Cast iron skillets are the cooking accessory. They can be used for years on end without getting rusted, ruined, or damaged by heat. These well-crafted pans bring out the best flavors in your ingredients and are, potentially, one of the most versatile kitchen accessories out there.
What’s the catch?
While cast iron pans are the pan to end all pans, they demand specific maintenance and care. Without the proper care regime, your cast iron pans will be rusted and worn out before you can say “What’s for dinner?”.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help you restore your cast iron skillet and keep it well maintained for decades. Keep reading our cast iron cleaning guide below!
Prepping Your Cast Iron Pan for Use
Scrape Away Remnants
Before you start cleaning your cast iron skillet, remember to scrape everything out from the pan. Steaks and other meats are best cooked on cast iron when they’re not touched too often. This leads to charred remnants stuck to the pan. While you’ll tackle that in the scrubbing phase, it will make your job a lot easier to scrape everything you can off before you start.
Scrub Using Salt or Steel Wool
If this is the first time you’re washing your cast iron pan, or you’re trying to restore a rust-riddled pan, work a steel wool pad, hot water, and mild dish soap around the entire surface of the pan (not just the inside) in circular motions, removing all grease, rust, and scraps.
Rinse & Dry with Heat
I have to cook the pan after cleaning it? Yup! And this is, without a doubt, one of the most important steps in the cast iron cleaning process. After you’ve scrubbed away everything from the pan’s surface, rinse it under hot water, pat dry, and put in a hot oven to get the pan completely dry.
Layer With Oil
After it has been completely dried out, remove it from the oven, with caution. Pour a few drops of oil onto a paper towel and rub it over the entire surface of the pan. Because cast iron is so porous, the oil acts as a sealant, filling the pores and creating a smooth, non-stick surface for multiple different cooking purposes.
Place it in the Oven to Set
Now that your pan is smothered in oil, it’s time to let it set. Set your oven to 450º and place your cast iron skillet upside down inside for about an hour. This will allow the oil to bond with the skillet and completely fill all pores.
Once the hour is up, remove it from the oven, and viola! You have a perfectly cleaned and seasoned cast iron skillet!
We know what you’re thinking—”Do I have to do this every time I use cast iron?” No! This process should be done at least twice a year, but the more you do it, the better.
Regular Maintenance for Cast Iron
So you’ve been cooking up a storm with your cast iron skillet. Here’s how you can regularly maintain your cast iron skillet:
Salt, Never Soap
You’ve spent all this time and energy seasoning your cast iron skillet, so why ruin it? Washing with soap will destroy your seasoning, so try salt. Pour a layer of salt into the pan and scrub using a non-metal pad. This is just as effective as soap, without damaging the pan.
Rinse & Dry with Heat
Rinse your salt scrub from the pan and place in a hot oven to get the pan completely dry. As mentioned before, removing all moisture is key for maintaining your cast iron skillet.
Layer with Oil
Just like before, rub your cast iron skillet with a thin layer of oil using a paper towel. Remember to rub down the entire surface of the pan, not just the inside.
That’s it! With these few simple steps, you can maintain your cast iron skillet and keep it in use for years. Happy cooking!