Best Oil To Season Cast Iron

Best Oil To Season Cast Iron

You've got some old cast iron pans sitting around collecting dust. They look great, but they don't smell too good either. What should you do?

Cast iron has become a favorite cooking surface because it retains heat well and conducts it evenly across food. Cast iron also holds onto flavors better than other materials.

The downside is that cast iron takes time to season properly. If you want to get the most out of your cast iron, you'll need to give it a thorough cleaning before seasoning it.

There are several ways to clean cast iron, from soaking it in water to using baking soda or vinegar. Once you've cleaned it, you'll need to apply a nonstick coating to prevent sticking.

Then, you'll need to let it sit for at least 24 hours before applying a final layer of seasoning. Let's find out more about seasoning cast iron.

OUR TOP PICK

Grapeseed oil is one of the best oils for cast iron cooking. It blends well with many flavors and has a high smoke point. Cold pressed, or virgin oils are unsuitable for cast iron seasoning because they have low smoke points. 

The smoking point of this oil is 520 F, which is ideal for creating an anti-stick layer in your pans. This particular oil is from France, where it is carefully extracted and made. 

Grapeseed oil is pretty easy to extract. The oil comes from grapes, so it has a lot of natural antioxidants. These antioxidants protect the oil from oxidation, which can cause rancidity.

To remove the oil from the grape skins, the grapes are crushed and then heated. The hot liquid is then filtered through cloths to separate the oil from the solids. 

Another great thing about grapeseed oil is the fact that it has an extremely mild flavor and taste. When you are seasoning your pan, you do not want an oil that is strong tasting such as olive oil.

This is why grapeseed oil is perfect. It's versatile, too. You can use it for all types of cooking, as well as seasoning. 

This particular grapeseed oil is gluten-free and non-allergenic, and it is completely organically sourced. 

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Not much flavor
  • Organically sourced

Cons

  • Can come in cold-pressed versions which is bad for seasoning

EDITORS CHOICE

Canola oil is another excellent choice for seasoning cast iron. Like grapeseed oil, it has a high smoke point and is suitable for use on cast iron.

Unlike grapeseed oil, however, canola oil is not cold pressed. Instead, it is refined by heating the oil until all the impurities evaporate. This leaves behind only pure canola oil. 

Canola oil is a versatile oil. It works well for stir frying, sautéing, deep frying, roasting, baking, and even salad dressing. It is also good for seasoning cast iron because it doesn't leave any residue when cooked. 

Like grapeseed oil, canola oil is inexpensive. It is available in most grocery stores and is usually sold in large containers. It is also fairly easy to source. 

Canola oil is extracted from rapeseed, which is grown primarily in Canada. Rapeseed is rich in vitamin E, which makes it a healthy oil.

It is also free of trans fats, which are unhealthy fats found in other vegetable oils. Trans fats are known to raise cholesterol levels and may lead to heart disease. 

Canola oil is easy to extract, and along with its neutral flavor and high smoke point, it makes another great choice for seasoning your cast iron cookware.

Pros

  • High smoke point
  • Neutral flavor
  • Cheap to extract

Cons

  • Taste can be strange

BEST VALUE

Coconut oil is another fantastic choice for seasoning cast iron because of its versatility. It is solid at room temperature, so it won't melt like other oils would.

Because of this, coconut oil is great for cooking. If you want to add some extra flavor to your food, you can add a bit of coconut oil to the dish. It also makes a great salad dressing. 

Coconut oil is a healthy oil. It contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easily digested by our bodies. MCTs help us burn fat more efficiently than long chain triglycerides (LCT).

They also contain lauric acid, which helps fight viruses and bacteria. Lauric acid is also antibacterial and antiviral, so it is very beneficial for people who suffer from these diseases. 

Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it does not stick to the sides of your pan when you cook with it.

This means that you will have less splatter while cooking. It also has a low smoke point, so it is best used for light cooking.  Coconut oil is extracted from coconuts, which grow naturally in tropical climates.

Coconuts are full of nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, K, C, and B6. The meat of the coconut is also an excellent source of protein.

The main drawback to using coconut oil is that it is expensive. You might find yourself paying $10 or more per gallon.

However, if you plan ahead, you should be able to get a decent amount of coconut oil for around $5. If you are only using coconut oil to season your cast iron, then it is likely that you will not need much. 

Pros

  • Unique flavor
  • High smoke point
  • Healthier option

Cons

  • Expensive

RUNNER UP

Sunflower oil is used in many recipes because it doesn't raise cholesterol levels. Also, it is easier to digest than other types of cooking oil. It is extracted from sunflowers, which are native to North America.

Sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients, including zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B1. These nutrients are essential for good health. 

Sunflower oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for cooking. It is also inexpensive, costing about $4.50 per gallon.

The downside to using sunflower oil is that it tastes really strong. For this reason, it is not recommended for use as a salad dressing. However, it works well as a cooking oil. 

Sunflower oil is good for seasoning because of its high smoke point as well as its cheap price. 

If you don't mind the taste, you could try using sunflower oil to season your cast-iron skillet. It is fairly neutral, so it won't overpower the flavors of your food. 

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good for cooking
  • Easy to extract

Cons

  • Strong flavor

RUNNER UP

Peanuts are considered one of the most nutritious foods on Earth. They provide plenty of protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. One cup of peanuts provides over 50% of your daily requirement of vitamin E. 

They also contain antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds. This makes them great for fighting cancer and heart disease. Finally, they are rich in monounsaturated fats, which can lower bad LDL cholesterol.

Peanut oil has an extremely high smoke point, making it an ideal option for seasoning cast iron cookware. Because of its high smoke point, peanut oil is safe to use in all kinds of cooking methods. 

The downside to using peanut oil is that it is very expensive. You might spend $20-$30 per gallon. However, there are ways to save money on peanut oil.

First, buy organic peanuts. Second, look for peanut oil that is labeled “cold pressed”. Cold pressing ensures that no heat is applied during the extraction process.

Third, look for peanut oil with less than 10 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. These aspects will make the oil better for seasoning cast iron.  You can buy peanut oil online for under $3.00 a gallon. This makes it very affordable.

However, it is important to note that peanut oil is extremely sticky. So, you may want to invest in some kitchen utensils like spatulas and tongs.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Easy to cook with

  • Highest smoke point

Cons

  • Strong flavor

RUNNER UP

Avocados are delicious fruits that contain lots of healthy fats. To make cast iron seasonable, add avocado oil to the pan before cooking.

This process will cause the fats in the avocado oil to polymerize and form a hard coating on the surface of the pan.

Polymerized fats are more stable than non-polymerized fats, making them ideal for seasoning cast iron. However, this process makes the avocado oil expensive.

Avocado oil is extracted by first cutting open the fruit and then squeezing out the oil from inside. Once the oil is extracted, the fruit is discarded. This means that the cost of avocado oil depends largely on the size of the avocado.

Avocado oil has an extremely high smoke point, making it an ideal oil for seasoning cast iron. In fact, it is the best oil for seasoning cast iron because of its high smoke points. 

Avocado oil also lasts a long time, and you can store it for up to a year. It is not one of the most ethical oils to extract, due to the process of extracting the oil and discarding the rest of the fruit. 

Pros

  • Great coating for cast iron

  • Neutral

  • High smoke point

Cons

  • Not sustainable

RUNNER UP

Vegetable oil is another good choice for seasoning cast iron. The reason vegetable oil works so well is that it contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

PUFAs help prevent oxidation, which helps keep the food safe. Also, they have a low smoke point, which allows them to be used at higher temperatures without burning or smoking.

Vegetable oil consists of a blend of vegetable oils, so it is not the healthiest option. It is cheap, but it won't give you the absolute best results for seasoning cast iron. 

There are two types of vegetable oils: refined and unrefined. Unrefined vegetable oils are cheaper but lack the health benefits of refined vegetable oils.

Refined vegetable oils are extracted from plants through chemical processes. They are much cleaner than unrefined oils, but they do not provide any additional nutrients. When choosing a vegetable oil for seasoning cast iron, choose one that is cold pressed.

Cold pressing ensures that no chemicals are added during the extraction process. This makes the oil healthier.

When buying vegetable oil, look for brands that say “vegan” or "cruelty free”. These labels mean that the company does not test their products on animals.

Pros

  • Easy to extract

  • High smoke point

  • Cheap

Cons

  • Unhealthy

Buyer's Guide

It is important to season your cast iron cookware. Seasoning keeps your pans clean and prevents rust from forming.

There are many different ways to season cast iron, including using vegetable oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Each type of oil has advantages and disadvantages. Before you season your cast iron with your chosen oil, you should consider a few things. 

What Does Seasoning Mean? 

Seasoning cast iron refers to applying a thin film of cooking oil to its surfaces to fill the tiny pores of the metal.

This helps to make the pan more durable and easier to clean. Cast iron is also very heavy, making it difficult to move around.  Cast iron pans should be seasoned before being used. You should be using oil to season them.

When you do this, you're creating an anti-stick coating that will help prevent sticking while also adding flavor to your food. This process takes time, but it does make your food taste better. 

Smoke Point

The smoke point of the oil you use for seasoning cast iron is very important. If you don't know what the smoke point of the oil is, you may end up ruining your cast iron.

You want to avoid using oils with a lower smoke point when seasoning cast iron. Oils with a higher smoke point allow you to cook foods at higher temperatures without causing smoke. 

For example, if you were cooking bacon in your cast iron pan, you would need to heat the pan over medium-high heat.

However, if you used an oil with a lower smoke point, such as olive oil, you could only heat your pan over medium heat. Olive oil will burn before your bacon gets crispy.

Storage

You should always store your seasoned cast iron in a cool place. Avoid storing your seasoned cast iron in direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause the oil to oxidize and create harmful fumes.

Healthy Cooking

You should also make sure that the oil you use for seasoning your cast iron doesn't contain unhealthy ingredients. Some oils are made with hydrogenated fats, which can lead to heart disease.

Other oils are high in trans fats, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases. When purchasing your oil, look for brands with these words on the label: “natural”, “organic”, or “all natural”. 

How To Season Cast Iron Cookware

There are two ways to maintain seasoning on your cast iron pan: Cook with it. Every time you cook with oil, add another layer of the seasoning (if there is any).

Some activities may remove a layer of seasoning, such as when you cook acidic foods, use excessive heat, or scrub with an abrasive utensil or scouring pad.

That’s why we suggest rubbing oil into your pan after every use to ensure the seasoning stays for quality cooking.

You can also season your cast Iron Cookware in the Oven. This method adds a deeper layer of seasoning onto the whole pan, strengthening the bond between the metal and the seasoning. It can be beneficial to season your Cast Iron Cookware in the oven a few times a year. 

Step One

Scrub the pan with warm soapy water. It’s okay to use soap because you’re preparing to re-season your cookware. Rinse the pan and then hand dry it thoroughly. 

Step Two

Apply a very thin, even layer of cooking oil to the pan. If you use too much, your pan may become sticky.

Step Three: 

Place the cast iron on the heat. You can do this on the grill, fire, or in the oven. Bake or heat at 500 degrees for up to an hour. Let the pan cool. 

Cleaning Tips

After you have seasoned your cast iron, you need to be more careful when cleaning your seasoned pan after cooking. Scrape off food residue from the pan with a damp paper towel.

Make sure not to wash your pan with detergent or soap. These products can strip away the seasoning. Instead, use a clean dish cloth.

If you notice rust forming on your pan, wipe it down with a little baking soda and vinegar mixture. Rubbing the pan with salt helps prevent rusting. Use a soft brush to apply the salt. Don’t rub the salt directly onto the surface of the pan. Salt can damage the seasoning.

If you see black spots on your pan, wipe them down with a damp paper towel and let it sit overnight. Black spots are usually caused by burnt bits of food stuck to the pan. Reapply seasoning to your pan whenever you feel it is necessary. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Season Cast Iron Cookware? 

The best way to determine how often you should season your cast iron is to follow our suggestions above.

We recommend using a light coating of oil each time you cook with your pan. The thicker the coat of oil, the longer it will last. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can always season your pan once per month.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Cast Iron? 

Cast iron has been used for centuries as a great tool for cooking. Because of its durability, cast iron pans are able to withstand high temperatures without breaking down.

They retain their shape well, making them perfect for searing meats and vegetables. Additionally, they are easy to clean and maintain. When properly cared for, cast iron pans can last for decades.

What Oil Is The Best? 

We recommend using vegetable oil for seasoning cast iron. Vegetable oils are neutral and won’t affect the flavor of your food. Just be sure that the oil isn’t too thick and fatty.

Too much oil can cause the pan to stick. Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil are generally regarded as the best oils for seasoning cast iron.

Brandon White
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