If you love to cook, you’ll appreciate the superior results provided by a cast iron grill pan. Cast iron is one of the oldest cooking materials still in use today. It is versatile, has significant technical advantages, and is easy to maintain when you know the right steps to follow.
Whether you use a cast iron grill pan on your outdoor grill or in your kitchen, you need to know how to take care of it. Take the time to learn about cleaning and seasoning, and get the most out of a pan whether you use it indoors, outdoors, or even at a campsite.
With our tips, you can maintain a cast iron pan for a lifetime.
What are the Advantages of Cooking with Cast Iron?
Cast iron was once common in kitchens around the world. Today, it has fallen to the wayside with materials like aluminum, stainless steel, and high carbon steel becoming more popular.
However, there’s a resurgence now occurring, and many cooking enthusiasts insist on cast iron grill pans.
When looking at the benefits, it’s not hard to see why.
Cast iron is naturally nonstick. When the metal is seasoned regularly, it will offer a slick cooking surface that is perfect for meat, vegetables, and even difficult ingredients like eggs, tofu, and sticky sauces.
A nonstick surface makes cooking a breeze, and it also means you’ll use less oil, reducing the calories in your favorite recipes.
Cookware made from cast iron is also relatively inexpensive when considering how long it lasts. You can maintain a cast iron grill pan throughout your lifetime, and even hand it down through the generations.
You can’t say this about other cookware, especially when considering modern nonstick surfaces that are applied over aluminum or stainless steel.
Cast iron is technically superior to most other materials because it provides better heat distribution and heat retention. A cast iron pan will disperse heat evenly so that all of your food is cooked thoroughly and consistently.
Its heat retention capabilities are ideal for cooking at low temperatures or cooking with residual heat after turning off the gas.
One little-known benefit of cast iron is its ability to leach small amounts of dietary iron into your food. This can help to reduce iron deficiencies in some people, especially when cooking foods with high acidity.
Studies have shown that cooking in cast iron pots and pans correlates with lower rates of iron deficiency when compared to people who use aluminum or steel cookware.
With so many advantages, even beyond cooking, it’s no surprise that cast iron is making a comeback. The only real downside to the material is its need for special cleaning and seasoning methods. However, with our tips, you’ll find that it only takes a little time to keep a cast iron grill pan in great condition.
Cleaning a Cast Iron Grill Pan
You can’t put a cast iron grill pan in a dishwasher or clean it like you would your other cookware. Follow these steps to keep your pan looking and performing its best.
The boiling method is the easiest way to clean a cast iron pan:
- Put your pan on your stove or grill top and turn on the heat.
- Fill the pan halfway with clean water, and allow it to boil.
- As it boils, food residue should dislodge and rise to the top.
- Any stubborn particles can be scraped away with a spatula.
- Let the dirty water cool before discarding it, and rinse off the pan with clean warm water.
For a heavily soiled grill pan, you can use the salt cleaning method:
- Let the pan cool after cooking until it is warm to the touch.
- Pour a liberal amount of kosher salt (rock salt) over the cooking surface.
- Add a little hot water to the surface to form a paste.
- Using a sponge or nylon brush, scrub the salt in the pan. It will act as an abrasive to dislodge any cooking residue. You can also use this method on an old pan that has rusted.
- Rinse off the pan using clean hot (but not boiling) water, and repeat the process if necessary.
You can also use steel wool with salt if you are having trouble removing rust and debris. A metal grill brush can also be used to make the job easier.
While you can use non-abrasive dish soap to clean a cast iron grill pan, this could leave unwanted flavors and residues on the surface. If you use soap, be sure to follow up with the boiling method and then rinse the pan thoroughly.
These steps will leave you with a clean grill pan, but you’ll need to season it to prevent rust and restore its nonstick properties. You can move onto the next step to get your pan ready for cooking or storage.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Grill Pan to Preserve it Forever
Keeping a cast iron grill pan clean is easy. It’s the seasoning that will ensure you can use the pan for a lifetime. Seasoning lubricates the cooking surface while penetrating porous parts of the iron to prevent rust. You can season in an oven if your pan fits. Or, you can do it on your stovetop or right on top of your grill.
After cleaning your pan, put it in your oven set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or directly on your stovetop or grill with high heat. Leave the pan for a few minutes to evaporate any water left from the cleaning process. When the pan is dry, move on to the following steps. Remember to use cooking mitts or a thick kitchen towel when handling a hot pan.
- Using a high smoke point oil (vegetable oil work best) coat your pan thoroughly using paper towels. The entire surface, handle, and bottom should be covered.
- Any excess oil dripping from or pooling in the pan can be dabbed away with a fresh paper towel.
- Put the pan back in the oven and bake it for up to one hour to season it.
- If you’re using a stovetop or grill, heat the pan for an hour or until it stops producing smoke.
- Your pan should now be darkened and fully seasoned. It will be slightly greasy to the touch.
- If the pan still appears dry, oil it again and season it one more time.
You’re now ready to cook or put your pan away for storage. It will be naturally nonstick and protected from rust.
Make the Most of Your Cooking Equipment
Your cast iron grill pan will naturally season itself when cooking with oil or frying fatty meat. You should use the seasoning steps at least every three months, every time after cleaning, or any time that your pan appears to dry out and lose its nonstick surface.
With a little care and maintenance, you can enjoy using your cast iron grill pan for a lifetime.
Whether you’re frying eggs and vegetables, steak, or any of your other favorite ingredients, a cast iron pan will perform better than any modern nonstick option. you’ll enjoy healthy and flavorful cast iron cooking for a lifetime.