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Seasoning Carbon Steel cookware

I hope I'm not repeating a previous question but I can't find it on the Q & A list.

What is your preferred method for seasoning carbon steel cookware? I have encountered several different recommendations, from boiling potato peels in oil or water, to heating the pan with oil on the stove on high till lots of smoke is produced, to baking with oil for an hour-plus oven method at 350F, to a 20-minute stir fry with sliced onions, ginger, or scallions. This last method was recommended for the Kimball Wok which I just seasoned and it worked well. Is this what Milk Street recommends for all my new carbon steel pans and skillets? Same with cast iron? I generally use flax seed oil, by the way.


  • Hi Emily - if you go to the link to this discussion:

    you can find Chris's favorite method for seasoning carbon steel pans. Good luck! Best, Lynn C.

  • Hi! I tried Chris's favorite stove-top method from the link above and it works! A lot faster than the oven-method and better than any method I'd previously tried with my too-lavish coatings of flaxseed oil that left sticky little beads of oil fused permanently to my pan. Grapeseed oil just seems to perform more efficiently than flaxseed oil, but the real secret I learned is wiping the layer of grapeseed oil off very thoroughly—almost buffing it—each time you apply it over the whole surface of the hot pan. I liked applying the oil to an absorbent cloth better than using a wad of paper towels—cloth seems to wipe off the oil more effectively. It's amazing how that very thin, almost invisible layer of oil causes the hot pan to smoke, indicating that the carbon steel surface is undergoing polymerization and creating that nice dark slick surface. Thus you don't need a huge amount of oil—just a teaspoon or less applied to the cloth's surface. Using too much oil and not wiping it off thoroughly causes the the oil to bead up and leave a sticky residue. I kept my range-fan on and opened the window for the smoke, repeating the process about six times of first applying the thin layer of oil, waiting for it start smoking and then dissipating, letting the pan cool slightly and then oiling (and buffing) it again till it turned nice and dark. Once the pan gets really hot the process goes quickly, and you can slide the pan around on the burner to blacken a specific spot if you need to. So thanks for the link, Lynn and Chris!

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