Get the Best Results with Your Cast Iron Pan: 10 Tips You Need to Know

The subreddit R/cooking for beginners had a question from a home cook whose spouse wanted her to get a cast iron skillet because “food cooked in them tastes better.” While that sentiment is up for debate, along with the question of why this dude can’t buy his own cast iron cookware and learn to use it, the answers from helpful home cooks were a veritable “Cast Iron 101.”

Whatever your reason for wanting to dip your toes into the world of cast iron (I mean…not really dip your toes in because that would be gross), then check out these 10 helpful “cast iron cooking for dummies” tips. 

1. Cast Iron Cooking Is Controversial

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Nearly every “I do this with my cast iron pan” response had some reply to the effect of: “You should never do that with your cast iron pan.” People on Reddit have strong opinions about cast iron cooking, from how, when, and if to season or re-season your pan to what you should or shouldn’t cook in cast iron. Who knew?

2. Cast Iron Is Popular Because It’s Versatile and Cooks Food Evenly.

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For anyone wondering what the draw is, cast iron can reach high temperatures without warping, making it ideal for searing meats. It’s also handy for dishes that are started on the stovetop and baked in the oven. People use cast iron cookware for browning foods, baked goods, casseroles, stews, and even pizza.  

3. Be Prepared To Show Your Cast Iron Pan a Little Extra Love and Attention.

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Cast iron pans are durable and last virtually forever. Many people on this Reddit thread reported using the same cast iron pans for years or using cookware handed down from their grandparents. Although cast iron is unbreakable and won’t warp, there are some rules you need to follow when caring for your cookware.

4. Know When (And How) To Season and Re-season Your Pans.

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See also: seasoning and re-seasoning is an exceptionally touchy topic. Most cast iron users season their cookware with a high-heat oil, such as grapeseed oil or avocado oil, and bake it in the oven for an hour. Most users recommend repeating this process several times to get an excellent, baked-on seasoning. 

Some users recommend re-seasoning their pan periodically or putting a thin coat of oil on it after each use. Whether you’re on team “One and done” or team “Season every so often,” know there’s a cast iron user out there that will tell you you’re doing it wrong.

5. Never Put Your Cast Iron Pans in The Dishwasher.

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The dishwasher strips your cast iron of its seasonings. A small squirt of liquid dish soap is OK, but putting your skillet in the dishwasher is not. 

6. There Are Some Food You Should Not Cook in Cast Iron (Probably)

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Avoid cooking tomatoes and other acidic food (i.e., citrus) in your cast iron pan. The home cooks on Reddit also recommend not using a cast iron skillet to cook eggs, fish, or other delicate foods. However, the often-mentioned r/castiron is full of videos of people cooking eggs in cast iron. 

7. Invest in a Chain Mail Scrubber.

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A small chain mail scrubber (available at cooking stores or on Amazon) scrubs food off cast iron pans easily, and doesn’t strip off the seasoning. Just make sure to dry the chain mail scrubber well or lay it flat to dry, so it doesn’t rust.

8. Dry Pans Immediately After Washing Them

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Popular suggestions from Reddit home cooks were to leave the pan on a warm stove burner or to let it dry in a still-warm oven. A thorough wipe-down with a soft cloth also does the trick. 

9. Buy a Pre-seasoned Pan if You Don’t Want to Mess With Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware.

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The Lodge brand is the most popular pre-seasoned cast iron, although many warn that these pre-seasoned pans still need to be seasoned. I have a Lodge brand Dutch oven and I used it without seasoning. Nothing terrible happened, although this was clearly not top-quality cast iron.

Seasoning a cast iron pan takes some time, but it isn't rocket science, and is worth doing, in my opinion. 

10. Subscribe to R/Castiron

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There’s a handy FAQ pinned to the top for new cast iron cooks to check out. The main thread contains a variety of questions, “Look what I made with my cast iron” pictures, cast iron finds, and cast iron snark. Yes, that’s a thing, and it’s rather entertaining. 

Take what you read with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to the threads on seasoning and re-seasoning. Some of the initial seasoning methods recommended are pretty over the top, so read through everything to get an idea of what other cast iron enthusiasts do. Find a method that feels comfortable for you and refer back to the plethora of advice if you need to troubleshoot. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Jill is a Wealth of Geeks travel editor and an expert writer focusing on family and adventure travel as well as practical tips to help travelers get the most value out of their vacation experiences. In addition to Wealth of Geeks, Jill has written for Business Insider, MSN, Tripsavvy, Matador Network, Canadian Traveller, and Travel Awaits. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and sons but she's usually somewhere else.