Best Carbon Steel Pans, Skillets & Frying Pans – 2021 Reviews

Although it took some getting used to, we are simply in love with our carbon steel frying pans. So much so, that we wanted to share our experience with other home chefs. In this post, we share our tips on how to purchase the best carbon steel pan for your home.

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. 

*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

3 Best Carbon Steel Frying Pans

Check out the Best Carbon Steel Frying Pans On Amazon

The Best Carbon Steel Frying Pans And Skillets For 2021

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.

We mostly use our for our Sunday morning frys in Ireland. It cooks the meats well and then is seasoned to make the eggs. I also use mine to cook up burgers and to sear meat. 

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

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 – 2021

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 is one of the leading manufacturers of high quality French carbon steel pans. The company started producing cookware in 1830. 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’s French steel pan 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. 

We have two De Buyer pans, a 10 inch and an 7 inch. The larger of the two work well for our weekend breakfasts, can make two burgers or two steaks at a time. We use the smaller one to reheat or to cook smaller items. I am recommending the 12 inch carbon steel fry pan for larger families. 

De Buyer Carbon Steel Pan 12-1/2″

Our Top Pick!

  • A good value for the price
  • We own two of these carbon steel pans and love them
  • Feel substantial in the hand and cooks well
Check Prices Here

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. The 10 inch Matfer carbon steel pan is good for a two person household. 

MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan

The Mineral B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan 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. 

Ballarini Professionale Carbon Steel Fry Pan

Made in Italy by Ballarini, a leading Italian manufacturer of premium cookware since 1889, Ballarini Professionale Carbon Steel Fry Pan is loved by chefs and home cooks alike.

The Ballarini Professionale 3000 Series features carbon steel construction making the pan thin and lightweight while maintaining unmatched durability. The carbon steel construction provides a smooth surface that naturally develops nonstick qualities. Oven safe up to 600˚F, this pan is compatible with all cooking surfaces including induction. Sloped sidewalls make for easy cooking while its flat base offers superior stability. Solid construction provides unparalleled heat conduction, distribution, and retention. These all provide for perfect browning and cooking results. The Ballarini 11 inch comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.

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 M’Steel Carbon Steel Fry Panhas 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. 

Vollrath 9-inch Carbon Steel Fry Pan

Made in the U.S.A., the Vollrath 9-inch Carbon Steel Fry Pan is constructed with high strength carbon steel. The carbon steel allows for quick and even heat distribution across the cooking surface.

Ideal for cooking with high temperatures, the pan is perfect for searing in flavors. The carbon steel design makes the pan oven and broiler safe. After an initial seasoning, the pan develops a non-stick coating, making clean up quick and easy.

It comes in an 11 inch version as well

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. 

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.

Cast Iron Skillet Recommendation

Not sold on carbon steel? There’s always cast iron. We have both types of skillets at home. We have the UnoCasa 2 Skillet Set. We also have their Moroccan tagine and love their products (I think their dutch oven will be next!)

Each skillet comes pre-seasoned. They also come with a couple of rubber scrappers to make cleaning easy along with red rubber heat guards to be able to use when moving the pans from stovetop to oven and removing from the oven.

They are heavier than other types of cookware, and slightly heavier than our carbon steel. But, I found them to be just as easy to clean. For both the cast iron and carbon steel skillets I ensure I dry them completely after washing.  

Buy the UnoCasa Cast Iron Skillet Set direct and get free shipping in the US (plus some areas in Europe), a recipe book, 2 skillet scrappers, and 2 silicone handle covers. 

Use this link to save 10% on all UnoCasa products. Discount applied at checkout.

What Is Blue Carbon Steel? 

As carbon steel cookware increases in popularity, so to do the variations cookware brands offer. One variation is blue carbon steel pans. Contrary to what some might believe, blue carbon steel pans are not made using blue steel. Rather, it’s the final manufacturing process called blue annealing, that gives each pan a temporary blue finish.

Blue annealing is a heat treatment process that provides protection from rusting and corrosion. As a result of this treatment, blue carbon steel pans are easier to maintain compared to normal carbon steel pans. Blue carbon steel pans still need to be seasoned. After a few uses, the blue layer will disappear. 

Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pans

One of the leading manufacturers of blue carbon steel pans is Made In Cookware. The company is based in the US and has a long family history of producing high-quality cookware. Made In offers a variety of cookware pieces made using blue steel including frying pans, a wok, and a roasting pan. 

Available in 8, 10, and 12 inches, the Made In blue carbon steel frying pan is made using 2mm thick blue carbon steel. Lightweight yet durable, the pan is perfect for searing meat and fish on the stovetop and finishing in the oven. The pan works on a wide range of cooktops including induction and glass cooktops. Thanks to its solid construction, the pan is oven-safe up to 1200F. Hand wash only and never in the dishwasher. 

Made In is a niche cookware product that is not available on Amazon. Instead, purchase from Made In direct:

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. 

Is It Easy To Maintain Carbon Steel Cookware

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, throw it on the stove top for a few minutes. 

The first few months we owned our carbon steel, we kept thinking we messed it up. That we messed up the seasoning or that we weren’t drying it enough and it was rusting. In the end, though, we did everything right. It just takes time for the cookware to properly develop a patina that comes with cooking. 

FAQs - The Best Carbon Steel Skillet and Pan

Is carbon steel safe to cook with?

Carbon steel cookware is safe because it only consists of carbon and iron. There is no non-stick coating to worry about.

Which is better, carbon steel or cast iron?

There are benefits to both even though the materials are slightly similar. Carbon steel tends to be lighter weight. Carbon steel pans also tend to have more sloping sides making it easier to remove food after cooking.

Why do professional chefs use carbon steel?

A lot of chefs use carbon steel because it is high-quality, it heats quickly, and is lighter weight than cast iron. This is important when using pans and skillets throughout a long workday. But, the same benefits work well for home chefs as well.

Are carbon steel pans nonstick?

Yes. One quality not well-known about carbon steel pans is that they are nonstick. Much like with cast iron cookware, it’s important to season carbon steel pans with cooking oil before using them. The carbon steel pans will develop a patina on the surface, preventing food from sticking.

Does carbon steel go rusty?

Yes, it can. If left exposed to moisture, rust will form on a carbon steel pan. Therefore, it’s important to immediately towel dry a carbon steel pan after washing.

Pin It To Save for later

The Best Carbon Skillets And Pans

The Best Carbon Steel Pans And Skillets For 2021

We will continue to update this post as we track down great steel pans to recommend. Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later.

See related posts here:

The Best Omelette Pans For The Home

The 7 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

The Best Large Capacity Air Fryer Reviews

Best Air Fryer Under $100: Reviews