Cast iron cooking can look challenging – especially if you go about it the first time planning to use butter in a cast-iron skillet. Admittedly, it can be a little bit difficult to get at first – but I’m going to be sharing some tips and tricks to make sure you get it right! So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Do You Use Oil Or Butter In A Cast Iron Skillet?
- How Do You Keep Butter From Burning In A Cast Iron Skillet?
- How Do You Grease A Cast Iron Skillet? What To Do
Do You Use Oil Or Butter In A Cast Iron Skillet?
When I explained how to choose an oil to season cast iron, there was a lot of talk about different fats and their smoke points. Coincidentally, smoke points play a HUGE part in cooking with butter.
So… What is a smoke point?
The term ‘smoke point’ just means the point at which oil starts to burn and smoke! Much like water comes to a boiling point where it evaporates, so do fats. The only difference is that an oil reaching its smoke point is generally undesired in cooking, as it will make everything you’ve cooked taste scorched!
But why does any of this matter when cooking with butter? Well, like most kinds of olive oils, butter has a relatively low smoke point. This can make cooking with butter that extra bit more challenging as it’s so easy to burn.
Butter On Cast Iron – Do Or Don’t?
Despite its low smoke point, it’s still okay to cook with butter – as long as you’re careful not to burn it. However, this can be difficult on cast iron as it retains heat so well. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible! There are a few different tricks you can use to grease your cast iron pan with butter.
If using butter on cast iron seems a little intimidating at first, it might be best to try it out on carbon steel beforehand and see how you fare. It’s better than cooking on a stainless steel pan as carbon steel is more similar to cast iron.
If you’d like an easier recipe to start experimenting with, this cast iron browned butter cookie recipe is a great choice. It’s especially convenient if you’re using more pricey enameled cast iron like Le Creuset because you can save it in the fridge for a while, pan and all!
Will Cooking With Butter Affect The Seasoning Of My Skillet?
Fortunately, the butter will not degrade the seasoning of cast iron!
However, you should still take all of the usual measures to maintain your skillet. It’s also worth mentioning that it won’t improve the seasoning either, so there’s no reason to get too excited!
How Do You Keep Butter From Burning In A Cast Iron Skillet?
When cooking with cast iron, there’s two easy ways to avoid burning butter.
- The first is to drizzle some oil before placing your butter into the pan. When you put in the butter, be mindful to only place it where there’s already oil. you’ll want to use an oil with a higher smoking point for this, and one with a neutral flavor so that the taste of the butter can shine! Essentially, this trick protects the butter from burning as the higher smoke point oil takes the brunt of the heat.
- The second method is to add in the rest of your ingredients quickly after you place the butter in the pan. Mixing the ingredients around and coating them in butter will mean the butter has less overall contact with the pan itself, lowering its temperature and hopefully preventing it from burning. However, this only tends to work if you’re adding enough ingredients to cover the base of your pan.
I’ve added this video by The Culinary Fanatic as a visual guide on another way you can use oil to keep the butter from sticking and burning. The timestamp for this is at 0:34.
Butter In Cast Iron For Steak
Whether you’re using a cast iron skillet or pan, searing meats with butter can be tricky. This is because searing by definition involves using high temperatures – and butter doesn’t take well to that. It’s even more difficult if you’re using a thick cut of meat, as it will take longer to cook and your butter will have more chance to burn in the process.
If you’re questioning whether to use butter or oil for steak, consider what your dish needs. Butter pairs best with ingredients like rosemary, potatoes, and garlic. If you want other ingredients to stand out more and are worried that butter will overpower the other flavors in your dish, a neutral flavored oil may work better.
Before searing a steak, I’d recommend trying to sauté some garlic in butter first and see how that goes. You could try out the cookie recipe I mentioned earlier too!
How to Sear Steak in Cast Iron Using Butter
Add butter to pan
If you want to go ahead with your steak, keep a low heat and add the butter to the pan. When your cast iron is almost hot, add the butter in.
Wait for foam
Soon, it will start to foam, at which point it’ll be at the temperature you want it.
Add in your steak and any other ingredients, and sear your steak! It’s a good idea to press your steak into the skillet with a spatula so that it sears faster.
Flip and repeat
After, flip it to the other side and repeat, making sure to move the butter around in the process.
Toss other ingredients
Once your steak is seared, toss your other ingredients about to make sure they get coated in the butter – this will imbue them with flavor and prevent your butter from burning as much.
Cook to taste
Then, simply cook your steak to taste!
How Do You Grease A Cast Iron Skillet? What To Do
So, there you have it! While there are a few challenges to overcome when cooking with butter and cast iron, it shouldn’t be too hard once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Just be mindful of the butter’s smoke point and work quickly to avoid reaching it. With these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be sure to master the art of cooking with butter soon!