The 8 Best Carbon Steel Pans

Dutch-baby-pancake-with-egg-greens-and-tomatoes-in-a-cast-iron-pan-on-a-white-table

While cast iron cookware has been a kitchen staple for years, a new kid has emerged on the block over recent years.

As professional chefs started embracing carbon steel pots and pans the world over, this form of cookware has increasingly been penetrating home kitchens.

Today, we’ll be highlighting 8 of the best carbon steel pans out there in a variety of shapes and sizes. This should help you to more easily choose the right one for your needs.

Why, though, should you consider picking up some carbon steel cookware in the first place?

Well, this alloy is made using steel and carbon, much like cast iron. The difference comes in the proportions used, though – see below for more on that.

So, carbon steel cookware is lighter and not as brittle as cast iron cookware. The super-smooth metal gives you the performance of cast iron as well as the versatility. As soon as your carbon steel pan is seasoned, the non-stick surface will withstand metal cooking tools without getting scratched.

Carbon steel pans work on any type of cooking surface, including induction.

Now, before we launch into our reviews, there are a few simple pointers worth considering before you brandish your credit card.

  • Material: Carbon steel and cast iron are both made from alloys containing iron. Where cast iron cookware contains between 2% and 3.5% iron, carbon steel contains just 2%. With less iron, carbon steel is quite malleable. This means it can be stretched and molded, unlike the much more brittle cast iron which would be liable to break under stress. The iron content in carbon steel cookware means it works seamlessly with induction cooktops. Over time, the smooth surface of a carbon steel develops a patina so it becomes naturally non-stick. Enjoy superb food release without any chemicals or contaminants. If you are looking for cookware that’s flat with flared sides – that’s skillets, woks, sauté pans, paella pans, or crepe pans – carbon steel is one of the best materials you could choose
  • Build: Most carbon steel pans come in either 2mm or 3mm thicknesses. The thicker variety are quite close to cast iron pans in terms of build. Cast iron pans are usually constructed from a single piece. With carbon steel pans, though, the handles are forged independently then riveted into place. Look for robust riveting to ensure the handles don’t work loose over time. The handles should also be long enough that they’re easy to grab, and they shouldn’t get too hot when on the stove either
  • Weight: If you find cast iron cookware unwieldy, you’ll find carbon steel cookware is much lighter. If you consider a broadly similar 12-inch pan from industry heavyweight Lodge, for instance, a cast iron skillet weighs around 9 pounds, compared to a carbon steel pan of the same size weighing under 5 pounds. Despite the lightweight form, good carbon steel cookware is still hefty enough to stay in place on the burner, and it’s also highly responsive to changes in heat
  • Flexibility: Carbon steel pans are great for all-purpose cooking, but they come to the fore when you’re stir-frying, sautéing, or searing. For any dry-cooking method using high heat, consider carbon steel cookware. You’ll also find carbon steel pans are oven-safe, allowing you to embrace stovetop to oven recipes like a pro. You may find cooking acidic foods in a carbon steel pan causes the seasoning to degrade, so you will need to build it back up again
  • Maximum heat: Carbon steel, just like cast iron, is highly tolerant to heat. You can use carbon steel pans on almost any cooking surface, including induction cooktops and open flames. You’ll find most carbon steel cookware is safe to 800F, with some brands capable of withstanding temperatures to 1200F

So, if you want to enjoy cooking with pans that get hot quickly and cool down just as quickly, explore our showcase of the 8 best carbon steel pans to see if any make the right fit for your home kitchen.

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I. The 8 Best Carbon Steel Pan

1. Our #1 Pick: de Buyer Mineral B Frying Pan

de-Buyer-Mineral-B-Frying-Pan

Features

  • Diameter: 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 6.34 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 12.6 x 1.7 inches

de Buyer started out as a small French smithy producing cutlery over 200 years ago. Continuing to produce French-made utensils ever since, the Mineral B frying pan is a modern classic. It’s also our favorite overall in today’s quest for the best carbon steel pan.

This 12.6-inch pan is the second-largest in a deep line of pans all made from 99% iron and 1% carbon.

Food release is exceptional, so everything slides onto your plate rather than splattering all over the sides of the pan.

Finished with beeswax, this natural treatment helps to prevent the oxidation that could otherwise affect carbon steel cookware.

As long as you follow the manufacturer’s simple seasoning instructions – or refer to our FAQs below – you should enjoy a natural non-stick finish that lasts.

The overall performance of this pan makes it a great bet if you frequently sear steaks. You’ll get a highly commendable sear here, and you won’t need to rely on any synthetic coating to achieve this.

The only complaints we could find in a sea of positive user reviews concerns the compatibility of this cookware with electric glass ranges, so you might want to rethink if you have one of these in the home kitchen.

As you would expect from such a well-established French specialist, the finish and overall build quality of this pan is impressive. Invest in this carbon steel pan and you’ll be rewarded with a remarkably versatile addition to your kitchen.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Beeswax finish staves off oxidation
  • French-made quality
  • Naturally non-stick once seasoned
  • Not great with electric glass ranges

2. Matfer Bourgeat Fry Pan

Matfer-Bourgeat-Black-Carbon- Steel-Fry- Pan

Features

  • Diameter: 11.88 inches
  • Weight: 4.11 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.9 x 2.2 inches

Next in line comes another excellent piece of carbon steel cookware, this time from Matfer Bourgeat. What do you get for your money here, then?

Well, the first thing you’ll appreciate is the keen pricing. Cheap carbon steel cookware almost always disappoints and you should never look only for the cheapest carbon steel pan. Disappointment is he likely outcome. If you’re looking for a bargain, though, this pan is well worth a look.

Measuring just under 12 inches across, if this doesn’t make the right fit, choose from 5 other variants ranging in size from 8.63 inches to 12.63 inches at the upper end.

Made from a dense black carbon steel, you can expect plenty of faithful service from this pan, as long as you maintain and season it properly, of course.

With none of the chemicals you find in Teflon and other non-stick coatings, this pan promotes first-class food release the natural way.

The steel handle is welded into place instead of being riveted. This helps to eliminate one of the classic weak points on carbon steel pans. A cast iron pan, by contrast, is typically forged in one piece.

If you’re looking for one of the best carbon steel pans out there available in a wide choice of sizes from a brand you can trust, let us know what you think of the Matfer Bourgeat fry pan.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Free of all contaminants
  • Rugged and hardwearing
  • Outstanding heat distribution
  • Quality control issues flagged

3. Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet

Lodge-Carbon-Steel-Skillet

Features

  • Diameter: 12 inches
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.25 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Lodge is a kitchenware specialist with a deep bench of cast iron and carbon steel cookware. This Tennessee-based firm has been in business for over 100 years producing exceptional pots and pans. How does this skillet shape up?

The rugged and versatile 14-gauge carbon steel gives you a 12-inch skillet that weighs a mere 4 pounds. This is hefty enough not to move around too much on the stovetop, but extremely maneuverable and lightweight considering the cooking surface area of this skillet.

Like all the best skillets, you can use the Lodge on all types of cooking surfaces, including induction cooktops, outdoor grills, and open fires.

The pan comes pre-seasoned with oil, so you’ll benefit from an all-natural finish that also happens to be highly non-stick.

Like any great carbon steel pan, the Lodge takes a little upkeep. Regular seasoning is key, as well as wiping it down with a paper towel and avoiding any soap and water. Rub with some cooking oil and you’re ready to roll.

The only gripes worth mentioning in other positive user testimony mention the roughness of the cooking surface, so do your due diligence here.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Premium 14-gauge carbon steel
  • Easy to care for
  • Use on all types of cooking surface
  • Cooking surface is quite rough

4. Marquette Castings Carbon Steel Skillet

Features

  • Diameter: 10.75 inches
  • Weight: 5.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 17.17 x 14.84 x 2.36 inches

As we reach the midpoint of our search for the best carbon steel pan, we have another skillet for you, this time from Marquette Castings.

Now, if you’re shopping for carbon steel cookware on a budget, this skillet is not for you. Much like Le Creuset, Marquette Casting attracts home cooks looking to invest in top-notch cookware at all costs. If that sounds like you, read on.

A versatile skillet you can use with gas and electric stovetops, as well as ovens, you won’t need to worry about mastering the art of seasoning your pan right away. This skillet arrives seasoned with some flaxseed oil and ready to slip into action immediately.

Measuring just 10.75 inches across, this makes a better bet for singles, couples, and small families rather than anyone looking to cook up big batches of food on the regular. Not only is the skillet reasonably small in terms of capacity, but it’s also quite heavy, so make sure you’re aware of this before committing to purchase.

If you’re still in any doubt about whether a skillet this expensive is really worth the money, the no-quibbles lifetime guarantee should show you how much faith the manufacturer places in this product.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Versatile skillet
  • Ideal for most cooking surfaces
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Quite heavy for a small skillet

5. BK Black Carbon Steel Skillet

BK-Black-Steel-Seasoned-Carbon-Steel-Skillet

Features

  • Diameter: 12 inches
  • Weight: 3.84 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 5 x 5 inches

Next in line comes a great skillet forged from the super-dense black carbon steel. As with all the best pans in this vertical, you benefit from a completely natural pan with an efficient non-stick treatment.

Since the pan arrives pre-seasoned, all you need to think about is what to cook first in your new skillet. Over time, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for seasoning and washing and you should get years of service from this pan.

This skillet measures 12 inches across. If that’s not right for you, choose from 3 other skillets in various sizes or a 12-inch frying pan for cookware that’s more all-purpose.

The material means this pan will respond very effectively and briskly to changes in heat.

The seasoning is just a thin coat of silicone wax rather than a heavy coating of beeswax, meaning the pan is ready to use after washing it with some soap.

And this is perhaps the key selling point of this carbon steel pan. It’s one of the easiest care pieces of cookware on our shortlist today.

On the downside, we found a few isolated reports of rusting with this pan, so make certain you dry it thoroughly immediately after washing it by hand.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Dense black carbon steel
  • Comes pre-seasoned
  • Highly heat responsive
  • Some rusting reported

6. de Buyer Mineral B Grill Pan

de-Buyer-Mineral-B-Grill-Pan

Features

  • Diameter: 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 5.08 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 12.6 x 1.7 inches

As we near the end of our search for the best carbon steel pan, we have another entry from the inimitable de Buyer.

Benefit from two centuries of cookware expertise and bring some French-made precision to your cooking.

If you are shopping for carbon steel pans based primarily on price, this is not the pan for you. If you appreciate the quality you’re getting when you buy the Mineral B, though, you’ll understand this pan represents great value for money.

The pan arrives pre-seasoned, so you can start cooking right out the box. The beeswax treatment will protect the pan against the oxidation that wrecks some poor quality carbon steel pans.

Almost all user reviews of this carbon steel frying pan are positive, but we encountered a handful of complaints about its overall bulkiness. Only you know whether a pan measuring 12.6 inches across and weighing over 5 pounds is just what you’ve been looking for or the last thing you need.

Made using just 1% carbon to 99% iron, this pan should return years of service, while remaining wonderfully non-stick throughout.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 1% carbon for improved searing
  • Finished with beeswax treatment
  • Made in France
  • Quite bulky

7. Made-In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Blue-Carbon-Steel-Frying-Pan

Features

  • Diameter: 12 inches
  • Weight: 4.31 pounds
  • Dimensions: 2.25 x 12 x 4.5 inches

Carbon steel cookware delivers many of the benefits of cast iron, but it’s much more versatile, and it’s also easier to care for. Aside from regularly seasoning carbon steel pans, there’s not much else to worry about.

Made-In serves up a fantastic 12-inch frying pan here that’s a supremely flexible addition to your kitchen, while also offering adequate capacity for cooking larger batches of food.

The blue carbon steel build gives you excellent and entirely natural food release. Kiss goodbye to fried food smeared all the inside of the pan, and achieve this without Teflon, and without any toxins or contaminants.

You can comfortably sear a couple of large steaks in this pan, or you could roast a whole chicken inside it if you’re looking for a Sunday meal.

Although this pan is not priced in the same stratosphere as de Buyer, it’s still not the cheapest carbon steel pan out there.

In return for digging slightly deeper, you buy into a brand that consults with chefs to bring you the optimum cookware that’s artisan-crafted yet built to stay the distance. For anyone prizing quality uppermost, this carbon steel frying pan might be the smartest purchase you make this year.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Large enough to sear two steaks
  • Great for roasting chicken
  • Works well for stir-frying
  • Not the cheapest carbon steel pan

8. Mauviel M Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan

Mauviel-M'Steel,-carbon-nonstick-fry-pan

Features

  • Diameter: 11 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 22 x 12.5 x 2 inches

Last but by no means least in today’s showcase of the best carbon steel pans comes in the guise of this black carbon steel gem.

This variant of carbon steel is extra thick, and the pan weighs 5 pounds, so it’s certainly no lightweight.

In exchange for this bulkier footprint, you get a correspondingly generous cooking surface area. The pan measures 12.5 inches across, ideal for bigger batches. You can also choose from 4 other sizes, from a small 8-inch pan to the 14-inch range-topper.

Suitable for use on all cooking surfaces, from gas and electric to induction cooktops, you’ll have no compatibility snags here.

This pan doesn’t come pre-seasoned. We suggest you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this pan. They are clear and easy to follow, and you’ll soon be whipping up your favorite dish and appreciating all the benefits of cooking with carbon steel cookware.

The rugged build of this pan means you can expect it to cope well, even at extremely high temperatures. This allows you to preheat your pan more efficiently, and also to sear at higher temperatures fuss-free.

Made in France by a company with plenty of expertise, you’re getting one of the most effective carbon steel plans out there, even though it’s not among the cheapest.

Guaranteed for life, this might be the last frying pan you ever buy.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Wide choice of sizes available
  • Extra-thick black carbon steel
  • French-made
  • Quality control concerns raised

II. FAQs

1) How can I clean a carbon steel pan?

Luckily, this is straightforward. Avoid using soap and water as this will strip the seasoning off your carbon steel pan, and at the same time impair its non-stick properties. Instead, wipe the pan clean using a paper towel or a dish towel.

2) How do I season a carbon steel pan?

There are many methods of seasoning carbon steel cookware, so we’ll keep things simple and describe the easiest of these methods. First, heat the pan over a low to medium heat for just 2 or 3 minutes. Do this either on a stovetop or on a grill. This helps to heat the pan all over, while also opening its pores. You might notice the color of the pan’s surface changing. This is normal. Once heated, apply a very thin layer of oil or wax to the pan, working it over the entire surface. Wipe away any excess using a paper towel. Leave the pan sitting on a low to medium heat, turning the pan as required so all the sides are heated evenly. You’ll see the color continue changing, possibly introducing shades of black and brown, even blue and orange. This is expected. Remove the pan from the heat after 5 minutes or so and allow it to completely cool down. You can repeat with another round of seasoning as above if required.

3) My carbon steel pan is rusted, so does this mean it is ruined?

Absolutely not! Rust can occur if you fail to dry your carbon steel cookware after washing, or if it is stored long-term without a protective layer of wax. In the event of any rust developing, use some steel wool to scrape this away without damaging your cookware.


III. Conclusion

We very much hope today’s brief guide to the best carbon steel pans has given you some food for thought.

While cast iron cookware remains enduringly popular, carbon steel gives you a lighter and more versatile alternative that’s well worth considering.

Stick with any of the cookware we review today and you can buy with your eyes wide open. We always draw your attention to the flaws in any products as well as highlighting their benefits.

Before you head off, bookmark Madiba. Be sure to pop back soon, too, as we update our content daily!

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