A cast iron pan is one of the hardest-working – and most versatile – of kitchen tools. Are you cooking with cast iron? Or are you too nervous about the seasoning and cleaning? There’s nothing to fear – these pans are tough and built to last, which is why families pass them down as heirlooms and collectors seek antique pans at flea markets.
Keep reading to find out why cast iron pans are great to cook with, and how to properly season, clean and care for them so you get a lifetime of meals from your trusty pan.
Shop the wide variety at dartagnan.com for something to cook in your cast iron skillet.
In the age of disposable everything, there’s a nostalgia growing for traditional cast iron pots and pans, often made in America. It coincides with public concerns about the chemicals in some non-stick pans.
Cast iron was the choice of open-hearth cooking as it’s sturdy enough to withstand direct heat and coals. It can go from stovetop to the oven and is popular for open-fire cooking when camping.
Easy Cooking with Cast Iron
Cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, so there’s very little work to do. Season the pan with neutral oil for a smooth finish; the oil actually becomes a polymerized oil, which bonds with the surface of the pan. Then cook some bacon in your new cast iron pan.
After you cook in your cast iron pan, be sure to clean it well, and dry it. Many of us were taught to never, ever use soap and will be chagrined to learn that soap is alright. As long as you don’t soak your pan, or leave it wet after washing, the seasoned surface can take a scrubbing with gentle soap.
This Bon Appetit test kitchen video shows you how.
If your cast iron pan gets rusty, do not panic. The good folks at Lodge have a how-to video that shows the easy process of restoring a rusty pan.
Recipes to Make in Your Cast Iron Pan
Although everyone talks about the even cooking surface of cast iron, that’s not completely accurate. Cast iron actually heats unevenly, but once hot it holds much higher temps longer than stainless steel. This means you should really pre-heat that pan for 10 minutes or so before cooking in it.
Once heated, make our classic seared duck breast in your cast iron pan, and watch the skin crisp up beautifully. All the rendered duck fat is also good for the pan’s surface. Speaking of duck fat, it goes beautifully with potatoes, as our Pommes Anna recipe proves.
You can even bake in cast iron, as we did in this cornbread with bacon and Dutch baby pancake. Pizza can be made in a cast iron skillet. Roasting is also great in cast iron. Try our whole maitake mushroom with miso butter and lemon poussin with potatoes recipes.
Are you ready to make the switch to cast iron cooking? You can find an inexpensive and dependable pan around $20 – $30 or go to the other extreme. Epicurious gave some skillets the ultimate test – with an egg – to help you make a good decision. Let us know how you use your cast iron pan!
Interested in how cast iron pans are made? This Eater video shows the process of turning molten iron into pans – some in the shape of Ohio.
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