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Non-Stick Cast Iron Cooking

As a seasoned outdoor practitioner and backcountry cook, I've learned a thing or two about cooking with cast iron. One of the most important things is, is that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment or ingredients to cook delicious, non-stick meals in cast iron.

My secret weapon for cooking with cast iron without food sticking: Heat and fat.

That's it. That's the whole secret.

Before you add any food to your cast iron pan, make sure it's preheated and well-greased. I like to use a little bit of butter or oil, but you can use whatever fat you prefer.

Once the pan is hot and greasy, add your food, and don't touch it! Let it cook for a few minutes before flipping it or stirring it. This will give it a chance to develop a nice crust and release from the pan.

If you follow this simple tip, you'll be able to cook anything in your cast iron pan without food sticking. From eggs and pancakes to chicken and steak, cast iron is the perfect cookware for any meal.

scrambled eggs cooked in cast iron on propane stove outdoors with wooden spoon

Here are a few additional tips for cooking with cast iron:

  • Don't overcrowd the pan. Give your food plenty of room to cook evenly.

  • Don't use high heat. Cast iron retains heat well, so you can cook at lower temperatures than you would with other types of cookware.

  • Clean and season your pan regularly. After each use, wipe out the pan with a paper towel or rinse it with hot water. You can also use a mild dish soap if needed, but I try not to! (I'll share more on this later in the article...)

My protocol when cleaning cast iron is as follows:

  1. After cooking, wipe out any loose debris while the pan is still hot.

  2. Add a few cups of water to the pan and place it back on the heat. Bring the water to a boil, then wipe the pan clean with a paper towel or dishcloth. I find this helps loosen and remove any stubborn food particles.

  3. While the pan is still hot but dry, remove it from the heat and apply a thin coat of fat or oil with a paper towel or napkin. I like to use lard or a neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

  4. Let the pan cool completely, then wipe it with a dry towel before storing it.

Be sure to dry the pan thoroughly before storing it- this will help keep curious hungry critters at bay.

bacon and scrambled eggs being cooked on cast iron with 2 coffee pots on the propane stove cooked outdoors

Seasoning Your Cast Iron Pan

Seasoning your cast iron is a bit of work at first, but it's worth it in the end. A well-seasoned pan will last for generations and give you years of delicious, non-stick cooking.

To season your pan with lard or vegetable oil, simply follow these steps:

  1. Give your pan a good scrub with clean hot water. Then, dry it thoroughly.

  2. Rub a thin coat of lard or vegetable oil all over the pan, inside and out. Don't be afraid to get into all the nooks and crannies.

  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).

  4. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

  5. Let the pan cool completely before using it. Wipe dry to store.

Your pan is now seasoned and ready to cook.

Here are a few tips for seasoning your cast iron pan:

  • Use a neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil. These oils have a high smoke point and won't burn easily.

  • Apply a thin coat of oil. You don't want to overdo it, or the pan will become sticky.

  • Preheat the oven before placing the pan inside. This will help to create a more durable seasoning.

  • Let the pan cool completely before using it. This will help the seasoning to bond to the pan.

With proper care and seasoning, your cast iron pan will become your go-to piece of cookware. It's versatile, durable, and can cook anything from eggs to steak to cornbread. So get out there and start seasoning your cast iron pots and pans!

french toast made on a cast iron pan resting on a blue enamel plate outdoors on stove

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Don't use soap to clean your cast iron pan. Soap can strip the seasoning and make your pan more likely to stick.

  • Avoid putting your cast iron pan in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents and high heat can damage the seasoning.

  • If your pan does start to stick, don't worry! Simply re-season it by following the steps above.

With a little care and seasoning, your cast iron cookware will last for generations and provide you with years of delicious, non-stick cooking. Enjoy!


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Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
Oct 06, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Always great stuff, if you think these tips are good, wait until you try one of JB's camp cooked meals...BOOM

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