Fall In Love With Your Cast Iron Skillet

Why Cook with Cast Iron?

Cast iron has a wealth of benefits, naturally, that make it the superior choice for a number of kitchen jobs. Among its top qualities:

  • It spreads and retains heat well. Because cast iron is thick and dense, it gets hot and stays hot. This means that, you won’t get hot spots and burn your food.
  • It’s unparalleled for searing. This is because cast iron can store more thermal energy than thinner materials. If you want to get a nice, dark sear on a steak or a piece of salmon, use cast iron.
  • It’s naturally non-stick. Once cast iron has been properly seasoned (more on that in a moment) it has a smooth surface that prevents food from sticking.
  • It’s versatile. Cast iron can go from the stovetop to the oven, allowing you to sear on the stovetop then follow up with long cooking in the oven or a quick trip under the broiler.
  • It enriches your food with iron. Food prepared in cast iron picks up microscopic particles of iron while cooking. Health professionals living in countries where iron deficiencies are common use tools like the Lucky Fish, a small cast iron tool that sits in a cooking pot, to help raise iron levels.

How to Get Mirror-Smooth Seasoning on Your Skillet

Most cast iron skillets, like those offered by Lodge, come pre-seasoned. But, even pre-seasoned cookware can use the extra protection that comes from seasoning at home.

The seasoning on your skillet also occasionally needs to be refreshed. This can be especially true of a pan that has been in storage or neglected in your relative’s attic. Luckily, seasoning just takes a small amount of time, using equipment you probably already have and a bit of elbow grease.

To season or re-season your pan:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Wash your pan with mild dish soap. This helps remove any old debris or oil.
  3. Rinse and thoroughly dry your skillet.
  4. Apply a thin layer of oil to the inside and outside of your pan using a soft cloth or a paper towel. Vegetable oil is the most commonly used oil for the job. You can also use freshly rendered lard or olive oil. If you’re interested in making an investment, many people swear by flaxseed oil for its long-lasting super smooth finish.
  5. Place your pan face down in the center rack of your oven.
  6. Bake for one hour.
  7. Turn off the heat and allow your skillet to cool completely in the oven before removing it.

Wipe down the pan with fresh paper towels after seasoning. You can repeat this whenever food starts to stick to your pan or when the pan starts to feel less smooth.

Maintenance Tips to Make Cast Iron Last a Lifetime (Or More)

Cast iron is a tough material, but it still needs some special care to make it last and work to its full potential. While many people believe that cast iron can’t be washed with soap, this is a myth. The seasoning on cast iron is actually polymerized to the pan, so it won’t easily wash off.

Soaking, on the other hand, can damage your seasoning and can actually rust your pan. To keep your cast iron rust-free, always wash it as soon as possible after use and don’t leave it in the sink.

If you live in a humid area, you may find that your cast iron develops rust when it’s put away in a cabinet. To prevent this, swipe a thin coat of oil over the pan before you put it away.

Recipes That Call Out for Cast Iron

A cast iron skillet is a great choice for any frying, searing, or other high-heat stove top cooking. In fact, frying in it regularly is a great way to make your seasoning job last longer. But, there are some recipes where cast iron is truly a star:

Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread
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Cornbread cooked in a skillet develops a satisfying, crunchy crust. This Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread is as authentic as they come.
Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread
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Cornbread cooked in a skillet develops a satisfying, crunchy crust. This Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread is as authentic as they come.
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
  • 15 oz Stone Ground Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 6 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Making Powder
  • 3 tsp Sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Buttermilk
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter melted, divided
Servings:
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Ingredients
  • 15 oz Stone Ground Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 6 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Making Powder
  • 3 tsp Sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Buttermilk
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter melted, divided
Servings:
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Instructions
  1. Place a well-seasoned 12-inch cast iron skillet on the center rack of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk cornmeal with salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk with eggs until combined. Whisking constantly, drizzle in all but 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  4. Whisk liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until thoroughly mixed; avoid over-mixing.
  5. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter into preheated skillet and carefully swirl to coat bottom and sides. Scrape batter into prepared skillet, smoothing the top gently with a rubber spatula.
  6. Bake until cornbread is lightly browned on top and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  7. Let cool for about 15 minutes in skillet, then serve warm. (Cornbread does not keep well and will lose its texture as it cools, so it's best to eat it while it's still fresh.)
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Pan-Seared Steaks
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If you can't get outside to grill, cooking a steak in a cast iron skillet on your stovetop is the next best option. A blazing hot cast iron skillet makes this Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon perfectly browned on the outside and tender and rare within.
Pan-Seared Steaks
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If you can't get outside to grill, cooking a steak in a cast iron skillet on your stovetop is the next best option. A blazing hot cast iron skillet makes this Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon perfectly browned on the outside and tender and rare within.
Servings
4steaks
Servings
4steaks
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Green Peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 4 six-oz Filet Mignon Steaks 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Servings: steaks
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Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Green Peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 4 six-oz Filet Mignon Steaks 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Servings: steaks
Units:
Instructions
  1. Place both peppercorns in a plastic zip-top bag and crack them on a work surface with a mallet until they’re broken into small pieces but not pulverized. Place them in a medium bowl, add the butter, and mix until combined.
  2. Season the steaks all over with salt. Divide the peppercorn butter among the filets and rub to evenly coat both sides.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the steaks and cook undisturbed to the desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
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Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts, & Potato Hash
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One of cast iron's greatest qualities is its superior heat retention. Hash that’s hot and tender in the middle and deeply browned and crispy outside is one of the dishes that takes full advantage of this. This Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts, & Potato Hash makes a delicious winter side dish or a hearty addition to a Sunday breakfast.
Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts, & Potato Hash
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One of cast iron's greatest qualities is its superior heat retention. Hash that’s hot and tender in the middle and deeply browned and crispy outside is one of the dishes that takes full advantage of this. This Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts, & Potato Hash makes a delicious winter side dish or a hearty addition to a Sunday breakfast.
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes 3/4 inch chunks
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 12 Brussels Sprouts finely sliced
  • 2 cups Kale Leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce
  • 1 small Onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp Parsley Leaves minced
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Servings:
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Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes 3/4 inch chunks
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 12 Brussels Sprouts finely sliced
  • 2 cups Kale Leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce
  • 1 small Onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp Parsley Leaves minced
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes after coming to a boil. Drain potatoes in a colander and let drain for 2 minutes.
  3. While potatoes drain, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil in a medium non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering.
  4. Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until well-browned on most sides, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add remaining vegetable or canola oil, brussels sprouts, and kale leaves and cook, folding occasionally, until kale and sprouts are starting to wilt.
  6. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring and folding occasionally, until all vegetables are softened and starting to crisp.
  7. Stir in hot sauce and half of parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
  8. Make two wells in the vegetables and drizzle each with a few drops of olive oil. Add 1 egg to each.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  10. Transfer to oven and cook until eggs are barely set, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve immediately.
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Perfect Pan-Seared Salmon
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We should all be eating more fish, and cast iron pans make it easy to get delicious results. In under 10 minutes you can make this Pan-Seared Miso Glazed Salmon that’s tender on the inside and oh-so-flavorful on the outside.
Perfect Pan-Seared Salmon
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We should all be eating more fish, and cast iron pans make it easy to get delicious results. In under 10 minutes you can make this Pan-Seared Miso Glazed Salmon that’s tender on the inside and oh-so-flavorful on the outside.
Servings
1piece
Servings
1piece
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Salmon
  • 2 tbsp Shiro Miso
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Tamari
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
Servings: piece
Units:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Salmon
  • 2 tbsp Shiro Miso
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Tamari
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
Servings: piece
Units:
Instructions
  1. Wash your salmon and dry with a paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides of the salmon.
  3. In a small bowl, mix up the miso, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, tamari and Sriracha.
  4. Heat up a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the oil.
  5. When the oil is hot add the salmon, skin-side down.
  6. While the salmon cooks, brush the miso glaze over the salmon. Cook the salmon on each side for about 4 minutes.
  7. Carefully flip over. After around 4 minutes on each side, the salmon will just be cooked through. Do not overcook.
  8. Serve with your favorite stir-fried vegetables, rice or other side dish.
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Cast iron cooking comes with a learning curve. But, once you have mastered the unique quirks of this cooking equipment, you’ll find that your cast iron pan is the one that you reach for every time. Happy cast iron cooking!