Season cast iron with olive oil

The # 1 Best Way to Season Cast Iron with Olive Oil

Season cast iron with olive oil

Key Points

Season your cast iron with olive oil for a natural, non-stick surface that’s perfect for healthier cooking.

Clean and dry your pan, apply a thin layer of olive oil, and bake it to create a durable seasoned layer.

If you have issues like food stuck on the pan, a strong smell, or rust – it is time for re-seasoning.

Cooking eggs on a cast iron pan with olive oil


Cooking with cast iron can seem intimidating but once you understand the fundamentals, using cast iron cookware can be an incredibly enjoyable and successful way to prepare some delicious meals!

There are many ways you can season a cast iron pan, from animal fat to neutral oils the options are boundless.

Olive oil is not commonly used as a seasoning oil but we should not overlook its potential to create a smooth non-stick surface on your cast iron pan. Check out this article on the best way to season cast iron with olive oil.

Seasoned cast iron pans with olive oil

Cast iron pans and cast iron skillets are known for their durability, heat retention and ability to create a non-stick surface so good that you can cook eggs on them with no problem.

To make sure we get the best of our cast iron pans, proper seasoning is key.

Seasoning should be done on regular occasions and is not a one-time thing. This guide will show you the art of seasoning cast iron specifically using olive oil. Olive oil is a staple in kitchens all around the world and is known for its health benefits and moderate smoke point.

Whether you are seasoning your cast iron pan for the first time or looking to refresh the seasoning, we have got you covered to get or maintain that perfect easy-release cooking surface.

Cast iron pan with garlic and rosemary

What You Need to Know Before Seasoning Cast Iron

Before we explore the seasoning process, there are a few key points about cast iron care that we need to cover.

Cast iron is a unique cooking surface. The surface is porous and can absorb oils and create a protective layer that makes an excellent nonstick surface. That is why seasoning cast iron cookware is so important.

But why use olive oil?

Whilst there are a range of cooking oils that can be used like vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil or even flaxseed oil, which are known for their high smoke points, olive oil is a healthy, easily accessible option. When applied in a thin layer, it can withstand the high heat necessary for seasoning without burning off too quickly.

To season effectively with olive oil, we must consider the oil’s smoke point. Olive oil has a moderate to high smoke point making it a versatile oil for both cooking and seasoning. If you are concerned about the smoke point, alternatives like grapeseed oil or bacon grease can be suitable options too.

Before seasoning, you must clean your cast iron as this is a critical step. Check out this article here for a more detailed guide.

Cleaning your cast iron before seasoning is another critical step. Always start with a clean cast iron pan, using hot water and a brush or steel wool for tougher bits. Avoid using dish soap or metal utensils as they can strip the seasoned layer.

Once clean, dry the cast iron pan thoroughly essentially to prevent. The goal is to create a foundation for a well-seasoned pan that offers an easy-release cooking surface for everything from sunny-side-up eggs to searing steaks.

These are the basic fundaments that apply to any cast iron pan or skillet and will allow the successful use of olive oil to season cast iron cookware, giving your pans a lifetime of non-stick, high-temperature cooking experiences.

Cast iron pan with olive oil

Step-by-Step Guide: Season Cast Iron with Olive Oil

Seasoning your cast iron cookware can be a simple but crucial process to maintain the longevity and superior non-stick surface cast iron pans can give. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to season cast iron with olive oil.

  1. Preheat Your Oven: Begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C), a temperature high enough to allow the oil to polymerize without exceeding the oil’s smoke point too drastically.

  2. Clean Your Cast Iron: Ensure your cast iron skillet or pan is thoroughly cleaned. Use hot water and a scrub brush or coarse salt for tough residues. Avoid dish soap if possible, but if necessary, use a mild one. Dry it completely using a paper towel or a clean cloth.

  3. Apply Olive Oil: Pour a small amount of olive oil onto the pan. Using a paper towel, rub a very thin layer of oil over the entire surface of the pan, including the exterior and handle. Olive oil has great health benefits, but ensure it coats evenly to avoid any sticky spots.

  4. Bake the Pan: Place the oiled cast iron pan upside down in the preheated oven. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips. Bake for 1 hour to allow the oil to polymerize and form a protective layer.

  5. Cool Down: Turn off the oven and let the cast iron cookware cool down completely inside the oven. This slow cooling process helps the seasoning layer to set properly.

  6. Repeat if Necessary: For a more robust seasoning, repeat the oiling and baking steps 2-3 times. This builds up a strong seasoned layer that enhances the easy-release cooking surface.

Olive oil for cast iron seasoning

Caring for Your Cast Iron Pan

After seasoning your cast iron with olive oil, the right attention will make the pan last for generations, maintaining its nonstick surface and overall performance.

  1. Cooking and Cleaning: Use your cast iron skillet regularly, as cooking helps improve the seasoning. After each use, clean the pan with hot water and a brush or sponge. For stubborn food stuck, a paste of kosher salt can help scrub it away without damaging the seasoning. Dry the pan thoroughly after washing.

  2. Avoid Acidic Foods Initially: Cooking acidic foods like tomatoes or vinegar-based sauces can break down the seasoned layer. It’s best to avoid these foods until your pan has been seasoned several times and has developed a strong protective layer.

  3. Oil After Washing: Once the pan is clean and dry, apply a light coat of olive oil with a paper towel to maintain the seasoning. This step is crucial, particularly after washing, as moisture can develop rust limiting the seasoning.

  4. Storing Your Cast Iron: Store your cast iron pans in a dry place. If stacking pans, place a layer of paper towel between them to protect the surfaces and absorb any moisture.

  5. Re-Seasoning: Over time, your pan may need re-seasoning. If food starts to stick or if the surface looks dull, it’s time to season your cast iron again. Follow the same steps as the initial seasoning, and your pan will be as good as new.

Following these steps to season your cast iron pans and skillets will deliver unparalleled cooking experiences. The non-stick surface not only makes cooking a breeze but also minimizes the need for additional oils, making your meals healthier.

Cast iron pan with olive oil seasoning

FAQs About Cast Iron and Seasoning Cast Iron Skillet

Can I use other oils besides olive oil to season my cast iron?

Absolutely. While we’ve focused on how to season cast iron with olive oil due to its health benefits and availability, other oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, soy-based vegetable oil, and grapeseed oil are also excellent choices. Each has a different smoke point, which can affect the seasoning process. Flaxseed oil, known for its very low smoke point, creates a hard, durable seasoning but can be prone to flaking.

Why is my cast iron sticky after seasoning?

Stickiness usually results from too much oil being applied before heating. Remember, a thin layer is key. If your skillet feels sticky, place it back in the oven at a higher temperature for an additional hour to help break down the excess oil and improve the seasoning layer.

How often should I season my cast iron skillet?

The frequency depends on how much you use it and what you cook in the pan. Generally, re-seasoning every few months or when the pan loses its non-stick surface or shows signs of rust is good practice. Regular cooking, especially with fats like animal fat or bacon grease, naturally builds the skillet’s seasoning.

Can I wash my seasoned cast iron with soap?

While traditional advice steers clear of soap, a small amount of mild dish soap and hot water won’t harm a well-seasoned pan. Avoid abrasive scrubbers like steel wool unless you have to; instead, use a brush or sponge. Always dry your skillet thoroughly and apply a light coat of oil after washing to maintain the seasoning.

Is it safe to cook acidic foods in my cast iron?

Acidic foods can strip the seasoning if the pan isn’t well-seasoned. It’s best to wait until your cast iron skillet has had several seasoning cycles. If you do cook acidic dishes, reapply a light coat of oil afterwards to protect the surface.

Crust on steak from cast iron pan seasoned with olive oil


Cast iron pan seasoning is a critical step in mastering cast iron cooking.

The initial seasoning acts as a foundation, preventing food stuck on the surface and protecting against the effects of acidic food, which can erode the seasoned layer.

Utilizing animal fat can lend a strong smell to the process, yet it’s valued for its ability to create a durable layer when subjected to higher temperatures.

Seasoned cast iron pans

However, neglect or improper maintenance can lead cast iron to develop rust, a common issue if it’s left wet or comes into prolonged contact with acidic substances like salad dressings.

To preserve the integrity of the seasoned layer, cooking on low heat is advisable, as it minimizes the risk of damage, ensuring your cast iron cookware remains in top condition for all your culinary needs.

There you have it – a simple guide to seasoning your cast iron with olive oil. This isn’t just about maintenance; it’s about enhancing every meal you make with these pans.

Your cast iron pans and skillets can be more than just cookware; with the right care and attention, they can last generations, improving with every use! For more tips, recipes, or kitchen tricks, consider signing up for our newsletter.

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