil onto the surface of your skillet, you’re not seasoning your cast-iron correctly. Seasoning involves a chemical reaction made possible through heat. In a nutshell, here is how to season your cast-iron skillet:

  • Apply a thin coat of any kind of vegetable oil to the entire pan (inside and outside and the handle too).
  • Place the pan inverted in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for an hour.
  • Turn off oven and allow pan to cool inside the oven.

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