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Why Do You Need a Lid?

When it comes to cooking essentials, you might not immediately think about lids for your pots and pans—that is, until you want to steam some vegetables, make a sauce boil faster or trap moisture when braising meat. We’ve found that cast iron lids are an indispensable part of our kitchens that we reach for almost every time we’re heating up a pan. So how do you take care of your cast iron lid and make sure it looks just as good as your well-seasoned skillet? Here’s everything you need to know.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Do you need to season a lid?

Will you be cooking directly on your cast iron lid? No, but you do still need to season it. Seasoning does more than just make a skillet naturally non-stick; it also protects cast iron from rusting. Seasoning is a layer of polymerized oil that bonds with the surface of cast iron. This protective layer of polymerized oil helps keep water from penetrating down to the iron itself, and making it more difficult for rust to form. Since a lid is where steam and evaporated moisture will collect when you’re cooking, this is pretty important! Plus, if any food splatters on your lid while cooking, it’ll be a lot easier to clean if you have a good layer of seasoning.

How should you clean a cast iron lid?

Unlike a cast iron skillet, a lid won’t get an even layer of oil or fat heated up on its surface every time you cook. This means that the seasoning you develop on a lid will really only come from your cleaning and care routine, so it’s important to take the right steps (and use the right seasoning oil).

We also know that cleaning a lid can be a bit more difficult than washing your pan, largely due to the self-basting rings on its underside. (But we’d never give these up, they're the key to tender, moist braises!) That’s why we love using a chain mail scrubber to scour every side of your lid. It’s thinner and has more movement than a dish sponge, so it can easily get around the handle and self-basting rings on your lid with no extra effort.

Ready to clean your cast iron lid? Use these five simple steps:


Rinse your lid with warm water and remove any oil or food residue with a stiff brush. (Feel free to use soap here as well; contrary to popular belief, it’s totally fine to use a gentle dish soap on your cast iron.)


Gently scour the lid all over with a chain mail scrubber. The chain mail will help remove any residues that are really stuck-on, and add a little texture to the surface of your lid, making it easier for seasoning to adhere.


Heat your lid on the stovetop over medium-low heat, for about 3 minutes, or until the first wisps of smoke appear.


Using a paper towel, apply a small dab of cast iron seasoning oil and rub it on all sides of the lid. You’ll want to use an oil that’s high in polyunsaturated fats, which is why we recommend using our cast iron seasoning oil blend (made from organic grapeseed oil, organic sunflower oil and beeswax), for easy application and seasoning development


Use a paper towel or rag to wipe away any excess oil, leaving behind a matte finish. There should be no dripping or pooling oil, and the lid should not be very shiny.

How should you store your lid?

You can absolutely store your lid directly on the skillet. Just make sure that your pan has been thoroughly dried—on the stovetop and with a towel—before covering it. If your pan has any residual moisture in it, this may evaporate and collect on the lid, potentially causing rust or damaging the seasoning. We love the way a well seasoned-lid (especially with a bronze knob) looks while sitting on our stovetop.