I used to feel intimidated by cast iron because I wasn’t sure how to clean it. Once I was armed with the appropriate tools, cooking with cast iron became no big deal! Read below for how to clean cast iron cookware.
How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware
- Pour excess grease into a glass vessel to cool and later pour into the trash
- Scrape away lingering food with a silicone scraper or the edge of a metal spatula
- Wipe any remaining grease with rag towel or paper towel
- If necessary, wash under water using a gentle scrub brush (and a very small amount of soap if absolutely necessary)
- Hand dry completely with a clean towel
- Place over medium/low heat on stovetop
- Coat the cast iron surface with flaxseed oil – add ½ teaspoon of oil and use a clean paper towel or rag towel to coat the cast iron surface
- Continue coating the surface until it looks dark, shiny, and not sticky
- Let cool completely before putting away in storage
How to Season Cast Iron
Brand new cast iron, or cast iron that has lost its seasoning somehow (cooking with acidic ingredients, ran in the dishwasher, washed with too much soap or abrasive sponges, etc.) requires a refresh. Seasoning cast iron is pretty simple with the right tools.
- Warm your unseasoned pan over the stove for 10-20 minutes
- Use paper towels or cloth rag towel to carefully cover entire surface of cast iron with seasoning oil
- Insert cast iron upside down in a cool oven
- Set baking temperature to 500 degrees then set a timer for 1 hour
- Turn off the oven and let the pan cool for 2 or more hours in the oven
- Repeat this process at least twice and up to 5 more times to fully season your pan
- Once the cast iron seasoning process is complete, your cast iron cookware should be shiny but not sticky to the touch.
Best Oils for Seasoning Cast Iron
The oil you use for seasoning your cast iron pan matters! Not all oils are created equal (I learned this from experience…). You are best off using a refined oil with a high smoke point. The most popular options are:
I can attest from research (and experience…) that it’s best to avoid seasoning cast iron with olive oil or other oils with very low smoke points. Flaxseed oil is worth the investment, just use it sparingly after each time you clean your cast iron.
How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron
- Scrub with steel wool, soap, and water
If your cast iron cookware is suffering from severe rust marks, you might be best off taking it to a machine shop to have it sandblasted to its original raw state. Alternatively you can try the instructions provided by Cook’s Illustrated using Easy Off to remove severe rust.
Best Cast Iron Skillets, Cleaning Tools, and Accessories
As part of taking great care of your cast iron skillet, it’s also important to equip yourself with the best quality tools and accessories. One of my favorites is this Alta Andina leather cast iron handle holder. Alta Andina sells a variety of quality leather goods using natural inputs and recycled materials within a local Andean supply chain.
Learn more about Alta Andina’s mission then look below for a few more of my cast iron favorites!