Care & Cleaning of Cast Iron + Skillet Recipes

How to clean and care for your beloved Cast Iron Cookware as well as a few skillet recipes to get your started. 
Growing up I remember my mom cooking with cast iron and I never understood her love for those heavy, black pans. Well, now that I'm all grown up, I have come to find out it's definitely a Southern thing and I don't know what I would do without those beautiful pans.  

I own 9 pieces of cast iron cookware: Two skillets (fry pans), one large Dual Handled Skillet, two Covered Dutch Ovens (one for camping), a Muffin - Popover Pan, a Wedge Cornbread Pan, and one Small Skillet. I purchased one skillet at a Thrift store and was lucky enough to have the remainder passed down to to me from family.  

Whether you purchased a new skillet, found one at a garage sale or received one from a family member, there are a few things you need to know before you start cooking. Cast iron is different from regular cookware so it needs special care. There are also a few myths about cast iron that you need to steer clear of. 


  • Cast iron is extremely durable and will last a lifetime with proper care. 
  • Cast iron is a dense metal that heats very slowly compared to metals like copper and aluminum, but once heated, cast iron will retain that heat for a long time. 
  • Cast iron also gives a steady heat which help foods brown beautifully and cook evenly.
  • Once cast iron is hot, it stays hot, making it the perfect vessel to sear meat. 
  • Cast Iron is oven proof (with no wooden or metal handles), so you can go straight from stove top to oven cooking in no time.  
  • Cast irons is great for keeping food warm since it holds heat for a considerable length of time. 
  • Cast Iron is versatile: they can be used to sear meat, bake the perfect cornbread and biscuits, cook stir fry's, stew, chili, bake desserts, upside down cakes and to bake homemade artesian and sourdough bread. 
  • Cooking from cast iron cookware that has been passed down from generations makes your food that much more special. 
  • Once you cook with a cast iron skillet and learn all the basics, you will wonder why you haven't cooked with cast iron sooner.

  • If you purchased a piece of cast iron at a Thrift store or had one passed down from a family member your cast iron is already seasoned and the seasoning will maintain itself with regular use of the cookware. Just give it a quick wash in lightly soapy water, dry thoroughly and give it a very light coating of vegetable oil before storing. 
  • Lodge recommends vegetable oil, melted shortening or canola oil to season cast iron. 
  • If you purchase NEW cast iron it will need to be seasoned. Follow these simple steps below to season your new best friend. 
  • Wash your new pan with soap and water and dry thoroughly. Coat your new cast iron cookware with vegetable shortening or oil  (inside and out) and place in a 450 degrees F oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and wipe off any liquefied shortening or oil. Your cast iron is now seasoned! To avoid a mess in the oven, place a piece of foil under the pan. Let the pan cool completely before storing. 
  • Keep in mind with a NEW cast iron skillet or cookware a true non-stick surface takes time to form. The more you season your pan the more non - stick it will become. 


Anytime I mention that I cook with cast iron, I get the same response.... " I heard that you can't wash cast iron with soap, so I don't want to cook with dirty pans". All I can say is that is absolutely NOT TRUE!

  • Contrary to popular belief, you can use a small amount of dish soap to clean cast iron cookware. Large amount will stirp the seasoning of your pan, but you can easily re-season your pan as needed. 
  • Always wash your cast iron cookware by hand and never place it in the dishwasher. 
  • For best results, rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you need to remove burned-on food, scrub with a mild abrasive, like coarse salt, and a nonmetal brush to preserve the nonstick surface.  
  • For stubborn, stuck-on food, simmer a little water in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then use the scraper after the pan has cooled. 
  • Never submerge cast iron in a sink full of water. This could cause damage to the pan. 
  • Dry promptly (or the pan will rust) with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. 
  • Rub a light layer of cooking oil on the surface of the cookware (do not use not stick baking spray it will make your cast iron sticky). Use a paper towel to wipe the surface until no oil residue remains. 
  • I like to lightly dry my cast iron and then place it on the stove top over low heat for a minute or two to pull out any remaining moisture. Turn off the heat and lightly coat the inside of the pan with cooking oil or vegetable shortening. This will help to restore any seasoning that might have been lost during washing. Let pan cool completely and store

  • Scrub the rusty pan with warm, soapy water and steel wool. This is the only time steel wool is recommended for cast iron. Rinse and hand dry thoroughly. 
  • Apply a thin, even layer of cooking oil to the cookware (inside and out). Don't use too much oil or it will become sticky. 
  • Place the cookware in the oven upside down on the top rack. Place a large baking sheet or foil on the bottom rack to catch any excess oil that may drip off. Bake at 450 degrees F for 1 hour. 
  • allow to cool and repeat to achieve the dark black coloring of cast iron. 
  • Maintaining the seasoning should keep your cast iron in good condition, accidents happen and your pan may develop rust. If it's just a little, scour the rust, rinse, dry and rub with a little vegetable oil. 

  • I have a double oven so, I store my cast iron cookware in the bottom oven. 
  • Always remember to never store foods in cast iron, as this can break down the seasoning.
  • Never submerge cast iron in water and never put cold water in a hot pan; this can cause the pan to crack or warp. 
  • Keep cast iron in a cool and dry place. Only store cast iron when it's clean and absolutely dry (this stops pans from attracting rust)
  • Place a piece of paper towel in between cast irons pans if you are stacking them to protect the. 

    If you follow proper cleaning and maintenance your cast iron cookware will last for generations

Cast iron cookware can cook practically anything, so get creative. To start you off, I have included some of my favorite Cast Iron Skillet Recipes, from one pot dinners and dessert to breakfast favorites & more. You can also visit the Lodge Cast Iron Website for more great recipes.    

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1 comment

Roxanne said…
I bought a cast iron skillet and it was rusted after I washed it. I didn't know that it had to be treated. I appreciate you explaining the process here. It seems pretty straight forward. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. Shalom.