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Chili Lime Pork and Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

How to Clean and Maintain a Cast Iron Skillet

Our Test Kitchen expert, Tim Hagedorn, loves cooking with cast iron pans. They’re what he reaches for in his home kitchen, especially when he wants a golden, crispy crust on baked dishes or a good sear on a nice cut of meat.

And even though cast iron pans can’t go in the dishwasher, they have a natural nonstick surface that’s easy to clean with a little hot water and a scraper. But should you use dish soap? How do you keep them from rusting? How do you oil the pans, and what cooking oil do you use? We had questions. So, of course, we went to our resident cast-iron devotee for answers.

Tim explains, step-by-step, how to cook, clean, and season cast iron skillets.

Cast Iron Skillets
Cast Iron Skillets

Cleaning Cast Iron

  1. Wash your cast iron with a nylon bristle scrub brush and hot water. If you still have stuck-on bits, use a pan scraper to get them off.
  2. If the food is extra sticky, simmer a little water in the pan for a minute, then use the scraper after the water has cooled.
  3. Thoroughly dry the pan right away with a dishcloth or paper towel.
  4. After the pan is dry, rub the pan with a very light layer of vegetable or canola oil while the cookware is still warm.
  5. Hang or store your cast iron in a dry place.

How to Remove Rust From Cast Iron

If you’re following the cleaning suggestions listed above, it’s unlikely your cast iron will rust. But if it does happen, it’s ok—you can’t ruin these pans!

Scour the affected area with steel wool, rinse dry, and rub with vegetable oil. If the problem persists, reseason the cast iron.

Chili Lime Pork

How to Reseason Your Cast Iron

Reseasoning is a process you shouldn’t have to do very often, but if the pan is very rusty or is looking dull and splotchy, follow these steps:

  1. Wash the pan in warm water and then dry it.
  2. With a clean cloth or paper towel, thoroughly rub vegetable or canola oil all over the pan—inside and out. Continue to rub it, so there is no longer a greasy sheen. This step is important because excess oil can pool and form into hardened droplets or become sticky.
  3. Put the oiled pan upside down in preheated 450°F oven for one hour. Place a sheet pan on the rack below to catch any drips.
  4. Remove the pan with oven mitts and apply oil thoroughly again, and place back into the oven. Repeat this two–three times.
Chili Lime Pork and Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

Cast Iron Cleaning Q&A

What Utensils Can I Use With Cast Iron?

Use any utensils you like, even metal. There’s no chemical coating that the tools can damage.

Can I Use Soap on Cast Iron?

Soap isn’t always necessary, but if you like, a little mild detergent is okay. Stay away from dishwashers and metal scouring pads, which can harm the pan’s seasoning.

How Do I Keep My Pans From Getting Sticky?

Apply oil to a warm pan and don’t over oil your pan. The seasoning will build up over time.

What Type of Oil Should I Use?

Any food-safe cooking oil or shortening will work, but our Test Kitchen experts prefer vegetable oil or canola oil.

What's This Dark Residue I See When I Clean My Cast Iron?

Occasionally, you may notice some dark residue on your paper towel or cloth while cleaning it. The residue is just the seasoning (the baked-on cooking oil) responding to foods that may be slightly acidic (like tomato sauce) or alkaline (like spinach and kale). The residue will disappear with regular use and care.

Tim’s best advice for maintaining the seasoning on your cast iron skillet is to use your pans! Cooking in your cast iron regularly with any cooking oil is a great way to keep them looking great and performing well.

Tim Hagedorn, Pampered Chef Food & Trend Innovator. Tim worked at a number of Michelin-starred, fine-dining restaurants in Chicago before coming to Pampered Chef. He believes that cooking isn’t just about putting food on the table, but learning, exploring, and creating special memories that enrich people’s lives.

58 Responses to How to Clean and Maintain a Cast Iron Skillet

  1. karen dimeolo March 8, 2020 at 10:17 pm #

    do the other non stick skillets have a chemical coating and if yes what is the chemical

    • Franca morvillo May 3, 2020 at 9:56 pm #

      Non stick have chemicals on them. Not a healthy choice. Cast iron pans are the best! They deposit iron on your food instead of chemicals like nonstick pan. Once you get a good seasoning on it they become non stick. Cook everything in them including omlets and pancakes.

    • Nell Apple June 15, 2020 at 9:40 pm #

      How do you season and clean an iron pan? Nell Apple

      • Holly July 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm #

        Best thing to do is watch the short video! Explains it all!

  2. Patrice Dworak March 23, 2020 at 10:25 am #

    Are any chemicals used on surfaces when making them. Also can they all be used on any stove top surfaces? I have a glass top smooth surface.

    • Kristi Matie June 25, 2020 at 10:08 am #

      Yes, I use my cast iron on my glass top all the time. The PC cast iron has a flat bottom, no ridge, so it is awesome for cooking anywhere from glass top stoves to campfires.

      • Bonnie Smith September 15, 2020 at 11:50 am #

        I have a customer asking if the skillets are flat and can be used on flat smooth cook tops. She also asked, if they do, will the change with time and heat?
        Thank you for your help. I look forward to your answer, and being able to respond to her questions.

  3. toni alires-groenewold April 10, 2020 at 12:20 pm #

    Can I use these Cast Iron On an Induction Stove?

    • tammy brown May 18, 2020 at 12:25 pm #

      Yes cast iron skillets can be used on an induction stove. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to me!

      • Cindy O July 29, 2020 at 7:45 am #

        I have an induction cook too & some of my cheaper lightweight stainless won’t work . The cast iron will ?? I didn’t think it was magnetic

        • Jen August 14, 2020 at 10:48 am #

          It’s iron… a metal.

          • Laurie August 26, 2020 at 4:21 pm #

            Aluminum is also a metal, but not suitable for induction cooking.
            Kindness counts.

    • Bobbi Brantley May 19, 2020 at 11:53 am #

      Yes!

    • Stacey Adams May 19, 2020 at 4:41 pm #

      Yes you can.

  4. Kara O April 13, 2020 at 5:03 am #

    What is that delicious looking dessert in the 10 in pan?

  5. Cindy mitchell April 14, 2020 at 5:18 pm #

    Can you use these on a glass top stove?

    • Theresa A Haupt April 17, 2020 at 12:44 pm #

      I had seen a question on using on a glass stove top, can you do this?

      • Andrea Ring April 25, 2020 at 4:17 am #

        I have a glass top and use my cast iron all the time

      • tammy A brown May 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm #

        Theresa all of our cookware can be used on a glass stove top. If you’ve got more questions feel free to reach out to me!

    • Brittneys Sanders April 23, 2020 at 1:06 am #

      We have a glass top stove and my husband uses it all the time without issues.

    • Stacey Adams May 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm #

      Yes you can – and like using any cookware, try not to drag it – but indeed, it works well!

  6. Brenda Studebaker April 25, 2020 at 6:33 pm #

    I know true cast iron skillets weigh a lot. How much does each one weight?

    • tammy A brown May 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm #

      Brenda, I’m not sure on the exact weight of these skillets but for your knowledge they are true cast iron!

    • Stacey Adams May 19, 2020 at 4:45 pm #

      There are two different sizes – but they weigh 5-6 lbs each. They are designed with a handle on either side – so they are much easier to lift and maneuver than the old school ones with just the one long handle.

      • Becky May 29, 2020 at 3:18 am #

        Stacey you are being so helpful, I appreciate you. I have never used Pampered Chef’s silicone mitts so I have no idea what kind if heat they can handle, just want to be sure they’ll work. Do the silicone mitts protect your hands enough to remove a cast iron pan that is in an oven on broil?

    • Joann July 4, 2020 at 12:55 pm #

      Instructions say to wash new pans before using, wash with soap?or just hot water?

  7. Janet Richardson May 9, 2020 at 7:38 am #

    How do I share this on my FB page

  8. Rosemarie Guerrieri May 22, 2020 at 3:20 pm #

    Is it OK to cook in the cast iron skillet with olive oil?

    • Penny Tennant June 23, 2020 at 8:44 am #

      I grew up with cast iron and my mom Would dry it by putting it on a the stove. Getting the pans hot then shut off the stove leaving the pan to cool.

  9. Rebecca Moses May 23, 2020 at 4:39 pm #

    What oils were used to preseason the cast iron?

  10. Monique Starks May 27, 2020 at 8:47 am #

    The cast iron are non stick, does that mean they have chemical in them?
    Your stainless still products are they coated with a chemical? Last the bakeware is there any coating and/or chemical with those as well?

  11. Carol Beirne May 28, 2020 at 10:13 am #

    Can I use a cast iron skillet to broil in the oven?

    • Vanessa June 7, 2020 at 7:59 pm #

      Absolutely! I have used mine several times under the broiler. 🙂

  12. Barbara Sossomon May 29, 2020 at 9:45 pm #

    2 questions please about the 2, 5.5 inch cast iron skillets.

    1. How tall are they?

    2. How much do they weigh individually?

  13. Marcie Crosley June 6, 2020 at 8:30 am #

    Can I use these skillets in an air fryer?

  14. Veronica June 12, 2020 at 3:35 pm #

    I was given a large cast iron skillet that is VERY STICKY. How in the world do I take it off to season it the correct way ?

    • Jim Johns June 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm #

      Easiest way for just one pan is to use oven cleaner with the yellow cap (Sodium hydroxide/lye). There are many good videos on how to do it. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection, go to a well ventilated area (outside is best but a garage with the door open will work), spray pan all over and put in a garbage bag overnight. If it is bad it might take a little longer. Next wash with soap and water, dry well on stove and season how you like to.

    • MB July 13, 2020 at 1:34 pm #

      Old School way to clean up a “messy” cast iron is to put it over some hot coals and let all excess material burn off. Then you can reseason it and enjoy cooking again! This is how I take care of mine. Every several years or so, when I have a campfire going at home anyway…

  15. Jim Johns June 20, 2020 at 3:18 pm #

    Are the Pampered Chef pan manufactured by Lodge?

    • Debra DeSully July 16, 2020 at 5:18 am #

      Yes. Pampered Chef has partnered with Lodge to bring the best quality, made in the USA cast iron skillets to consumers!

  16. Connie Mar June 20, 2020 at 9:53 pm #

    How are these skillets pre-seasoned?

  17. Myrna Huber June 29, 2020 at 11:03 pm #

    Can these cast iron
    pans be used on a glass top stove?

    • Monica Spires July 2, 2020 at 4:50 am #

      Hello Myrna,
      Yes you can. For use on induction, flat glass, or ceramic cooktop surfaces.
      Handle with care on stovetop surfaces.

  18. Vicki Blackwell July 16, 2020 at 11:01 am #

    I didn’t read instructions and seasoned my new skillet. I left it in oven to cool and forgot about it till 2 days later. Now it is sticky and stickiness doesn’t come off with hot water. What do I need to do. I’ve not used it.

    • Linda S Wiebeck July 27, 2020 at 8:26 am #

      Easiest way for just one pan is to use oven cleaner with the yellow cap (Sodium hydroxide/lye). There are many good videos on how to do it. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection, go to a well ventilated area (outside is best but a garage with the door open will work), spray pan all over and put in a garbage bag overnight. If it is bad it might take a little longer. Next wash with soap and water, dry well on stove and season how you like to.

  19. Denise Stallings July 17, 2020 at 11:56 am #

    Can someone give me the weights of the different sizes? I have a host that has arthritis and she’s wanting to know how heavy they are.

  20. Ali July 25, 2020 at 7:36 am #

    I use just lard. I keep a can of bacon grease on the back of the stove and I rinse the pan while it is hot after using and wipe it out with a cloth. While it is still hot I put lard in the pan and coat the bottom and heat it a little. I scrape the bottom with a putty knife or the spatula until there is no build up of carbon on the bottom or sides. I then wipe out the excess grease… smooth as silk.

    We have an iron egg pan that is never washed we only scrape it and season it with lard. We cook our eggs at a medium temperature and use butter. It is as non-stick as Teflon.

    We use cast iron skillets almost exclusively and I have done so since I was a boy.

  21. Datha August 1, 2020 at 1:25 pm #

    After freshly seasoning your cast iron pan, how do you store it in your cupboard? Do you put a paper towel on the bottom of pan and on the inside of pan so as to not get anything else stained from the oil?

  22. Serena Felix September 5, 2020 at 2:09 pm #

    The description says PC’s cast iron comes pre-seasoned. I have a customer asking what is it pre-seasoned with?

  23. Sharell Bouwens September 13, 2020 at 12:46 pm #

    Can a cast iron skillet be used on a glass top stove?

  24. Jennifer Sanders September 13, 2020 at 10:30 pm #

    Both of my PC cast irons pans have a silverish sheen showing through. They aren’t solid black like you would expect. Why?

  25. Gloria September 20, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

    I wash all dishes, pans, before using them, what do I do to feel they are clean to start cooking with them?

  26. Karen Kleve September 27, 2020 at 12:55 am #

    Used my cast iron skillet for the first time and couldn’t get it cleaned. Followed cleaning instructions and nothing worked. The bottom of the pan has black splotches. Wondering if this is the seasoning it came with, but not sure. Should I return the skillet?

  27. lorraine gathers October 12, 2020 at 11:29 am #

    Can someone give me the measurement of the actual cooking surface of the pan?

  28. Yolanda November 11, 2020 at 2:43 am #

    I love this segment regarding reg cast iron skillets. I am 60 years old and have had the same 2 skillets for over 40 yrs. Sorry to admit I’ve been a bit lazy on maintaining them. Time to clean and reseason. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Ryan November 12, 2020 at 1:43 am #

    Thank you for sharing and saving me!!

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