Follow these simple instructions to get the perfect seasoning for your dutch oven every time!
Why Season a Dutch Oven?
Dutch oven cooking is as much a science as it is an art. The dutch oven is designed to be a have a non-stick surface through a process called seasoning. This process does not give the food flavor, rather it gives the oven a layer of protection that only gets better as you use your oven. It’s is important to first season a new dutch oven, if it is not already pre-seasoned, before you use it for cooking. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to do the initial cleaning and season a brand new dutch oven. You can use this method for re-seasoning a dutch oven that is rusty, rancid, or just plain rotten. Note, that you can and should season an aluminum dutch oven as well.
Step 1: Clean out your oven.
Why do you need to clean a new oven? Manufacturers will usually ship their dutch ovens with a protective wax coating to keep the cast iron from rusting during delivery and storage. Why would you clean a used oven? Maybe you’ve gotten some dirt in it or other nasty stuff you’d rather not be cooking in that just wouldn’t come out with a normal cleaning.
To clean your oven you simply use hot water and soap and scrub it with a non-abrasive pad. This should be the only time you want to use soap unless you are removing the seasoning and starting fresh with a new seasoning.
Step 2: Pre-heat your grill or kitchen oven to between 350º to 400º F (temperature is determined by the oil’s smoke point).
You will need to do this in preparation for step 5.
Step 3: Dry out your dutch oven.
Simply wipe as much water off as you can with a cloth or paper towel. Then to make sure it is completely dry put your oven on a cooktop, burner, or any other source of low heat (100º-150º F) until it is completely dry.
Tip: You may want to put a cookie sheet under the dutch oven when you heat it up to catch any remaining oil that melts and drips off.
Step 4: While the dutch oven is still warm, apply cooking oil.
There is some debate about what kind of oil you should use. You can use just about any vegetable oil or shortening. If you want to read about the benefits of using higher smoke point oils you can find out more here. Oil is also less messy. I would shy away from peanut oil just in case you ever cook for someone with severe allergies.
You also want to make sure that you coat the pot and the lid entirely and evenly without leaving any standing oil.
Tip: Apply to on the entire surface of your dutch oven, inside and out, to protect the metal from rust or oxidization.
Step 5: Place your dutch oven in your heat source (oven, grill, burner, or whatever you want to use) for a half hour or until it stops smoking.
Remember what I said about smoke points. You want to smoke the non-carbon particles out of the oil so you will need to make the temperature higher than the smoke point of the oil you use. This also means you are going to have a lot of smoke so take that into consideration when choosing where to heat your oven. Since you want to keep the temperature consistent, and it causes a lot of smoke, an outside grill with a temperature gauge is preferable. If you don’t have grill, you can use your kitchen oven, but be prepared to vent out your house.
Step 6: Turn off the heat and let your oven cool off.
Once the oil in the oven has stopped smoking, turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Congratulations, you just seasoned your dutch oven.