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The Best Oil for Seasoning Carbon Steel

See which ones get the job done, and which one we prefer.

By Izzy Johnson
Oct 5, 2023
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Seasoning is an important step of owning a carbon steel pan. Before you can start searing steaks or sautéeing vegetables, you need to make sure it's properly seasoned (especially if you opted for an unseasoned carbon steel pan over its preseasoned counterpart) and there’s a way to do that correctly, starting with which oil you use.

Let’s get into which oil you should use to season your carbon steel, and which oils are best left for cooking.

Which Oils Can be Used for Seasoning?

If not using Carbon Steel Seasoning Wax, reach for flavor-neutral oils with a high smoke point for seasoning. We recommend oils like canola, grapeseed, or sunflower, and leaving both lower-smoke point and flavored ones (like sesame, coconut, or peanut oil) on the shelf.

1. Our Favorite: Grapeseed

Grapeseed oil has an extremely high smoke point of 450F and is the oil our Product Development Director swears by for seasoning Carbon Steel. In addition to being perfect for seasoning, this is an extremely versatile cooking oil and can be used as a replacement for olive oil in many cases.

2. Easiest to Find: Canola

When you think about cooking oil, canola is likely the first one that comes to mind. It has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point of 450F, making it a perfect choice for seasoning. You also probably already have this in your pantry, making it an easy choice that you don’t need to specialty shop for.

3. Strong Contender: Sunflower

Sunflower oil has a high smoke point of 450F, making it another great option for seasoning your carbon steel cookware. Pressed from the seeds of sunflowers, this oil is known for its health benefits and antioxidant properties both in cooking and alone. It can be found at most major grocery stores.

4. Not an Oil, Still a Great Option: Seasoning Wax

If you want something done right, sometimes you need to take it into your own hands, which is why we created Seasoning Wax to make seasoning as easy as possible. It blends two high smoke point oils—canola and grapeseed—with beeswax, so it adheres completely to the surface of the pan.

This product is compatible for seasoning any product in our Carbon Steel line, including the Wok, Frying Pan, Griddle, and Roasting Pan.

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Which Oil Is Best for Seasoning?

While canola and sunflower oils are perfectly suitable for seasoning, our recommendation (besides our Seasoning Wax) is grapeseed oil. Its high smoke point and ready availability makes it a perfect choice for seasoning your Carbon Steel—plus, you can use the leftovers for any cooking task, from sautés to searing.

What Oils Should Not Be Used for Seasoning?

For seasoning cooking tools like carbon steel, you’ll want to stay clear from flavored oils with a low smoke point. This includes oils such as flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin, and olive, along with substances like butter.

Why Is Seasoning Important?

Seasoning is a must for carbon steel cookware to make cooking with, caring for, and cleaning up much easier. Seasoning helps your pan develop a non stick surface, makes clean up easier, and keeps the surface of your pan protected from rust and corrosion.

Once your pan develops its signature non stick patina with the help of seasoning, your pan will have the usage and functionality of a cast iron skillet, non stick frying pan, and stainless steel pan.

Ready to Cook?

While seasoning your cookware may seem like a daunting task, you’ll be rewarded with a versatile, tough pan that will last for years to come. Now that you’re well-equipped with the best oil to season with, go forth and season (and cook!) with confidence.

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