Even if you don’t consider yourself a southern cook, you really should consider a cast iron skillet. They are durable, strong, last forever, conduct heat well, and go from stovetop to oven seamlessly. There are even health benefits to cooking with cast iron: you use less oil, it’s a chemical-free alternative to non-stick pans, and it leaches a small, beneficial amount of iron into your food.
My people have always had cast-iron skillets, and when I was building my first kitchen I was surprised to find that they just didn’t come standard. I suspect they aren’t sexy enough, or maybe look too dated for people to want to use them. But a well-seasoned cast iron skillet can be used to cook so many things! I make a lasagna in my skillet that is amazing, and corn bread? Forget about it. People make desserts even. I’ve seen a chocolate cake (!), a berry crumble, and peach cobbler. Peach cobbler! I’ll be adding my own recipes for my skillet meals next.
But before you use your skillet, you MUST season it. You can buy it pre-seasoned, but you’ll need to learn this technique eventually, as it needs seasoned on a regular basis. It’s super easy, and it doesn’t take much hands on time at all.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
What you’ll need:
- your skillet
- scrubby or sponge with scrubby side
- paper towels or dishcloths
- canola oil, or other vegetable oil (olive oil doesn’t work well for this)
- dish soap
- an oven
Start with an unseasoned skillet. Make sure there is no obvious debris on it.
Apply a little soap to a sponge with a scrubby side, or a nylon scrubber.
Clean it really well. You do not need to scrub for an hour, just give it a good once-over and rinse it off.
Take a strong paper towel or a soft dishcloth and dry it completely.
Grab your canola oil and…
Pour a generous amount directly onto the cast iron.
Using a strong paper towel or soft dishcloth, rub the oil in all over the skillet. If it has been seasoned before, you can just do the bottom and sides. Once a year do the whole thing.
You’re left with a wet-looking oily skillet. Perfect.
Set your oven to 325 degrees.
Leave in the oven for one hour. You might smell a metallic smell (especially if it’s a new skillet) and that’s ok.
In the meantime, check out my towels! Aren’t they fun? They are so soft, but I don’t allow anyone to actually use them. I found these while endlessly browsing Etsy.
After an hour, take your skillet out and turn the oven off. It might feel sticky, but that is totally normal. It’s now ready to use.