While I’m at it, can we talk about cast iron frying pans?

Lukki Irish
July 27, 2019
last modified: July 27, 2019

When I was a little girl, my mom had a frying pan that was decades old and seasoned to perfection. I love the way cast iron cooks and would love to be able to cook with it, but every time I venture to try, I’m unsuccessful. I don’t know if it’s the Lodge brand in itself or if I’m doing something wrong but I can never get the Lodge cast iron pans to season nicely. Lodge claims they’re seasoned but IMO they’re not and when I follow they’re seasoning instructions to a tee I still have no luck. Everything sticks.

Do you cook with old fashioned cast iron and if you do, can you share your seasoning secret?

Comments (63)

  • daisychain01

    Koolbeans, I could have written your same post. About ten years ago, I discovered de Buyers cast iron crepe pans and have never looked back. I use them for tons of stuff - eggs, grilled cheese, crepes. Because they aren't deep, there are things they aren't good for, but if I had to choose one pan to take with me on the deserted island, this would be it.

    Lukki Irish thanked daisychain01
  • DawnInCal

    What watchme said.

    We have three cast iron skillets of various sizes that get used every day. One is a Lodge, the other two are older Griswolds. Production on Griswolds stopped in 1957; they are getting hard to find and are expensive when one can find one. It used to be easy to pick them up at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores for a dollar or two. I remember when people gave them away. Now they are sold in antique stores.

    After years of daily use, our skillets are so well seasoned, that they are more non-stick than a non-stick pan. I can make omelets or fried eggs that will slide out of the pan and onto a plate. I usually just scrub them out with hot water after using them but will use a little soap if there is baked on residue from frying a pork chop or steak at high heat, but even that sort of thing usually comes right off with a little help from a metal spatula.

    I think one of the most important tips for using cast iron successfully (besides a well seasoned pan) is to make sure you pre-heat the pan before cooking.

    Love my cast iron.

    Lukki Irish thanked DawnInCal
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  • localeater

    I have three cast iron pans, and they are the work horses of my kitchen. One is a 12" old thing I picked up at a flea market for $5, my 18 YO son has already requested that I bequeath it to him in my will.

    I think the advice use it is spot on. And yes fry things, like bacon or sausage. I do use soap, if its gross. But often I use hot hot water and a brush.

    Lukki Irish thanked localeater
  • maifleur01

    While the pan should be hot before putting food in it some foods will stick until they release by themselves. Some may need a gentle nudge to release but most meats will release. It may be that the meat and/or veggies need to be dried before putting into the pan. Older cookbooks mention doing this.

    Lukki Irish thanked maifleur01
  • daisychain01

    Also, don't forget you need your Lodge pan scraper which I first heard about here and now can't do without.

    Lukki Irish thanked daisychain01
  • tinam61

    My cast iron is handed down from my grandmother. I don't actually "fry" alot of things in my pans because I don't fry much. A hog dog in butter??? LOL anyhoo, I guess mine must have been seasoned. I never do anything special to mine. I do wash mine but don't scrub it (I've never actually burned anything in my pans), I use my small one the most for cornbread. That's another nice thing about the pans, they can also go in the oven. Big cookies or cookie cakes cook well in a cast iron pan. I saute onions, peppers, etc. in them. Cook sausage in them (no oil). And I hate to say it (I've never heard you shouldn't), I sometimes use PAM in the pans. And have never, ever had a problem from doing so. I'm not sure how old my pans are. My grandmother gave me a couple and then years later, when we cleaned her house out, I got a couple more. To me, they are great to cook in and easy to care for.

    Lukki Irish thanked tinam61
  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

    I also have three different sizes of Lodge pans. I got them more than 20 years ago. I did go through the whole seasoning process in the oven when I got them. They are wonderful. I don't use soap, but do rinse them with very hot water. I dry them on the burner and rub with a very little bit of oil when they are hot again. Oh, and yes, heat them before you add your fat. Nothing, absolutely nothing sticks.

    Lukki Irish thanked cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
  • schoolhouse_gwagain

    I never had any new cast iron skillets. When I set up housekeeping in my own home, I found some at thrift or antique stores for cheap (back then). Then after Mom passed away, I boxed her skillets to be auctioned with her other cook ware. At the last moment, I couldn't bare to see them go and dug them out of the boxes and now have a collection. However, I only use two of them, a big one that I make P/A Upside Down cake in, and a small one to make grilled cheese, etc- on occasion.

    Also wash with water and a little soap, then dry good and wipe with oil before storing. However, I confess I do not use them all that often except for the times stated above. I am spoiled by the non-stick skillets which who knows what chemicals they put into your system!

    Lukki Irish thanked schoolhouse_gwagain
  • Lukki Irish

    Thanks for all the responses and advise. I have not been preheating my pan and I’m guessing that’s been a contributor to my problem. I really enjoyed reading all the responses, so many seem to have a common thread in that heir pans have been passed down.

    Daisy, I’m going to have to pick up one of those scrapers. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that you learned about them from someone here.

  • lisa_fla

    I have several sizes and use them on my glass top stove with no issues. I’ve heard people say you can’t. I’ve done it for years. I have a couple of pieces that were my Grandmothers. My Mom is 86 so they are very old. They are indestructible! I had no clue how to use cast it on when my Mom have me a Dutch oven and later a 10” skillet. They sat around for years. One day I happened to walk down an aisle at the library and happened to spot a book Cast Iron For Dummies. I learned everything I needed to know and more! Now I knew how to ‘rescue’ rusted out pans that looked ready to trash. I bought a couple at the flea market and they looked great in no time at all! One interesting tip-newer cast iron has a slightly rough finish. The old pieces are completely smooth. I never use soap. If something sticks a little ( very rare) I sprinkle salt in the pan to act as an abrasive. I heard there is a Cast Iron Enthusiest group on FB that gives great advice. I think your issue is that after seasoning the first several uses need to be high fat foods such as bacon or burgers. Do not use soap! I’m sure it’s fine for a well seasoned pan, but that comes with time. My husband really likes skillet apple pie!

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  • ritaweeda

    Cooking acidic items is probably worse for cast iron than washing it. I wash mine. If any pot gets anything stuck inside I put water in it and heat it back on the stove to boiling, using a scraper to loosen the stuck food, works every time. I've saved many an expensive pot doing this. I have 2 very old CA skillets that were my grandmother's (small ones) and one new one that I actually have managed to season well enough to use but I doubt that an egg would slide in it yet. Then I have a Le Creuset cast iron skillet with the enameled outside that originally had the non-stick inside (why?) but it came with a set that DH had bought me for Christmas. As usual, the non-stick surface eventually crapped out and it really made me mad. I asked DH if the rest of the coating could be removed somehow and he said he would take it to the shop and see if he could sandblast it off. Well, not only did that work, wow, what a wonderful cast iron skillet it's been. It's well seasoned and the inside has the slickest surface - just like those old vintage ones that are so good. Some of the cast iron I look at in the stores is so bumpy I pass them by. But I still use a non-stick to cook eggs in. I buy the ones in Sam's Club in the restaurant supply section, they are perfectly good and not expensive so it doesn't hurt so bad when the non-stick wears out, which it eventually will, no matter what brand or how expensive it is.

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  • nicole___

    Great advice! Getting the pan hot before dropping the food in is the best!

    "IF" you do cook acidic food in it, don't let it sit in the just gets.....weird. lol

    I asked for a set of cast iron pans for X-mas before I left home. $19.99! They had the wood handles. Bumpy texture on the iron....needs to be smooth. I could have "made" them work....I just moved on.

    The only thing....I really use my cast iron pan for....frying scallops. I want them to have that crispy edge to them.

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  • Alisande

    I use cast iron all the time, for almost everything. I use very little oil, never butter (this is my personal preference, not a suggestion for cast-iron care), and sometimes just cooking spray. Nothing ever sticks. I've always pre-heated the pan before adding food. My parents used to cook hamburgers with nothing but salt on the iron frying pan.

    Traditional advice is to avoid soap, but I use it sometimes. Stainless-steel scrubbies from the dollar store are great for washing cast iron. My parents usually heated up the pan after washing to get it thoroughly dry. I do that sometimes, but not often. I figure my microfiber cloths do a good enough job. I also rub it with a little oil, but again, not often. As someone else said above, the secret is to use cast iron often.

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  • Martha Scott

    I have my mother's skillet and my grandmother's skillet. I use them all the time -- nothing better for bacon and eggs. My mother and grandmother always washed theirs back in the day. Then my mother would put it on the stove on a burner to dry. I do the same.

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  • Rory

    I use kosher salt to clean mine if stuff gets stuck to it. Pour it on and use a paper towel to scrub it around. The only thing I don't like about cast iron is how heavy it is. I can't pick my skillet up with one hand - I need to use both.

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  • Annie Deighnaugh

    Don't know why, but every time I see the header for this thread, I think it says cast iron flying pans!

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  • nutsaboutplants

    I have three Lodge pans, different sizes. Use them all the time. One of them permanently stays on the stove. The trick is to keep moisture out. before you start using it, coat it completely and liberally with oil and put it in the oven on low temp for an hour or so. The pores absorb the oil and are less prone to absorbing water. If you wash it, immediately wipe it, keep on the stove in warm until completely dry, then coat it with oil and heat for a few more minutes. You want to saturate the pores with oil or fat every time you wash it.

    unless gets heavy use, I just wipe it with a paper towel after using it.

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  • maire_cate

    We have 4 Lodge cast iron which we use frequently and I follow the same procedure as others posted.

    After cooking I try to simply wipe clean. If food is stuck to the bottom then I'll use a little scrubby, if necessary I'll use soapy water and scrub.

    But the most important advice is to place it back on a warm burner, coat with oil so that it gets into the pores. Then let it cool, and wipe off excess oil. I store them with paper towels placed between them.

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  • mtnrdredux_gw

    I must be the only one, but I hate them. I hate how heavy they are and difficult to "clean". I hate the idea of them being soaked in residual grease. I am always worried they will nick my porcelain sink or my marble counter. I do not like the feel of them in my hand. Interacting with them reminds me of a chalkboard for some reason.

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  • DawnInCal

    It's interesting how we all have our different ways of doing things. Since the initial seasoning, I have never coated my pans with oil. They don't seem to need it.

    Kool Beans, I think it's important to note that there's a learning curve to heating the pan before cooking. You want to get it hot, but how hot depends on the food being cooked. For meat such as hamburgers, chops or steak I heat until I start to see wisps of smoke coming off the skillet. That would be much too hot for eggs, so for those I hold my hand over the pan and when I feel heat rising 4-6 inches above my hand that's good for eggs. I also use medium to med-low heat for eggs, but high for meat and things like stir fries. Pancakes do best at medium heat. Just experiment with different settings and you'll get it. Once the pan is heated, how you cook the food isn't so different than using other types of cookware.

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  • Andie

    Mtnrdredux, I'm mostly in agreement with you. I do have 2. One is used for gumbo and the other for blackening fish outdoors.

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  • Jasdip

    Someone commented about coating it with oil and heating in a low oven. That's not going to polymerize the skillet. It needs to be heated above the smoking point of the oil. 450 to 500° is the norm, then letting it cool down while still in the oven.

    If your skillet feels tacky at all, it has too much oil. Wipe as much as you can with an old t-shirt etc and heat again.

    I use old dishcloths or tea towels to wipe my skillets with when needed. I also store them between the skillets, and it's easy to give a quick wipe.

    Lukki Irish thanked Jasdip
  • marilyn_c

    I have many cast iron frying pans, griddles, muffin pans, etc. Yes, it is correct, use them. I am not one who would say don't wash them. I wash them, even scrub them, but I wash by hand, not in a dishwasher. A good, well seasoned cast iron pan should be like black glass on the inside. I have Griswolds, Wagners, Martin's, and favorites are the Wagners, but that might be sentimentality as much as anything.

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  • Lucille

    . It needs to be heated above the smoking point of the oil. 450 to 500° is the norm, then letting it cool down while still in the oven.

    I store my cast iron in the oven and it gets heated and cooled as I bake other stuff. It now has a beautiful finish on it like black glass. Every once in a while I'll give it a quick additional swipe of oil. With the smooth finish and with the pieces right there where I can grab them. I use them more often.

    Lukki Irish thanked Lucille
  • Oakley

    Watchmelol gave THE best advice. DH uses cast iron but I don't. Why? Because I'm afraid of it! Everything stuck to the pan when I cooked with cast iron. Had I taken Watch's advice it would have been a breeze.

    Now I just let DH do the cast iron cooking.

    Lukki Irish thanked Oakley
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I have a cast iron skillet I inherited from my's probably older than I am!! I use it almost daily and is the only pan I use for hash browns or home fries. Or roasted potatoes....not sure why I have never tried other roasted veg in it but there you go :-) I used to cook bacon in it until I swtiched to the oven for that but still use it for sausages of any kind and for searing meats and steaks and often for roasting them as well. The only pan I use for fried chcken, although I seldom bother with that these days. And for making pineapple upside down cake and cornbread.

    I never use soap on mine and have never had a need to scrub it. Usually I just swab it off or at the most, rinse thoroughly in hot water and dry on a warm burner.

    Back in the days when we would still go camping, it and my wok were the only two cooking implements we used, except for the coffee pot.

    Lukki Irish thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Local, is this the pan you speak of? Now I want it! I notice it is not cast iron but you do season it in a similar fashion. Is this the right one?

    Lukki Irish thanked mtnrdredux_gw
  • Annie Deighnaugh

    I use my cast iron fry pan and clean it with kosher salt and a paper towel...the salt is abrasive and helps absorb any excess grease. If that doesn't work, I will wash it in water, but not soap. It's also very helpful to clean it before it cools down when the food really gets baked on. If I do use water, I return it to the burner to get completely dry before storing so it doesn't rust at all.

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  • Feathers11

    I'm an avid cook, but my thoughts on cast iron are similar to Mtnrdredux's.

    I have a cast iron pan, but I seasoned it incorrectly. Little black flakes come off when in use. They are tiny--but I notice them. I should strip it down and start over, but I don't have the time or inclination.

    I could never pick up a used cast iron pan. I'm waiting to inherit my grandmother's, as she's the only cook I'd ever trust to cook with something pre-owned.

    Lukki Irish thanked Feathers11
  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    I would like to have a fully seasoned one so I don't have to add much grease but all that fat prior to getting there is not happening! I recently lost 50 lbs and went from a 12-14 to a 4-6 and fully plan on staying this way. I gave away every single piece of clothing I owned, am buying new stuff and have changed how I eat. I'm 5'10" btw

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  • Lucille

    Beez that is awesome!

    Lukki Irish thanked Lucille
  • daisychain01

    Mtn, not sure about local, but that is the pan I mentioned. I think it comes in different sizes. I think Mine is 10”. It’s also lighter than traditional cast iron.

    wow beez good for you. Well done.

    Lukki Irish thanked daisychain01
  • Elizabeth

    I do the reverse of Annie. I wash gently with soap and water. If anything sticks ( which very rarely happens) I use some kosher salt as an abrasive cleaner.

    Lukki Irish thanked Elizabeth
  • jemdandy

    As a bonus, cast iron doesn't dent when you use it as a weapon.

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  • Sheeisback GW

    My dad gave me one. I believe he said it was his grandfather’s. It was packed away and after dad found it I remember him scrubbing it with a Brillo pad trying to get rust (?!) off. He later gave it to me and said someone he know fixed it up and it’s ready to use. The pan had areas of white grease so I’m guessing they seasoned it.

    Does this look ok to use? It’s sitting in cabinet. I’ve never been brave enough to cook with it. Plus, I have a glass top stove so wasn’t eager to get something that heavy near it.

    Thise little bump looking marks are actually grease and wipe smooth if I touch it. Thought the pan was pitted at first.

    My picture cut the word Erie off

    Lukki Irish thanked Sheeisback GW
  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    Shee, I have a glass cooktop too and have scratched it with cast iron- enameled good stuff and what you picture but still use them, just very carefully. Once the pan is on the burner, it doesn't get moved around.

    Lukki Irish thanked Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
  • Marilyn_Sue

    I have some cast iron skillets but I seldom use them. Too heavy for me to be lifting.


    Lukki Irish thanked Marilyn_Sue
  • bbstx

    I have my husband’s grandmother’s 10” cast iron skillet. I also have 2 smaller skillets. Using them and using them some more is the key.

    My mother’s only skillets were cast iron. She scrubbed them with SOS when necessary, she soaked them (albeit briefly), and she always washed them with soap. She was a bit of a germaphobe and would never ever have put away or re-used an unwashed skillet. Her skillets were satiny smooth. I believe I read somewhere that the new Lodge skillets are pebbled because of sand being used in the manufacturing process.

    Here is a scientific, informative article on seasoning cast iron with flaxseed oil. I’ve read this post and the author’s post about stripping a skillet to ready it for seasoning. They are very informative, although the one about stripping an old skillet is beyond me.

    Lukki Irish thanked bbstx
  • Debby

    When you season the frying pan, you have to give it such a LIGHT coat of oil (I used olive oil) that it's barely noticeable on the pan. You spread it all over, top, bottom, side and handle. Then put it in the oven upside down for about an hour @ 450F. Turn off the oven but leave the pan in there to cool down. Once cool, if the pan feels sticky at all, you've put too much oil on the pan. Every time you clean the pan, just add water and salt and use a sponge to clean. Dry with a towel, then place on a hot stove. Add a very THIN coating of oil and wipe it until you think you've removed it all. The stove will dry it completely and the oil will reseason and make your pan ready for its next meal.

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  • Sheeisback GW

    Bumble I was more concerned originally with breaking the glass. I received an enameled one for Christmas (way heavier) and have carefully used it.

    Does the pan I have look ok though? I can use it? (If you click on the pics they enlarge and you can see it better.)

    Lukki Irish thanked Sheeisback GW
  • DawnInCal

    Sheeisback, I see no reason for you not to use your pan as long as you are careful setting it on your glass cooktop. If those bits of grease you mentioned concern you, you could wash your pan with a drop of soap, rinse it out and dry thoroughly with a towel, or if you don't want to use soap, you could warm the pan on your stove and wipe the grease out with a paper towel before cooking anything in the pan.

    Lukki Irish thanked DawnInCal
  • Jasdip

    Sheeisback, your skillet looks gorgeous!!! Go ahead and use it.

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  • Sheeisback GW

    Ok thanks! I wasn‘t sure about the coloring. Also remembering that rust .......

    Lukki Irish thanked Sheeisback GW
  • DawnInCal

    It doesn't look like there is any rust left on the pan, but a little rust won't hurt you. There is some research that shows cast iron skillets can be a source of iron in the diet, but the verdict is still out on whether or not it's a significant source of iron.

    Lukki Irish thanked DawnInCal
  • Annette Holbrook(z7a)

    We do the majority of our cooking in cast iron. We have 2 pans that were my husband’s grandmother’s. And 2 newer pieces we bought. My husband is a freak about them. The newer ones we seasoned when we first got them. Vegetable oil or canola oil and bake in the oven. Then use a lot! I have the lodge scrapers and use those and super hot water to clean. No soap. Maybe once in a while if I feel like it really needs a cleaning. When I do that I tell my husband because he will dry it and then wipe it down with some oil, his favorite now is coconut. My son and daughter are already making noises about who inherits what pan lol.

    Lukki Irish thanked Annette Holbrook(z7a)
  • whatsayyou18

    Mtn, I have that crepe pan and it does a beautiful job with crepes. I also felt the same as you about cast iron skillets and had one that sat unused for years. I've been using it the last couple of years and have gotten over my dislike of it. It is now my first choice when looking for a skillet but sometimes it is too small for whatever it is I'm cooking so I'll resort to my other cookware. I won't purchase a larger cast iron skillet, though, because of the weight.

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  • Bunny

    I was mistaken. I don't have a Lodge at all, at least the word doesn't appear anywhere on my pan. It's just an old generic cast iron pan. But it works great, so there's that.

    Lukki Irish thanked Bunny
  • Gooster

    I tend to use high smoking point oil and avoid harsh abrasives. I only use cast iron for specialty purposes, with a vintage Wagner being my go-to. I use thick stainless clad and thick copper instead, for superior temperature control and evenness.

    I've tried the carbon steel pans but they require a bit more effort to achieve and hold seasoning, ime.

    Lukki Irish thanked Gooster
  • ldstarr

    Sheeisback -- just for your information, that pan was made by Griswold Mfg. in Erie, PA. Due to the lettering style and makers mark (Daisy) is was probably made in 1905-07. The #8 size is more common then many others, but all pans made by Griswold are excellent "users".

    Lukki Irish thanked ldstarr

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