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This One Thing Will Help You Keep Your Cast-Iron Skillet in Perfect Shape

This One Thing Will Help You Keep Your Cast-Iron Skillet in Perfect Shape

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I have a go-to cast-iron skillet that I love and rely on, one that I use several times a week for everything from hash to skillet pizza to seared scallops to baked beans to corn bread. Yeah, it's an all-purpose pan, great for creating crusts and hard sears, as well as being completely oven- and broiler-proof. You've probably read before that once your cast-iron pan is well seasoned (heated with oil to "seal" and create a slightly nonstick surface), you can't wash it with soap and water because that will ruin the seasoning. I say baloney to that. After all, if I've made a creamy-saucy chicken casserole in my cast-iron skillet, I want to get it clean before I use it next. Washing is no problem (I don't advise soaking the pan), especially if you do just one thing after every use.

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After washing, dry the pan well. Make sure it's dry by placing it on a burner over medium-high heat until you can see that it's completely dry. Then coat it with a little bit of oil: I use canola oil (if you're concerned about GMOs, just use organic canola), pouring in a teaspoon or two and rubbing it around with a dry paper towel to completely coat the interior of the pan and to soak up the excess. Cool the pan, and stash it away until you're ready to grab it next. It will stay in perfect shape until you're ready to pass it down to your kids or even grandkids!

Recipes for Your Cast Iron Skillet:

How To Clean Cast Iron Cookware The Right Way

Got questions about cast iron? I'll show you how to clean it, season it, and keep it looking great for decades to come.

Cast iron cookware has always held a special place in my heart because it’s economical, durable, versatile, retains heat well, and cooks food evenly. And when it is properly cleaned and cared for, cast iron can last for generations—quite literally!

I use my cast iron skillets to make all sorts of delicious creations, like pan-seared steaks, berry cobbler, and chocolate fudge skillet cake. I’ve even turned a cast iron skillet upside down and used it in my oven as a makeshift “pizza stone!”

And although I’ve mentioned cooking in cast iron skillets several times in blog posts over the years, I realized I had neglected to share how to clean cast iron or care for it—until now, that is! So today I’m going to do just that by sharing my super simple guide to cleaning and caring for cast iron cookware.

7 Best Cast Iron Skillets and Pans of 2020, According to Kitchen Pros

Cast iron is a must-have in every kitchen for steaks, fish, and beyond.

A cast iron skillet is one of the most versatile pans you can buy. It can be used for almost everything, from getting a good sear on meat and popping it in the oven, to making a frittata. Cast iron is popular among chefs because it heats and cooks evenly, can reach high temperatures, and holds temperature well.

One of the best things about cast iron is its ability to get better with time. When cared for properly, the patina (the cast iron code for "nonstick") improves and you don&rsquot need to add any cooking oils to the pan. While some people believe maintaining and cleaning cast iron is difficult, but it's actually quite simple. It can last a lifetime if cared for properly &mdash one brand we feature even offers a 100-year warranty.

We, in the Good Housekeeping Institute, have been testing cookware for decades, from stainless steel cookware sets to nonstick pans and of course, cast iron skillets. When we test, we evaluate performance and ease of use through a set of tests that determine how evenly they heat, how well they maintain temperature, and how easy they are to handle and wash. We also considered useful features, like helper handles which make the pan easier to hold and move around, as well as pour spouts that allow for the easy removal of grease build up. Our picks for best cast iron skillets are:

  • Best Overall Cast Iron Skillet:Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
  • Best Value Cast Iron Skillet:Utopia Kitchen 12.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
  • Best Lightweight Cast Iron Skillet:Field Skillet No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet
  • Longest Lasting Cast Iron Skillet:Butter Pat Heather 10-Inch Skillet
  • Best Vintage Cast Iron Skillet:Stargazer 10.5-Inch Skillet
  • Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet:Le Creuset Cast Iron 10 1/4-Inch Skillet
  • Best Oversized Cast Iron Skillet:Amazon Basics 15-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

Whether you&rsquore a beginner or a professional chef, there&rsquos a cast iron skillet for everyone. Our favorites feature traditional cast iron skillets, as well as ones that are pre-seasoned and others that are enameled and easier to clean. They also include a combination of cast iron skillets we tested, used in our own homes, and stood out from brands we&rsquove used and trust.

Avoiding Acidic Foods

There’s a myth out there that acidic foods need to be avoided when it comes to cast iron cooking. That’s not the case.

Feel free to use your cast iron pans for chicken cacciatore, eggplant parmesan, or whatever else you might be craving. The key here is to keep the cooking time short, and if there’s any discoloration after cooking, just give the pan a quick scrub with baking soda.

Don’t worry about the conception that acidic foods will cause iron to leach into your food. It’s true that this happens – but it’s a good thing. Your body will benefit from the added iron in your diet!

How to Perfectly Season a Cast-Iron Skillet

You know that your trusty cast-iron skillet can basically last forever—but what most people don't know is that the iron cookware must be pre-seasoned in order to maintain its non-stick and rust-free surface. Usually, you can purchase a pre-seasoned cast-iron pan, but if you haven't done so, fret not: You can easily season your cast-iron skillet yourself! And doing so is way easier than you think with just a few common household staples such as oil and salt.

To keep your pricey pot good as new, we've enlisted the help of Pete Balistreri, Tender Greens Chef and VP of Stores, to show us how to season the kitchen staple before use. Heed the tips below, and be on your way to crafting more flavorful cast-iron-made meals at home!

How to season cast-iron skillets

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the skillet is new, wipe it with a dry paper towel. If the skillet is dirty, place it over medium/high heat with one thin layer of kosher salt over the skillet's surface. Heat pan until the surface is hot. Let the skillet cool and scrub it with a folded dishtowel with the salt still in the skillet.

Use a paper towel to apply a coat of vegetable oil or, preferably, flaxseed oil to all surfaces of your skillet (even the bottom and handle).

Place an aluminum-foil-covered sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven. This will catch any oil or particles that fall during the seasoning process.
Once preheating is complete, place your skillet upside down on the top rack of your oven.

Bake the skillet for one hour at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool in the oven for safe handling. Once the skillet is cooled down, remove it from the oven and wipe it with a dry paper towel.

Repeat steps 3–8 once more.

What oil should you use to season your skillet?

"Aside from the recommended flaxseed oil, you can season your cast iron skillet with any unsaturated oil," Balistreri says, noting that you should avoid saturated oils such as lard and grease. "Unsaturated oils include canola and vegetable oil. They are chemically structured in a way that helps them polymerize to the metal, which helps create that non-stick surface on a cast-iron skillet."

Lodge, the company that's well-known for its cast-iron skillets, also offers a conveniently packaged Lodge Seasoning Spray that's 100% pure canola oil, and its convertible top allows you to drip, stream, or spray the oil onto the skillet.

Aside from choosing an unsaturated oil, you should also look out for a fat that has a high smoke point. "Soybean oil is another great option after flaxseed given its high smoke point. Avoid using low smoke point oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and butter," Balistreri says.

We can't wait to test these tricks before searing a ribeye for supper! Now that you know how to season your trusty cookware, you'll want to jot down how to clean a cast-iron skillet so that it lasts even longer. And for more on the latest cooking tips, sign up for our newsletter.

1. Buy sirloin. Contentious, I know, but the first step to making a great burger is using flavorful meat. And chuck — while sporting the proper burger ratio of 20 percent fat to 80 percent meat — simply cannot hang with sirloin in the flavor department. Sirloin has that meaty, rich, delicious flavor that people think of when they think beef. The problem people have with sirloin is its meat-to-fat ratio of 90:10 means less rendered lipids, which translates into a drier burger. That may be the case on the grill, since fat that renders off the meat drips down through the grates below. Not so on the stove top, where a pan captures rendered liquid and "marinates" the burger in it while it cooks. This flavor/fat compromise can be further enhanced by blending sirloin with other ground cuts — my favorites are short rib and brisket. Starting to understand? Good. Read on.

2. Form loosely packed patties. Ground meat is a deceptively delicate thing. Too much manhandling and you'll ruin the amazing, robust texture that a good burger should have. So resist the urge to mix the meat or add any fillers that require intense sculpting (read: onions, garlic, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce). Instead, carefully portion your ground meat into roughly even sizes. I highly suggest you go with eight-ounce burgers. Yes, they're big, but (sorry, guys) it's the size that matters in this case. Next, carefully dab each portion with about a teaspoon of olive oil, then gently pat the portions into a one-inch-thick patty that's just slightly less wide in diameter than a DVD. Don't push too hard or slap it around. Once you've got it into roughly the shape you want, set it down and stop touching it.

3. Season well on both sides. I can't stress this enough: Food needs seasoning. It's a fact of life. Too many burger joints out there go through all the right steps, then leave their meat underseasoned to try to please the salt-phobic. Well, here's a secret: Flavorless food doesn't please anyone. Seasoning is vital to flavor, but that's not all. A good layer of salt will also aid in creating a charred crust as your burger cooks. And that's what we're looking for in the perfect stove-top burger: a charred crust.

So here's how you correctly season a burger: Find a nice, rough-grained kosher salt or sea salt. I prefer Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt, because the grains are neither too big and crunchy nor too small. Now season the entire side of your patty with it. Don't scrimp — you want even coverage, about half of a teaspoon per side. Crack some fresh ground black pepper over the burger, give it a gentle pat, then flip and repeat on the other side.

4. Use a preheated cast-iron skillet. This, my friends, is the absolute key to the perfect burger: cast iron. If you follow one step to a T (and you should follow them all, damn it), this is the one you have to get right. Cast iron is the best method for cooking a burger, a steak, shoot. anything you want to sear the bejesus out of. Why? It has to do with the material properties of iron, plus the thickness of the pan.

Iron is not as reactive as, say, copper or aluminum. Its relatively poor conduction makes it ill-suited for electrical work, but it makes it great to cook with. Because of its poor conductivity, once iron is heated, it holds its heat extraordinarily well. That means iron is the perfect tool for intensely hot searing, because the heat will not dissipate and thus will cook your food more evenly.

Those properties also mean that iron takes longer to heat than other pans. So what I do is, while I'm busy preparing the meat, I pop my iron skillet into a 350-degree oven. I let it warm thoroughly for about 30 minutes, then, when I'm ready to cook, I move it over a medium-high burner. I must warn you: Be ultra careful when handling a hot iron skillet. Use oven mitts or the like to pick up your pan, and make sure not to touch the handle without using them. I like to turn the handle away from me on the stove to resist the urge to touch it.

Finally, add a tiny bit (a tablespoon, no more) of olive oil to the pan. Does it smoke? Your pan is too hot — take it off the burner for a couple of minutes, then try again. If it beads slightly and shines as it hits the pan, it's ready.

5. Flip once don't mess with it. There's a tendency among home cooks to poke and prod their burgers. Do not do that. Instead, put in a maximum of two patties at a time into your cast iron skillet (that's for a 12-inch skillet smaller sizes should do only one). You'll hear an intense sizzle as the meat hits the searing-hot iron. You might even get some smoke. This is good. Now, do not touch it! Resist the urge to move it, check the underside, whatever. What's happening is the screeching-hot pan is creating a ridiculously rich crust. This crust will both seal in flavor and create flavor. It is the ultimate key to a great burger — a thick crust that you cannot achieve on the grill. After about four minutes, or whenever you can see the side of the patty starting to turn from red to brown, carefully flip your patty and repeat on the other side.

Immediately after flipping to the other side, cut off a pat of butter (about a quarter of a tablespoon is all you need), and place it on top of each patty. Leave them alone now. Wait three to four minutes, until you see that the red completely gone from the sides. Add cheese now if you like, cover, and wait about one minute. (I strongly suggest sharp, aged cheddar.) Is the cheese melted? You're ready to plate.

6. Eat. Oh, I forget the sixth key: Dig in. I like to dress the perfect burger very simply: a smear of mayonnaise on the bottom bun, along with a slice of (seasoned!) ripe tomato. Some caramelized onions and mushrooms also work nicely, as does a piece of Boston lettuce if you like. Bacon is also a personal preference, but I prefer not to add it here — I want to taste the burger, not pork.

For extra credit, I suggest you also use a fresh-baked bun purchased that day, toasted on the inside only (a good time to do this is to put your cut buns face-down in the skillet when you add the cheese). Toasting the bun on the inside adds toasty crunch but does not make it so your teeth have to work to get through the bun — that just squishes your burger and allows juice to seep out. And trust me: This beast will be plenty juicy. It might be the juiciest burger you've ever eaten.

Care and feeding of your cast iron frying pan (plus perfect recipes)

Chocolate chip skillet cookie, top with ice cream for an extra-decadent treat.

Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen / Show More Show Less

Spinach and feta frittata , perfect for brunch.

Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen / Show More Show Less

Baked brie with honeyed apricots, serve with crackers or crusty artisan bread.

Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen / Show More Show Less

5 of 69 A cast-iron skilled with a baked brie and pecans. Show More Show Less

Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen / Show More Show Less

Click through the slideshow to see the most searched receipts in each state.

10 of 69 Banana Bread — Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas. It was the only recipe that was most-searched in as many as three states. JoeLena/Getty Images Show More Show Less

11 of 69 Turkey — Massachusetts.

The home of the first Thanksgiving still needs help cooking a gobbler.

13 of 69 Zucchini — Idaho, Maine.

Anyone who grows zucchini knows you need lots of zucchini recipes, because the squash bounty can be overwhelming. Interestingly, the two states that searched the most for them are best known for their potatoes.

Mychele Daniau/Getty Images Show More Show Less

14 of 69 Bread — California.

16 of 69 Gravy — Michigan, Alabama.

A hit in Dixie and Detroit.

The Washington Post/Getty Images Show More Show Less

17 of 69 Soup Vermont.

As this soup is traditional Polish red beetroot, she might be faking the smile.

19 of 69 Chicken Breast New Jersey.

Add some seasoning, toss it on the grill. It's not rocket science, New Jersey.

Cristina Cassinelli/Getty Images Show More Show Less

20 of 69 Chicken Parmesan Virginia.

Virginia is for lovers — and chicken parmesan, apparently.

22 of 69 Chocolate Chip Cookies — Delaware. Kniel Synnatzschke/Getty Images Show More Show Less

23 of 69 Cookies — Texas, Illinois.

Any cookie, chocolate chips optional.

Wanwisa Hernandez / EyeEm/Getty Images Show More Show Less

25 of 69 Chicken Soup Pennsylvania.

Kind of disappointed it's not scrapple.

26 of 69 Jambalaya Louisiana.

28 of 69 Cornbread Mississippi.

29 of 69 Smoothie Missouri.

If it's good enough for a duchess, it's good enough for the Show Me State.

31 of 69 Stew — Utah. PeopleImages/Getty Images Show More Show Less

32 of 69 Taco Tennessee, Indiana. Lauri Patterson/Getty Images Show More Show Less

34 of 69 Pancake — Arkansas.

Bliss soaked in maple syrup.

Dean Sanderson/Getty Images Show More Show Less

35 of 69 Pie Crust — Montana. William Reavell/Getty Images Show More Show Less

37 of 69 Meatloaf New York.

The ultimate comfort food?

38 of 69 Caramel Wisconsin.

No state searched the most for fudge.

Clive Champion - Champion Photography Ltd./Getty Images Show More Show Less

40 of 69 Guacamole — Ohio.

Holy Toledo, holy guacamole!

Lew Robertson/Getty Images Show More Show Less

41 of 69 Apple Pie — Nebraska.

As a American as Mom, baseball and Warren Buffett.

43 of 69 Salmon Colorado.

Craving seafood in the Rocky Mountains.

Kate Whitaker/Getty Images Show More Show Less

44 of 69 Prime Rib — South Dakota.

Now if we just had some Yorkshire Pudding .

47 of 69 Salsa Oklahoma. LauriPatterson/Getty Images Show More Show Less

49 of 69 Cheesecake — West Virginia, Maryland.

We might have guessed crab cake for the latter.

50 of 69 Buy Photo Mochi (Japanese rice cake) - Hawaii. Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

52 of 69 Cake — Oregon, Georgia.

53 of 69 Lasagna — New Hampshire. miomea/Getty Images Show More Show Less

55 of 69 Shortcake Minnesota. Show More Show Less

56 of 69 Coleslaw Wyoming.

In meat-eating Wyoming, the top search is for a veggie side dish.

58 of 69 Coleslaw Dressing — Alaska. Paul Visconti/Getty Images Show More Show Less

59 of 69 Dressing — South Carolina. Craig Lee Show More Show Less

61 of 69 Spaghetti Kentucky.

Kentucky, famous for its spaghetti midwesterns.

62 of 69 North Dakota — Apple Crisp.

William Reavell/Getty Images Show More Show Less

64 of 69 Chili — Florida, Rhode Island. Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle Show More Show Less

65 of 69 Frosting — Arizona, Iowa .

You don't want your cupcakes to go naked, do you?

67 of 69 Fried Chicken — Washington. Mike Sutter /San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

68 of 69 Chocolate Cake — Connecticut. Helen L. Montoya/San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

FOUND: Elana Keyes of Guilford wrote, &ldquoHow do you season a cast iron frying pan? I&rsquove tried several different methods and to no avail everything sticks! I&rsquove tried oiling the pans in the oven for an hour at 500 degrees and inverting the pan. I&rsquove tried it on the top of the stove. Please help!

Elana, good news! My friends at America&rsquos Test Kitchen sent me the information below from the August November 2003 issue of their magazine &ldquoCook&rsquos Illustrated&rdquo that should assist you. For everything you wanted to know about caring for your cast iron skillet but were afraid to ask, check out their video

I guarantee you are not alone in trying to keep them in tip-top shape so all of your recipes come out perfect. If you haven&rsquot subscribed to their magazines or their cooking newsletters, I highly recommend you do. If you are not familiar, their PBS television show is all about culinary education it is not a reality cooking show with all of the &ldquoheated&rdquo time-based competitions. You will learn cooking techniques to enhance your culinary skills.

Steps: &ldquo1. Rub the pan with fine steel wool. 2. Wipe out loose dirt and rust with a cloth.3. Place the pan on the burner over medium-low heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the pan heavily. Heat for 5 minutes, or until the handle is too hot to touch. Turn off the burner. 4. Add enough salt to form a liquidy paste. Wearing a work or gardening glove, scrub with a thick wads of paper towels, steadying the pan with a potholder. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the pan is slick and black. 5. Rinse the pan thoroughly in hot water, wipe dry, and then coat with a thin film of vegetable oil, wiping off any excess with paper towels.&rdquo

I enjoy cooking in cast iron pans because it is able to withstand high heat, especially when frying, searing or blackening. It also retains heat well and can go from stovetop to oven&hellipor place on the BBQ or over a campfire. Cornbread and cobblers are easy to bake in cast iron I find it makes a moist corn bread. Just be careful, the handle gets hot.

Cast iron cookware has been around for hundreds of years and was quite popular during the early part of the 20th century. Most kitchens had one they were durable and fairly inexpensive. During the mid-1960s they began to decline in use when Teflon and non-stick pans were the craze. Grandma&rsquos hand-me-down cast iron pans were popular tag sale items and plentiful at secondhand shops. As author Stephen King said, &ldquosooner or later, everything old is new again.&rdquo This holds true here, too. Cooking with cast iron is hot again (no pun intended). Displays of the cookware, and magazines and cookbooks devoted to this style of cooking are plentiful.

If there is only one book you want to have on the topic, &ldquoCook It In Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes from the One Pan That Does it All,&rdquo by the editors at America&rsquos Test Kitchen (2015, $29.95) is the one. Before getting into the recipes, the information at the beginning talks about cast iron discoveries, why a cast iron skillet belongs in every kitchen, evaluating cast iron skillets, the science of seasoning and how to maintain your cast iron skillet, troubleshooting, and busting myths. The cast iron personality test helps you determine which pan is right for you. Each recipe has a headnote, &ldquoWhy This Recipe Works.&rdquo It provides useful and interesting information about the preparation of the dish. It is one of the features I enjoy in America&rsquos Test Kitchen publications.

Now let&rsquos get cooking with these recipes from the book. For the recipe for chocolate chip skillet cookies, please visit Recipes are courtesy of America&rsquos Test Kitchen.

Baked Brie with Honeyed Apricots

Why This Recipe Works: Baked Brie topped with jam or fruit&mdashwe like dried apricots and honey&mdashis a popular party snack, and for good reason. When the cheese is warmed, it magically transforms into a rich, dippable concoction. Baking the cheese in a cast-iron skillet seemed like a no-brainer since the skillet holds onto heat so well, it would keep the cheese in the ideal luscious, fluid state longer than any other pan. For sweet and creamy flavor in every bite, we reengineered the traditional whole wheel of baked Brie by trimming off the rind (which doesn&rsquot melt that well) and slicing the cheese into cubes. The result? Our honey-apricot mixture was evenly distributed throughout the dish, not just spooned on top. We finished the dish with an extra drizzle of honey and some minced chives to reinforce the sweet-savory flavor profile. Be sure to use a firm, fairly unripe Brie for this recipe. Serve with crackers or Melba toast.

¼ cup dried apricots, chopped

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

2 (8-ounce) wheels firm Brie cheese, rind removed, cheese cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave apricots, 2 tablespoons honey, rosemary, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until apricots are softened and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring halfway through microwaving. Add Brie and toss to combine.

Transfer mixture to 10-inch cast-iron skillet and bake until cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons honey and sprinkle with chives. Serve. Serves 8 to 10.

Spinach and Feta Frittata

Why This Recipe Works: Frittatas are similar to omelets but much easier to make: All ingredients are combined at once, so you need much less hands-on time during cooking. For a perfect, tender frittata packed with flavor, we started with 10 large eggs mixed with half-and-half. The water in the dairy helped create steam so the eggs puffed up, and the fat kept the frittata tender. We used the microwave to quickly wilt fresh spinach and then drained it to keep the frittata from becoming waterlogged. Feta cheese and oregano added great savory flavor. Actively stirring and scraping the egg mixture during cooking kept the eggs from becoming tough and ensured quicker cooking. Shaking the skillet helped the eggs distribute properly, and cooking the frittata on the stovetop created some nice browning on the bottom. We then transferred the skillet to the broiler, where the high heat helped the frittata puff a little more and set without overcooking the bottom. The cast iron was perfectly at home under the broiler, unlike nonstick pans with plastic handles and coatings that shouldn&rsquot be exposed to intense heat. Once we moved the skillet from the broiler to a wire rack, the residual heat from the cast iron helped the frittata finish cooking.

Your cast iron skillet holds the secret to the best Southern fried chicken

Perhaps the best way to make Southern fried chicken is in your cast iron skillet — provided that your skillet has sides that are at least two inches tall. The reason is that cast iron is so good at retaining heat that your frying oil should not significantly drop in temperature when you add the chicken. In fact, cast iron skillets are sometimes referred to as "chicken fryers," according to Dummies, which suggests heating your frying oil to 375° Fahrenheit and using an instant-read thermometer to make sure it's reached that level before you start frying (and retains that same temperature as you continue frying).

And when you're done cooking, here's something else to be happy about: cooking with oil at that temperature will add a layer of seasoning to your cast iron skillet (via Field Company).

How to Clean and Care for a Cast Iron Pan

Cast iron pans are affordable, durable, and versatile. With proper care, they can serve you well for decades.

Related To:

If you care for your cast-iron pan, it will return the favor with a lifetime of delicious meals. These heavy, forged skillets are the workhorses of the kitchen. They're durable, affordable and are perfect for a variety of cooking techniques. You can sear, fry, bake, roast, braise and more in these versatile pans!

When to Use Cast Iron

How To Use and Care for Cast Iron Pans, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

Cast-iron can be used on virtually every type of heat source such as induction, electric, gas and grills. It retains and distributes heat very well, so it's perfect for searing and frying. Always give your pan a few minutes to preheat before adding any food.

You can use any utensils — even metal — on cast-iron. There is no chemical coating to damage. And it can go from the stovetop right into oven — and then to the table!

What About Acidic Foods?

Acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and vinegar can strip the seasoning from your pan and make foods taste metallic. Wait until the cast-iron it is highly seasoned to cook acidic foods in it — or just avoid them.

Preserve the Finish

Using your pan to cook foods with a lot of oil or fat — like frying chicken or cooking bacon — is really good for it. It helps build and preserve its seasoned coating naturally.


How To Use and Care for Cast Iron Pans, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

If you find your pan's non-stick seasoning isn't up to snuff anymore, it's time to reseason. Rub the inside and outside of skillet with neutral oil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F. Cool completely in the oven before storing. Now it'll be nicely non-stick again.

Should You Use Soap to Clean it?

How To Use and Care for Cast Iron Pans, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

Since cast-iron pans can handle heavy-duty cooking, you might have a bit of a mess to clean up when you're done cooking — but don't worry, no matter how you prefer ot clean your pan, it can take it. For stuck-on messes, first try scrubbing the pan with a good handful of coarse salt and a dry towel — the abrasion of the salt helps lift the food away, and you can finish by wiping it with a teaspoon of oil.

But you may have heard that you should never wash a cast-iron pan — this isn't true. A little soap won't ruin your pan's seasoning if that's your preferred cleaning method. After cooking, let your pan cool, then wash it with a little dish soap, plus a little water and a gentle scrub. Dry it well, though, or your pan will rust. To make sure it's really dry, place it on the stove and gently heat until all the water evaporates. Then wipe the inside with an oiled paper towel. Neutral oils like vegetable, canola or grapeseed are best.

Step 5: The Best Part (aside From Eating)! Cooking!

Ok, you have your fire, your dough, and all of your prepped ingredients. Time to get this pizza going! You're minutes away from deliciousness!

Put a little olive oil into your cast-iron skillet and spread it around. Take one of your dough balls and out it into the center of the pan. Using your fingers, start spreading it towards the edge of the pan until you have a nice circle (any shape is fine really). If you have a much wider cast-iron skillet, say 12-15 inches, either add more dough (you have two dough balls, remember?) or you can have a really thin crust. It's up to you.

Put the pan onto the fire. MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING HEATPROOF GLOVES OR MITTS. Cook the dough for about 3 minutes, and then check the bottom to see if it is done. It may be perfect at that point or it may need another 1-2 minutes. This all depends on thickness of your crust, size of the fire, etc. Once done, remove the skillet from the fire and place on heat safe surface. Again, use your gloves/mitts.

Using tongs (or even a stick), FLIP your crust. The cooked side will now be on top. This is where you decorate it with all of your toppings. For mine, I spooned on some pizza sauce and spread it around, then added Parmesan cheese, pineapple, and finally covered it with mozzarella cheese.

Cover your skillet with a lid or tin foil. You just need something to keep the heat in and help the ingredients cook and the cheese melt. This takes about 3-5 more minutes. After 3 minutes, I opened the lid just a little bit to keep the heat in but let moisture escape and then let it cook for about 2 more minutes.

Remove the lid, and using a fork, tongs, or spatula if you have one, remove your pizza from the skillet, put it on a plate or cutting board, let it sit for a couple minutes, and then SLICE AND ENJOY.

There you have it, easy cast-iron skillet pizza!
Please ask any questions or offer suggestions, as we are here to help each other. Share your cast-iron skillet pizza pictures and recipes here so everyone can get other ideas!