Can you season a cast iron skillet without an oven?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: May 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

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Can you season a cast iron skillet without an oven?

Many people ask this question: ”can I season a cast iron skillet without an oven?”

The answer is an absolute yes. A cast-iron skillet can be seasoned without an oven. There are plenty of ways to season a cast-iron skillet, but the two most common methods are through boiling water or vegetable oil. The process is simple and takes less than fifteen minutes! 

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to season your new kitchenware, read on!

Steps to season a cast iron skillet without an oven

There are many ways to accomplish this task without using an oven.  Boiling a cast iron skillet is the most popular method.

Boil water in a pot

Place your newly purchased pan into a large stockpot and fill it with enough cold water to cover the entire surface of the pan. Place on the stovetop over high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, carefully pour out the water and discard. Or, if you are composting or have a hazardous waste station in your area, dump the dirty water down the drain.

Dry with low heat

Wipe off any moisture from the pan using paper towels or rags. Turn the burner dial to low then place the pan over the flame for a couple of minutes. Allow the pan to cool. The pan should be very hot, but not so hot that it is too difficult to handle. Repeat this step one or two more times.

Rub vegetable oil on the pan

Take a new paper towel and some solid vegetable shortening (not liquid). Spread a thin layer of the shortening onto the entire surface of the pan with your hands, including all surfaces both inside and out. The less grease will make for a darker skillet

Apply a thin coat of oil

With a clean rag, apply a very thin coating of vegetable oil over the entire surface and handle. Do this inside your sink in case any oil drips. Never heat a cast-iron skillet when there is liquid oil in it.

Heat the skillet on high for an hour

Place the stove dial too high and let your cast-iron pan heat up completely. Usually, this takes about fifteen minutes. If you have a glass top stove, you will need to lift the pan with oven mitts so that all parts of the bottom are exposed to the heat.

Turn off the stove and allow the pan to cool

Once it is heated for at least an hour, turn off the stovetop burner completely so that both burners are cooled. Allow the skillet to slowly cool down until it’s warm or room temperature.

You can speed up this process by occasionally dipping a paper towel in cold water and dabbing it onto the warm pan. If your skillet is extremely hot, you may want to wait a few hours before continuing with any of these steps.

Steps to clean cast iron skillets after seasoning

Once you’re done seasoning your new set of pans, follow these steps if simply can’t resist cooking up a storm!

Warm the skillet on low heat

Place the pan over a stovetop burner set to “low” for 5 minutes. The center of your pan should be warm, but not hot enough to fry an egg. If it’s too hot to touch comfortably, wait several more minutes before moving on to step two.

Wash the pan in hot water with soap

Tip your skillet upside down over the sink, allowing any excess oil to drip out. Fill the bowl with very hot tap water and add a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Mix well with your hand to make sure all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Allow the pan to sit for several minutes.

Wash the pan in cold water with a stiff brush

Dip your steel scrub pad into very hot tap water and use it to scrub the entire surface of the skillet. Make sure not to use the scrub rigidly. Rinse off any soap residue under running cold water, then dry completely using paper towels.

Finally, place the pan over medium heat on the stovetop burner for a minute. Remove and use a paper towel to rub a very thin layer of vegetable oil onto all surfaces inside and outside. Allow it to cool before placing it away.

The do’s and don’ts of seasoning a cast-iron skillet without an oven

Be patient

Prepare yourself to spend a few days seasoning your cast iron skillets. If you get tired of waiting, the process can be pushed through in 1-2 hours if you use an oven instead of a gas stove burner. Just turn up the heat to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.

Don’t switch from using soap to oil

If you have just cleaned your cast iron skillet, don’t immediately switch to using only cooking oil. Both soap and oil are drying to the seasoning on your pan, so you want to allow at least one day between washing with soap and adding oil for re-seasoning. Keeping moisture off the surface of the pan is very important during the initial seasoning process.

Season all surfaces of your skillet

It’s important to make sure that both the outside and underside of your pan are exposed to the same amount of heat during the seasoning process. Because gas stovetops burn hotter at their center, this isn’t as big an issue with electric stoves where you can adjust for this difference.

Don’t let your skillet go “un-seasoned” too long

If you need to walk away from the seasoning process for a long time, remember to wipe down all surfaces with oil before doing so. This will keep them safe and help maintain their non-stick properties, even if they sit out uncovered for extended periods of time.

Experiment with cooking spray

If you don’t want to use the oil directly on the surface of your skillet after cleaning, coat it lightly using a cooking spray. The food you cook will stick less and be easier to remove later. Make sure to thoroughly wipe off any excess with paper towels or dishrag before placing cold water into the pan for washing.

Don’t let your cast iron skillet go through the dishwasher

While it’s okay to use a cast-iron pan in the oven, don’t ever put one through a dishwasher. The high temperature and harsh detergent used will remove even an established seasoning layer.

Alternatives to oven to season the cast-iron skillet

While the oven method is a quick and easy way to season your cast iron pans, it isn’t absolutely necessary. You can use a gas stove burner instead of an oven if you want. This makes the process faster and easier, but there’s a chance that your skillet could end up with hot spots.

Another alternative is to put your cast iron skillet in a large garbage bag and add a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Tie the end into a knot and place it on the ground outside, then place several books or other heavy items (like paving stones) on top to hold it down. Make sure that the area is level and free from clutter, then leave for several hours.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, you can season a cast iron skillet without an oven. Just follow the steps listed in this article and remember to season every surface of your pan (inside and out).

So season your favorite cast iron skillet using the techniques mentioned above and use it to cook delicious meals for your family and friends!

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