How to Season a Frying Pan to Make It Last Longer

how to season a frying pan

Seasoning a non-stick pan or cast-iron pan is crucial for making sure it lasts as long as possible. When you season your cookware, you coat the surface of the pan with a slippery substance which gives it more pronounced non-stick properties. Non-stick pans already have some coating to assist with this, but a seasoned pan will often last longer and have a higher smoking point.

Non-stick cookware and cast-iron pans benefit from regular seasoning, as they can lose their non-stick surface over time, particularly with frequent washing and exposure to harsh utensils. Here’s your guide on how to season a frying pan, the seasoning process, and how you can make your pan last as long as possible.

Seasoning a Frying Pan for the First Time

Step 1: Preheat Oven

The first thing you need to do to create a seasoned frying pan is to preheat your oven to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure it’s safe for your non-stick pans to go inside the oven before you begin this process.

Step 2: Wash Your Pan

If you’ve used it before, you can wash your pan in hot, soapy water. You may even choose to wash new pans. This will remove any wax coating provided by the manufacturer during shipping. If you’re using heavy-duty pans and cast iron, you may need special sponges to help wash the pan. If you have dirt in your pan, use dish soap or a combination of white vinegar and baking soda to remove stains from the surface before you season.

Step 3: Let It Dry

Thoroughly rinse the pan and let it dry fully. Place the pan into the oven that’s been preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes to ensure it’s fully dry. As an alternative, you can turn the hob on medium-high heat if you can’t place your non-stick pans inside the oven.

Step 4: Season the Pan

Now you’re ready to apply the seasoning or oil to your pan. When you season a frying pan, you add a layer of seasoning or oil to the surface of the cookware to give it a non-stick finish.

What Is the Best Oil to Season a Pan With?

For most people learning how to season a non-stick pan, the toughest job is deciding which oil to use.

Chefs’ Choice

A lot of chefs and professionals have their own preferences in this regard. Some like to add canola oil to the pan, while others like using grapeseed oil or even peanut oil. Vegetable oil is probably the cheapest option, but peanut oil can be a good alternative.

Using Different Oils

The seasoning you choose will depend on the kind of flavours you want to create and the oils that seem to have the best impact on your cooking. You can experiment with different kinds of cooking oil over time to see which works best. You might even use different oil for your ceramic pan, steel pan, non-stick frying pan and iron cookware.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is one of the most popular options for seasoning because it has such a high smoking point. A high smoking point is a good feature to look for when you need to season frying pans. Grapeseed oil is also quite low in saturated fat, which can make your meals seem healthier in the future. Options like soybean oil are becoming increasingly popular too.

What Oil to Avoid

Typically, the only oil most experts will recommend avoiding when you season your cooking utensils is olive oil. Olive oil has a very low smoke point, which means that the oil and food can begin to adhere to the pan at a lower cooking heat. If you cook a lot of food at high heat or in your oven, you need a frying pan with a stronger nonstick coating.

Tips on Seasoning Your Frying Pan

Apply a Thin Coating

Once you’ve chosen the kind of oil you want, apply just a thin coating to the non-stick pan. To season, the oil should cover the entire surface of the pan. This includes the inside walls of your frying pans.

Where Not to Oil

Don’t coat the handle during the seasoning process or any areas on the outside of the pan.

Heating Time and Method

When seasoning, place your frying pan into the oven for around 30 minutes to 45 minutes. If you’re using the hob, you can let the pan heat up on the oven top. You may need to do this for less time, as you’re exposing your pan to a direct flame, even if it is at medium heat.

Practice Safety

When you’re done with the seasoning process, carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow it to completely cool before you handle it.

Wipe Your Pan

You can then wipe your non-stick pans with a paper towel or soft cloth to remove excess oil. You shouldn’t thoroughly wash the pan after seasoning, as this can rinse away the oil you’ve just applied. Never place cold water in the cookware after you’ve had the pan in the oven. Cold and even warm water can respond to the heat in the pan by causing the product to warp or crack. This is particularly dangerous with ceramic and iron cookware.

Cleaning a Seasoned Pan

After you heat the pan with a coating of vegetable oil, canola oil or another seasoning substance, it should have good non-stick functionality. Cleaning your non-stick pan after seasoning is a process that requires a lot of care. You don’t want to wipe the non-stick surface away from the pan.

A Warm Pan

Most experts recommend cleaning your frying pan when it’s still warm to make the process easier. You can wipe away excess oil and food residue with hot water and a sponge. Do not scrub the non-stick surface of the pan with any abrasive products. Avoid harsh chemicals that will damage your pan and often mean you need to season it again.

The Exterior of the Pan

If you need to clean the outside or exterior stainless steel of a pan, you can use a paper towel with water or white vinegar to get rid of stains. A small amount of baking soda on your paper towel can also remove burned-on foods. Make sure you let it cool before you start scrubbing the surface of your frying pans.

How to Reseason Your Frying Pan

Although you frequently expose your nonstick cooking utensils to fat, oil and seasoning products when cooking, you’ll notice food does begin sticking if you don’t add a new layer every once in a while. If you want your nonstick cooking products to stay in good condition, you will need to regularly season them.

Frequency of Reseasoning

Exactly how often you need to add a new layer of seasoning will depend on the material of your pan. An aluminium or metal frying pan might not need seasoning as often. However, most experts recommend that chefs season cast iron regularly. Seasoning a pan is also important if you’re using ceramic nonstick cookware. Ceramic materials can easily break when exposed to the heat of your burner.

Adding a layer of protection to the ceramic pan could mean it lasts longer when exposed to high-temperature cooking processes. When food starts to stick to the ceramic or metal surface, or the pan starts to look grey (or discoloured for ceramic), this indicates it’s time to preseason.

Process of Reseasoning

When you reseason your non-stick pan, you’ll follow the same steps outlined above for seasoning your non-stick cookware the first time. Wash your non-stick pan before you begin seasoning to remove any residue, then place the pan in the oven, coated in your chosen oil. You can also heat non-stick cookware on medium heat on the hob.

Choose Your Oil

Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment with different season oil options with a high smoke point. You might need to try a few different options with things like ceramic, oil, and skillet pans before you find something that works with all foods. Remember to carefully clean away excess oil when the pan reaches a warm temperature before you cook to reduce excess smoke.

Advantages of Protecting your Pans

When you season a skillet or frying pan with the right oils at the correct temperature, you can help them to last longer. A ceramic pan, for instance, will last a lot longer when used at high temperatures when coated in oils. Ceramic products will also be less likely to suffer from sticking foods when you season them frequently.

Aside from ceramic, all kinds of materials can benefit from regular seasoning. Oiling the surface of your pans before placing them in or on the oven at high temperatures prevents foods from sticking and harming your investments. Seasoning your pan can even make your food taste better.

‘Tis the Season for Seasoning

Although the process of seasoning your pans can seem intimidating, it’s actually an easy process once you know how to do it right. Follow our steps on how to season a frying pan, and you’ll be able to make all of your favourite dishes without a care in the world. Don’t forget to store your pans in a cool, dry place to avoid rust.

Do you season your pans? What oil do you use? Tell us in the comments.

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