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How to season a cast iron skillet and how often you should do it

A cast iron skillet surrounded by ginger, garlic and rosemary
A cast iron skillet surrounded by ginger, garlic and rosemary (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you love cast iron cookware, you might want to know how to season a cast iron skillet. Not only are they heavy duty, nonstick and built to last, but cast iron skillets are designed to handle high temperatures to cook just about anything. From steak and seared pork to fried eggs, you can easily use this as part of your daily cook-offs.

But, if a cast iron skillet is not seasoned or properly maintained, this can often get rusty or prone to wear and tear in the long-term. What’s more, this can affect the quality of your delicious cuisine, especially if your skillet starts to lose its nonstick appeal. 

So what is seasoning? Essentially, seasoning (not the salt and spices kind), is when you form a protective coating onto the iron by heating layers of oil.

What you will need

Washing detergent 

Sponge or stiff brush

Cooking oil

Dry cloth or paper towels

Aluminium foil

Once this hardens it will prevent your cast iron skillet from rusting, keeping its natural, black patina coating. Plus seasoning will ensure your cast iron cookware stays in top condition and lasts even longer.

While seasoning a cast iron skillet may seem like a huge chore, it’s actually quick and easy. Just follow our simple steps below and you’ll soon have a restored skillet to cook on!

How to season a cast iron skillet

1. Preheat your oven — First you need to preheat your oven at a temperature of 350°F in preparation for your seasoned skillet.

Cast iron skillet on oven hob

Cast iron skillet on oven hob (Image credit: Future)


2. Add a little oil and rub in to coat — Next up, get your chosen oil and pour a tablespoon or two into the skillet. Be mindful not to pour too much, as you’ll only need a thin coat of oil to season.  Then with a clean dry cloth or a paper towel, rub the oil around to coat the entire skillet. Once you’ve oiled the inside, don’t forget to do the same for the outside and the bottom of the skillet. 

Cast iron skillet being seasoned with oil

Cast iron skillet being seasoned with oil (Image credit: Future)


3. Put the skillet in the oven to bake — The key is to place the skillet upside down on the center shelf of the oven to bake for an hour (yes, one hour). It’s always a good idea to place aluminium foil just underneath it, to catch any drips of oil. In any case, you can always read our tips for how to clean an oven to keep it grease-free and spotless. 

Cast iron skillet baking in oven

Cast iron skillet baking in oven (Image credit: Future)

4. Let the skillet cool down before storing — Once your skillet is baked, leave it to completely cool down before taking it out of the oven.

You should notice a smooth, shiny surface on your skillet, meaning it’s ready to go for your next cooking session! Before storing in your cupboard, it’s recommended to line the skillet with a paper towel to give it extra protection from rust. But you can eliminate this with proper care if you follow our steps on how to clean your skillet and remove rust.  

More tips when seasoning your cast iron skillet 

  • What oil should I use to season my skillet? — Generally, you can use any oil in your cupboard. However, vegetable oil, melted butter or canola oil are popular choices. Remember there’s no need to use your best premium brand for seasoning!  
  • How often should I season my skillet? — To get the best out of your cast iron skillet, it’s recommended that you oil it after each use. However, depending on how frequently you use it, 2-3 times a year is sufficient. 
  • How can I tell when my skillet is seasoned properly? — A well-seasoned skillet will be noticeably dark with a shiny, semi-gloss finish. Best of all, it won’t have any rusty patches and will look revived again!  
Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!