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How to perfectly season your cast iron skillet with olive oil, ensuring a lifetime of sizzling meals. Our guide covers all you need to know.

A frying pan with a lot of food in it.

I love my skillet and wouldn’t be without it. Besides using it at home, it’s perfect for camping and cooking almost all meats, potatoes, and other kitchen companions.

Seasoning your cast-iron skillet with the best oil is crucial for its longevity and the flavor it imparts to your dishes. Seasoning should always be a part of its maintenance routine. By doing so, you create a natural, non-stick coat that also prevents rust.

Here’s how you can accomplish this with olive oil.


  • Olive Oil
  • Stove
  • Cast Iron Skillet
A person holding a bottle of olive oil.

How to Properly Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Step 1: Cleaning the Skillet

Begin with a clean skillet. Wash it with warm water and a scrub brush. Avoid soap if the skillet is already seasoned; otherwise, mild soap can be used for a new or rusty skillet you’re attempting to refurbish.

A pan with white foam in it.

Be sure to dry the cast iron skillet completely.

A black cast iron skillet on a table.

Step 2: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to 350 ̊F (175 ̊C), which is the perfect temperature to allow the oil to bond to the skillet without reaching the smoke point of olive oil.

A cast iron skillet with a hole in it.

Step 3: Applying a Thin Layer of Olive Oil

After drying your skillet completely, apply a thin layer of olive oil over every surface, including the bottom and handle. Use a clean cloth or paper towel for a smooth, even coat.

How to clean a cast iron skillet.

Step 4: Heat the Skillet in the Oven

Place the skillet upside down in the preheated oven, with aluminum foil or a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drips. Bake for one hour. The heat allows the oil to break down and polymerize, creating that coveted non-stick layer.

A seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven.

Step 5: Cooling and Repeating the Process

After the hour, turn off the oven and let the skillet cool down completely inside the oven before removing it. If required, repeat the oiling and heating process for further built-up seasoning.

Benefits of Using Olive Oil for Seasoning

One of the main benefits of olive oil for seasoning your cast iron skillet is its availability and health benefits. It is a natural and healthier alternative compared to other fats and oils. 

Additionally, extra-virgin olive oil has a reasonably high smoke point, which is ideal for achieving the perfect sear on foods.

Tips for Maintaining Cast Iron

  • Never soak or leave the skillet in the sink because it could rust.
  • After each use, clean it with a stiff brush and hot water and dry it immediately.
  • Apply a light coat of oil after every wash.
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes to prevent warping.

Comparison with Other Oils for Seasoning

While vegetable oils and shortening are common for seasoning skillets, they create a stickier surface over time and may contribute to unnecessary trans fats in your diet. 

Although olive oil has a lower smoke point than some alternatives like canola oil, provides a durable and flavorful coating ideally suited to various dishes.

Different Oils to Try

  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Bacon Grease

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of oil is best for seasoning cast iron cookware?

Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is a popular choice due to its flavor and health benefits. However, some users prefer oils with higher smoke points, like soy-based vegetable oil or canola oil, for a more durable layer of seasoning.

Can I use olive oil even though it has a relatively low smoke point for high temperatures?

Yes, you can. Olive oil has a reasonably high enough smoke point for seasoning, as long as you avoid excessive heat during the initial seasoning process. A thin layer of oil applied correctly can create a protective non-stick surface.

How do I know if I’ve used too much oil on my cast-iron pan?

If there are oil drips or a sticky residue after the seasoning process, you’ve likely used too much oil. Apply a very thin layer and wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel before heating the pan upside down in the oven.

Is it a good idea to cook acidic foods in a newly seasoned skillet?

It’s best to avoid acidic foods like tomatoes or salad dressings initially, as they can strip the new layer of seasoning. The pan will handle acidic foods better after several uses and layers of seasoning build-up.

Can I wash my cast iron with dish soap?

Mild dish soap and warm water can be used occasionally. However, it’s generally recommended to clean cast iron with hot water and a brush or scouring pad to maintain the seasoning.

Why should I avoid abrasive scrubbers or harsh detergents?

Steel wool and harsh detergents can damage the cooking surface and remove built-up layers of seasoning from your cast iron cookware.

I just bought a new pan. Should I season it before using it for the first time?

Absolutely. Even new cast iron pans benefit from additional seasoning for best results. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines if provided.

How do I maintain the nonstick surface over time?

Regular use, proper cleaning, a quick wipe with the right oil after each use, and occasional re-seasoning will help maintain the nonstick surface and keep your skillet in good condition for a long time.

How often should I re-season my pan?

If you use your cast iron frequently and care for it properly, you shouldn’t need to fully re-season it but once every few years. However, if you notice food starting to stick or the pan losing its luster, it’s time to apply a new layer of oil and heat it in the oven again.

Remember, using the right oil and maintaining your cast iron skillets through regular use and proper care will ensure great cooking experiences and delicious results for years to come.

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