We are all looking for the quickest way to do things these days. And making sure your cast iron skillet is in tip-top shape at all times is no exception! Find out how I season a cast iron skillet without an oven today!
What to know about seasoning your skillet on the stovetop
Ok now. Here is the deal. You can absolutely season your cast iron skillet on the stove. But, just the inside, you know, where the food goes.
There will be times that your skillet will need to be completely covered in oil and then baked in the oven to get a nice solid coating baked on. If that is the case, check out this post on seasoning cast iron here.
We are going to assume your skillet has already been seasoned in the past, and the inside has gotten worn down with metal spatulas scraping against it and just overall wear and tear.
So let’s get to work, shall we?
How to season cast iron without an oven
We already mentioned you can only season the inside of the skillet using the stovetop method. If you want to see why you can’t do the entire skillet, check out the “safety precaution” section below.
Step #1: Thoroughly clean your skillet with soapy water and scrub off any bits and pieces stuck to the pan.
Step #2: Pat the skillet dry, then place it on the stove for several seconds on medium heat to ensure no water remains.
Step #3: Dip a paper towel in peanut or coconut oil and coat the bottom and sides of the skillet.
Tip: Make sure you let the skillet cool first before applying the oil.
Step #4: Using a dry paper towel, wipe the oil back off. Don’t worry; there will still be some left. We want the thinnest layer possible.
Step #5: Set your burner to medium-high heat and heat the skillet for 7-10 minutes.
Now, this is where you are going to want to watch it. It’s going to start to smoke, then the bottom of the pan will slowly turn from a glossy finish to a dull greyish-black.
That is the polymerization happening. The oil is being heated just past its smoke point, and it’s developing a solid, protective non-stick layer into our cast iron skillet.
Tip: Turn on your vent fan, crack a window, and stay in the kitchen to keep an eye on things.
Step 6: Once there is no glossy oil remaining, grab some oven mitts to turn off the stove, and remove the skillet from the heat to cool completely.
Allow your skillet to cool completely before checking and repeating the process if necessary.
The best oil for stovetop seasoning
Here are the top listed oils for seasoning a skillet on the stove.
- Grapeseed oil
- Flax seed oil
- Peanut oil
- Coconut oil
- Vegetable oil
I have only used peanut and coconut oil to season skillets on the stove. Both work quite well, with peanut oil having a higher smoke point of the two, which results in a few extra minutes on the heat.
You can learn more about the best oils for seasoning a skillet here.
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What is the best method to season cast iron?
To provide a protective coating to an entire cast iron skillet, you will need an oven. This stovetop method is great to use from time to time if you are constantly scraping the inside or cooking acidic foods like tomatoes which can eat away at the coating.
If your cast iron skillet is due for a whole reseason, you will need to use an oven so that you can coat the inside and outside with oil.
- Never oil the outside of a skillet when using the stovetop method. The burners should never come in contact with oil, or you risk a grease fire.
- Never leave your pan unattended while it’s on the stove.
- Always run proper ventilation and open a window if possible, as there will be plenty of smoke.
- Wear oven mitts and make sure others in the house are aware of the hot skillets.
Seasoning tips and questions
How much oil should I use on the skillet? Try the least amount possible. Many people think if they layer it on thick, they can get away with just doing one coat. No! It won’t work, and the oil will end up all sticky.
How do I know when I need to season a skillet? When you lose your non-stick surface or start noticing a metallic-like taste in your food, it’s time to season your skillet.
Remember, skillets get really hot and stay hot! We are heating this skillet upwards of 400°F, and they don’t exactly cool on a dime either. Make sure you set it out of reach and on a hot pad to cool.
Make sure the skillet is clean before seasoning. This should go without saying, but here I am saying it anyway. Don’t be afraid to use a little dish soap and a rag to clean it of any leftover bits of food.
The cast iron skillet must be completely dry before adding your layer of oil to season it. If you just washed it, I suggest placing it on the stove over medium heat to cook off any moisture before smearing it with oil to season it. But do let it cool back down first.
How to season cast iron after cooking
You don’t have to season cast iron each time after cooking. It is a good idea to swish a little oil inside the bottom of the pan after washing it to prevent rust.
Other than that, cast iron skillets are pretty low-key!
The inside of cast iron skillets can be seasoned on the stove.
This is the quickest way to add a few layers of protection to your precious skillets without taking several hours out of your busy day.
If you followed this method and it worked great for you, let me know by leaving a review below!
You may like reading this post on getting the rust out of cast iron next.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet on the Stove
- Thoroughly clean your skillet with soapy water and scrub off any bits and pieces stuck to the pan.
- Pat the skillet dry, then place it on the stove for several seconds on medium heat to ensure no water remains.
- Let the skillet cool to the touch, then dip a paper towel in peanut oil and coat the inside of the skillet.
- Using a dry paper towel, wipe as much excess oil off as possible.
- Set your burner to medium-high heat and heat the skillet for 7-10 minutes, while watching carefully.
- It’s going to start to smoke, which reminds me, go ahead and turn on that vent fan and crack a window.
- After about 7 minutes, you are going to notice the bottom of the pan slowly turning from a glossy finish to a dull greyish-black. That is the polymerization happening. The oil is being heated just past its smoke point, and it’s developing a solid, protective non-stick layer into our cast iron skillet.
- Once there is no glossy oil remaining, grab some oven mitts to turn off the stove, and remove the skillet from the heat to cool completely.