The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
Profile photo of Erika (TK)

Share Your Cast Iron Tips

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Share Your Cast Iron Tips!

I love cast iron skillets. They make me feel like I’m someone who knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. They can take a beating, go from stovetop to oven, and they’re pretty enough to go on the table. They photograph beautifully, too. Love them.

When it comes to cleaning, though, that love? Not so strong. I know folks who have impeccable-looking cast iron skillets and as many who have ruined at least one. For those of you in the know, please tell us:

What are some of your favorite cast iron tips?

I know you’re not supposed to use dish soap on them but is that a hard and fast rule? What if you’ve already ruined part of the pan? Is there a way to recover from that? What’s the best way to season it? Or store it?

We’d love to hear your tips or even your challenges when it comes to cast iron cookware. Share your thoughts below and let’s help each other out!



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Scott on 4.17.2014

I use Flaxseed Oil to season my pans. I bought some clearance Flaxseed Oil supplements, cut open a few and squirted the oil in the pan, wiped off really, really well, and baked at 425F for a few hours. Flaxseed is a drying oil, so it doesn’t get gummy or sticky. If you do this a few times and get a good seal, you don’t need to worry about keeping it coated in fresh oil after every use. It turns jet black, super hard, beautiful.

Julie H on 4.1.2014

I use my cast iron pans on my glass cooktop all the time. I’m just careful not to slam the pans down. I also make sure I lift the pans. My cooktop is induction, and cast iron works wonderfully well.

Kay Little on 3.28.2014

I think the best advise I can give is NOT to wash your cast iron skillet after you cook cornbread in them. Just wipe with a clean towel or paper towel and put back in the oven that has been turned off from baking the cornbread. This is a great way to keep seasoning a new cast iron skillet.

Sarah on 3.28.2014

Don’T use oil or grease to season cast iron!!!! The best tip I received was from a cook at a fur trading post reenactment. He said to use BEES wax! Simply wash out pan then put on stove top to heat. Then swish the wax in pan and wipe off excess. This leaves my pans looking beautiful and not smelling rancid like oil can do. I use my pans everyday! You can buy a chunk of bees wax from honey sellers online. A big chunk goes a long way.

logan on 3.27.2014

Cook bacon over a campfire. Do this three or four times, each time wipe the pan with cloth after it cools. Leave a layer of grease though as this helps keep the unseasoned pan from rusting. I’ve found this seasons a pan much better than any method I’ve read on the internet. Plus, it involves eating bacon and camping!

Aqiyl Aniys on 3.23.2014

You can periodically soak your cast iron pot in vinegar and water for an hour. The vinegar will help remove rust.

Profile photo of tracy

tracy on 3.23.2014

I inherited some cast iron, one older piece of which seems “thin” and smooth in the center – I can feel a slight “sinkhole” when I rub the flat of my hand over it. Food always cooks faster there / burns, etc. I don’t know what could have happened to CAST IRON for that to be the case. I’ll probably keep using it because love it – I’m just curious what anyone thinks could have been done to the poor thing and how I can keep from making whatever same mistake someday.

Clear as mud, yes? :)

liz on 3.22.2014

It’s my opinion that you can’t really ruin an iron pan, unless it cracks. So, if you have put it in the dishwasher and it is bright orange, that’s just new rust. Get out the steel wool and scrub it all off. Then, season it. Seasoning is a continous process since all of us will at some time “ruin” a pan.

I decided to check out my pans and some looked dry from non-use. So, they all got a swish under the faucet, wiped dry, heated and greased. They are looking pretty!

Two non-stick pans just got tossed into the recycle bin and I think I’ll follow the suggestion to leave a pan or two on the stove to get more use.

Patty Grooms on 3.22.2014

I don’t own a cast iron pan, but I am hoping to soon. These tips are great, thank you.

Profile photo of Beatrice

Beatrice on 3.21.2014

My most important tip is put shelving liner in between all of my cast iron or stainless. Always use something in between any cookware so that it does not scratch the other pans. When you buy expensive cookware it needs to be taken care of just like anything else.

Beckie on 3.20.2014

Growing up in the South, cooking with iron skillets of all sizes and shapes is a given. When I bought my glass top stove, the lady commented, “oh, by the way, you can’t use iron skillets”. I asked why and she said that they would scratch the surface. “They won’t if I lift the off!”. Some of my skillets were wedding gift in 1972 and are still in fine shape. I do use soap and water to wash, but immediately rinse with very hot water and dry quickly. No rust! If the skillet looks to be drying out, I simply apply a thin wipe of vegetable oil and pop it in the oven when I am using the oven for something else. Bake for 20-30 minutes. BTW, I live in TN, where most iron skillets are made, just outside of Chattanooga at the Lodge Company.

yajie on 3.20.2014

Hi, I’m a student at Boston University and we are developing a new cookware and would like to listen to some opinions from our potential consumers. I would be greatly grateful if you could take a few minutes to help our team fill out this survey! Thank you!

His Wife on 3.20.2014

Funny this has come up. We just decided to tackle our cast iron dutch oven which had a bit of rust on it last week. I looked online and cannot remember where I found the tip so I apologize to whoever posted it originally, but it was so fast, easy and worked! Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of coarse salt in the bottom of the pan, take a hunk of potato (large enough to hold onto and rub that salt on the rust using the potato. The salt got dirty really fast and the rust was gone! Rinse off the pan and put it on a low heated burner to dry. Coat it with some oil on a paper towel. Keep heating. Wipe off all the excess oil and you’re done. If there is a lot of rust you’ll need to add more salt and possibly start with a new potato eventually, but the the amount on my dutch oven, it was fast and very easy.

Profile photo of Patricia @ ButterYum

Patricia @ ButterYum on 3.20.2014

Uncoated cast iron CAN be used on a glass cooktop – just be sure to lift it rather than drag it across the glass.

AngAk on 3.20.2014

cleaning tips from the Lodge website. you can use soap:

Patty Paulsen on 3.20.2014

I love my cast iron, and an always looking at garage sales for new pieces. A good seasoned pan can just be washed with hot water, dried completely, and thinly coated with vegetable oil. If you see a bit of rust, grab the steel wool, put some elbow grease into it, dry, coat the entire piece with oil, and place in 325 oven for an hour. Turn off the oven and let it cool (BIG blisters if you touch while hot). When cooking, never try to rush the preheating process–so turn the burner on medium, do your prep work, and when you are ready to cook you will have a wonderfully hot skillet to add your oil to. Enjoy your cast iron…and if you don’t love it, send it my way! ;)

Victoria on 3.20.2014

When my cast iron really needs to be cleaned. I scrub my cast iron with kosher salt, season with Barlean’s Organic Oils High Lignan Flax Oil and dry it in a 300 degree F preheated oven for an hour, turn the oven off and then let it sit in the oven over night or until cooled. Other than that I usually just wipe it out with a paper towel after use. Everything tastes better in a cast iron!

Abby on 3.20.2014

I love my cast iron skillet! I remember my fiance saying that he didn’t think I would use it as much as I do :)

My favorite tip is to dry your skillet over medium heat and then rub some coconut oil into the pan with a paper towel while it’s still hot. This keeps it well greased and ready to go for next time!


Pat on 3.20.2014

this guide to seasoning old cast iron is a bit technical, but get beyond that, and it’s a great method:

lena on 3.20.2014

I don’t own anything cast iron, but I remember being scolded for washing my mother’s skillet with the regular dinner dishes. Every now and then, I think about purchasing one but I don’t because I’m afraid I wouldn’t know how to care for it.

Michelle on 3.20.2014

I love my cast iron, my best advice is to buy antique cast iron! I have both new and antique and I hardly ever use the new one. The old ones are lighter, smoother and just cook better. I have done side by side comparisons and the old ones are the way to go. I love looking at antique stores and yard sales!

Profile photo of JWeaver

JWeaver on 3.20.2014

I love our cast iron and my best tips are: 1- the best cleaner is a little handful of kosher salt. Rub that around in your pan with a paper towel and it’ll get all the little bits of gunk out without damaging your coating. (never soap) 2 – use it alot! 3 – rub a little oil or grease in (by holding a paper towel with tongs) while it’s still hot and on a low burner. Once it’s cooled, wipe out any excess and you’re good to go.

Profile photo of javagirl54

javagirl54 on 3.20.2014

I have several cast iron pots and pans in various sizes, most of which I’ve gotten from yard sales, dirt cheap! I don’t use them as much as I should — I forget about them! I like one of the comments here that suggests leaving some of them out in the open (out of sight, out of mind!) After cleaning mine, I, too, dry them on the oven burner, then oil them. A couple of times I left them on the burner and forgot about them until I smelled the strange odor of burning iron! Of course, the pans were unscathed! Love the fact that these pans are virtually indestructible!

Julie on 3.20.2014

Kim, Oil is not a good seasoning, I found it made them gunky. Use some Crisco or lard or even some bacon grease. I don’t know if you are talking about an enameled but if it is a true cast iron, stick it in a campfire overnight, that will burn all the gunk out of it and then you can start over from scratch with the seasoning. All my cast iron is just like the fancy non stick cookware, I can wipe them out and be done but I do scrub sometimes. I do not have an enameled cast iron but I do use my regular skillets on my flat top electric stove, I just don’t slide them around. Good luck!

Kim on 3.20.2014

I have a flat top, and you can use cast iron, but it has to be the enameled cast iron. I cook chicken in mine all the time, but it always builds up a lot of junk during that process. I have been pouring hot water on it, bringing it to a boil, then using a cloth scrubber to clean it out. I then dry it by putting it back on the stove top for a few minutes. I hear a lot of folks talk about how theirs are non-stick and after cooking they can wipe it out, but mine clearly is not.

Should I try to season it once a week to help it “build up”? And any strong opinions on lard vs. oil?

Ellen@BakeItWithBooze on 3.20.2014

I store mine with paper plates in between. My grandmother never washed her cast iron skillets, which used to gross me out. Now that I have my own, I get it. I do wash my, though…I think the best ‘secret’ is to actually use them as often as you can which helps keep them seasoned. I always love it when I see one of the cooking show chefs use a cast iron skillet.

Karen B on 3.20.2014

Cooking in cast iron is a natural way of getting iron in your system. My daughter always had low iron and Dr Oz stated to cook in cast iron. Amazing the problem has disappeared. I did get a Lodge pan which is American made. I at least know that it is made of iron.

Joycie K on 3.20.2014

My husband thinks they have to be washed with soap and water, so I dry it by putting it on the cooktop for a short while over low heat to make sure it doesn’t rust.

Donna on 3.20.2014

I have my Great Grandma and my Grandma’s cast iron skillets, about 20 of them. They are the only thing I use. I do use soap in them. We have always used soap in them. I rinse, dry and wipe a little oil in them. I put them on the stove on low heat for a few minutes and then wipe them out. Every month or so I coat them with oil and put them in a oven that has been heated to 350. I turn it off and leave them in until they are cooled. I don’t store them with paper towels between them and have never had a problem with anything sticking. Hopefully my Granddaughters will be able to use them some day.

Dixie on 3.19.2014

I agree with others comments. I have purchased cast iron at yard sales and if it is yucky, put it in a campfire. Clean good with hot water, oil well & cook with it, using oil. Fry some chicken! Then it will be good to go. After cooking, wipe out with paper towel. If residue is left, put an inch of water in, let it boil, then sit a minute. Rinse with hot water & a scrubby. Dry well. Coat with a little oil & store, using paper towels between pans. Never let them soak in water or put in a dishwasher. Happy cooking!

Profile photo of Pat

Pat on 3.19.2014

I did ruin a cast iron skillet! As a newly wed, my mom gave me hers. I put it in the dishwasher. It came out a bright orange. I’ve never forgotten that and it happened a long time ago. I now have quite a few, and my Eagle Scout husband has trained me well on how to take care of them, but he usually does it for me. My favorite one is a flat two-burner grill that I leave on top of my gas stovetop. I toast on it, cook eggs, grill burgers, you name it. I rarely wash it, I just keep wiping it out with a paper towel, and oil it when it gets to dry.

Julie on 3.19.2014

The best thing you can do for cast iron is use it and use it, always use metal utensils. I cook exclusively with cast iron and I have a flat top electric stove. I use whatever it takes to clean, soap and water never hurt as long as you dry well. I usually stick them in a low oven for a bit after cleaning. I’ve acquired cast iron in deplorable condition, the only thing I require is that they are flat on the bottom, if they are warped, they are not good. We have a wood stove and at night I stick the nastiest cast iron in the coals and leave all night. Pull it out in the morning and dust the ashes out, then season with either lard or Crisco, never oil and bake in a 300 degree oven for an hour or so. Do it as often as necessary until they are literally stick proof. Always get the cast iron HOT before using, eggs never stick if you follow this tip, drop an egg in a cold cast iron and kiss it goodbye!

JoyK on 3.19.2014

Have used cast iron frying pans and Dutch ovens many times over a campfire. Without using soap it is almost impossible to get the outside clean. However, i oil and wipe down with paper towels after I use dish soap. It’s been over 30 years and the pans work better than when new.

Profile photo of Sreerupa

Sreerupa on 3.19.2014

Love my cast iron pan/flat skillet; I do scrub with Kosher salt and paper. It takes off all the dirt/grime and leaves behind a smooth shiny surface. If its too oily, then post scrubbing with Kosher salt I was it with very HOT water and dry it immediately. Rub on a thin layer of oil and leave it on my stove-top!

Vicki on 3.19.2014

Grandma taught us to always put the skillet on the gas stove burner on low to slowly dry after washing. Helped prevent rusting.

Patricia @ ButterYum on 3.19.2014

I love using my cast iron pans. I’ve only seen one that was actually ruined – it had been left in a rusty state for so long that the surface became pitted. I don’t use soap to clean mine, but I don’t think a touch of soap would do any damage. My best tip is this: don’t put your cast iron away in a place that’s inconvenient to retrieve because you’ll end up using something else – keep it handy and you’ll use it often. I keep mine right on the stovetop because I use it several times a week. Also, older cast iron pans have a smoother surface – definitely worth tracking down if you can.

Holly on 3.19.2014

I’m really surprised that so many of you don’t use soap. As long as you don’t use a lye-based soap, a quick brush with soap and water, a good rinse, and immediate drying followed by a quick oil rub will not destroy the seasoning. Just don’t add food to the pan until it is hot. :)

Profile photo of C. L. ( Cheryl )  "Cheffie Cooks"  Wiser

C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 3.19.2014

Hey Judy Fox, NO do not use on glass tops-you are right! I fortunately have dual stove/ovens. I love my glass top stainless steel but we are somewhat limited on that bad boy. I use the iron skillets with the other stove/oven and like most everyone do not use soap either. Best Regards to All. CLW

Profile photo of momof3littles

momof3littles on 3.19.2014

Thank you for these great tips im gonna use mine tomorrow.

Glenda on 3.19.2014

I believe it’s impossible to ruin a iron skillet or Dutch oven! If you have ruined the seasoning by washing with detergent or from lack of use, Wash and reseason. To season just rub with crisco put in a 450 degree oven after about 15 min wipe it out with a paper towel and do again. For large Dutch ovens season on a grille. to clean I have a wooden scrapper I use but that’s usually only with scrambled eggs everything else just washes out. I use my iron skillet on my glass top stove (no problem) you don’t drag it off the eye but lift it. My Dutch ovens that I use for camping and cooking on an open fire I store with coffee filers inside and fold a paper towel to put between the lid and oven just to let air in and prevent any rusting. I love to buy iron skillets at sales that are covered in rust they are usually cheap because the owner thinks they are ruined!

liz on 3.19.2014

I laughed when I read one of comments below concerning a gift to a new wife. My grandmother gave my mom a skillet and her permission to hit dad if he got out of line – of course he never did but it was great family lore!

I have family pans as well as those bought at flea markets. Do not be afraid of using steel wool to clean rust and accumulated gunk. Once clean, cover the newly cleaned areas with bacon grease or the oil of your choice and put it in a warm oven to cure. You may have to repeat the oven-curing part for a pan, but it is worth it.

If I burn something in the pan, I fill with water, bring to a boil, let sit and then the stuff comes off without hard scrubbing. Dry, heat the pan and then add oil, let sit and dry. Once seasoned, it’s rinse and then dry on the warm burner – I turn the burner on, let it heat up, turn off and then put the pan on – harder to burn the pan.

If the pan is iron, then I think it is impossible to really ruin the pan. If the pan has some covering, then I don’t know.

Gidget Shenefield on 3.19.2014

I use my cast iron all the time!
If I have to stack them for storage I make sure and place a paper towel between them so they don’t rust or hurt each other.

Profile photo of Colette (Coco in the Kitchen)

Colette (Coco in the Kitchen) on 3.19.2014

The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is w salt & olive oil. Keep a clean toothbrush just for scrubbing your skillet. Reserve one for savoury foods and another for sweets.

Profile photo of kay43026

kay43026 on 3.19.2014

I know you aren’t suppose to use soap on a cast iron (and my son who’s an Eagle Scout cringes when he sees me) …but…sometimes I feel I just HAVE to.

Most times just a rinse with HOT water and a brush/plastic scratcher will do the trick. And then there’s times a coating of kosher salt scrubbed in will do the trick. But…there are times when I feel it ‘smells’ of what I’ve cooked, esp. if I’ve used a lot of garlic/onions in it. That’s when I use dish soup.

But…after every washing, regardless how I do it, I drizzle a bit of canola oil in the pan and wipe it with the paper towel I’ve just dried it with. Works like a charm.

Lea on 3.19.2014

I have my grandma’s amazing cast iron skillet – it’s around 70 years old. The skillet is a glossy jet black and very smooth. It never sticks. I wash it with hot water only and dry it immediately. I don’t oil it when I put it away – I put oil in when I’m going to use it and heat it up and then cook. So blessed to have something my grandma used every day and it’s still in perfect condition.

Judy Fox on 3.19.2014

I am afraid to use one on a glass top. Somewhere along the way I guess I heard that you can’t so I never bothered. Anyone use theirs on glass?

Profile photo of treysmimi

treysmimi on 3.19.2014

I am a southern girl and love my cast iron skillets. I wash them with “gasp” soap and water, dry, then rub a little oil on them.

Sarah on 3.19.2014

I use my cast iron skillets everyday for everything! I love them and the flavor they add to your food. I have all different sizes and brands – Griswold, Wagner, Lodge, etc… I have found that the best way to keep them well seasoned and “non-stick” is after washing them, immediately dry them to prevent rust and lightly coat them with a layer of shortening. I then heat my pans on the stove top until it melts and then wipe clean with a paper towel, leaving just a tracing of the oil behind. This too helps prevent rust and helps build up that “non-stick”, well seasoned surface. Also, I do not always stick to the no soap rule. Just make sure that if you do use soap it is diluted and don’t be afraid to use an abrasive scrubby. One other thing I have noticed though…I have used my pan on electric and gas stove tops. I have always had better luck with the gas stove. Not sure if its just me, but it seems the faster hotter heat works best.

Profile photo of AngAk

AngAk on 3.19.2014

I use soap. doesn’t hurt it at all. I recoat with a bit of oil and it’s good to go. go to the Lodge website and they recommend using a bit of soap if needed.

Nancy Beckham on 3.19.2014

I have eight cast iron skillets, six in the main cabinet and two huge ones I rarely use. Most of mine are 75-100 years old, my mother and grandmother’s, and we all used soap on them. If you cook cornbread in them correctly they will automatically re-season. My trick is to wash them as soon as they are cool and dry them before setting them down. These skillets traveled in covered wagons, were scrubbed with sand in creeks and have been used for at least 4 generations. Some of my grandmother’s may have been her mother’s but there was no one to ask by the time I cleaned out her house.