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Aug 22, 2007 10:53 AM

Seasoning Cast Iron WITHOUT Crisco?? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

I want to season some cast iron pans I have because even though I bought them "pre-seasoned", food still does not seem to cook right on the pan, and is sticking. After reading some articles on chowhound I think I know why. The Lodge brand does only part of the work, and I guess expects us to complete the seasoning process.

The Alton Brown site recomends using Crisco or some hydrogenated oil to season the pan with and warns not to use vegetable oil.

Cast iron pans have existed for a very long time and its hard for me to imagine the Old Pioneers in America using Crisco. They cooked on Cast iron pans; so I am sure there is a proper way to season them without using hydrogenated oils.

Desperately Seeking Seasoning


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  1. The preseasoned pans are great, it just helps the process. Still, you must season after each use. People have lots of different methods. I rinse out the pan (not a lot of scrubbing so as not to wreck the existing seasoning), put on a high flame until the water burns off. Then I spray with a nonstick cooking spray. You could also rub with oil.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mandymac

      Odd. I inherited an ancient cast-iron frypan and have never had to re-season it.

      1. re: Mandymac

        Ooooh never use those sprays to season a pan. You will ruin it for sure. It is not the oil but the propellant in the spray. It will burn on a residue that is impossible to remove. Another no-no is vegetable oils esp. olive oil. They will leave a sticky film that will get rancid. A simple way is to use the pan for frying bacon. just keep doing it until you are satisfied. Lard, or other animal fat is good.

        1. re: Candy

          I ended up with a film on my wok. However, I thought it showed up after I used Crisco to rub it down before putting it away. After I noticed that, I started using vegetable oil.

          Should I not be rubbing it down at all? It's a Lodge wok, and I thought that's what the care instructions said to do.... I've been doing that to try to prevent rusting, as I live in a humid state and my house seems to be even wetter than the outdoors. :(

      2. Nor did they use refined vegetable oils. Bacon grease and lard would have been the main fat in pioneer days. So frying lots of bacon in your pan is one to build on the preseasoning.

        Sometime ago I bought a tub of 'organic' palm oil. It is solid like lard and Crisco, but 'legit' in some way or other. Anyways, it works well as a pan seasoning.

        I've used oil in the past, but it does seem to leave a thick sticky coating if used too generously.


        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          Cooking with bacon is the best seasoning for a pan. Plus, when you're done - bacon!

        2. I second the lard/bacon concept. My grandmother says the best way to season cast iron pans is to fry chicken in them. We fry in a combination of vegetable oil and bacon drippings. I figure two or three batches of chicken would just about do the pans right. And you get to eat the chicken!

          1 Reply
          1. re: lupaglupa

            Just as lupaqlupa writes, the Lodge cast iron company recommends frying bacon (or any kind of animal fat) in the pan every at first (even with pre-seasoned pans) and every now and then thereafter to improve the surface patina -- i.e. to make it non-stick. The more you use the pan to cook oily/fatty things, the more non-stick it will become over time.

          2. Vegetable oils can easily leave a sticky residue instead of seasoning the pan. It's much easier to just use either coconut or palm oil, the latter available as Spectrum brand natural shortening.

            1. I don't know if this is proper or not, but after whatever seasoning ritual you go through, cook up a batch of pancakes in plenty of butter. The pan will be perfectly seasoned (and you'll have breakfast, too).

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bat Guano

                I am in the lard and bacon camp. Fried chicken is good too. I just never use oils, they can leave a really sticky residue. Oh and GASP! I wash my well seasoned pans with deteregent and water and dry over a low flame. If I think it could use a little help after washing I might add a little bacon grease swiped on lightly with a paper towel while it heats.

                1. re: Candy

                  Making a batch of fried chicken is, for me, the best way by far to re-season my favorite cast iron pans.