Back to Basics: 3 Tips You Need to Succeed When Cooking with Cast Iron

back to basics - cooking with cast iron

Cast iron is famous for its extreme durability, versatility, and high heat-handling capabilities. 

And whether you’re a professional chef who knows the ins and outs of cast iron or a home gourmet who enjoys surprising the family with new takes on classic dishes, maybe you’ve been away from your favorite cast iron skillet for a bit. Or maybe you have been too busy to remember to get the cast iron skillet out. We understand. We’ve been there. 

But there’s no reason to fear your favorite cast iron skillet because the occasion doesn’t warrant you taking the time to bust it out. In fact, when you use nickel-plated cast iron, using your skillet daily can become second nature with these expert cooking tips. 

3 Tips for Cast Iron Cooking Perfection

Crispy-edged, sunny-side-up eggs that slide right off the skillet. A perfectly seared ribeye with those sealed-in juices. Fluffy, sweet cornbread. Your mouth is watering already, right?

Once you master the art of cast iron cooking, you become addicted to its daily use. It’s not a special occasion skillet; it can be used often. In fact, the more you use it, the better it gets. 

Here are 3 ways to best enjoy nickel-coated cast iron skillets.  

1. Control Your Heat

Cast iron is known for retaining heat well and at higher temperatures than other skillets. And it also keeps high temperatures longer without producing temperature spikes or fluctuations. Once you become accustomed to this aspect of cooking with cast iron, you can really enjoy the benefits of your cast iron skillet.

But the trick to better cooking is to bring up the temperature gradually. Just like you wouldn't start baking in a cold oven, you want to start with low heat and build to high heat. Give your skillet time to heat up -- approximately 5 minutes on low to medium heat to give the heat time to spread.

The biggest mistakes made here are not heating up your skillet enough, not getting your skillet hot enough for what you’re cooking, or getting your skillet too hot for the dish you’re preparing.

You also don’t want to place meats straight from your refrigerator or freezer in your skillet. Bring it to room temperature first. 

The most important rule of thumb: Rapid temperature changes are never good when it comes to any skillet. Warming up and cooling down your nickel-plated cast iron skillet properly is always best. When cooling your skillet, let it cool naturally; never rinse a hot skillet with cold water or place it into cold water.

2. Embrace Your Cooking Fat

When cooking on cast iron, less is not always more where fat is concerned. 

Skimping on the fat may not only encourage food to stick to the skillet, but it can also stop you from creating that impressive moment when your perfectly prepared omelet slides right onto your guest’s breakfast plate. Focus on lightly covering the cooking surface. 

Also, you’ll want to know the different smoking points of the oils you like to use to match the best oil to what you’re cooking. Oils with higher smoking points can withstand higher heat and are the ideal choices for frying, sauteing, and searing. There are also differences with refined and unrefined oils. Unrefined oils will have stronger, more pronounced flavors and fragrances but lower smoking points, which makes them better for unheated dressings or lower heat cooking, while refined oils will have milder scents and flavors but can better handle higher heat. 

Here are some of the most used oils and their smoking points for reference:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Butter - 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Avocado Oil - 520 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Refined Canola Oil - 470 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Unrefined Coconut Oil - 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Refined Coconut Oil - 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flaxseed oil - 225 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vegetable shortening - 360 degrees Fahrenheit

3. Skip the Seasoning

Typical cast iron skillets usually need to be well-seasoned to easily remove stuck-on foods. But this process can be time-consuming. 

No time to season your skillet? No problem. With nickel-plated cast iron you don’t have to wait to season your skillet to enjoy using it. Nickel coating makes your skillet resistant to rust, so seasoning isn’t required. 

You can also use soap and water to wash it and it won’t impact your skillet the same way it would with traditional cast iron. Your cleanup just got easier. (Though if you’re the chef, we still think you should delegate dishwashing duties.) 

Go Ahead: Heat Up That Pan

The more you cook with your nickel-coated cast iron skillet, the more comfortable you’ll become using it with classic sauteed dishes, as well as things like lasagna and baked goods like warm cinnamon rolls. 

In fact, we bet once you commit, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never made the switch sooner. 

If you still have questions about cast iron’s benefits and many uses, let GRIZZLY help. We have years of experience using these skillets and can share some tips and tricks to guide you to gourmet cooking greatness. Get in touch with us today to learn more about cooking with nickel-coated cast iron.