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Sep 26, 2009 05:58 PM

Le Creuset Skillet - Seasoning

Based on Marian Burros's rave review in the NY Times a few years ago,, I've been coveting the 12" Le Creuset skillet, and found a good price at the company's outlet store. Burros wrote that nothing stuck if you put down a thin film of oil. However, the Le Creuset store said seasoning was essential.

I spread a good coat of grapeseed oil on the inside and put it in a 375 degree oven, upside down on a cookie sheet, for 3 hours, but a good coat didn't develop, and everything sticks terribly.

Who's gotten a LC pan properly seasoned, and how?

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  1. Oh I think I know what happened. You put too much oil. So instead of simply carbonized the oil, the oil turns into gummy sticky substance, right? Kinda of like the sticky oil residue you found around the kichen ventilation fan, right? Don't worry. Just start over again (the greatness of cast iron pan is that you can always start over). This time put less oil. Seasoning is not additive. Applying a very thin layer of oil, season and repeating the process -- is not the same as putting a thick layer of oil and season once. You just have to do it one step at a time. By the way, If you can, try lard.

    I don't have LC, but I think my knowledge from bare cast iron applies. Best of luck.

    1. I honestly don't know why the LC store told you to season the skillet, KRS. I have a twelve-inch skillet. Unless they have a version that's different than mine, the currently sold skillets are NOT cast iron in the interior. They are enamel, but just roughened (or waffled) enamel. I thought it even said that right on the sticker that comes on the pan, but I don't have that anymore, so I'm sorry I can't check it for you.

      When I cook with mine, I do just as you say Burros wrote. Unless the *recipe* calls for more oil for a particular dish, all I do is apply a thin coat of oil before I start to cook, but I even wipe off the excess with a paper towel. So it's a truly thin coat of oil only when I cook with it, unless the recipe dictates more. I did not pre-season it, and I don't re-season it between uses. IOW, I treat it just as I treat my other LC enameled pots. Once it cools, if any fond, etc., is "stuck" on, I simply leave it to soak for a little while and then it generally wipes off easily enough with a soft dish cloth.

      You will see that the interior enamel will start to develop a brownish tint where you've had food cooking on it, with time. The owner's manual says not to remove that tinge, because it does increase the seasoning of the pan over time. Mine has been developing that, and I clean well down to it, making sure I get all the proteins off, but I don't scrub the color change off it. The skillet is great, IMO. Some people don't like the LC skillets, but I love mine. The only problem is that, because it's not the smooth enamel, and because it's dark graphite-like-color inside, some people seem to think it's not enamel and treat it like cast iron, instead. (Including the store personnel you spoke with, apparently). But it's not cast iron. It's enamel.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Normandie

        Can I see a picture of the skillet? I have a.. well I call it a frying pan. This one:
        And it doesn't need seasoning. In fact it's pretty non-stick without any oil.

        1. re: Soop

          Hi, Soop. There's the link to a pic of the one I have. (Though right now people should look around because, with the LC ongoing sale and the economy, I've seen better prices.) I agree; I'd call this one a "skillet" and the one you have a "frying pan". I've had the same experience as you. Pretty much non-stick without actually being a Teflon-type "non-stick coating" pan. And yet I get a good sear and good browning out of it, without turning my (gas) burners much up past medium low. (I heat it on low and wait for it to heat up, though.)

        2. re: Normandie

          I have the Le Creuset skillet and second Normandie's recommends. I usually don't wash it though just give it a good wipe with a paper towel. The only time I have sticking problems is when I get too anxious and throw the food in the pan before it is properly heated. I only use medium low as well.

        3. KRS, I you want to try cleaning it and starting over again, here's the language directly from the LC site: " For stubborn residues, nylon or soft abrasive pads or brushes can be used. Do not use metallic pads or harsh abrasive cleaning agents as these will damage the enamel. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Cleaner is recommended. "

          Have you tried putting it through the dishwasher to get rid of the grapeseed oil? Even if you have to do it a few times, I mean. Here's what LC says re d/w-ing: "It is natural for an oily, slightly brown to black film (called a Patina) to build up on the grill surface. Do not attempt to remove this as it improves the release of the foods from the cooking surface. The completely enameled surface of the grill allows it to be washed in the dishwasher but this will reduce the build up and efficiency of the Patina." Maybe that would help?

          Here's the page link to LC Care & Use:

          I'm posting this because if you look around the web, you'll find all kinds of solutions (no pun intended) from the general citizenry, which may or may not be useful or safe for the pan. I'd go to the source directly, instead. I'm sure there's a way you can get that gooey stuff off, since people like Soop and I get our gooey cooking off it easily, but you want to do it in a way that LC recommends.

          I do as LC says and use a sponge that has a gentle, non-metallic scrubber side when I need that. I don't know the brand of the scrubber sponge, but it's blue and it's a (U.S.) national brand, available in the supermarket.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Normandie

            Yeah, I simply use hot water and a sponge. Sometimes a little elbow grease is in order.

            And I never heat mine much above medium. It retains heat so well, that this is enough to sear steaks in a matter of minutes.

            1. re: Soop

              Has anyone cooked fish filets in the LC skillet, sole meuniere, that kind of thing?

              1. re: Jay F

                I've cooked salmon fillets. What would you like to know?

                1. re: Soop

                  Are you able to turn them easily halfway through?

                  1. re: Jay F

                    yep, no problem. I also oil the fish rather than the pan.

                    One thing I have found, is the pan is not as non-stick as when I first got it. I still haven't worked out if the discolouration is the patina they talked about, or something I need to agressively clean off.

                    but yes, it's non-stick enough, the only thing I remember sticking since I got it was bubble and squeak, and I think that's kind of supposed to.

                    1. re: Soop

                      I used to have a 12" skillet back in the day, when the only colors you could buy were Flame, Brown, and Yellow, and it was the most wonderful pan to make a frittata in. I don't think I did anything else with it.

                      I've always pan fried fish in SS, and didn't really pay that much attention to whether it broke up in the pan. Now I'm eating a lot of fish and I'd like to get it right, and I'm finding All Clad not especially wonderful other than for its weight. I read Mark Bittman's advice on fish (use nonstick), and frankly, I don't find it any easier to turn a piece of fish in nonstick than in well-oiled SS.

                      I'm finding I really like to roast fish. It's not as messy as pan frying, and I find my size 24 and 32 Le Creuset au gratins are perfect for the task. Sometimes I roast cut-up potatoes in the bigger pan 'til they're nearly done, then put the fish in for its few minutes.

                      And that's a good idea, putting the oil on the fish rather than in the pan. I'll try that next time, whichever way I cook it.

          2. I have a Le Creuset cast iron skillet that I have been using for almost 10 years. I did have to season mine and if I remember correctly, I put a bit of oil, spread it around using a paper towel and then put it on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Let it cool and wiped the inside again with a bit more oil. Repeat.

            When I actually needed it for cooking, I again added a little oil with a paper towel and did my cooking. In the beginning, I would get food sticking but I cleaned it off by soaking in hot water with just a drop or two of dishwashing soap, then used just a sturdy scrub sponge to get the burnt food off. I never scrubbed so hard or so long that I completely removed all the oil. When I finished cleaning the skillet, I would still see a sheen of oil on the cast iron.

            Over time, the skillet seems to have built up a coating of oil and now I don't have problems with food sticking. If anything sticks, it comes up with a few minutes in hot water and a quick swipe of the scrub sponge. I always dry it promptly, never let it sit around wet.

            4 Replies
            1. re: SeoulQueen

              Am I correct in thinking your skillet isn't enameled?

              1. re: Soop

                I was wondering that too because it sounds odd to season an enameled pan. However, does Le Creuset makes bare cast iron skillet?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I *believe* the grillits are unenamelled. But 10 years ago, who knows what they were doing.

                2. re: Soop

                  They're vintage pieces. I think they stopped the cast iron and started enamel coating them about 30 yrs ago? They look like the black enamel ones but it definitely rusts if you leave them wet/don't season them. Yep the grillits also have cast iron finish.

                  I found mine while living in Europe.

              2. I did the exact same thing with my 10" LC skillet when I got it a few years ago. I just kept using it and over time the patina developed while the stickiness disappeared. It was and still is working wonderfully, almost non-stick.
                Later I bought the 8" and didn't bother to season it, using it right away instead. It turns out it never developed a patina as smooth as the 10" version which is much more non-stick.

                Perhaps it's just a difference in the process (as they were bought some time apart), I vaguely remember thinking the surfaces were slightly different. Nonetheless if I were to buy another one, I would season it and live with the stickiness for a little while.