Top Cheffan favorite Isaac Toups shares tips for seasoning cast-iron pans

EC: Top Chef Isaac Toups' Quick and Dirty Tips for Cleaning a Cast-Iron Pan

Nothing lasts forever, but if you learn the right way to season a new cast-iron pan, it can come awfully close. Toups’ Meatery chef/owner and Top Chef season 13 fan favorite Isaac Toups calls a cast-iron skillet "pretty much the most universal item out there," and it's got approximately fifteen billion breakfast applications alone, including egg-scrambling, frittata-baking, bacon-crisping, and plenty more.

Many cast-iron pans come pre-seasoned, meaning that they've been heated and rubbed with oil to ensure a nonstick cooking surface (Toups prefers grapeseed oil because it has a high smoke point, but Crisco, canola oil, and lard work well, too) but not all of them do. In any case, it's still a good idea to re-season the pan from time to time. Some cooks season after every use, but the earth won't crash into the sun if you don't. At the bare minimum, make sure the skillet is clean and dry to prevent rusting and for the love of all that is holy, don't let it sit and soak in the sink.

If you can possibly take the whole operation outdoors, that's great, but definitely crack a window or turn your range's vent hood on full force to offset any fumes generated by the process. Toups used a burner to demonstrate his method, but you can crank your oven up to 350°F and let the skillet bake for an hour.

What you need to season new cast iron:

  • Paper towels
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Heat source

Watch the video above to see how Toups works his skillet-saving magic, then learn how to clean stuck-on food and rust from a cast-iron pan..