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How to Season Carbon Steel Pan

When you season your steel cooking pans, you are making a protective coating over the surface of the pan. You do this by burning hot oil into the pan, and I’ll show you how to season carbon steel pan for proper cooking.

Once you know how to season a carbon steel pan, you will create a layer of coating that is dry to the touch. Seasoning the pan doesn’t mean adding flavour to it. It also doesn’t mean that you’re making the food taste better or affecting the flavour in any way.

Why Should You Season Your Carbon Steel Pan?

The best reason I can give you why you should put a protective layer on your carbon steel pan and learn how to season carbon steel frying pan is to ensure that your pan doesn’t rust. You are helping the pan to last longer and to work better.

No one wants rust particles in their food, as that affects the flavour and quality of the food. It’s simply not safe to cook with a recipe pan. So, seasoning your carbon steel pan is a great way to ensure it lasts for a long time and stays useful and safe for you.  

Experienced chefs know that their carbon pan should be seasoned properly before use. They understand that they have to do the seasoning themselves and not rely on someone else to make sure it gets done. Not every carbon steel pan you buy is properly prepared and ready to use. You may have to do some tweaking in the form of seasoning the pan to make it kitchen ready.

How Seasoning the Pan Works

Once you know how to season a carbon steel frying pan, that works better for you. How does it can get seasoned and how does oil turn into something that’s solid and not something that is wet and greasy?

This happens through heating the oil at a high temperature. When you heat the oil up enough in a steel carbon frying pan, it turns from a liquid to a very thin solid, dry layer. It becomes what is basically a plastic-like polymer. That layer does a great job of protecting your pan.

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It also gives your pan a nonstick coating that is better and safer than Teflon. Teflon is known to seep into food as it cooks in pizza but that will not happen when you season your carbon steel frying pan. Once you know how to season a carbon steel frying pan, you will boost its performance, allowing it to work better and to be easier to cook with.

How to Season Carbon Steel Fry Pan

Some pans come already seasoned, like cast iron pans. These are actually an iron gray underneath their coating. Once they become properly seasoned, they are covered with a dark layer that gives them their distinctive black look.

You can do that to carbon steel pans, and the first step for how to season or how to re-season carbon steel pan is to remove any protective coating it already has on it. This coating that already exists is not the same as what you’re going to put on it. That coating helps prevent rust and wear, but it’s not as good as the proper seasoning coating we’re going to put on it.

There are different methods for removing the pre-existing coating on the pan. The method will vary based on what coating was used. Each manufacturer has their own process for adding a protective coating, and you have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove the coating for that specific pan.

Once the initial coating is off, you need to dry the pan thoroughly. You can use paper towels or a dry kitchen towel to do this.

Part of the drying process needs to include heating the pan on the stove. This makes the remaining moisture evaporate quickly and simply. You can move from this step directly to the next step where you have to heat the pan to season it. You want to use a high heat for this step to ensure that the oil turns into a dry, solid layer.

You also need to use the right kind of oil. Grapeseed oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil will all work fine. Do not use a buttery oil like lard or actual butter. Make sure you do this step very quickly and do not use a lot of oil. You only need to create a thin layer of oil. To apply the oil, use a dry towel that you can rub into the pan.

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While the pan is still heating, rub the oil inside and out, all over the pan. Be sure to cover the pan completely and don’t miss any spots. Rub vigorously, but you don’t need a lot of oil apply to the pan. Just a thin layer will work.

How do you know if you use too much oil? If there’s any question that you might have overdone it with the oil, then chances are that you did. This method I’m giving you is the same method for how to season De Buyer carbon steel pan and most steel pans.

Once you have applied the oil, you need to buff it out. You can use the dry part of the towel or another towel to do that. You want to ensure you buff out all the oil. Don’t worry if it looks like there’s no oil left on the pan. It’s still there; it’s just formed into a solid layer.

At this point, your pan should be oiled and buffed completely. You next need to burn the oil into the pan, creating a solid, semi-permanent layer. You can do this on the stove or in the oven. How to season carbon steel pan in oven?

Just heat it up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind however that not all carbon steel pans can handle this level of heat. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you put your pan in the oven at temperature. You could damage it.

If you’re burning the oil into it on the stove, just heat up your stove to the highest possible temperature. As you heat up the pan, it will start to smoke, so make sure there’s plenty of ventilation around.

If you have done it properly, the coating you added should turn the pan a shade of brown. It will take a few minutes to burn the oil into the pan on the stove and about 30 minutes of cooking the pan in the oven to seal the oil in and create a protective layer.

You will probably need to apply the coating a few times going through the same steps I’ve given you up above. What you’re trying to do is create a solid layer all over the pan that makes the pan look a dark shade of brown. It should be light brown at first, but after a few applications, your pan should turn dark brown. At that point, the protective coating should be all over the pan and should be doing its job.

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Written by Pauline

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

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