How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Easily: Banish Dirt Forever

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If you went out and purchased a pricey cast iron grill pan without much research, you likely had no idea how to maintain it. While cast iron cookware is well-loved and praised by professionals and home cooks alike, it isn’t easy to deal with.

So if you messed up your cast iron cookware, whether it’s the classic cast iron skillet or a cast iron grill pan, you’ve come to the right place. This article will show you how to clean cast iron grill pans and utensils easily. You can even use these methods to clean cast iron grill grates!

Besides showing how to clean your cast iron cooking pans, you will also learn how to season and maintain your cast iron grill pan/skillet to keep it in great shape for much longer.

So without further ado, let’s look at how you can clean your cast iron cookware!

The Best Ways to Clean a Cast Iron Grill Pan

how to clean cast iron grill

Because cast iron has a seasoned surface, it is very important to make sure that the cleaning process doesn’t damage this protective coating. If this layer is scratched off, the pan loses its nonstick surface and will need to be seasoned intensively, which is labor and time-consuming.

Instead, work gently and use substances that are very mildly abrasive to remove the gunk and debris from your cast iron grill pan. Although the process may take longer, it is worth it as it will be better for your cookware in the long run.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Salt
  • Dish detergent
  • Hot/Boiling water
  • Spatula
  • A soft cloth or dish sponge

Cleaning a Cast Iron Grill Pan with Just Hot Water:

This is the gentlest and most effective way to remove small bits of burnt food, grease, and debris from your pan. It is also particularly useful for pans with tall sides. All it needs is a little elbow grease.

Instructions:

  1. Boil some water in your grill pan on the stovetop. The water needs to be 2-3 inches in depth.
  2. Once the water starts to boil, the bits of food and debris will gradually loosen up and rise to the water surface.
  3. Use a spatula to gently scrape larger or more stubborn bits of debris stuck to the pan.
  4. Then, allow your grill pan to cool and drain the water and debris/residue into your sink.
  5. Once the cast iron pan is emptied out, rinse it with clean hot water and then dry it off with a soft dish towel.

Cleaning a Cast Iron Grill Pan with Just Salt:

Grill Pan cleaning Salt

Many cooks prefer a ‘dry’ method to clean their cast iron cookware. The good news is that salt is mildly abrasive and can clean a slightly dirty cast iron pan on its own.

Instructions:

  1. Cover the pan’s surface with a thick layer of salt.
  2. Use a napkin or small dishcloth to gently scrub the cast iron grill pan with the salt. As you rub the surface, you will notice the salt dislodging the pieces of food and residue from cooking.
  3. Add more salt if needed, and keep scrubbing until all the burnt bits of food have been loosened from the pan surface.
  4. Discard the salt and use a clean cloth to remove the bits of salt and loosened debris in the pan, until it is completely cleaned.

Cleaning a Cast Iron Grill Pan with Salt and Hot Water:

If your cast iron grill pan is dirtier than expected, using salt and hot water together will work well to scrape bits of food without scratching the cast iron surface.

Instructions:

  1. After use, allow the cast iron pan to cool down a little.
  2. Once the pan is just warm, pour some coarse salt into the grill pan, making sure the entire surface is covered.
  3. Then, pour a small amount of hot water into the salt. This will turn the salt into a sort of paste.
  4. Use your dish sponge to scrub the salt-paste into the grill pan surface. Clean between the ridges, as well as the sides as these areas often have hardened residue.
  5. Once all the gunk is loosened up, rinse the salt mix and debris off with hot water, then dry with a kitchen towel or paper napkin.

Cleaning a Cast Iron Grill Pan with Soap and Water:

Cast Iron Grill Pan with Soap and Water

Using dish detergent and water may be the most common way to clean dirty cast iron grill cookware. It is also a good way to clean a pan that is dirty but doesn’t have stubborn bits of burnt food stuck to it.

However, harsh soaps can affect the seasoning of your pan, so use this method sparingly and make sure you use a very mild detergent.

Instructions:

  1. Start by adding a tiny amount of mild dish detergent in the middle of your grill pan.
  2. Then add a bit of hot water to the pan to make a lather.
  3. Use a soft scrubber or sponge to gently scrub the surface and sides of the cast iron pan.
  4. Once all the gunk has been cleaned off and the surface of the pan is smooth, rinse off thoroughly, making sure no soap remains in the pan.
  5. Dry completely with a dish towel or any other soft cloth.

Seasoning a Cast Iron Grill Pan

This is an important part of maintaining all kinds of cast iron cookware like griddles and pans. 

Even if you haven’t scratched your cast iron grill pan while cleaning, seasoning it afterward is still necessary. This will keep your pan in good shape for much longer, and make cooking in it absolutely pain-free.

Here’s the quick and easy way to season your cast iron pan:

  1. After cleaning your pan, dry it carefully with a towel or napkin.
  2. Then set it on the stovetop on high heat for a minute, until any lingering moisture has evaporated.
  3. Once the pan is cool enough to work with, use a paper towel to rub any kind of neutral oil (vegetable, sunflower seed, peanut) across the entire cooking surface, as well as the bottom of the pan. Don’t forget to oil the sides! This will also protect glass cooktops.
  4. Use another napkin to wipe off any excess oil. The whole pan just needs to be coated with a thin layer of oil.
  5. Then set the pan back onto the stove and heat until it starts smoking just a bit.
  6. Wait for the pan to cool down again before storing it in a dry place.

Removing Rust from a Cast Iron Grill Pan

Removing Rust from Grill Pan

If you’ve left your cast iron cookware in a damp space, and the coating has been compromised, rust will set in immediately. Here’s how you can fix all that:

Step One: Removing the Rust

First things first, get rid of the rust. There are two ways to do this: soaking and scrubbing.

You can either soak your pan in a bucket or sink filled with white vinegar diluted with an equal amount of water. The important thing to remember is that you need to remove the pan immediately after the rust dissolves and flakes away.

This is because the pan has no coating and the unseasoned surface will be totally rusted. This kind of rust can not be fixed so you need to be careful.

Or you can gently scrub the rust away with steel wool. While this is more labor-intensive, it is safer for your pan. You can also use soapy water. The important thing is to dry your pan completely afterward with a towel, or by placing it over medium heat on the stove.

Step Two: Season the Pan

Then re-season the pan from scratch. This takes more time than your regular seasoning.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F and place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack. Rub a neutral oil all across the entire pan. Then, put the pan upside-down in the oven over the foil, as this will catch any oil drips.

Let the pan bake in the oven for an hour, cooling afterward for at least 45 minutes before using it. Make sure you dry your pan completely when cleaning, and season lightly as mentioned before to keep it working well.

To prevent rusting, store the cast iron cookware in a low-humidity environment. Always wipe it down with a bit of oil that has no taste and a high smoke point.

Maintaining Your Cast Iron Grill Pan

If you’ve been dealing with rust and other issues with your cast iron cookware, these tips will help avoid them in the future.

  • Avoid using soap or detergent as much as possible when cleaning your grill pan.
  • Avoid using metal utensils and stick to wooden or silicone spatulas and spoons.
  • Store your cast iron grill pan in a clean, cool, and dry place.
  • Don’t store any food in your pan, especially when cooking things like sauces that have tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic ingredients.
  • Always keep your cast iron pan coated with a light layer of neutral oil.
  • Clean your cast iron pan immediately after each use, and do not leave it to soak overnight, as this encourages rusting.
  • Never use a steel wool scrubber to clean your pan after cooking-instead use a gentle scrubber or dish sponge to dislodge bits of food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to questions we get asked the most about cast-iron grill pans.

01. Is Cast Iron Good for Grilling? 

Yes, grilling steaks on a cast iron pan will allow the meat to brown evenly, and will also contain any drippings from the meat, which adds more flavor.

02. Is It Healthy to Cook in Cast Iron?

Because you can steam, broil, and even ‘fry’ without oil in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, it is a pretty healthy option to cook in.

03. What is a Cast Iron Grill Pan Good for?

These grill pans are best for grilling veggies, searing steaks, pork chops, and cuts of meat.

04. Why is Cast Iron Better for Grilling Steak?

Cast iron heats very evenly, which means the steak will be cooked uniformly with even browning. It also keeps the meat nice and juicy without drying out.

05. What are the Disadvantages of Cast Iron?

Cast iron cookware is a little tricky to use, as the seasoned surface needs maintenance and cannot be scratched off. You also need to be careful when cleaning and storing your pan.

06. Is Cast Iron Better Than Non-Stick?

Although cast iron is pricier than non-stick cookware, cast iron is better for cooking because it conducts heat more effectively and evenly than non-stick.

Also, the non-stick surface wears off over time and the pan will need replacing, while a cast iron pan can be re-seasoned and used for decades.

In Brief

While cast-iron seems scary for first-time cooks, it is one of the best investments for your kitchen. You can grill, fry, steam, and even bake in one of these, which makes it a great tool for cooking. 

Once you learn how to clean cast iron grill pans, you can maintain your cookware indefinitely, using it without damage. As you can see, cleaning the pan will just take a bit of extra effort and time. Once you get your pan nice and clean, you can cook almost anything out there. So what will it be? Will you use your pan to cook some burgers, or grill a mighty Tomahawk steak?

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