How To Season A Cast Iron Pan

So guess what? Traditionally cast iron cookware was/is seasoned with animal fats. In fact, vegetable oil and shortening does something kind of weird to cast iron, leaving a weird film and actually not really seasoning the pan like you need.

But there is a vegan-friendly alternative to seasoning a cast iron pan.

It’s this wonderful lovely thing called coconut oil.

Why is coconut oil better than vegetable oil? Well, it’s all about the temperature tolerance, baby. Coconut oil is much more stable at higher temperatures (which is what your cast iron cookware will most likely be reaching) and it seasons the pan with a similar coating that animal fats would.

So let’s get started.

Yes, I made another video. I like to think I’m getting better at it, but then I watch what I come up with and laugh my butt off. So, I say ‘perfectly seasoned pan’ a bajillion times and also love the word ‘basically’ far too much, as evidenced by this episode of ‘Megan talks to herself while looking at a camera’.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

First wash your brand new cast iron pan with soap and water. Who knows what kind of rats were sleeping in it at the factory, after all. This will hopefully be the very first and very last time you touch this pan with soap.

Lather up the pan sides and bottom generously with the coconut oil.

And you don’t actually rinse. Instead, bake the pan at 250°F for 2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and drain off the oil to reuse later. (You’ll be doing this whole process again!)

Let the pan cool.

Repeat this process of lathering up the pan after every time you use it for the first, say, four uses. Then you’ll want to keep the maintenance part of the seasoning up by re-seasoning every once in a while, or after you’ve had to give it a good ol’ salt-scrubbing. (See below.)

How do you maintain this awesome seasoning once you’ve got it?

Avoid washing with soap. The soap is naturally designed to cut through grease, and that just isn’t ideal for what you’ve just been working to achieve … a well greased up seasoned pan.

Yes, you’ll need to clean it after you cook with it. If you don’t have any baked on hard bits you can just use water and wipe out the pan with a damp cloth. Let the pan air dry.

There are times you’ll have more stubborn messes to clean out of your pan. You know what the trick is? Use salt and a gentle scrub brush to break those bits free. Then do the water-damp cloth trick.

So, now what do you cook in your cast iron pan? Well, stay tuned friends … you’ll see.

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29 Responses to “How To Season A Cast Iron Pan”

  1. January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Coconut oil! This is great to know. I’m not a vegetarian, but I like to try to keep healthy. Have you ever tried seasoning at 350 degrees for an hour? I’m in the “250 for 2″ school, but I’ve seen that other people use this faster style.

    • Megan
      January 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      The only time I’ve done at the high heat wasn’t exactly intentionally seasoning it. It was more like … whoops I left the cast iron pan in the oven while it was preheating for something else. I’m never usually in that much of a rush that an extra hour won’t hurt because I usually leave it in the oven while I’m doing other stuff around the kitchen. :)

  2. June 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Hello! I just want to give a huge thumbs up for the great data you might have right here on this post. I shall be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  3. Michael
    June 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Hi, I just discovered your website last night when searching for vegan ways to season a cast iron pan. Thank you for posting this video and article!

    I tried to do this twice now though, and I think I’m doing something wrong. The first time, my pan came out with a puddle of coconut oil left in it. Figuring that maybe I just used too much oil, I poured out the excess, spread the remainder around to cover the pan again, and tried a second time. This time it came out feeling kind of sticky. At the start I realized I had the oven too high though, so maybe that did it?

    Anyway, if I can manage to get this thing seasoned, I will have to try some of your recipes! :)

    • June 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Michael, Thanks for the comment! Sometimes there’s a bit of extra coconut oil in the pan after it comes out of the oven. Just give it a quick wipe with a towel and it should be good. It is important to keep the oven at a low and slow temp too so maybe that’s why the second time around it didn’t work quite right. I hope you have success with it. Cheers!

    • Stella
      October 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

      The stickiness comes from using too much oil. You’ll want to strip the pans and start over.
      You can’t go wrong with this method, just substitute coconut oil for Crisco: http://www.castironcollector.com/seasoning.php

  4. June 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Amazing article, you tried Lucy Bee’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?

  5. August 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    The resources here is very much valuable. I have been taught several tactics.

  6. Katie
    April 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Hi! So I have been trying to season my pan for weeks and I think I’m still doing something wrong :( I use very little coconut oil just enough to coat it thinly cause the first time I thought I used to much cause it came out sticky. I am doing it @ 350 degrees for an hour so that might be the issue. I scrubbed out to restart and now every time I rub the oil in it my paper towel is black once I’ve coated it. Is it supposed to be pulling a black color from it. I used the salt trick and my dry wipe was clean of no black but then when I went to re coat with the coco oil it was pulled off a black color again. Please help! Thanks!

  7. June 1, 2014 at 5:29 am #

    Jeez, thanks very much for posting this! It is gonna help when I buy Coconut Oil at the grocery store! Super Beautiful!

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