The first time I used my cast iron cookware, I put a little extra-virgin olive oil in it, heated it up, and let it bake for a bit to season it. I thought I was good to go, but I was wrong. 

Cast iron seasoning is not just about the process; it’s also about the oil. I used olive oil, which is one of my go-to choices in the kitchen. But, it has relatively low smoke point, creating a seasoning layer that is softer, stickier, and less effective as a non-stick surface.

If you are wondering what is the best oil to season a cast iron skillet, I had the most luck with grape seed oil. I’ll show you why grape seed works and give some other (cheaper) options if you are in the process of seasoning cast iron.

What is the Best Oil to Season a Cast Iron Skillet? 

The best oil to season a cast iron skillet is grape seed oil. The grape seed oil provides a neutral flavor, is relatively affordable, readily available, and has a smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Grape seed oil has only 10% saturated fat which helps ensure that the oil polymerizes better and creates a thin protective layer of seasoning on the bottom of the cast iron cookware.

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Oil For Seasoning A Cast Iron Skillet (Everything To Know) 

As I said, I made some mistakes with my cast iron skillet when I first got it. Not only could this do some damage to the cast iron cookware, but it also filled my kitchen with burnt (and carcinogenic) fumes and made food taste terrible.

Everything had a slightly burnt taste, and there were little flecks of black (burnt food and oil) sticking to all the food. 

Luckily I found grape seed oil before my cast iron pan took a trip to the donation center! Here is everything I NOW know about cast iron seasoning so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. If you choose the right oil, seasoning your cast iron skillet can happen rather infrequently. 

Key Qualities To Look For In An Oil For Seasoning Cast Iron 

When seasoning cast iron cookware, you have to be smart about the oil you choose. The goal is to have a thin layer of a non-stick surface develop on the bottom of your cast iron. 

However, the seasoning oil you choose will determine whether the seasoning process is effective. Here are the most important things to look for when choosing an oil. 

  • Smoke point: the best oil for seasoning will have a higher smoke point; this allows you to season the cast iron at the proper temperature and not have it burn off. 
  • The concentration of unsaturated fats: oils with high percentages of unsaturated fats do a better job with polymerization and leave a longer and more stable seasoning layer on the skillet.
  • Neutral flavor: when you season cast iron, you don’t want it to also season all your food! A neutral flavor profile is best in cast iron seasoning oils.  
  • Affordability: purchasing specific cast iron seasoning oil is a bit of a nuisance; let’s be practical and find something affordable that you can use elsewhere in the kitchen. 
  • Availability: I don’t know about you, but my grocery store does a great job with extra virgin olive oil, but things like flaxseed oil and specific cast iron seasoning sprays are hard to find. 

What Happens When You Choose the Wrong Oil to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?

There are three major things to look out for when seasoning cast iron cookware and choosing the wrong oil. All three of these things happened to me when I used extra virgin olive oil the first time I seasoned cast iron. 

1. Lower Smoke Point 

The low smoke point means that oil will burn during the seasoning process (or cooking process) if it is exposed to temperatures that are too hot for it. Every oil has a smoke point, and they are easy to find. Flax seed or coconut oil is a poor choice because of the smoke point. 

When you season a cast iron skillet, try to do it between 400 and 500 degrees. Cast iron pans tend to open their pores and allow the oil to soak in at this temperature. Something with a low smoke point won’t be able to hang on. 

2. High Concentration of Saturated Fat 

Saturated fats can be great for cooking, but when it comes to cast iron cooking (and seasoning), you want to keep the concentration of saturated fat down. With a low concentration of saturated fats, the oil can form a bond with the metal and create that long-term layer of seasoning we need in our cast iron skillets. 

3. The Taste Matters 

Some oils have low smoke points and lower amounts of saturated fats, but then they have a strong taste. I’m not sure about you, but I use my cast iron pan for everything from breakfast dishes to dinner to dessert. I don’t want them all to taste the same! 

Best Oils For Seasoning Cast Iron 

Here are the best oils to season cast iron and some of the things you should know before you begin. I’ll tell you that between these top oils, there is very little difference in performance. You may notice one lasts a little longer or is slightly more neutral in flavor. However, there is a BIG difference between the best oils for seasoning cast iron and the worst. Keep that in mind. 

Avocado Oil 

  • Smoke point: 520 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor Neutral: No (mild taste) 
  • Affordability: Pricey 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 12%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 70%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 13%

Avocado oil is a great choice because of the high smoke point. With 520 degrees to work with, you can turn the oven up during seasoning and really get this one to sink into the metal. I found that the low (12%) percentage of saturated fat also helped form a really nice thin layer across the skillet. 

The problem I had with avocado oil was that I could taste it. It’s not strong, and it’s not a bad taste, but it’s there. If you don’t believe me, buy a bag of avocado oil potato chips, and you will know exactly what I mean. In addition, this one is a little expensive. 

Crisco Solid Shortening

  • Smoke point: 490 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: Neutral  
  • Affordability: Affordable 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 16%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 65%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 50%

If you do a lot of baking, you may have Crisco solid shortening at the ready. This is an affordable solution, and it holds up quite well because of the high smoke point. I found that Crisco solid shortening does not hold up as well as something like peanut oil or grape seed. You may find yourself seasoning cast iron more frequently. 

Canola Oil

  • Smoke point: 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: Neutral 
  • Affordability: Average 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 7%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 63%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 11%

Canola oil is affordable and has a smoke point of 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetable oils and canola oil are often used interchangeably in cast iron skillet seasoning, and I can certainly see why. 

One of the best things here is the 7% concentration of saturated fat; it’s one of the lowest you will find. Use a paper towel to put canola oil in the skillet; but when it pools up during seasoning, it’s not actually as effective. 

Grape Seed Oil

  • Smoke point: 420 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: No (Mild taste)
  • Affordability: Average 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 10%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 16%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 70%

My favorite choice for cast iron seasoning oil was grape seed oil. The real reason this stood out was the durability. I’m not really a big fan of having to season my skillet constantly. I know it needs to be done, but I’m careful about cleanup and maintenance to ensure that I don’t ruin the seasoning. 

Grape seed has 10% saturated fats and a smoke point of 420 degrees. In addition, the flavor profile is almost neutral and very mild for those that are expert taste testers. 

Peanut Oil

  • Smoke point: 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: Mild light flavor  
  • Affordability: Above average 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 20%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 50%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 30%

Peanut oil has a little more saturated fat, so it’s not the perfect oil for seasoning cast iron, but it has a high smoke point. In addition, the flavor of peanut oil is great. In fact, my husband recently did a fish fry and switched to peanut oil from vegetable, and the taste difference in the fish was incredible. 

Soybean Oil 

  • Smoke point: 450-475 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: mild flavor  
  • Affordability: Expensive
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 12%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 25%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 55%

Soybean oil can be a little difficult to find, and it’s not the cheapest oil on my list, but it has great features for seasoning cast iron. The smoke point is high, as high as avocado oil, and it has a mild flavor. Saturated fat concentration can reach as high as 20% here, so expect it to be very similar to peanut oil when seasoning cast iron cookware. 

Vegetable Oil 

  • Smoke point: 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: Neutral   
  • Affordability: Very affordable 
  • Concentration of Saturated Fat: 14%
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 73%
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 50%

Vegetable oil is my favorite choice for affordability. I have vegetable oil around for baking, so it makes it easy to use this in my cast iron skillet as well. In addition, the smoke point (400) is high enough, and there is almost no flavor coming from the vegetable oil seasoning. 

Crisbee Stick Cast Iron Seasoning 

  • Smoke point: 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flavor: Neutral 
  • Affordability: Affordable 

The Crisbee Stick cast iron seasoning is an all-in-one solution. What I like about the Crisbee Stick is that you can season a medium cast iron skillet more than 60 times. 

In addition, the cast iron seasoning process is really easy with the Crisbee Stick and keeps you from using too much oil. Expect the Crisbee Stick to be much more affordable than something like a refined avocado oil or a soy bean oil.

Grape Seed Oil vs. Vegetable Oil 

Grape seed oil was my overall favorite, but from a convenience and affordability standpoint, I really liked vegetable oil as well. 

Take a look at these two side by side, and you will see that the high smoke point and percentages of saturated fat and unsaturated fats are pretty similar. 

Grape Seed OilVegetable Oil
Smoke Point420°F (216°C)400°F (205°F)
Saturated Fat10%14%
Monounsaturated Fat16%73%
Polyunsaturated Fat70%50%

What Oils Not To Use When Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware 

Remember I said I used olive oil, specifically extra-virgin olive oil, to season my skillet? It has nearly 14% saturated fat and a smoke point between over 350 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t a disaster, but it just didn’t hold up, and it tended to burn at times. 

Here are the other oils I would stay away from: 

  • Coconut Oil: smoke point too low, can be expensive 
  • Butter: low smoke point, it will burn, add fat when cooking with butter to ensure your skillet seasoning holds up 
  • Olive oil: smoke point not high enough, can leave a smoky taste, and a softer and stickier surface
  • Flaxseed oil: smoke point too low 
  • Animal fat (bacon lard and bacon fat): smoke point too low, better options out there with improved health benefits

Manufacturers’ Recommendations For Cast Iron Seasoning Oils 

Some manufacturers warn against oils with a very low smoke point or using excess oil in the skillet. Here are some recommendations from the top manufacturers on how to season cast iron properly.

  • Lodge Cast Iron recommends canola oil for their cast iron skillets. They also offer their own Seasoning Spray, which is made of 100% canola oil. I have tried this one too a few times and the results were great. But it is just canola oil, so instead of buying a second one, I just started using the canola oil in my pantry.
  • Field Company recommends grape seed oil; we agreed with them when doing our cast iron seasoning. They offer their own seasoning wax made of organic grapeseed oil. It’s on the pricier side, but lasts a long time and is easier to use because it’s in wax form. I also noticed that after 3 to 6 months of using it, my skillet developed a nice dark patina.
  • Utopia Cast Iron allows you to choose whichever oil you want with a high smoke point; they recommend sunflower oil, canola oil, and other vegetable oils. 
  • Le Creuset requires no seasoning! You pay a bit more for this brand, but you can skip the seasoning.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we have received from our readers about the best oil to season cast iron cookware.

What oil should you not use on a cast iron skillet?

Stay away from coconut oil when seasoning cast iron. The low smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit makes it difficult to season the skillet effectively. 

Do you add oil to hot or cold cast iron?

It’s best to preheat the skillet before adding oil during the seasoning process and when cooking with the skillet. Cold skillets will make food stick, and it can ruin the seasoning. 

What’s the best way to season a cast iron skillet?

Heat your cast iron pan to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, take it out of the oven, and use a seasoning oil like grapeseed to coat the pan. Place the skillet back in the oven at a temperature between 400 and 500 degrees and allow it to cook for 30 minutes. Take the skillet out, let it cool, and repeat the process a few times until you see the seasoning layer develop. 

What oil has the highest smoke point?

Refined avocado oil has the highest smoke point among cooking oils, at approximately 480°F to 520°F (249°C to 270°C). This makes it ideal for high-temperature cooking methods such as frying and sautéing.

Which oil has lowest smoke point?

Unrefined flaxseed oil has one of the lowest smoke points among cooking oils, at approximately 225°F (107°C). This makes it the least suitable for high-temperature cooking methods and is often used instead as a dietary supplement or for dressings.

Can I use olive oil to season my cast iron?

Yes, you can use olive oil to season your cast iron skillet. But, olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to the other oils like grapeseed oil. When seasoning cast iron, you should use an oil with a high smoke point for a more durable seasoning. If using olive oil, do not overheat it during the seasoning process.

Should I use butter or oil in a cast iron skillet?

Butter, oil, and even bacon grease can help encourage food not to stick, but they are not the best for seasoning cast iron cookware. Use a good seasoning oil like Grapeseed oil and allow that to create a thin non-stick layer in your skillet. 

Final Thoughts 

Grapeseed oil took the cake here, but vegetable oil and canola oil are not too far behind. Save yourself the time and use proper oil for seasoning cast iron, your food will come out better, and your cleanup process will be quite a bit easier as well. Remember seasoning a cast iron skillet is not a one-time process; you will have to revisit this, so this is good information to hold onto.


Britt Olizarowicz