How to season any type of pan
Table of Contents
What is seasoning and why you should do it
Seasoning a pan means adding a thin layer of fat to a pan and heating it, essentially creating a non-stick surface even in pans that are not non-stick in themselves. The oil or fat used fills the tiny pores of the pan’s surface and forms a barrier that protects the pan from damage and prevents food from sticking.
Seasoning your pans has multiple benefits:
- It helps to reduce the amount of fat you use when cooking.
- It protects your cookware from wear and rust, adding to their lifespan and ensuring an optimal cooking experience.
- It ensures that the surface of your pans will remain uniform and will not form hot spots during cooking.
What types of pans need seasoning
The main type of pan that definitely needs seasoning is a cast iron pan. But that’s not the only one. Seasoning can benefit all types of pans, from stainless steel to non-stick.
It’s recommended to season your new pans before using them, but you can season any pan anytime, to give it a boost and help protect it from damage.
How to season a cast iron pan
Cast iron pans are famous for their longevity and durability, reaching an heirloom quality and passing down from generation to generation of cooks in a family.
However, to ensure that your cast iron pan will remain as good as new for decades to come, seasoning it is essential. Apart from adding protection from rust and damage, seasoning also enhances the flavor that you get from cooking in this type of pan.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash your pan with hot soapy water and dry it well.
- Coat your cast iron pan with a thin layer of fat. You can use vegetable oil, vegetable shortening or lard. Apply the fat on both the interior and the exterior of your pan, avoiding the handle.
- Place a baking sheet at the bottom of your oven to catch any drips from the pan while you heat it.
- Place the pan in your pre-heated oven and leave it to heat up for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Remove your pan from the oven, wipe it with a clean cloth to remove any excess fat, and let it cool completely.
Your cast iron pan is now seasoned and ready for cooking!
Tip: Never add cold water to a hot cast iron pan because it can cause warping or cracking. You can use your cast iron pan for nearly every type of cooking except boiling water, which can cause it to rust.
How to season a stainless steel pan
Stainless steel is a great material for cookware, as it’s durable and safe, as opposed to commercial non-stick pans that may contain harmful chemicals. But stainless steel is not non-stick, which is why it needs seasoning.
- Wash your pan in warm soapy water. You can scrub it thoroughly and clean both the inside and outside of the pan. Let it dry completely.
- Choose an oil with which to season your pan. It’s best to use an oil with a high smoking point, such as vegetable, sesame, or peanut oil. This will help your seasoning be more effective as this type of oil reacts better when heated and will adhere to the surface of the pan.
- Add oil to your pan and make sure it covers the bottom well. You should make sure to cover the inside of the pan evenly so that the whole pan will be seasoned.
- Heat the oil-covered pan on the stove over medium heat. Avoid using high heat to speed up the seasoning process because it can cause uneven heating of the pan and burn the oil. If your pan is oven-safe, you can also season it in the oven, at 350 °F for 1 hour.
- Once you see the oil smoking, remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for at least 30 minutes so it’s safe enough to touch.
- Remove any excess oil from the pan and wipe the inside with a paper towel using circular movements. This will help remove any remaining oil and shine the pan.
Your stainless steel pan is now seasoned and essentially non-stick, ready for cooking.
Tip: Avoid using butter or olive oil for seasoning your pan, because they have a low smoking point and will burn.
How to season a carbon steel pan
Carbon steel is thinner and lighter than cast iron and it has a smoother surface. It’s more sensitive to temperature changes and good for stir-frying or searing delicate ingredients. But it still needs seasoning to function at its best.
- Put your carbon steel pan on the stove over medium heat until it’s hot. You will know that it has gotten hot when you see smoke rising from the pan. Its color may also change.
- Add a little vegetable shortening or lard, wiping it all over the pan. You can use a pair of tongs and a clean cloth for this, to avoid burning your hands.
- Once you have added the fat all over the pan and there is a thin coat covering it, you can return it to the heat and warm it until you see the fat melting and liquefying.
- Remove the pan from the heat and use a paper towel or cloth to wipe away any excess fat. Let the pan cool completely and then wipe it clean with a paper towel.
- For the best results, you can repeat this process 2-3 times. With every application of fat and heating of the pan, the seasoning will improve and the surface will become more non-stick.
Tip: Carbon steel pans need care when you wash them. They typically are not dishwasher safe and are best cleaned by hand.
How to season a copper pan
Copper is a great material for cookware, used and preferred by home cooks and professionals alike. As we’ve discussed before, seasoning is essential for providing a non-stick surface that will make cooking easier, since no chemicals are involved in the manufacturing.
- Wash your copper pan gently with warm soapy water. Avoid scrubbing it so as not to cause scratches. Rinse the pan and dry it really well before seasoning.
- Add oil to the pan, evenly spreading it to coat the entire surface and the sides. It’s best to use vegetable or some other oil with a high smoking point to avoid burning.
- Heat your pan. You can use the stove or the oven if your pan is oven-safe.
- If using the oven, preheat to 300 °F and leave the pan to heat for at least 20 minutes.
- If using the stove, heat the pan over medium heat until you see the oil smoking.
- Let the pan cool. After heating, remove the pan from the oven or the stove and let it cool completely. This will allow the oil to dry and cover the pores on the pan’s surface.
- Wipe the excess oil from the pan using a paper towel or clean cloth.
Tip: Avoid using soap to clean your seasoned copper pan. You can clean it by rinsing it with warm water right after cooking. You can repeat the seasoning process to ensure your pan’s optimal function and longevity.
How to season a non-stick pan
You would think that a non-stick pan would not need seasoning since it’s non-stick already. However, the seasoning process helps protect the non-stick coating and adds longevity to your cookware.
- Wash your non-stick pan with warm soapy water and dry it thoroughly.
- Add oil to the pan and gently rub it into the non-stick surface using your fingers or a paper towel. You can use vegetable or canola oil, or any other oil with a high smoking point.
- Heat the pan on the stove over medium heat for a couple of minutes.
- Let the pan cool completely and then wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel.
That’s it! You can repeat the seasoning process as often as you like and it will help your non-stick pans remain as good as new for longer.
How to season a ceramic pan
As with non-stick pans, ceramic pans generally don’t require seasoning. The ceramic material has natural non-stick properties and is great to cook with. However, seasoning can help revitalize the ceramic coating and preserve the cookware from damage.
- Clean your pan by washing it with dish soap and a soft sponge or cloth. Dry it well.
- Add some oil to your pan and evenly coat the entire surface and the sides using your fingers or a paper towel. About a tablespoon will do the trick and oil with a high smoking point is ideal, like vegetable oil.
- Use medium heat on the stove to heat the oiled pan. This might take a while and it’s best to not be impatient and turn the heat up. Gradual heating helps the oil soak into the ceramic surface. Once you see the oil smoking you can remove the pan from the heat.
- Cool the pan to room temperature. Leave the pan to cool naturally, as trying to speed up the process by rinsing it with cold water or putting it in the refrigerator can damage the ceramic coating.
- If you can, leave the oil in the pan as long as possible, so it can be absorbed well. You can then use a paper towel to wipe off any excess.
Tip: You can repeat the seasoning process as often as you like. The more you do it, the layer of seasoning will build up and you won’t have to season the pan as frequently.