How To Remove Fish Odor From a Cast Iron Skillet

by Mike Andrew

Items you will need

  • Vegetable oil
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Paper towels
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato juice
  • Onions
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water

A cast iron skillet presents several options for cooking fish. However, fish oil can seep into the iron, leaving your skillet with an unpleasant fishy odor that can permeate other food cooked in the skillet. You can eliminate fish odor from your cast iron skillet in a number of ways.

Charring and Treating

Step 1

Sauté several onions and garlic cloves in the skillet and char them until black.

Step 2

Bits of the charred onions and garlic will form a layer on the surface of the skillet; let the skillet cool and scrape this debris from the surface.

Step 3

Treat the inside of the skillet by applying several layers of a mixture of salt and vegetable oil, let it stand for several minutes, and clean the skillet.

Scrubbing and Re-seasoning

Step 1

Wash the pan with strong soap and hot water.

Step 2

Scrub the inside of the skillet with a light abrasive, being careful not to scratch it. Dry with paper towels.

Step 3

Re-season the skillet by rubbing a thick layer of vegetable shortening on the inside and baking the skillet in an oven at 250 degrees for two hours.

Boiling Liquid

Step 1

Empty a can of tomato juice or tomato sauce, or a mixture of one cup of vinegar and four cups of water, into the skillet.

Step 2

Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, reduce heat and maintain a low boil for 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 3

Remove the skillet from heat and discard the contents. Clean the skillet and re-season it, if necessary.


  • Using a separate cast iron skillet for cooking fish will save you from having to treat or re-season the skillet every time you prepare fish.


  • When scrubbing cast iron with an oil mixture, be sure the iron is cool before adding oil. Oil that is rapidly heated to a high temperature can splatter and cause serious burns. Never add water to hot oil, as this will cause splattering.

References (1)

  • “Cast Iron Cooking For Dummies;” Tracy Barr; 2003

About the Author

Mike Andrew has written business and legal articles for "850 Magazine" since 2008 and covers college football for several websites. Andrew is a freelance writer, attorney and music producer based in Florida. He received his Juris Doctor from Florida State University.