How to Clean and Care for a Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron pans are affordable, durable, and versatile. With proper care, they can serve you well for decades.
If you care for your cast-iron pan, it will return the favor with a lifetime of delicious meals. These heavy, forged skillets are the workhorses of the kitchen. They're durable, affordable and are perfect for a variety of cooking techniques. You can sear, fry, bake, roast, braise and more in these versatile pans!
When to Use Cast Iron
Cast-iron can be used on virtually every type of heat source such as induction, electric, gas and grills. It retains and distributes heat very well, so it's perfect for searing and frying. Always give your pan a few minutes to preheat before adding any food.
You can use any utensils — even metal — on cast-iron. There is no chemical coating to damage. And it can go from the stovetop right into oven — and then to the table!
What About Acidic Foods?
Acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and vinegar can strip the seasoning from your pan and make foods taste metallic. Wait until the cast-iron it is highly seasoned to cook acidic foods in it — or just avoid them.
Preserve the Finish
Using your pan to cook foods with a lot of oil or fat — like frying chicken or cooking bacon — is really good for it. It helps build and preserve its seasoned coating naturally.
If you find your pan's non-stick seasoning isn't up to snuff anymore, it's time to reseason. Rub the inside and outside of skillet with neutral oil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F. Cool completely in the oven before storing. Now it'll be nicely non-stick again.
Should You Use Soap to Clean it?
Since cast-iron pans can handle heavy-duty cooking, you might have a bit of a mess to clean up when you're done cooking — but don't worry, no matter how you prefer ot clean your pan, it can take it. For stuck-on messes, first try scrubbing the pan with a good handful of coarse salt and a dry towel — the abrasion of the salt helps lift the food away, and you can finish by wiping it with a teaspoon of oil.
But you may have heard that you should never wash a cast-iron pan — this isn't true. A little soap won't ruin your pan's seasoning if that's your preferred cleaning method. After cooking, let your pan cool, then wash it with a little dish soap, plus a little water and a gentle scrub. Dry it well, though, or your pan will rust. To make sure it's really dry, place it on the stove and gently heat until all the water evaporates. Then wipe the inside with an oiled paper towel. Neutral oils like vegetable, canola or grapeseed are best.
How to Store
Store your pan by hanging it (make sure your hook is strong!), or stack with paper towels in between pans to protect against scraping the finish.