Best Carbon Steel Pans, Skillets & Frying Pans – 2019 Reviews

Before we started traveling and writing about food, I would never have thought about carbon steel cookware. Once we started meeting and interviewing professional chefs, and spending a lot more time visiting chefs in their kitchen, I started to pay more attention to what kind of cookware they used. What’s amazing is that a lot of high-quality, professional cookware that was once only used in commercial kitchens can not be purchased by home chefs. This includes carbon steel cookware. In this post, we share our tips on how to purchase the best carbon steel pan for your home.

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Check out the Best Carbon Steel Frying Pans On Amazon

The Best Carbon Steel Frying Pans And Skillets For 2019

We recommend using Amazon for all sorts of home cookware and appliances. This is for a few reasons. First, they have a wide variety of every type of product for your home.

Second, we try to recommend products that are part of Amazon Prime, which provides purchasers with free and often super-fast delivery. (Get 30 days of Prime free here.) Almost all of our recommended carbon steel cooking pans are Amazon Prime products. 

We included detailed carbon steel skillet reviews for each of our recommended pans below. If you are short on time, though, feel free to use this table for easy shopping. 

What Is Carbon Steel?

Most home chefs know to look for some of the top cookware materials, like copper cookware, stainless steel, and even ceramic. But many professional chefs cook with carbon steel. It’s only been recently that cooks have started to realize there is a way to cook like a pro at home, using a carbon pan. 

Carbon steel is made of about 99% iron and 1% carbon. On the science side of things, carbon steel can include up to 2.1% carbon. The addition of the carbon changes the composition of the pan making it a little more user friendly, while being great for conducting heat and distributing it evenly. It also makes the pan less bumpy and almost crumbly than a cast iron pan. 

What’s great about this type of cookware is that cooking with carbon steel is pretty easy. It’s a versatile fry pan that can be used to cook on the stove top by braising, searing, browning, sautéing, and stir frying. You can also put them in the oven, some up to pretty high temperatures. You can even bake in a carbon steel pan.

Carbon Steel Vs. Cast Iron

 

When it comes to cast iron vs carbon steel, there are a few differences. First, their similarities. They are both good at retaining heat. Once they get hot, they stay hot. Although they tend to take longer to preheat than other types of cookware. Both cast iron and carbon steel skillets can be used on the stove top and in the oven, making them quite versatile. They work well for searing and quick cooking more than slow cooking. When properly seasoned and cared for, they can last a generation or more. 

Most cast iron cookware sold today is thick and heavy and can have some rough edges to it. In years past, though, traditional cast iron tended to be thinner, with more smooth surfaces. This is one of the benefits of carbon steel. Because carbon steel is made from sheets of metal, the surface is more smooth than cast iron. A seasoned carbon steel pan will be more non-stick than even the most well-seasoned cast iron pan. 

Most cast iron skillets have thick bases and vertical slides, or slightly tapered sides. This is why they are great a great frying pan for things like fried chicken. A carbon steel skillet, though, often has more sloped sides. This makes them a lot more versatile because you can use them for sautéing and other cooking methods. One of the biggest differences is weight, though. Carbon steel is a lot lighter to carry and move than cast iron.

What is the best carbon steel skillet
What is the best carbon steel skillet?

Seasoning A Carbon Steel Pan

Most home cooks know that a cast iron skillet needs to be seasoned for best results. Similarly, carbon steel fry pans and skillets also work best when they are seasoned. The main difference is that with a carbon steel pan seasoning is a bit easier. Some carbon steel pans do come already pre-seasoned.

How To Season A Carbon Steel Pan

Carbon steel pan seasoning can be accomplished by a few different methods. People recommend putting the pan on the stove over low heat. Heat a mixture of oil and salt along with a few potato peels. Cook this on the stove for about 10 minutes. Move the mixture around a bit during that time. Then, you are done. Wipe the pan and dry it thoroughly. 

Another way to season, which seems a little less like witchcraft but takes more time, is to warm the pan on the stove top. Once hot, rub a paper towel dipped in oil all over it (be careful, the pan is hot). Once it is coated in oil, place it in an oven that was preheated to 400F. Leave it in there for about an hour. Occasionally you can re-season the pan using a little oil spread over the surface. Heat the ban over a burner for a few minutes until the skillet starts to smoke. With any method of seasoning, be sure to cover the entire pan, including the outside. 

Carbon steel seasoning will help protect your investment in your new pan. When cleaning it after everyday use, water is usually sufficient. Try to use as little soap as possible. Dry the pan thoroughly after to avoid rusting. If you are concerned about keeping it dry, through it on the stove top for a few minutes. 

Types Of Carbon Steel Pans And Their Features

There are a variety of styles and types of carbon steel pans. Many of them look like typical skillets, but you can also find carbon steel woks, crepe pans, paella pans, and more. The fry pans normally range between 8 and 12 inches. 

When deciding between the different options, consider the weight of the pan. Although carbon steel is lighter than cast iron, they are heavier than aluminum or stainless steel. Generally, pans are either 2 mm or 3 mm. The 3 mm will be thicker and heavier. The thinner the pan the quicker it will heat up. 

When compared to cast iron, a new carbon steel pan will be shiny and smooth. Over time, it will darken and eventually blacken. This means that unless purchasing the pan as a gift don’t choose your new fry pan based on how shiny it is.

Check Out Our Reviews Of The Best Omelette Pans Here
carbon steel pan review
Cooking With Carbon Steel

Best Carbon Steel Pan Reviews – 2019

Keeping all of this in mind, which is the best carbon steel pan for you and your home? I always hesitate to say which one is the “best” although we do include our top picks. In the end, the choices comes down to your needs and your budget. Also, most of the cookware products below are around the 12 inch size, but most also come in smaller sizes, between 8 inch and 11 inch. 

De Buyer Carbon Steel Pan 

De Buyer started producing cookware in 1830 in France. Since then, they’ve become experts in cookware and bakeware for professional and home use. The De Buyer Carbon Steel Frying Pan is perennially one of the top rated carbon steel pans on the market. Each pan arrives coated in beeswax to preserve and protect the pan until it is ready to use. De Buyer was the first to use beeswax to preserve the carbon steel, a process others have copied. Merely soak the pan in hot water to remove the beeswax, season the pan, and start to cook. De Buyer’s carbon steel cookware is an investment, but will last for years. 

Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Steel Fry Pan

Mauviel is a French cookware company that makes some of the most professional cookware on the market. The Mauviel Carbon Steel Fry Pan has commercial grade durability, withstands high temperatures, while providing great conductivity of heat. It requires seasoning and overtime will darken and develop natural non-sticking qualities without chemicals. It arrives with a beeswax coating to protect the pan, but it can be removed with hot water. All Mauviel cookware comes with a lifetime guarantee making it a great investment for the kitchen. 

Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet

Lodge is a leader in cast iron skillets. Every Lodge steel skillet is versatile, working in the kitchen, outdoors, and even while camping. The Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet is a great alternative using 12 gauge carbon steel with steel riveted handles. It comes pre-seasoned making it easier to start cooking on day one. This 12 inch Lodge carbon steel griddle also comes with a silicone hot handle holder to keep home cooks safe. It can be heated up to 500F and is dishwasher safe. That said, I still recommend hand washing, fully drying it just after, and then occasional seasoning with cooking oil. 

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Frying Pan 

The Matfer Bourgeat Carbon Steel Pan is not a traditional carbon steel pan, but Matfer Bourgeat focuses on black steel instead. Carbon steel requires galvanization but black steel is made with non-galvanized steel. They are similar in that black steel can also be seasoned, it is durable, made of heavy duty materials, and distributes heat evenly. All the same rule applies. The Matfer Bourgeat frying pan is a little larger than 10 inches round, so it is a little smaller than the others on the list.

MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan

The MINERAL B Round Country Chef is sort of like a carbon steel sauté pan because it is significantly deeper than the skillets on this list. De Buyer produces the MINERAL B line so it is also made in France. As a result, the pan comes sealed with beeswax. They recommend proper seasoning of the pan, hand washing without soap. The Mineral B line is includes a Lyonnais shape with a curved handle providing even more French influence. 

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