Throughout the history of cast iron cookware, a question has plagued chefs and home cooks all over the world: what’s the best oil to use for seasoning?
Now, every chef, cook and dinner lady has their preferred way of seasoning a cast iron skillet, but what is the right way?
Well, it turns out seasoning a skillet isn’t that easy. In fact, as we learnt while researching this cookware conundrum, no one seems to agree at all.
Can we finally put to bed what the best oil to use to season a cast iron skillet is today? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
The Best Oil to Season a Cast Iron Skillet With: Grapeseed Oil
Many chefs have their preferred oil to use when seasoning a cast iron skillet. However, the oil that comes up most is grapeseed oil.
Most people who know a thing or two about seasoning praised this oil. Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point, needed in the seasoning process. It’s also low in saturated fat.
Combine these properties, and you get an oil that offers a slick, yet durable seasoning for cast iron skillets.
Grapeseed oil is also a great choice because it has a very neutral odour. Plus, you can purchase grapeseed oil just about anywhere, and it’s pretty inexpensive too. So, the professionals use grapeseed oil because of the high smoke point, its neutral odour and its low saturated fat content. But what is the next best choice for seasoning a cast iron skillet?
The Next Best Choice: Soybean Oil
Soybean oil may sound extremely fancy, but it isn’t at all. Most vegetable oil on the market is soybean oil. Crisp N Dry, for example, is made from the soybean.
We have found many manufacturers of cast iron cookware that use soy-based vegetable oil to season their cookware before it is sent to their customers.
If it works for the creators of the cast iron skillet, there is no reason it won’t work for you.
While most manufacturers of cast iron skillets, season their pans in a large oven with this oil, you can achieve the same seasoning as they do on your hob. Still, you can also season a skillet in your oven if you prefer.
Other Good Options: Animal Fats and Butter
If your local health food shop is out of grapeseed oil, you can use animal fats or butter to season your cast iron skillet.
These are the classics when it comes to seasoning cast iron and have been used for hundreds of years.
The advantages to animal fat and butter are that both are widely available, you likely have some at home already. Plus, you can build up layers of seasoning as you cook, rather than using oil you wouldn’t normally cook with.
The downside to animal fats and butter is that the seasoning won’t look the best. You’ll likely have some streaks in your seasoning. Still, once you’ve seasoned your pan with butter or animal fat for long enough, the whole pan will turn black.
Another Good Option: Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil may seem like an odd choice, and it certainly isn’t everyone’s go-to for seasoning. Still, many cast iron pros love to use flaxseed oil.
It has a low smoke point, but it’s one of the very few food-safe oils that naturally dries out. The drying properties of flaxseed oil does aid with the seasoning process.
The downsides of using flaxseed oil are that it is harder to get than other oils. Flaxseed oil is most commonly found in health shops and pharmacies and has a hefty price tag compared to other oils.
Also, flaxseed oil can be finicky to season with, and it really doesn’t smell that pleasant either. So, if this is your first time seasoning a cast iron skillet, flaxseed oil probably isn’t the best oil to use.
Olive Oil Is a Bad Choice!
When conducting research for this cast iron skillet article, we travelled the web looking for recommendations about which oils are great for seasoning.
In most cases, chefs, seasoning professionals and home cooks say to steer clear of olive oil. Olive oil has a low smoke point. The smoke point of an oil, by the way, is the temperature where the oil begins to adhere to the pan. If the oil you pick has a low smoke point, each time you cook with your skillet, you run the risk of degrading the seasoning.
So, there you have it, those are the oils that are best for seasoning a cast iron skillet and the ones to avoid. Grapeseed oil is generally considered the best oil for seasoning a cast iron skilled.
Now you know which oil to use, you may be wondering how to actually season your skillet.
Well, no worries, there’s a section on that in our article Best Cast Iron Skillets. Check out that article, and you’ll also see the best cast iron skillets in the UK right now.
We also have loads of other cookware articles here that are perfect if you’re just getting started in the kitchen or you’re a passionate home chef! Happy cooking!
Scott is a writer and a passionate home chef. His passion for cooking began when he was 10 years old. Scott has been writing professionally for over five years now and loves to combine his passion for cooking with his day job.