The short answer to this question is: yes! You can cook eggs in cast iron. You just have to make sure your cast iron pan or skillet is seasoned properly with oil to prevent the eggs from sticking or burning.
Here are our steps on how to cook the perfect eggs in cast iron.
1. Choose the right cast iron pan or skillet
You need to cook with what you feel most confident with, whether it’s a pan or skillet is up to you. Each pan or skillet will perform differently from each other, which means you can’t guarantee the same results from each appliance.
2. Preheat the pan or skillet
Cast iron pans and skillets take a while to preheat, so turn on the heat on your stove and wait for the pan to warm up. Don’t use oil just yet! This is to help the pan adapt and maintain the heat regardless of oil.
3. Season the pan or skillet
When we say to season the pan, we don’t mean with salt and pepper. You should prepare your pan/skillet with an oil of your choice (olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, for example). Cast iron pans and skillets usually come with a non-stick coating anyway, but eggs are notorious for requiring lots of oil to prevent them from sticking.
4. Add the eggs at a low heat
When you crack the eggs into the pan and skillet, make sure to turn the heat down. This is because cast iron retains heat really well, so keeping it at a high temperature will increase the chance of burning and uneven cooking. This is the same for frying and scrambling eggs. Also, turning down the heat will prevent the eggs and oil from spitting, which can be painful on the skin and can stain worktops.
5. Be patient
Everyone will have different ways of cooking eggs because we all have different preferences. For the perfect eggs, especially fried eggs, you just have to be patient. If you flip your eggs too early, this can encourage the yolk and whites to stick to the pan or skillet. Instead, wait until most of the clear gunk has disappeared before you turn it over.
Are eggs bad for cast iron?
Eggs aren’t necessarily bad for cast iron, whether it’s a pan or skillet, but it all depends on how you cook your eggs. Eggs are notorious for sticking and burning to pans regardless of the material, and this is especially the case for cast iron.
Cast iron isn’t a smooth material. If you run your finger across the surface of a cast iron pan or skillet, you will feel the rough dents and bumps. When you cook something like an egg, it will cling to these little rough bits, which will make the egg “stick” to the pan. This is especially the case for cooking scrambled eggs, because you will feel the need to scrub the surface with a spatula to get the stuck pieces of egg off it. Not only will this cause your spatula damage, but it will also scratch the cast iron, which will rub off the non-stick coating.
Sticky eggs can make it a nightmare to clean cast iron pans and skillets. If you don’t immediately wash the cast iron after cooking, the bits of egg will need proper scrubbing with a scourer. Whilst this won’t immediately damage the cast iron, constant scrubbing might damage pans with a non-stick coating, which means you might need a replacement over time.
However, there are ways to avoid sticky and burnt eggs on cast iron. You should look to buy cast iron pans and skillets with a non-stick coating anyway, but always make sure to season it properly with oil as an extra layer of protection. This will help to prevent the egg from cooking onto the cast iron itself, as the oil acts as a lubricant.
Another reason for sticky eggs on cast iron is improper control over the temperature. Cast iron takes a while to preheat, but once it has successfully preheated, it retains the heat very easily. This is why you should always turn the heat down when cooking your eggs on cast iron, because keeping the heat at a high setting will only burn the egg and encourage sticking.
Can you cook eggs in enameled cast iron?
Yes, you can cook eggs in enameled cast iron! There are certain rules to follow when cooking eggs in enameled cast iron, whether it’s a skillet or frying pan, which is why some beginners might find they are making failed eggs.
Enameled cast iron won’t prevent eggs from sticking. This is because of the denaturation of the proteins in eggs, which is where the heat-sensitive protein strands tangle to create the white and yellow of an egg as it cooks. The surface of cast iron is rough to the touch, which will encourage the protein strands to cling to the roughness.
Unfortunately, enameled cast iron isn’t the same as a non-stick cast iron surface. Sure, an enamel coating will make the cast iron surface smooth, but it will only have partial non-stick properties.
To prevent eggs from sticking to enamel cast iron pans or skillets, you must season the surface properly. This is how to do this:
- Preheat the pan or skillet without any oil on it. This is because cast iron takes a while to preheat but retains the heat well.
- Add your chosen seasoning. Most people opt for olive oil, butter, or coconut oil. You should do this regardless of if the surface has a non-stick or enamel coating or not.
- Turn down the heat when you add the eggs. When cooking, be patient and try not to touch the cast iron surface too much (when scrambling eggs or flipping fried eggs, for example).
The reason you should turn the heat down when cooking the eggs is that the cast iron surface will retain the heat, so keeping it at a high temperature will only cause the eggs to burn and stick.
Unfortunately, seasoning your cast iron surface still won’t make it immune to sticky eggs. The protein of eggs will always bond to an iron surface, which will result in sticking due to uneven cooking because of the rough surface.
How do you cook eggs in cast iron without sticking?
Cooking eggs in cast iron isn’t too dissimilar from cooking eggs in other materials, but there are certain steps to follow if you want to avoid the eggs from sticking. Sticky eggs aren’t only disappointing for the eater and cooker, but they can be a nightmare to clean from the cooking surface.
Here are our steps on how to cook the perfect eggs in a cast iron skillet or frying pan without sticking!
1. Know your pan/skillet
If you have bought a new pan or skillet, this step won’t apply to you. You will have to undergo trial and error. If you have an existing pan or skillet, make sure you know how it performs. Each kitchen appliance will perform differently from others depending on what you’re cooking, so it’s good to go with something you trust.
2. Preheat the cast iron
Cast iron is a thick material that takes a while to preheat, but once it has been preheated, it will retain this heat for a long time. You should take the time to preheat the cast iron pan or skillet, because avoiding this step will encourage your eggs to literally cook and adhere to the surface.
3. Season the surface
Regardless of whether your cast iron skillet or pan is enamel or has a non-stick coating or not, you should always season the surface once it has preheated. You can use whatever type of oil you prefer - most people opt for olive oil or butter depending on how they like the taste of their eggs. This is to provide an extra layer of protection for both the eggs and the cast iron surface.
4. Add the eggs
When you add the eggs, make sure to turn the heat down. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making scrambled eggs or fried eggs. The cast iron will retain the heat, so keeping the temperature high will only encourage burning and sticking.
5. Be patient
It doesn’t matter how many times you cook eggs - you will never get the same results every time. You need to be patient and wait for them to cook properly before you flip it over (for fried eggs). It doesn’t matter too much if the yolk breaks, but this can be avoided if you wait for most of the clear gunk to have cooked into egg white before flipping it over.
6. Practice makes perfect
You’ll have to break several yolks to get a perfect fried egg. Don’t fret - this is totally normal!
Why do scrambled eggs stick to cast iron?
It doesn’t matter whether your cast iron skillet or pan has enamel or non-stick coating - cast iron surfaces are filled with small dents and bumps. When a liquid food cooks onto one of these surfaces, it will harden and adhere to the cast iron unless it has been properly seasoned.
Sometimes, it’s often unavoidable for scrambled eggs to stick to cast iron. Due to the material of the pan or skillet, it’s a bit inevitable that you’re going to be scrubbing the surface with a spatula to prevent half of the eggs from sticking to the pan.
However, there are ways to avoid this. Firstly, don’t use a metal spatula or similar utensil. This will only encourage scratches and more dents, which will create more sticky eggs! This is especially the case for scrambled eggs as you must keep them moving to “scramble” them.
Most importantly, you must season the cast iron surface properly, regardless of whether the pan or skillet has a coating or not. This can be done with olive oil, butter, or another oil type once the pan has preheated.
Also, make sure to turn the heat down when you put the scrambled egg mixture on the surface. Cast iron retains heat, so keeping the temperature high will only encourage the eggs to stick and burn to the surface.