Cleaning a cast iron griddle can be such a pain, but it's worth the time. With the right cleaning tips, you'll keep your cast iron griddle looking and cooking like new for years to come.
In this article, you will learn how to clean a cast-iron griddle or pan so that it looks new, and is ready for cooking again.
Remove all food residue from the griddle with a stiff brush
The first step to cleaning a cast iron griddle is to remove any food residue. If you have an indoor grill, you can use some of its equipment to clean your griddle as well. Use a stiff brush, such as a grill brush or scouring pad, to scrub the pan until all the debris has been removed and the surface of your griddle looks shiny again. A little bit of rust should appear on the surface of your griddle – that is a sign that all the debris and food residue has been removed.
Also consider, if the cast iron griddle is very greasy, place a sheet of paper towel down before using the brush. This will absorb some of the greases that get smeared across your griddle as you clean.
Removing rust with steel wool
To remove any rust from the surface and to make sure it doesn't appear again in the future, use a small piece of fine-grit steel wool to rub away any stubborn marks or ancient rust spots that might have appeared on your pan during years of use. Try not to let the larger pieces of rust fall into your sink – it can be hard to clean out.
If you find all traces of rust are gone or no longer visible after scrubbing with steel wool, there is no need to continue with the next step.
Seasoning a cast iron griddle
Seasoning your cast iron griddle is an important step in cleaning it. After all, you don't want to have to scrub your pan down the next time you use it and remove all of the seasonings that will avoid sticking foods from contacting your cooking surface.
A good way to avoid having to re-season your new or old pan after cleaning is by using paper towels while washing it off for the first time. Simply fold up a stack of paper towels into a small square pad and wipe out any remaining oil buildup of food residue on your cookware's inside surface. This should only take a few minutes.
A quick simmer and you're done
After cleaning and seasoning your griddle a few times, it should be ready for cooking again. What's nice about cast iron over other materials is that it can get very hot, but also cool back down to room temperature very quickly. Therefore, if you only have a small amount of time before dinner or breakfast, simply preheat the pan and cook as normal on the stove or in the oven.
Store your cast iron cookware in a cool, dry location
This should be away from direct sunlight or heat sources like ovens or stovetops. A cabinet just above your fridge is an ideal place to store cast iron so that it stays cool and dry on its own.
Shine a light into the crevices for any remaining debris
Take some time and run a small flashlight, such as a key light or other LED down the crevices in between the handles and near the edges of your griddle.
Little bits of food residue can be removed with your fingers without damaging the surface of your pan if done gently. Afterward, wipe off any leftover oils from these areas with a clean cloth napkin.
Remember to never use steel wool on these handle creases or around those tight spaces. It can damage them over time. Instead, just take a simple dish rag and wipe it off.
Clean your cast iron cookware immediately after every use
To keep from having to clean a cast-iron griddle or pan more than once, just remember to take care of it right away after using. If food residue is left on the pan for hours, rust spots and discoloration may begin to happen.
Because of that, try not to leave cooked-on foods sitting in there overnight – or if you do so by mistake (letting the pots and pans soak overnight), re-season them as soon as possible before cooking with them again. This way, food shouldn't stick too much next time around.
Keep in mind, you might have a few pieces of burnt food stuck on the inside of your pan even after your first time cleaning. This is normal – just remember to rub it off with a sponge, and then wipe it down again after you've seasoned the pan like normal.
Additional tips for caring for your cast iron cookware:
1. Ensure your griddle is dry and free of moisture
Before cooking in it, make sure the griddle is dry and completely free of any moisture or food residue. Otherwise, your food will likely stick and burn.
2. Never use soap to clean a cast-iron griddle or pan
This will remove all of the seasonings that usually allow for easy cooking on your cookware's surface. However, warm water and a light scrubbing with steel wool can do the job. If you notice rust on the pan after cleaning, don't worry.
Simply apply some salt to it with a paper towel to help soak up those additional spots (rust is just another form of iron), let it sit for an hour or two until it compacts into a solid ball that doesn't fall off onto whatever you are cooking in there next. Then rinse and wipe out any leftover salt from the crevices before seasoning your griddle again.
3. Store in a cool, dry area (away from sunlight or direct heat)
Do this to help prevent rusting of the cookware's surface. A cabinet placed high above your refrigerator is the ideal place for storing it out of sight but still within reach when you need it. This will also keep your pan and griddle cool and dry.
However, if you do notice spots of rust starting to form on your cast iron griddles surface over time, don't worry – you can remove these by using coarse-grit sandpaper (for extra-stubborn areas), or even just baking soda with some salt sprinkled onto it, rubbing off the rust until the smooth finish is visible once more.
4. Never use steel wool wipes, Brillo pads, or soap to clean a griddle pan.
These will strip the seasoning off and weaken your cast iron cookware. Instead, use an old bath towel or dish rag with warm water and a little bit of elbow grease to get it spotless again – you'll be happy you did.
5. Season regularly
This helps keep the rust away from your cast iron pans and griddles. After washing with warm water and drying after each time you season it, remember to rub vegetable oil into all crevices on both sides of your cookware's surface before storing it for the next time in which you will use it again.
This way, it can serve as a protective barrier against moisture coming in contact with the surface, and can also help prevent rust from forming.
6. Never put your cast iron griddle into the dishwasher, and don't use soap.
This may remove any natural protective coating that helps prevent rust from forming, and also causes the pan to lose its non-stick property over time.
7. Never use a sharp metal scouring pad on your cast iron cookware
This can scratch the surface, making it less smooth. If you are using a griddle pan, use only plastic or wooden utensils on it – the metal-coated ones will damage the surface and ruin its non-stick quality.
8. Never place your cast iron skillets in the dishwasher.
Any scrapes from going around the corners of other pots can cause rusting. Simply wash with warm soapy water, then dry thoroughly before storing or seasoning it again like normal.
9. Store your cast iron cookware up high away from sunlight or heat
This will help prevent the cookware's surface from being eroded by time and exposure to weather, and also helps keep rust at bay. A cabinet placed in a high area above your refrigerator would be an ideal place for storing it until you are ready to use it again.
10: Temperature to consider
Try not to place your cast iron pan in an oven that is too hot (over 450 degrees), or leave it inside while heating up at high temperatures. Overheating may cause the seasoning to break down much faster than normal. Just be sure to preheat your pan on low heat before placing food into the oven – and never heat or cook with this pan on the stovetop over medium or high heat.
What are the most common mistakes about cleaning a cast iron griddle?
Do not use soap, as this can cause your cast iron cookware to become rusted over time. Avoid using steel wool pads or scrubbers on it, as they will damage the surface and its non-stick quality and appearance.
Lastly, never run it through the dishwasher – it may damage the coating of your pan that helps prevent rust from forming in the first place. Instead of these mistakes, follow the tips found in this article for cleaning a cast iron griddle effectively.
Final thoughts on how to clean a cast-iron griddle
In conclusion, it is very important to maintain your cast iron cookware well and regularly, as it helps keep rust at bay and can retain its non-stick qualities.
Seasoning your pan after cleaning it properly will also help to protect against water or moisture coming in contact with the surface, thus preventing a build-up of rust on the griddle pan's cooking surface – which would decrease its appearance and value. If you want your cast iron griddle to last for generations, just remember these tips.
Finally, we have reviewed the top 10 cast iron griddles for your consideration – why not use the information in this article to make a final buying decision?