A carbon steel pan might be a better and longer-lasting option than a non-stick pan if you’re concerned about your health. When properly seasoned, they are almost as “non-stick” as a conventional non-stick pan and have a long lifespan.
Finding the best choice from the numerous available might be difficult due to the high cost of some of them. So that you may make an informed selection, we have compiled a list of the best carbon steel pans.
This study reviews carbon steel skillets in depth, including the many varieties of carbon steel, its benefits, ideal uses, seasoning, and comparisons to other types of skillets (such as stainless steel, cast iron, and nonstick). Finally, we discuss the best carbon steel pans on the market and provide recommendations.
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Let us now guide you in finding the best carbon steel pans:
In fact, this is something you should be on the lookout for. Choose the size(s) that best suit your requirements. The pan’s wall height, however, should be evaluated. Even while two pans of the same diameter may hold the same amount of food, the one with higher walls will hold far more.
Whether or not the pan’s form matters for your intended use depends on your culinary endeavors. For making omelets, for instance, a pan with slightly rounded sides is preferable so that you can fold or flip it without much hassle.
To sum up, while shopping for a pan, it’s important to make sure you choose one that’s well-suited to the food you’ll be preparing.
√ Combination of materials
Several companies make their carbon steel cookware by combining or coating carbon steel with additional materials. If you’re going to purchase a pan, double-check that it doesn’t include any chemicals that might hurt you. While carbon steel pans perform best when left uncoated, you may obtain the same results by purchasing an enameled carbon steel pan if you’d rather not season it.
However, a natural pre-seasoned pan is the best option. That way, you can start using it right away and getting the most out of it.
√ Temperature resistance
It’s important to know the highest safe temperature for the pan you’re using. The highest temperature this pan can handle is 800 degrees Fahrenheit, however 500 degrees is more typical.
√ Stovetop compatibility
The carbon steel metal itself is suitable for use on any burner, but not every carbon steel cookware is. This is because some skillets have an uneven base or are made of a composite material. For the same reason, oven safety is also important. Make sure the carbon steel pan you choose has these qualities if you plan on using them often.
Ergonomic design is essential for this component. It would be ideal if it were always a comfortable temperature, too. And securely fastened in place to bear the pan’s load. In general, a pan with a helping handle is the best option if you need to use a pot or skillet that’s on the bigger side. It is safest and most convenient to use a big pan with an assist handle while working with these devices.
√ Easy to season
Seasoning a carbon steel pan before to the first usage is necessary, but after that, the pan will only become better with use. The pan should take seasoning well and be simple to do.
√ Simple to clean
The simplicity of cleaning is crucial. Most carbon steel cookware just has to be washed in hot water and maybe some dish soap. It should be easy to remove any leftover food this way, without the need for more powerful cleaners.
In this first segment, we review seven of the best carbon steel pans on the market as of now:
Home chefs who aren’t experienced in seasoning their own carbon steel pan, or who just want a skillet that is ready to use right out of the box, have an excellent choice available to them in the form of a product manufactured by Lodge.
The fact that Lodge was the first firm to produce pre-seasoned iron cookware and that their products come with factory-ready coatings contributed to the company’s rise to prominence as a well-known brand in the United States. This carbon steel skillet fits right in with their budget-friendly, no-frills cookware, much like their iconic pre-seasoned cast iron.
The majority of the other alternatives have handles that are angled upwards, but the handle on the skillet made of carbon steel is horizontal. This is a little bit of a departure from the norm. This was done to ensure that the pan could be placed on higher racks in the oven without causing any problems. Something that may be challenging when considering some of the other possibilities. One drawback of this is that it makes maneuvering around the rear burners of the stove more difficult than it would otherwise be.
The carbon steel skillet from Lodge is among the highest in terms of both its longevity and its capacity to withstand high temperatures.
Home chefs who are experienced in seasoning their own cookware may find that switching to a different pan is beneficial to their cooking. Some individuals like a somewhat rough cooking surface, which is produced by the pre-seasoning procedure used by Lodge. The surface of the finest pans made from carbon steel is renowned to be very smooth. If a smooth feel is what the owner is going for, they can decide to scrape the surface clean and then re-season it.
This is the kind of pan you should have if you take your culinary endeavors seriously since it will live up to your expectations. It is a pan that is created in France and is completely natural. It is made up of 99% iron and 1% carbon, which means that it does not include any potentially hazardous chemicals like as PTFE or PFOA.
After a few uses, it will acquire a patina that will make it inherently non-stick, and the sophisticated French-style grip will make it simple to use. Patinas are naturally non-stick. In addition to that, it has an assistance handle on the other side for even more control. We also appreciate that it is resistant to warping, which means that it should maintain its original form.
The cost is the most significant barrier, since many people who only cook at home sometimes are not ready to spend that much money on a single pan; nevertheless, if you are in a position to purchase one, it is well worth the additional expense.
Additionally, it can be too hefty for some people’s tastes, so if you’re looking for something lighter you might want to seek in a different direction.
To summarize, this is a fantastic choice to make if you want the finest and are prepared to pay for it; but, if you cannot afford it, there are other alternatives that could be more appropriate.
While many people are unable to tell the difference in performance between this pan and premium models, the Winco French Style carbon steel pan is an excellent choice for chefs who only sometimes prepare elaborate meals. The most essential benefit is that it costs just one-half as much. You may thus claim that purchasing it was a wise decision.
Although Winco is not exactly a household brand, you can locate their products at restaurant supply shops and professional kitchens all around the United States. They manufacture every conceivable kind of cookware, and the prices for all of it are incredibly reasonable.
The narrower the gauge of the metal, the quicker it will heat up; nevertheless, the heating may be somewhat less uniform. The reduced thickness of the carbon steel material results in a reduction in the overall material weight. Although it weighs just over three pounds, which is still not exactly light, compared to Mauviel and De Buyer, it is over two pounds lighter than the former.
In a busy restaurant, having a carbon steel pan that is both lighter in weight and heats up more quickly may be a game-changer, but I believe a lot of people who cook at home would enjoy those characteristics as well.
There are no oven limitations that are stated; nevertheless, I am aware that many restaurant kitchens keep them in stacks either directly on a hot burner or in ovens that are preheated to 500 degrees. This guarantees that the pan is ready for use at a moment’s notice and does not need any time to preheat before use.
This procedure is not essential while cooking at home, but it demonstrates how well this carbon steel pan can withstand high temperatures.
A carbon steel pan in the range of 10 to 12 inches in diameter is ideal for many of the day-to-day culinary activities. However, since it comes in nine different sizes, Matfer Bourgeat is an excellent option for any and all of the conceivable jobs.
The handle of this carbon steel pan is welded on, while the handles of other similar pans are attached with rivets. This is another feature that sets this pan apart from its competitors. This is one of the qualities of the pan that receives the greatest praise from customers. Rivets are durable and built to endure, but since they provide a spot for food and filth to get lodged, they should be avoided.
This heavy-duty pan is constructed from thick gauge steel and has broad flared sides for more surface area. The form and style are quite comparable to that of our top selection, the De Buyer.
Another French manufacturer, Matfer Bourgeat, has been producing kitchenware continuously since the year 1814. They manufacture a wide variety of culinary utensils, and their carbon steel fry pan comes in nine distinct sizes. They start at 8 5/8 inches and go all the way up to 17 3/4 inches in length.
You will have a smooth, unbroken cooking surface that is simple to clean if you have a handle that has been welded on. And taking into account the fact that the business has been there for almost 200 years, I really doubt that durability will be a problem.
This is a product that you should be interested in purchasing if you are looking for a huge paella pan made of carbon steel to satisfy your cooking needs. It is created in Spain, which means it is the genuine thing, and it sells at a very affordable price range for such a huge and high-quality item. In addition, it comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
This is a versatile pan that can be used in a number of various ways, including on the stovetop (which is how most people use it), in the oven, or even under the grill. Additionally, we appreciate that it includes a pamphlet that teaches you how to cook paella, so that you may begin experimenting with it right away.
This pan doesn’t really have any flaws that are worth pointing out. We would like to bring to your attention that this is a very huge item; hence, if you are unsure as to whether or not you need one of this size, it is likely best for you to choose a more manageable size.
Additionally, it is a paella pan, which means that you can make paella in it! This implies that if you want a pan that you can use to cook a variety of different recipes, you should look elsewhere since this one does not have that capability.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something to make paella in, this pan is a winner, making it the obvious decision to go with.
If you are familiar with how to use a wok, then you are aware of the many different roles that it may play in the kitchen. It is impossible to find a single pot or pan that can perform as many functions as a wok.
Although the main use of a wok is to swiftly stir fry bite-size pieces of food, it is also a great instrument for boiling and deep-frying food. Woks are often made of steel or cast iron. It is possible to use it in place of a crepe pan with only a little bit of additional preparation, and it also produces excellent results when used for eggs and even flatbreads.
The typical steel used to make a wok is much thinner than that used to make a fry pan. This one has a thickness of 1.8 millimeters and weighs close to 4.5 pounds. Because it is made of a thinner carbon steel composition, the pan may heat up very rapidly and reach an incredibly high temperature in the middle of the pan.
Because of its deep form, the wok allows for a variety of temperature ranges to be used while cooking. It is intended for the very bottom and the middle to have a high level of heat, but the heat level will progressively decrease as you walk up the edges.
Due to the rounded bottom of the pan, it is not compatible with the majority of flat-top stoves and should only be used on gas stoves or, better yet, a wok burner. The addition of a low-cost wok ring will make the cooking process much simpler and safer.
There is no denying that this is a more specialist option; nevertheless, if you are willing to put in the effort to learn how to correctly handle a wok, you will be well rewarded and your range of culinary skills will be substantially broadened.
This is a pan that ought to pique the curiosity of home cooks who take pride in their collection of high-quality cooking implements. We like the increased all-natural non-stick features that work right out of the box but merely become better with time, and the form of the pan is ideal for cooking, flipping, and folding omelets.
This pan is not only very durable – it is so resistant that it is almost impossible to break – but it also has a curved handle in the French manner, which makes it both pleasant to grip and simple to maneuver when cooking. Additionally, it can withstand temperatures in the oven of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of twenty minutes.
Having said that, the handle has an epoxy coating, which means that you can’t put it all the way inside the oven since the coating would melt. Having said that, you can’t put it all the way outside the oven either.
The price is the only other potential drawback, given that this frying pan is not inexpensive. Nevertheless, if you want the best gear, you have to be ready to pay for it. If you are prepared to put your hand in your wallet, this might be an excellent choice for you.
The best way to think about carbon steel is as somewhat of a compromise between clad stainless steel and cast iron. Cast iron is the material that carbon steel most closely resembles, however carbon steel has a lower carbon content (somewhat ironically, given the name).
The following are some of the qualities that give carbon steel its superiority as a material for skillets:
Cast iron is always thick because carbon makes steel fragile. This is why cast iron is usually thick; the thickness makes it less likely to break. Lightweight. As a result of carbon steel’s lower carbon content, brittleness isn’t as much of a concern with it, which means that it may be formed into pans with a lower wall thickness. Because it is thinner, carbon steel is lighter than cast iron, which is the primary reason for the difference.
Carbon steel, much like cast iron, warms slowly and unevenly, but once it’s heated thoroughly, it holds heat very well. When properly preheated before usage, carbon steel provides for a superb skillet that can be used for a variety of cooking methods.
Take into consideration that heat won’t be retained nearly as well in carbon steel as it would be in cast iron due to the thinner nature of carbon steel. It is impossible for thinner carbon steel to retain heat as well as thicker cast iron due to the thermodynamics of heat retention, despite the fact that many people disagree with this assertion and you can find other websites that suggest it’s just as good. Since carbon steel and cast iron both have the same heat capacity ratings, this indicates that the thicker material will be able to hold more heat.
When searing at high temperatures, is carbon steel just as effective as cast iron? Not exactly. In spite of this, it is still possible to get great searing, and the thicker the carbon steel, the better the searing will be.
When properly seasoned, carbon steel may serve as a great alternative to pans that are covered with nonstick coatings since it is almost nonstick. There are a lot of folks who say it’s even better, and it’s definitely safer since the pan doesn’t have any possibly harmful chemicals in it.
A majority of pans made of carbon steel may be purchased at a reasonable price. Depending on the size of the pan, you may expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $80 for a basic pan made of carbon steel. It is possible to spend more money on boutique carbon steel, but there is really no incentive to do so unless you have the financial means or fall in love with the design of the product. The thickness (gauge) of the carbon steel is the most significant characteristic: choose a smaller gauge if you want a lightweight pan, and choose a thicker gauge if you want the greatest possible high-heat searing. As long as you know how to use them and maintain them well-seasoned, both thick and thin pans may serve well as all-purpose skillets if you have the necessary skills.
Carbon steel skillets that have been used and seasoned to perfection make excellent multi-purpose pans. They are useful for a wide variety of cooking tasks, from searing steaks and producing stir fries to frying eggs and making omelets. In addition, they merely keep growing more nonstick over time, which results in an ever-improving performance when it comes to not sticking.
Anything may be cooked in a skillet made of carbon steel as long as you don’t mind having to reseason it after each use. On the other hand, due to the fact that seasoning is destroyed by acids and liquids, you should probably avoid using a skillet made of carbon steel for acidic dishes or foods that include a lot of liquid.
One important note as was said before, the gauge (thickness) of the pan has an effect on the types of cooking that are best suited to it. Choose a pan that has a thicker bottom if you are looking for one that will work well for searing steaks. Choose a pan that is thinner if you want something that is simple to handle and works well for cooking items that can be prepared quickly, such as eggs and stir fries.
You may use a pan that is thicker for high-heat searing, and you can use a pan that is thinner for high-heat searing, but you will have better results if you chose the pan based on its main usage.
If you want a pan that can be used for a variety of purposes, a pan with a thickness of 2 millimeters (mm) would be a good option. Even while it won’t sear a steak nearly as effectively as a pan with a thicker bottom, you should still be able to get decent results with it.
Because traditional carbon steel skillets have broader and shallower edges than many other kinds of skillets, they are not ideal for baking (as the oil is more likely to spill and spatter, which is a risky cooking method) or deep frying (because batter can spill over the sides). On the other hand, there are other brands that now come with sides that are taller and steeper (such as the Northwest Skillet Company pan we review below). In such circumstance, engaging in deep frying is quite safe; nonetheless, cast iron is the superior option due to its greater capacity to retain heat.
Cast iron and carbon steel are both examples of metals that just contain iron and carbon and do not have any rust preventative additives. The legislation requires that stainless steel have at least 16% chromium, which is one of the components that prevents corrosion. In addition to these, nickel, titanium, molybdenum, and other elements that prevent corrosion may be present in stainless steel.
Although carbon steel lacks rust inhibitors, much like cast iron, it corrodes at a rather rapid rate. Before you can season and use a pan made of carbon steel, it will first need to have the wax coating removed completely. This is done because carbon steel pans are sometimes delivered with a coating of wax to prevent rusting.
A layer that prevents rust from forming on the pan may be created using seasoning. Seasoning also provides cookware with a coating that is almost nonstick and prevents a significant quantity of iron from leaking into your food. However, some iron may still leach into your food in very trace quantities, particularly if you cook acidic dishes or use a significant amount of liquid.
Both carbon steel and cast iron, if not properly seasoned, can’t be used to manufacture reliable pans because of their inherent instability.
See the essay written by Sheryl Canter, which we linked to in the part that is located above this one, for the most comprehensive explanation as well as directions for seasoning. The process of seasoning carbon steel should be the same as that used for cast iron; however, since carbon steel is smoother than cast iron, it may need less coats in order to achieve the same nonstick properties.
Carbon steel pans are, in fact, among of the safest options for a cookware material. They are made entirely of carbon steel, which has the potential to leach iron but, unless you have a rare disease in which your body generates an excessive amount of iron, this is perfectly safe. Because so many individuals suffer from a lack of iron in their bodies, consuming carbon steel might really be a beneficial addition to one’s diet.
There are various questions about the seasoning, which is oil that has been polymerized (essentially a kind of plastic, similar to PTFE). According to research, the process of seasoning generates free radicals, which are known to contribute to a wide variety of health issues in the body, including accelerated aging and cancer.
If you are familiar with the process of seasoning and follow the appropriate procedures, this is not nearly as dangerous as it may seem. The great and now-famous piece that Sheryl Canter wrote on seasoning cast iron asserts that the free radicals are the key to achieving a nice layer of seasoning on the cast iron. During the seasoning process, they “link” up with one another to produce stable molecules that are no longer radicals and are thus safe to be around.
As long as you use the appropriate oil, don’t heat it to temperatures that are higher than its smoke point, and season your pans in an area with enough ventilation, seasoning should be risk-free.
Every material that may be used to make cookware has certain advantages and disadvantages. There is no one that is demonstrably superior to the others; rather, it is dependent on the application that you have in mind.
This section will offer a direct comparison of the performance of carbon steel in contrast to other common materials used in cookware. In our recent post on the performance features of the greatest cookware materials, you may discover details that you can use to go further into a particular material if that is what you are interested in doing.
Carbon Steel Vs. Blue Steel
Blue steel is carbon steel. It has only been subjected to a heat treatment in order to produce a layer of armor on its surface. There is no impact on performance, and it has the same characteristics as carbon steel that has not been treated.
Carbon Steel Vs. Stainless Steel
The anti-corrosion properties of stainless steel are due to the presence of chromium, an element that is naturally present in stainless steel and gives it its name. Because of this, stainless steel requires less effort and time to maintain than other materials. It does not rust and does not need to be seasoned in any way.
In addition to being quite a bit more difficult to use in the kitchen, stainless steel may also be quite a bit more costly than carbon steel. Carbon steel is far less expensive than stainless steel, and with the right amount of seasoning, it may develop a non-stick quality. The use of stainless steel does not come with this particular advantage.
Carbon Steel Vs. Cast Iron
Cookware made of carbon steel and cast iron has a number of characteristics in common. When properly seasoned, both of these materials may develop a non-stick surface on the cook surface and are inexpensive. They are also sturdy enough to last for generations.
The weight and how the materials react to heat are the major characteristics that differentiate the two types of materials. Carbon steel cookware is much thinner and lighter than cast iron cookware. Because of this, it is very good at distributing heat and keeping it, both of which are important properties for cooking methods including braising, stewing, and baking.
Carbon steel, on the other hand, is both thin and lightweight. This makes cookware made of carbon steel simpler to handle in the kitchen, which is useful if you are shifting the dish or flipping ingredients with a flick of the wrist. Carbon steel is also far more sensitive to variations in temperature.
Carbon Steel Vs. Nonstick Cookware
Even while a pan made of carbon steel may have a good food release over time, there is nothing that is more handy than a pan made of nonstick material right out of the box. The release of food from nonstick surfaces is excellent, and the cost of individual meals is often very reasonable.
Carbon steel cookware may not be as user-friendly as nonstick cookware, but you will obtain a significant increase in value over the course of the pan’s lifespan by using carbon steel. If cared for correctly, a skillet made of carbon steel should last more than a lifetime, but nonstick cookware often has to be replaced after five years or less. There is also some worry over the influence that the chemicals that are used in the production of conventional nonstick cookware may have on the environment.
We finish off by answering some of the common questions about the best carbon steel pans:
Q1. Is it safe to oven with carbon steel?
A. Carbon steel is an excellent material for cooking a wide variety of foods, but it truly comes into its own when used to high-heat, dry-cooking techniques such as stir-frying, sauteing, and searing. Because parts made of carbon steel can withstand high temperatures, you may bake in the pan or finish a dish under the broiler if necessary.
Q2. Is it true that carbon steel is superior than stainless steel?
A. Carbon steel has a high carbon content, which makes it susceptible to rapid corrosion and rusting when it is exposed to moisture. Stainless steel is more pleasing to the eye and may be used to make things that are attractive due to its versatility. Carbon Steel is superior than stainless steel in terms of both strength and durability.
Q3. Which material is superior, carbon steel or cast iron?
A. Carbon steel pans reach the appropriate temperature for cooking much more rapidly than cast iron, which takes a while to heat up. The cookware made of carbon steel has a gentle bend in it, which provides for faster cooling of the pan. When preparing delicate meals using methods such as flash frying, sautéing, and so on, this capability is ideal. Pans made of cast iron are more effective in retaining heat.
Q4. How long does cookware made of carbon steel typically last?
A. Because the coating on ceramic and nonstick pans ultimately wears off, it is recommended that you replace them every two to five years. A skillet made of copper, cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel may last a lifetime provided it is treated with the appropriate amount of care and attention from the owner.
Q5. Is it possible to scratch a carbon steel pan?
A. It does not irritate the skin. You won’t have to worry about scratching a carbon steel pan since, when it has been seasoned, it will have a nonstick surface that is resistant to damage from metal utensils and utensils used for cooking. A high-quality pan made of carbon steel may be expected to survive for decades if it is properly maintained.
If this is your first time purchasing a carbon steel pan, there are several terrific and reasonably priced alternatives. Although the performance variations between models are typically insignificant, I also like the Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet choice, which has a design that is comparable to something you presumably already have in your kitchen. It’s a simple and easy way to get started with carbon steel cookware.
As you can see, there is a vast variety of carbon steel pans to fit almost any budget. If you’ve determined that carbon steel is the way to go but aren’t sure which pan to choose, any of the pans in our review would be a terrific place to start your search.
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