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How to Clean Cast Iron

Cast iron cooking is old-school and effective. Cast iron gives you a crispy crust on meat, potatoes, or fried eggs that non-stick pans simply cannot. Did you also know that cooking with cast iron can transfer a healthy dose of iron into your food? One of my favorite ways to use cast iron is to sear steaks before popping them in the oven or to get perfectly crisp bacon. However, cleaning cast iron can be quite the task.

I’ve made the mistake more than once of washing my cast iron with soap and water and woken up the next day to a rusty skillet. I’m going to give you a super quick cleaning technique that involves things you most likely already have in your kitchen.

I should also note that I do NOT clean my pan every time I use it.

In fact, I probably only go through these steps a few times a year. Use this technique for when you have burnt on food or cannot simply wipe it clean like when you slow cook sauces.

  1. Clear away any food scraps with a paper towel or cloth
  2. Fill your skillet with 1-2” of tap water (or enough to fill ⅓ of your pan)
  3. Bring water to a boil over high heat
  4. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt to the water (it’s important you use coarse ground salt here. Not table salt)
  5. Boil 3-5 minutes (depending on how stuck your junk really is)
  6. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to remove burnt on bits
  7. Carefully dump the water and rinse with warm water (NO SOAP)
  8. Return skillet to the burner on low heat until all water has evaporated
  9. Pour ½ teaspoon of oil into the pan- I like to use avocado oil because it has a much higher smoke point than olive oil
  10. Using a clean paper towel or cloth, wipe the oil all over the pan until no pooling occurs
  11. Voila! Your cast iron skillet is seasoned and ready for your next culinary adventure!


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