If you have recently invested in a cast iron pan, then you have made one of the best cooking decisions of your life.
Cast iron pans are fantastic for making a huge range of dishes. They also last an incredibly long time. This pan will likely be passed down through the generations. I love cast iron cookware.
Cast iron pans and cast iron skillets aren’t like normal frying pans. They require a specific kind of seasoning and the use of some specific oils.
If you want to make the most of your cast iron pan, then you need the best oil for cast iron.
So what is the best oil to season cast iron? There are several options. You are probably familiar with olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, and vegetable oil. But there are a surprisingly large number of oils available. These are the same oils used in your average salad dressing.
To help you find the best fit for your dishes, here are the 9 best cast iron seasoning oils. Read on for the best oils available, as well as some tips and ideas to help with the buying process.
Keen to get cooking and don’t have time to browse? No problem, here’s our top pick for the best cast iron seasoning oil.
OUR TOP PICK
Oil Type: Canola Oil
Our top pick for the best cast iron seasoning oil is this non-GMO canola oil from Healthy Harvest. Read on or scroll down for some extra information on what makes canola oil in general a great oil for seasoning.
But this canola oil is great for a few different reasons. Firstly, it is non-GMO. This doesn’t mean it’s organic but it does mean that it has been grown in an environment that is free from GMOs. This means that it has not been interfered with. You can be sure that this is 100% pure canola oil.
This canola oil has been grown without pesticides so is close to being organic. But it cannot quite be classed as such.
This oil is also really affordable. It comes in a one gallon bottle and, although it’s a lot of money to spend on oil at once, bulk-buying will save you money in the long run.
Canola is also one of the best oils for seasoning a cast iron pan due to its high smoke point. It also has a mild taste and antioxidant properties.
- 100% pure canola oil
- Large bottle
Oil Type: Refine coconut oil
Coconut oil is not the most commonly used oil for cast iron pans. Coconut oil has been used for centuries but has become incredibly popular in recent years.
It is a great way of incorporating healthy fats into your diet. Coconut oil is also often sold in a solid form. This can mean that it will solidify quicker.
It also means that there is no need for this oil to be baked in the oven. So you can easily apply and reapply the oil, without having to spend around 2 hours baking. This is a really great product and will save you so much time.
- Specifically intended for cast iron pans
- No baking required
- Risk of melting
Oil Type: Coconut oil
This is a really great set as it will put your mind at ease. It can be a bit daunting seasoning and cleaning your cast iron pot.
It’s easy to do something wrong and you don’t want to risk damaging it or doing something wrong.
This set comes with a seasoning oil made from coconut oil, a cleaning soap, and a restoring scrub.
All of these products are specially formulated for cast iron pans. So you can use them without worrying that your soap has an ingredient in it that could damage your pan.
For three products, this set is relatively affordable. If this were just the oil, then it would be incredibly expensive. But it’s a good deal for all three products.
They are great products too. These products are all reliable and are some of the most popular around.
As mentioned throughout this article, it is possible to use a range of products that you would be able to find at your local grocery store.
But, if you’re concerned that you might do something wrong. This is a great set that will mean you will definitely season your cast iron pan properly.
- Set of oil, soap, and restoring scrub
- Eliminates odors
- Cleans well
Oil Type: Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil is quite a popular option when it comes to seasoning cast iron pans. Flaxseed oil is a drying oil. This is why it is good for seasoning a cast iron pan and producing a smooth, nonstick finish.
This also means that it will last a long time and won’t go rancid. This means that when, eventually, your cast iron pan needs re-oiling, you will have some ready and left over in this bottle.
This oil is also specifically intended for seasoning cast iron cookware. It comes with instructions on how best to season a cast iron pan.
They also promise that this flaxseed oil will polymerize perfectly and never become sticky. This is an issue with some oils that have a low smoke point.
Read on or scroll down to our Buyers’ Guide for more information on the best oils. As well as why smoke points are important
- Flaxseed oil
- Instructions included
- Specifically intended for seasoning cast iron pans
- Relatively expensive
Oil Type: Coconut oil
This coconut oil is specifically intended to be used to season cast iron dishes. Using an oil that is specifically intended to be used for seasoning a cast iron pan and one that has a tendency to solidify is a good thing.
When it comes to coconut oil, there is usually a very strong smell of coconut. This oil promises that it is free of fragrance. This is great as it won’t interfere with you cooking.
Although coconut oil is great to use for cooking and frying in general.
It does have a very strong smell and taste. This can be a delicious addition to many meals. But, if you’re searing a steak, you likely don’t want it to taste and smell of coconut.
Coconut oil also often comes solidified. So, there is a chance that it may solidify in the bottle. But this can be reversed through gentle heating, even just in the microwave. This tendency to solidify might be a good thing for seasoning a cast iron pan, however.
- Fragrance free
- 100” natural
- Oil could potentially solidify in the bottle.
Oil Type: Flaxseed oil
This oil is specifically intended for seasoning cast iron with flaxseed oil. This might, however, be the reason for its high price. This oil doesn’t cost a lot of money but it is expensive in comparison to other oils.
Especially other flaxseed oils. As you can simply use standard flaxseed oil to season a cast iron dish, this will need to be an excellent oil to justify the price.
But that’s just what this oil claims to be! This is a drying oil that has been derived from the food-grade equivalent of flaxseed oil.
So this is, in fact, a step up from the standard flax seed oil you would find on any grocery store shelf.
It has been developed from the same seed oil that is used to create a tough layer over the work of painters and woodworkers. But, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe to use.
Even so, it promises that this oil will not transfer onto food. This is great as some oils will begin to disintegrate and become sticky at high temperatures. This can be annoying.
You don’t want to have to avoid cooking certain foods because you’re worried that your cookware won’t be able to handle it.
This product promises to create a smooth, shiny, hard, and durable layer over your cast iron dishes. The fact that this is a drying oil maximizes the hardness of the polymerized layer.
- 100% natural
- Specifically for cast iron
- Restores rusted cookware
Oil Type: Canola Oil
Sometimes the simplest options can be the best. This Amazon brand canola oil can do just as good a job as any other option on this list.
When it comes to seasoning a cast iron pan, the way you apply the oil is just as important as the oil itself.
As mentioned in our Buyers’ Guide below, canola oil is one of the best options for seasoning a cast iron pan. This is because it has a high smoke point.
But, unfortunately, good quality canola oil is quite difficult to find. The oil you see on the average grocery store shelf isn’t likely to do the job properly. This canola oil will.
This is a large bottle but comes at a very affordable price. This is ideal as you don’t need more than a few tablespoons to season your cast iron pan. So you don’t want to spend lots of money on a small bottle.
This is a very cost effective option as you will be able to use a small amount to season the pan. Then you can use the rest for general cooking.
This is one of the advantages of using standard oil rather than oil that has been specifically developed for seasoning cast iron.
- 0g trans fats
- Plastic bottle
Oil Type: Sunflower Oil
If you like to bulk buy and don’t want to mess around with a small bottle of purpose-made cast iron oil, then this is ideal for you.
This half-gallon bottle of oil will last you a very long time. You will be able to use some to season your cast iron pan and then keep on using it for months afterward.
You do need to re-season your cast iron pan, which is one of the reasons why some oils are specifically for seasoning. But something like this sunflower oil can be used to season a cast iron pan.
Then, as it’s used for cooking, it will re-season the pan naturally. So this is a great money and time-saving option.
That said, this is an expensive product. It’s not surprising that half a gallon of sunflower oil will cost quite a lot. But it is a little more expensive than would be expected.
One of the reasons for buying in bulk is that it usually works out cheaper than buying smaller amounts more regularly. But it isn’t much of a difference.
One of the reasons for this price could be that the oil is organic. This is, of course, a good thing.
It means that the sunflowers have been grown in an organic environment. The oil has also been naturally refined. So no chemicals have been added.
- Large bottle
- Can be used for cooking, no just seasoning
- Naturally refined
Oil Type: Sunflower Oil
This sunflower oil is a great choice if you’re conscious about the impact products have on both your body and the environment.
This oil is made from organic sunflower seeds by a company committed to sustainability. We’re all trying to lower our environmental impact but it can be difficult to know the exact practices of companies.
So it’s useful to know that the company, La Tournagelle, is committed to sustainability.
This sunflower oil is a little more expensive than you would generally expect for sunflower oil. This is likely due to a few reasons. One is, as mentioned above, the oil is organic and sustainably made.
Organic food products are often more expensive. Sustainability can often result in higher costs as the production process is slower and corners aren’t cut.
Another potential reason is also related to the production process. This sunflower oil has been made using traditional French practices that were first developed 150 years ago. This is artisan sunflower oil and is of very high quality.
If you are a home-cook who enjoys the processes that go only with cooking, such as seasoning a cast iron pan, then an artisan oil is worth the investment. This oil has been crafted and is delicious.
This is, of course, not an essential feature of seasoning oil but the container for this oil is beautiful. It is made from metal (which is better for the environment than plastic) and has a vintage design.
It will look lovely sat on display next to your stovetop. This isn’t a can that should be hidden away. The design is charming and just a nice touch.
- Available in multiple sizes
- High quality
- Sustainable company
- Can be used at a high heat
9 Best Cast Iron Seasoning Oils Buying Guide
If you’re new to using a cast iron dish, then you’re probably a little intimidated. But that’s okay, we’re here to help!
We’ve put together this buyers’ guide to help you through the process. It has all you need to know about seasoning a cast iron dish.
So read on for how to season your dish, how different oils compare to each other, and a few other tips and tricks on seasoning cast iron.
Cast Iron Pan Oil vs Other Oils
The mixture of oils included on this list might come as a bit of a surprise. The vast majority of people would reach for a specific kind of oil. That’s mostly because people don’t generally know about the specific kinds of cast iron oils.
There is no harm in using cast iron pan oil or a specific oil from your grocery store shelves. Both will do the job. In fact, there might be little difference between a cast iron pan oil that uses flaxseeds and standard flaxseed oil.
Canola oil is one of the most popular options when it comes to seasoning a cast iron pan.
Although there are several products that are specifically intended for seasoning a cast iron pan. Standard pure canola oil is actually our top pick.
Canola oil is great for a number of reasons. But first, it’s important that you use the right kind of canola oil. Something like Crisco is not the right kind. Make sure to find good quality canola oil.
Coconut oil might be a surprising option to have been included on this list. Although it has become incredibly popular in recent years, people have been using coconut oil for a very long time.
Coconut oil can, of course, be used for cooking. But it can also be used in baking, you can use it on your hair, and you can use it to take off makeup or as part of your skincare routine.
Coconut oil is a great source of healthy fats. And it’s also a great oil to use to season your cast iron pan.
Coconut oil is a great option if you usually like to cook with coconut oil. Some argue that you should season your pan after every use. But, technically, you are doing that whenever you cook.
Although you might not be seasoning it as you did originally (read on or scroll down for our guide to properly seasoning your cast iron pan).
Whenever you cook with your cast iron pan, you’re heating up the oil. Even if you wash it after you have used it, you will have heated oil in the pan. At least some of this oil will have polymerized onto the pan.
So, if you usually cook with coconut oil. Then seasoning your cast iron pan with coconut oil is definitely a good idea.
Sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils when it comes to cooking. It would be second only to olive oil and may even be more popular.
Although people often avoid oils in order to be healthier, oil isn’t necessarily bad for you. In fact, sunflower oil is a very nutrient-dense product.
Sunflower oil also has lots of health benefits. Sunflower oil contains phytochemicals. These are chemicals that can, according to some studies, be good for your heart.
It is also good for your heart because sunflower oil is naturally free from trans fats. Instead, sunflower oil has unsaturated fats which are great for giving you energy.
Another heart-related benefit is that sunflower oil has been shown to lower cholesterol. It can lower the build-up of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Sunflower oil is great for cooking as it can aid digestion. Sunflower oil is a very light oil so can be easily absorbed by the body. This means that, if food is cooked in sunflower oil, it might make it more easily digestible.
Sunflower oil can also strengthen your immune system and help repair damage to your body. It can strengthen your immune system as it contains antioxidant properties so it can help your body fight infection.
It helps to repair damage to the body due to its high protein content. This can help with rebuilding and repairing damage to tissues and enzymes.
Although olive oil is a brilliant ingredient, it is definitely not a good oil for seasoning a cast iron pan. Seasoning cast iron with olive oil is not a good idea.
Olive oil is sometimes recommended but you won’t find any olive oil on this list. It is a bad option as it has a very low smoke point. The smoke point of olive oil is around 325°F and 375°F.
This means that olive oil burns easier than other oils, such as the more commonly used flaxseed oil.
So, if you season your pan with olive oil, it will begin to degrade once it rises above its smoke point. This means that the oil will begin to wear off and become sticky at high temperatures. The polymerization will begin to reverse.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use olive oil to cook food in a cast iron pan. This is absolutely fine. This is probably a relief to the numerous people who know the huge number of benefits of cooking with olive oil.
The Purpose of Seasoning Oils
Seasoning a cast iron pan is a bit of a misnomer. When most people hear “seasoning”, they think of herbs and spices. But seasoning a cast iron pan involves oil only.
Whether this is a specifically designed cast iron pan oil or something from the grocery store. So don’t get confused and add anything else, you don’t need to sprinkle in any parsley and paprika (at least not yet).
Seasoning oils are 100% necessary for cast iron pans. They can be used without oil. But they will not cook well, the food will stick, and they will be subject to rust and other damage.
When the oil is baked in the oven, it solidifies (or polymerizes). This means that, if you bake the oil 3 times, there will be 3 layers of solidified oil baked into your pan.
This will provide a nonstick coating and will protect the pan against damage. The process is a bit arduous but it is 100% necessary and 100% worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times should I season my cast iron skillet?
Cast iron pans are different from any other kind of frying pan. They require specific seasoning. They can’t just be heated up, slathered in oil, and then washed up like other pans.
Cast iron pans need to be seasoned 3-4 times. Here's the best way to season cast iron:
1. Wash and dry your pan. As a general rule, whenever you buy something new for your kitchen, you should clean it. In fact, this should be a rule for everything in your home. But if you’re going to be eating something that has been on the pan, it needs to be cleaned first. Washing the pan provides a blank slate for you to season.
Wash the pan with warm, soapy water. Then dry it completely. If you’re not convinced that it is completely dry, leave it on the countertop. Or you can even leave it on the stovetop for a minute or so to make sure.
2. Rub and buff with oil. This is the first layer. Pour some oil onto a cloth or paper towel. Then rub it across the surface of the pan, including the handle.
Once the oil has covered the pan, keep going. You need to really rub in the oil. It is finished when it looks as though there is nothing on it. It should not be at all greasy.
3. Heat the pan in the oven for around half an hour. This should be at around 450°F. This will solidify the oil and provide the first layer of coating. Some argue that the pan should be baked for up to an hour and upside down. The choice is yours and depends on your oven.
4. Repeat! Do this another 3 or 4 times. Make sure to rub in the oil and buff it again. Then bake again for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, let it cool and you’re ready to cook!
What temperature to season cast iron?
It’s best to season your cast iron pan at around 450°F. This heat will essentially bake the seasoning oil until it has become a solid, almost plastic-like, texture.
This will make it almost completely nonstick and provide a great base for cooking.
Should I wash my cast iron pan?
The choice is yours. Some believe that you should absolutely never wash a cast iron pan, especially not with dish soap. But this isn’t necessarily true. Every time you cook with your cast iron frying pan, you’re adding another layer or thin coat.
The layers of oil that you have baked into the cast iron pan haven’t been absorbed. When they react to the heat, they polymerize and become a substance that is almost plastic-like. This will be resistant to water and even soap.
That said, you shouldn’t soak a cast iron pan and you shouldn’t scrub it too hard. Just with any other pan, you should clean it carefully and gently.
But, in general, it is safe to wash. If you are still concerned, some of the oils included on this list also come with soaps specifically designed for cast iron pans. Using these isn’t necessary but they might put your mind at ease. Avoid oven cleaner and steel wool.
Are cast iron pans non-stick?
Not before you season them. You should always season your cast iron pan before using it.
Otherwise, it won’t work how it is supposed to. Once the pan has been properly seasoned, the surface will become smooth and nonstick. The seasoning process is a necessary step in curing cast iron. Take your pick for the best oil to season griddle pans.