This is the best oil to season a cast iron pan with.
The one pan that you absolutely need in your kitchen arsenal is, without a doubt, cast iron. Wait, you don’t have a cast iron pan? What are you using, non-stick? You’re not using non-stick, are you? Please tell us the only pan in your kitchen isn’t a non-stick!
Okay, sorry, we’ll calm down. In truth, if you cook a lot you should have multiple pans (even non-stick has its place), but one of those has to be a cast iron skillet. Cast iron cookware can do everything and if treated right can outlast, well, you.
A great cast iron pan can last generations and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to use one of your grandma’s old pans you’ve probably noticed that cooking on it is a breeze. Nothing sticks to it, it heats food evenly, and cleaning up is an effortless experience. That’s because years and years of different fats have been baked onto that pan creating layers of carbonized oil — a patina — that is slick and shimmering.
But that’s grandma’s pan. What if you just picked up a new cast iron? A lot of new cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, which is great, but you’re probably going to want to add to that seasoning to get it performing better.
You might’ve heard that cast iron improves with use but if every time you bring out that heavy piece of cookware you end up spending as much time cleaning food off of it as you did cooking the meal, you’re not going to want to use it. So get it where it needs to be by seasoning it correctly.
There are a lot of different oils that get thrown out as the “best” oil for seasoning cast iron, some say flaxseed oil, some swear by grapeseed, there are people who think lard is the only way, and there is also a school of thought that says it doesn’t matter and you should use vegetable oil or whatever you have on hand. There is some truth to all of those choices, but when seasoning cast iron you want three things:
- An oil with a high smoke point. Especially if you plan on cooking at high temperatures regularly.
- A neutral-tasting oil that won’t impart its flavor on your food.
- An oil with a high concentration of unsaturated fats for better polymerization.
No other oil fits that bill quite like refined avocado oil. Refined avocado oil has a smoke point of 520 degrees, that’s more than just about every oil on the market. Its flavor is subtle, it has a certain nuttiness to it when tasted raw, but on your pan, that’s not going to translate to your food. And it has a high level of unsaturated fats.
Its super high smoke point will ensure that no matter how you use it, whether you’re searing a steak or baking some cornbread, the pan won’t just start smoking when it’s exposed to heat.
Is it pricey? A bit, but it’s also multipurpose, so you’re not buying a bottle of avocado oil just to season a pan with, you can pan-fry food, roast, barbecue, bake, and even finish a salad with it. It’s, like cast iron itself, a versatile kitchen workhorse.