How to Use a Cast Iron Skillet for the First Time

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If you’ve just brought home your shiny new cast-iron skillet, you’re probably wondering how to use a cast iron skillet for the first time! Use this step-by-step tutorial to make your first time cooking with cast iron a success!

cast iron skillet on tea towel

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If you’re eager to dive into the world of hearty, delicious meals, I have everything you need to know to get off to a great start! Read on for the essential steps to using your cast-iron skillet for the first time, ensuring that it becomes your go-to kitchen companion for years to come.

Seasoning Your New Cast Iron Skillet

Contrary to popular belief, your new cast iron skillet doesn’t arrive ready to use out of the box. The seasoning process is the only time you’ll need to go through a bit of preparation. Follow these simple steps:

1. Preheat Your Oven

Set your oven to 350°F (175°C) and place your skillet upside down on the center rack.

2. Clean Your New Pan

Give your new cast iron skillet a quick rinse using warm water and a mild dish soap. Contrary to what you might have heard, using soap is perfectly fine at this stage.

3. Dry Thoroughly

Pat your skillet dry with a clean towel to ensure there’s no moisture left on the surface.

4. Apply a Thin Layer of Oil

Choose the best oil for the job – one with a high smoke point like vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or canola oil. Rub a thin layer of oil on the entire surface of the pan, including the outside and handle.

5. Bake Your Skillet

Place your skillet upside down in the preheated oven, with a foil-lined tray on the rack below to catch any excess oil. Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven and let it cool down with the skillet inside.

Congratulations! Your new skillet is now well-seasoned and ready for action.

Cooking with Your Cast Iron Skillet

Choosing the Right Oil

When cooking, opt for oils with high smoke points, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil. These oils can withstand the high temperatures your cast-iron skillet can reach without breaking down or producing unwanted flavors.

Using Your Skillet the First Time

For your initial cooking session, start with something simple, like a steakhouse-style steak, stovetop cornbread, or Spanish chicken and rice. Heat the skillet over medium heat and cook with a little bit of oil. This helps build the first layers of seasoning and ensures a non-stick surface for future use.

Dealing with Acidic Foods

Be cautious when cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce. Acidic ingredients can erode the layers of seasoning over time. It’s best to avoid prolonged cooking of such foods until your skillet has developed a robust seasoning.

Tips for Proper Care and Maintenance

Cleaning Your Skillet

Contrary to popular belief, you can use a small amount of dish soap and warm water for regular cleaning. Stubborn bits of food can be tackled with a stiff brush or steel wool. 

Drying Your Skillet

Always dry your skillet thoroughly after washing to prevent rust. If it starts to rust, don’t worry – a good scrub and a bit of seasoning will bring it back to life.

Storing Your Skillet

Store your cast iron skillet in a dry place. Placing a paper towel between stacked pans helps prevent scratches and ensures they stay in top condition.

Regular Maintenance

To maintain that beautiful non-stick surface, lightly oil your skillet after each use. Simply wipe it down with a clean paper towel and a little oil.

In the early stages, using a cast iron skillet might seem like a bit of a learning curve, but trust me, it’s a good thing.

With a little care and attention, your cast-iron skillet will become a kitchen workhorse, providing you with an easy-release cooking surface and countless delicious meals. So, get cooking and enjoy the journey of crafting a well-seasoned cast iron pan (affiliate link) that will last a lifetime. Happy cooking!

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