Cast iron is a tough and versatile cookware that can be used for a variety of cooking methods, including stovetop, oven, and even campfire cooking. One common problem that many people have when using cast iron is that food sticks to the surface, even after seasoning the pan.
If you are experiencing this problem, there are a few possible causes and steps you can take to resolve it.
Not Enough Oil Used During Seasoning
Seasoning cast iron involves coating the surface with oil and heating it to create a nonstick surface. If not enough oil is used during the seasoning process, the pan’s surface will not be properly coated, resulting in food sticking to the surface.
To resolve this issue, use enough oil to coat the entire surface of the pan and heat it for a long enough period of time to allow the oil to polymerize and create a nonstick surface.
Not Heating the Pan to the Proper Temperature When Seasoning
Another common cause of food sticking is not heating the pan to the proper temperature during the seasoning process. For at least an hour, heat the pan to around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The oil will not polymerize and create a nonstick surface if the temperature is not high enough.
Not Properly Cleaning the Cast Iron
If you’re still experiencing sticking after seasoning, it’s possible that there is still residual food or debris on the pan’s surface.
To clean cast iron, scrub any debris away with a stiff brush or steel wool before washing the pan with hot soapy water. Dry the pan thoroughly before re-seasoning it to see if that solves the problem.
Using the Wrong Type of Oil
Some oils are not suitable for seasoning cast iron pans; for example, the highest smoke point oils such as avocado oil or safflower oil are not recommended because they are difficult to heat high enough during the seasoning process to initiate polymerization.
These types of oils will not break down unless exposed to excessively high heat, exceeding 500F, which is sometimes difficult to do depending on your home oven. If not heated high enough, polymerization can’t happen and will result in a sticky surface.
Choose oils that can withstand higher temperatures but with reachable smoke points. These types of oils, like canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil, will increase the likelihood of creating that non-stick cooking surface. If you need help choosing the best oil for seasoning your cast iron, check out our guide here!
Overheating the Pan
Overheating the pan when cooking can cause the fats you’re using to cook to smoke, and even burn, creating a sticky surface. Make sure to keep an eye on the temperature and not to overheat the pan, this will ensure a better seasoning and a non-stick surface.
If your cast iron cookware is still sticking after seasoning, it’s critical to identify the cause and take the necessary steps to correct it. You can create a nonstick surface and enjoy all of the benefits of cooking with cast iron by using enough oil, heating the pan to the proper temperature, cleaning the pan properly, and using the right type of oil. If you need to re-season, check out our quick guide on seasoning cast iron here!