Cooking your favorite keeper recipes in your cast iron is great, but not the part where it starts to stick. What gives? Cast iron is supposed to work just as well as other pans in respect to non-sticking, but yours isn’t. The answer is likely in the cleaning and reseasoning department. Let’s talk about how to clean a cast iron skillet, and how to reseason it once it’s clean.
Cast iron is a fantastic material to cook in, or on. The very best cast iron skillets are cleaned properly, seasoned regularly, and maintained just as well as your car should be. I have a method that I use to do that that is easy to do, and restores your cast iron to the loveliness it was when you first got it. My method is available at the bottom of this post.
When properly maintained, your cast iron should be non-stick every single time you use it. However, in order for it to work that way, there are steps to cleaning it that will make or break that experience.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets are not your regular type of pan, and you can’t treat them the same as your Revereware (ask me how I know this). One difference is that they can’t be scrubbed hard or the seasoning will be worn off during cleaning. They also can’t be soaked in water, because this will encourage rust. While they don’t really need to be handled with “kid gloves”, they do need to be treated in a very specific way in order to remain faithful for you at every cooking session.
Tips For Daily Maintenance
This method will work for any of your cast iron pieces.
- If possible, simply wipe your cast iron out with paper towels. This is most possible when your skillet is well-seasoned, and when you have cooked with oil.
- If simply wiping your skillet out isn’t possible, you will want to wash out with warm water and a sponge.
- If warm water isn’t enough to get it clean, use kosher or some other coarse salt to remove stuck-on food. Avoid the temptation to use steel wool or some other item that will scrape the seasoning off the pan.
- If coarse salt doesn’t do the job, try boiling water in the pan to loosen any stubborn food particles. Pour out the hot water, and use your sponge to remove the food.
- Once your skillet is clean, dry on the stove (with the fire on), and wipe with a thin layer of oil.
When to Reseason Your Cast Iron
You will want to reseason your skillet in the oven if your pan is no longer non-stick, or has an uneven buildup on it. It’s easy, but there are a few steps to remember. I have a cheat sheet that I have printed out and taped into a kitchen cabinet so I always know how to season cast iron. This cheat sheet is available for you in my resource library, and you can get the password at the bottom of this post.
How to Season Cast Iron
With both of the following methods, you will still need to do the daily maintenance that I described above.
This method would be used if you simply wanted to add another coat of seasoning to your cast iron skillet. You would use this method if your skillet, pan, or dutch oven was no longer non-stick, but otherwise fine.
- Scrape all food off the surface of the cast iron
- wash thoroughly and dry over the fire on your stove
- Line second shelf of oven with foil; preheat to 375.
- Rub oil over the pan completely, even the handle and bottom. Place in oven upside down for 30-60 minutes.
- Repeat if desired.
- Allow to cool in oven and store as usual.
- Scrape all food off the surface of the cast iron; wash thoroughly
- Line second shelf of oven with foil. Place pan upside down in oven.
- Start self-cleaning cycle and allow to finish (about 4 hours).
- Allow pan to cool and scrub with steel wool.
- Fub oil over the pan completely, even the handle and bottom. Place in a 375 degree oven upside down for 60 minutes.
- Allow to cool in oven. Store as usual.
Got really rusty cast iron? Lodge Cast Iron has you covered!
Liz R says
I learned the hard way to turn them upside down in the oven when reseasoning. It seems no matter how light of coat of oil I put on them, they got sticky drip spots on them if I didn’t. Fried potatoes are the best in cast iron. Sad to say that as I get older, it’s harder for me to manage cast iron so I passed mine on to my son and DIL. She was thrilled with them.