We’ve been wondering about all the different ways people might maintain their cast iron cookware in the instance they don't have time for the full seasoning process or just want to extend the time in between proper seasonings. We call it, lazy seasoning!
We reached out to the online cast iron cooking community to share their top lazy seasoning hacks. We were met with a mixture of enthusiasts happy to share their tips and tricks, as well as those who only swore by the full seasoning process. And by this we mean washing, drying, oiling and baking in the oven on high heat for an hour, then waiting for it to cool down for a couple of hours. Visit our Caring for Cast Iron page here for full instructions.
It is also our belief that it's always best to season properly and that these lazy seasoning hacks are just for when there's not enough time to season properly or to extend the time in between proper seasonings.
Five key themes emerged in our lazy seasoning quest:
- Wipe & Away
- Stove It
- Just Cook
- High Smoke
Not all of these hacks involve the high temperature or lengthy baking time of the usual seasoning process, but they can help to maintain your cast iron cookware. So if like us, you’re always on the look-out for ways to save time in the kitchen whilst also looking after your goods, then this article is for you!
- Wipe & Away
After washing and drying your cast iron cookware, wipe it down with oil before putting it away. The oil helps to protect the pan from moisture and prepares it for the next time you cook.
This was one of the most popular suggestions and we love it because it only adds a minute to your existing process of washing and drying after each use. You only need a little drizzle of oil in the pan and with a paper towel, give it a good wipe-down all over.
You may need to look out for the oil that is left on your skillet that can pass onto other pots and pans or into your kitchen cupboard though. We had a play around with this in our own kitchen and of course it’s all about being light-on with your oil then wiping it down with a paper towel to remove any excess. We also found that putting a paper towel in the bottom of the cupboard helped to keep it clean and grease-free.
The other option is to wipe just the inside of your frying pan. However, it’s important to monitor the seasoning all over your cast iron as the health of the outside can affect overall performance.
All in all, wipe and away is a solid lazy seasoning tip that we highly recommend.
- Stove It
After washing and drying your cast iron cookware, wipe it down with oil then heat it on the stove top briefly until dry.
This is like a mini-seasoning without the lengthy and super hot oven baking--less effective of course, but a great way to maintain your non-stick seasoned surface. And like the first hack, this one also had a lot of ground swell because it only adds a few minutes to your existing routine.
The watch-out here is to not burn yourself! Since this tip is just about maintaining seasoning, you don’t need to go onto high heat on the stove. Just warm the pan briefly to dry it and make sure it’s cool enough to handle before putting it away.
Our favourite hack was actually a clever combination of tips one and two...
“Our lazy seasoning hack is to wipe down with oil after washing while still wet and place back on the cook top until the water has dried up entirely. Leave to cool and pop away until next use. Super easy, super lazy! 😜”
This is brilliant! Wash--don’t worry about drying just yet--wipe it down with oil straight away and let the drying and seasoning maintenance happen all together on the stove top!
- Just Cook
Use it or lose it! Just cook with your cast iron regularly to maintain its seasoning.
As long as you wash and dry your cast iron properly after each use, this hack is great too. But what do we mean by regularly? How regularly do you have to cook with cast iron to maintain its seasoning? From experience, we’ve found that as long as you’re cooking with your cast iron at least once a month, this will do the trick.
With the oils and other fats that enter the skillet when you cook, together with the heat applied whether you’re cooking over the stove, BBQ, camp fire, in the oven or under the grill, those fats can cook onto the cast iron surface each time. It may not be the high heat needed to get a proper seasoning happening, but it can still help with maintaining your cookware.
By regularly using your cast iron cookware, you’re not just cooking, you’re washing and drying it as well. The process of cleaning and correctly drying and storing your cookware also helps in its maintenance.
- High Smoke
We came across a lot of enthusiasts who are all about what oil you use. And oil with a high smoke point, like flaxseed oil, is said to perform better in the seasoning process.
This may seem like more of an oil-to-your-full-seasoning-process recommendation, rather than a lazy seasoning hack, but the feedback from the community was that if you season with one of these oils then you won’t have to season again! Sounds great, right? We’d still recommend keeping an eye on that non-stick effectiveness and re-seasoning from time to time… or employing a variety of these lazy hacks, just to be sure!
We did some further research on the oil front though and found there’s a lot of science to support high smoke as the best oil for seasoning cast iron with. Alongside the favourite, flaxseed or flax oil, are peanut and avocado oils. But flax oil is also a “drying” oil as well as unsaturated fat, which means it can transform into the tough, non-stick film better than other oils.
Still not convinced? Let’s recap the science behind seasoning… It’s a layer of non-toxic non-stick formed from fat polymerization. When an unsaturated fat is heated to high temperature it is broken down and oxidized, after which it polymerizes--joins other molecules to form a heavy duty layer. This tough substance sticks to the uneven surface of the cast iron and creates a smoother, non-toxic non-stick layer. And the best seasoning is achieved by repeating the process with many very thin layers of oil.
So invest in some pure flax oil and season once then enjoy your lazy cooking days!
We came across a whole new religion that worships frying bacon in cast iron cookware as a way to season or maintain.
If you type bacon and cast iron into Google you’ll be met with the millions of bacon-loving disciples that swear by this combination. Although it’s a saturated fat and full of salt, we don’t think there’ll be any scientific argument to quell this posse. Here’s what they had to say...
“Use it frequently for frying bacon. Soon, it will be well seasoned with no extra effort. Just use it as your bacon-frying pan until you are satisfied. Easy peasy! I didn’t do anything more than that and mine is awesome.”
“I like to make bacon in the morning and pour the bacon fat off after it cools. I cover the skim of bacon fat in the pan and use it to cook lunch or dinner.”
Bacon is delicious. It’s versatile to cook with and can be enjoyed at any time of the day, really… so we really don’t see a problem with jumping on the bacon band wagon! And if so many people have sworn by their 100% bacon cast iron seasoning success, we agree this should make the cut in our lazy seasoning hacks.
So there you have it, five lazy seasoning hacks to keep your cast iron cookware as slippery as an eel. Just remember that proper seasoning is also recommended too... and these lazy tips are just a way to extend the time in between seasonings or for when you really don't have the time to season. Happy cooking!