Cooking a meal in the comfort of your own home can help you wind down after a long day at work. One tool that is especially helpful when it comes to making a satisfying dish is a cast iron skillet.
Cast iron skillets are great for cooking because they allow for even heat distribution and retention. They are also very durable and heavy-duty, making them ideal for cooking intense, flavorful meals.
However, if you’re new to using cast iron skillets, you might be wondering how to use them to their full potential. For example, can you put a cast iron skillet in the oven? The answer is yes — there are many dishes that call for using both the stovetop and the oven when it comes to cooking with a cast iron skillet.
Are Cast Iron Skillets Oven Safe?
Oh boy, this is a controversial one!
The short answer is yes.
For the long answer, I’ll tell you that cast iron skillets are in fact oven-safe, but there are some caveats that you need to know about.
Cast iron skillets have been used for hundreds of years for open fire cooking. They can be used on the stovetop, in the oven and even over a campfire without worry. However the weight of a cast-iron skillet’s material makes them much more difficult to handle than other types of skillets once they get hot. So make sure you’re using an oven mitt or pot holder when handling your skillet.
You should also be aware that proper seasoning of your cast iron skillet will create a non-stick surface that will not allow meat and veggies to stick while cooking. A properly seasoned cast iron skillet will not require the use of PAM or another oil spray to keep food from sticking while it cooks, but if you use an oil spray with your cast iron skillet make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredients which are flammable at high temperatures because this could result in damage to your oven and/or home (this is why vegetable oil sprays are preferable).
Are Enameled Cast Iron Skillets Oven-Safe?
Enameled cast iron skillets are oven-safe, which is the reason you would buy one. It is the enamel coating that makes the skillet oven-safe. For this reason, it’s important to note that enameled cast iron skillets should not be used on the stovetop. If you do use one of these for cooking over a flame or in a hot pan, your food will taste like metal and your enamel coating could get ruined.
Also, when using your enameled cast iron skillet in an oven make sure you have a place for it to sit on your rack that does not leave any of the bottom exposed, as this part of the skillet is not coated in enamel and will rust if exposed to heat without food touching it.
When preheating your oven before placing anything inside it (like with most baked goods) make sure any glass or ceramic dishes are already placed in the oven while heating up so they can reach temperature slowly; sudden changes in temperature can cause these items to break!
How to Prepare A Cast Iron Skillet For Oven Use
As a general rule, cast iron skillets are not meant to be placed directly into an oven. However, if you follow the proper steps to prepare your cast iron skillet for oven use, it should be fine to place it in the oven. Here is how you can go about doing that:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Place the skillet in the oven until it gets hot and starts to smoke, then remove it.
- Rub the skillet with a paper towel until all signs of soot are gone. It isn’t necessary to use any grease or oil on this towel—the goal is just for the soot to stick onto the paper towel instead of your hands!
- Place the skillet back into your preheated 350°F degree oven and let heat up until desired temperature before cooking or baking within it.
What to Cook in Your Cast Iron
If you do use your cast iron skillet in the oven, there are all kinds of great meals you can make.
- Cast iron is often used for bread and pie, since it easily retains heat and will produce a nice crusty exterior.
- Roasted vegetables are also good candidates for cast iron cooking, as are pizzas and casseroles. If you’re looking to bake something, a cast iron skillet can help yield good biscuits and cornbread.
- Proteins like roast chicken, steak and pork tenderloin benefit from a crispy exterior that comes from the high heat baking in a cast iron pan provides.
- Fish fillets (even delicate ones) get flaky when baked in cast-iron skillets.
- Shrimp cook up quickly as well, making them an ideal option for stove or oven top cooking with your trusty skillet at the ready.
- And fruit crisps? An absolute yes on this front—you can cook the topping right on top of the fruit without worrying about it sticking to the pan or falling apart during flipping!
What Not to Cook in Your Cast Iron
If you have an acid-loving recipe that calls for lemon juice or vinegar, don’t use your cast iron to cook it. The acid will react with the seasoning and strip it away from the surface of the pan.
Similarly, a cast iron skillet is not a baking dish, so if you’re making something where casserole is called for, opt for glass instead.
As a last note: If you have a glass top stove, don’t use your cast iron skillets on top of it. The weight of the skillet can actually cause stress fractures in the glass and could result in breakage.
How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet?
When it comes to the tactile nature of cooking with cast iron, there’s no denying that it feels better. It’s a little slower, and you can easily tell when the pan is at full temperature, but I would say that the weight and solidity of the pan are probably worth a bit of extra time.
When you’re cooking now as much as we do, we use our cast iron skillet almost every day. When we want to cook something on the weekend or on a weeknight that will take longer than 15 minutes to get on the table (for us, this almost always means roasting several chicken legs for our family), we grab our cast iron skillet out of storage. We know exactly how long it will be before it gets hot enough for whatever we have planned (and typically three times longer than when I was a kid), so there’s no problem getting it pre-heated to start cooking right away.
That said, if you are in need of some instruction on how to clean your cast iron skillet in order to keep things running smoothly while they last forever…
Are Cast Iron Skillets Dishwasher-Safe?
It’s a common misconception that cast iron skillets are dishwasher-safe. While you can certainly run this durable kind of cookware through the dishwasher, it’s not necessarily the best option for your skillet. Like any other piece of cast iron, it’s easy enough to clean with soap and water after use.
To keep your skillet in good shape, it’s important to wash it in hot water and dry immediately after each use. The best way to do this is by hand, either on the stove or in a sink full of hot water detergent and water. If you have time, soak the pan for up to five minutes—this will help loosen any stuck-on food particles from cooking. Don’t forget to dry well afterward! Drying your pan after each use prevents rusting (the enemy of cast iron). Once dried, place the skillet back on its rack or stovetop so that air can get underneath it; this also helps prevent rusting.