Choosing the best oil for seasoning a carbon steel pan can be confusing. It was for me. Flaxseed oil was the one that most people use, but I wanted to know why. I heard that Crisco was the one. I heard that Grapeseed Oil was the only one to use. I heard this and that until I was bewildered as to which one to use for seasoning carbon steel cookware.
With all the confusion, I decided to do some research to find out which one worked the best for my type of seasoning. By the way, the same procedure that you use for initial seasoning of a carbon steel pan is the same one that can be used for re-seasoning your pans or skillets.
So, what is the best oil for seasoning a carbon steel pan?
Here is the short answer:
- Flaxseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
I will go over each of these oils so that you can make an informed decision as to which one is the best to use for your method of seasoning or re-seasoning. Please understand that I am not an expert on seasoning oils. I am a user of carbon steel cookware just like you. I have had many of the same questions when I started to use carbon steel cookware.
Before we get too deep into the topic of which oil to use for seasoning carbon steel cookware, we have to determine:
- Which method of seasoning should I use?
- Where will seasoning our cookware take place?
- What type of carbon steel cookware will we be seasoning?
- What kind of handles does the carbon steel cookware have?
- How much time will it take for the seasoning process?
- What kind of heat source should I use to season my cookware?
Which Method of Seasoning Should I Use?
There are 3 basic methods of seasoning. Depending on which method you use to season your cookware will depend on which oil to use.
What are the 3 methods of seasoning your carbon steel cookware?:
- In the oven method
- The flaxseed method
- The salt, potato skin, and oil method
In The Oven Method
This method is used in your oven. You lightly coat your pan, skillet, wok, or other carbon steel cookware with an oil that has a high smoke point. Make sure to remove the factory oil from your new pan by washing it. Preheat your pan on top of your stove and let it dry. Lightly coat the pan inside and out with oil and a paper towel. Even though flaxseed oil has a smoke point of only 225 degrees F, it is important to know that when you use flaxseed oil in the oven it is only in the inside of the oven for 20 minutes. This is hardly enough to go beyond the smoke point.
Oils such as these can be used (check Amazon for availability):
- Peanut oil (smoke point of 450 degrees F),
- Avocado oil (smoke point of 570 degrees F),
- Refined Coconut oil (smoke point of 450 degrees F)
- Crisco (smoke point of 490 degrees F)
- Canola oil (smoke point of 400 degrees F)
- Sunflower oil (smoke point of 460 degrees F)
- Flaxseed oil (smoke point of 225 degrees F)
Note that this list is not exhaustive as there are many oils that can be used. Just make sure they have a high smoke point. The smoke point is that point whereby the heated pan begins to smoke.
- Wash the factory preservative oil off of all the surfaces of the cookware to be seasoned
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F
- Place a sheet pan with aluminum on the bottom rack to catch any oil that drips
- Make sure you remove the wooden handles or grips, if present, or cover them with a wet towel so they don’t burn
- Place the oiled pan on the top rack
- Keep the oven at that 450-degree temperature for 20 minutes
- Leave the cookware in the oven to cool down
- Repeat this process for 3-6 times for best results
- Your pan will turn a nice brown color during this seasoning process
Make sure you DO NOT put cookware in the oven if they have wooden handles or grips. Many woks have wooden handles and sometimes, depending on the wok, the handle can be removed. I did this once, not thinking, and my beautiful wooden handles looked like an overdone steak, black.
The Flaxseed Method
The flaxseed method of seasoning a carbon steel pan, skillet or crepe pan can be used in the oven or on top of the oven.
- Make sure that you wash the factory preservative oil off of all the surfaces of the cookware to be seasoned
- Apply a thin coat of flaxseed oil with a paper towel
- Heat the pan, skillet, or crepe pan to a temperature whereby the oil starts to smoke.
- Once the cookware starts to smoke turn the heat off
- Let the pan cool
- Repeat the process for an additional 9-10 times. Remember to apply only very thin coats of flaxseed oil
- This should create a very hard surface. Your carbon steel cookware will turn almost black as the seasoning advances
This process is basically the same for a wok but I prefer seasoning it in the oven and not on it. See the “Oven Method” above.
A special note about this method of seasoning or re-seasoning carbon steel cookware. I, personally, am not a great fan of this method because I tried it twice. Both times it did not turn out the way I expected.
First, after I put 11 thin coats of flaxseed oil on, the pan did not turn out to be Non-Stick. Eggs stuck to the bottom of the pan as if the seasoning never ever started. Secondly, the black seasoning came off and stuck to the food.
Many other people have had the same results. I had to strip all the seasoning off and restart the entire process of seasoning over. This time I used the method below…salt, potato skins, and oil. I highly recommend this method of seasoning carbon steel cookware other than woks.
For my favorite wok I will season it in the oven as described above. There are only 1-3 coats of oil applied and it only takes 20 minutes each time. There is no seasoning to come off and the wok does maintain its non-stick properties.
The Salt, Potato Skin, and Oil Method
Watch these videos I made on how to use this method of seasoning or re-seasoning your carbon steel cookware. This my favorite method of seasoning of all time. It just works!
Can I Use Olive Oil When Cooking With Carbon Steel? Yes, you can use olive oil with carbon steel cookware if you do not need to use extremely high temperatures like used in wok cooking. Here are some of the smoke points of olive oil: