Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true workhorse is beloved for its durability and versatility: you can fry, grill, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.
After use, wipe your skillet clean, then rinse under hot running water. Scrub off stuck-on debris with salt and a damp towel.
Immediately and thoroughly dry your pan with a towel. (Leaving water in it can lead to rusting.)
*If your pan rusts, not to fear! To bring a rusted pan back to life, bake at 450ºF for about an hour, then remove from the oven and carefully rub with oil and a paper towel to loosen and wipe out the rust. Scrub out any remaining rust with salt, then rinse, dry and carefully rub with an oiled paper towel.
Use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the pan with a small amount of vegetable or canola oil. (Use enough oil to give the inside of the pan a nice sheen, but not so much that it feels sticky.)
*If you won’t be using your cast iron pan for a while, it’s important to heat the pan to help the oil form a protective seal with the iron. Place the pan on the stovetop and heat on high for a few minutes, until hot and the oil starts to smoke lightly. Remove from heat; when cool enough to handle, carefully wipe out the pan with a dry rag. Let cool completely before storing.