The Best Carbon Steel Pan

If you’re shopping for a carbon steel pan, the most important features you must look into are material, heating capacity, and versatility. I get it, you’re here because you’re confused with which one to get. With so many brands and models crowding the market, how can you not be? Keep reading as I walk you through getting the best carbon steel pans for your culinary needs.

Carbon Steel Pan picture

Whether you’re cooking a meal at home or at a restaurant, a versatile, heavy-duty pan is what you’ll need to accomplish your kitchen mission for the day. Cast iron has been a fundamental tool for cooking for many years, but as new innovations come out, more pros have switched to the best carbon steel pans.

What Is Carbon Steel?

A carbon Steel pan has a higher concentration of carbon than cast iron pans. Both have a lot in common but they vary in terms of weight, and heating and cooling capacity. Carbon steel also has a smoother, matte finish and is less brittle.

Cookwares made out of carbon steel are much harder than stainless steel, which makes them ideal for knives that stay sharp, though they can corrode or rust. Given its characteristics, such cookwares are naturally non-stick, so they can withstand metal cooking tools. This means that you don’t need to worry about scratching your carbon steel pan.

Much like cast iron, they are durable and versatile. And they are best for pan-frying, searing, sauteing, roasting, and more. Carbon steel also works well with any cooktop, be it induction, barbecue grills, or if you’re cooking on a campfire.

Carbon Steel Pan with sauteed veggies picture

Carbon Steel Pan: The Pros and Cons

You could cook pretty much everything in a carbon steel pan. You can fry, cook eggs, grill cheese and, you can cook whatever food that requires a nonstick cooking surface. Whatever meal you plan to cook for the day, carbon steel pans are a great multi-purpose kitchen tool.

Before you invest in a carbon steel pan, let’s take a look at the pros and cons. Then, we’ll proceed to tackle the best carbon steel pans and determine which one is right for your cooking style, budget, and needs.

Carbon Steel Pan Pros and Cons

The Pros:

  • A Carbon steel pan is easier to handle since they are lightweight.
  • Carbon steel is durable.
  • A Carbon steel pan and carbon steel skillet heat up more quickly than cast iron.
  • When seasoned properly, carbon steel skillets can give you a nonstick surface.
  • They can be used in any cooking tops.
  • Carbon steel offers  a deeper browning effect.
  • Much of carbon steel is reasonably priced.
  • It’s easy to clean with a scrub brush and hot water, when needed.

The Cons:

  • Carbon steel pans don’t retain heat as well as cast iron.
  • Carbon steel pans tend to rust if not properly seasoned.
  • Carbon steel pan may require mindful maintenance and care to maintain its seasoning.

Our Top Favorites: Best carbon Steel Pan

ImageProductReviews
Best OverallDe Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying PanDe Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan– Made of 99% natural iron
– Has bees wax coating against oxidation
– Has traditional French handle
– Guaranteed made in France 
Check price
Runner-Up for Best OverallMatfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Frying PanMatfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan– PTFE and PFOA free
– Has welded steel handle
– Made in France
Check price
Best BudgetLodge Seasoned Carbon Steel SkilletLodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet– Seasoned with oil for a natural and easy
-release finish
– Easy to clean and maintain
– Made in USA
Check price

The Best Carbon Steel Pan

Carbon steel pan comes in different shapes, sizes, price, and features. Now that you have an overview of our top picks, let’s discuss our favorites so you get an idea of the benefits they offer, and why customers love them.

Carbon Steel Pan and Scrambled Eggs

De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan (Best Overall)

De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan

If you’re into Teflon, but worry about scratching the heck out of your pans, then the De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan may be the best alternative for you. I like how versatile this pan is. You can cook pretty much everything with De Buyer: steaks, veggies, seafood, and meat. And whatever you want to fry, sear, or sauté. If it’s seasoned properly, you won’t ever have to worry about anything sticking into your carbon steel pan.

The product is French-made with natural and pure iron-carbon steel, and protective beeswax coating. Its non-toxic materials protect it against oxidation. The traditional French handle is long and sturdy enough for fun flipping and pick-ups.

It’s really simple and easy on the hands. When I looked online, others say they get ones with uncoated handles. But in case you get the epoxy handles, note that it won’t allow you to season it in the oven. This frying pan also has a perfectly flat bottom and it heats up quickly.

While De Buyer might not be the cheapest in the market, I think it’s a great lifetime investment. If you want to keep a quality fry pan for years, then it’s definitely a must-have. This may become the best carbon steel pan you could have.

What We Like About It:

– Made from natural materials

– Has additional handle for easy maneuvering

– It’s as non-stick as Teflon if seasoned correctly

– Multi-purpose

– Heats up quickly

– It’s a durable choice

– Easy to keep in condition

What We Don’t Like About It:

– Its epoxy handle restricts you from seasoning in the oven

– It can rust

– Not the cheapest

Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Frying Pan (Runner-Up for Best Overall)

Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Here’s another versatile choice that is hard to miss. The Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan is an all-purpose frying pan made of unseasoned black carbon steel. If you season it yourself correctly, its surface will be as functional as a non-stick pan. It’s free of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Bisphenol A (BPA). These are two chemical compounds used in most Teflon and could raise health risks. 

This Matfer Bourgeat has a steel handle welded securely to the body. And since the handle is not riveted, it’s easier to clean as it won’t hide any food particles. The angled side though is one of the things that makes it my runner-up for being the best overall. From stir-frying to sauteing, there’s no limit on how or when you can use this frying pan. It works well on any cooking tops, including induction.

It’s one of those carbon steel pans that you need to scrub with a bristle brush and mild dish soap. Because many carbon steels come unseasoned, removing the protective coating is a must before using it.

What We Like About It:

– It has a professional-grade quality

– Compatible with all cooktops

– Multi-purpose

– Its unriveted welded handle makes it easy to clean

– PTFE and BPA free

– Budget-friendly

What We Don’t Like About It:

– Requires seasoning

– Needs regular maintenance to upkeep the cooking surface

Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet (Best Budget)

Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet

Are you on a budget but still want a workhorse in the kitchen? The Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet could be a good choice. I have seen cheaper options in the market winning the hearts of customers, but this particular product has won mine.

This skillet has securely riveted handles and is pre-seasoned with oil for a natural and easy-release finish. It lessens the hassle of having to scrub off the coating, which means you can use it straight out of the box. And here’s a tip: while it’s seasoned, you can add more seasoning. And this, in turn, will make it more nonstick and rust-resistant.

It’s lightweight, thin, and is responsive to temperature changes. This Lodge carbon steel skillet is compatible with all cooktops, including induction, barbecue grill, and a campfire. It’s an easy-to-use go-to and great addition to busy kitchens.

What We Like About It:

– Skillet is pre-seasoned

– Has securely-riveted handles

– Compatible with any cooktop

– Budget-friendly

What We Don’t Like About It:

– Can’t be hand washed

– Needs special care to maintain seasoning

Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok

Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok

If you love stir-frying, you may like the Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok. Hand-hammered by Chinese professionals in Guangzhou, it’s heavy yet sturdy. And it’s one of the most recommended pans by Chinese chefs. Its steel helping handle doesn’t burn over high heat, which I love. The wooden handle has a special hygroscopic handle and is not slippery so you get a better grip of the pan when you stir-fry.

This carbon steel wok requires seasoning. There are seasoning directions that come with the wok. This wok pan has a round bottom. And since it’s round, this pan is not suitable for flat electric and flat induction stoves. This carbon steel pan also makes the best paella pan.

What We Like About It:

– Has a round bottom, perfect for stir-frying

– Has two handles

– It’s sturdy

– Steel helping handle doesn’t burn over high heat

– Wooden handle has special hygroscopic for non-slippery and tight grip

What We Don’t Like About It:

– Round bottom makes it incompatible with certain flat stoves

– Doesn’t come pre-seasoned; requires seasoning

– It’s heavy

Aneder Carbon Steel Wok Pan

Aneder Carbon Steel Wok Pan

If you’re looking for a package deal, the Aneder Carbon Steel Wok Pan comes with a lid and free wooden spatula. This carbon steel wok is health-friendly. It contains no toxic substances, and doesn’t oxidize. Much like many other carbon steel pans, the Aneder wok pan is multi-functional. You can make delicious stir-fried veggies, you can steam, roast, boil, bake meals, and more.

I like the detachable wooden handle that makes this pan convenient and easy to store with its hanging ring. The engineered solid wood anti-scalding design makes cooking comfortable as it stays cool at high temperatures. Its glass lid is heat-resistant and keeps food fresh by sealing in moisture and flavor for healthy and tasty meals.

It comes with a spatula that is burnished, sleek, and gives you a handhold feeling. It’s compatible with all stoves including induction, gas, ceramics, and electric stoves. I had to put this one in my list of the best carbon steel pan wok as it’s pretty and a great addition to your home and professional use.

What We Like About It:

– Has a anti-heat glass lid and free spatula

– Healthy; contains no toxic chemicals

– Doesn’t oxidize

– Compatible with all stoves

– It’s multi-functional

– Seals in flavor

What We Don’t Like About It:

– Some reviews say the package doesn’t come with instructions

What to Look For When Selecting a Good Carbon Steel Pan

Carbon steel pans vary in material, weight, heating capacity, versatility, and more. These factors affect your buying decision. So, what are the factors you must look for when buying the best carbon steel pan? It really depends on your current needs or preference. Find out below the factors to consider when buying a carbon steel pan.

Carbon Steel Pan with Salmon

Material of Carbon Steel Cookware

As mentioned earlier, carbon steel and cast iron share the same features in terms of versatility and durability. In terms of material, they differ in the percentage of carbon in the alloy. Carbon steel contains 2 percent of carbon, whereas cast iron has 2 to 3.5 percent. Carbon steel’s iron content suits any cooking top, making it good all-purpose cookware for all occasions.

Carbon steel is naturally nonstick, often lightweight, and is less prone to breakage. If you’re looking to add paella pans, saute pans, skillets, and woks, carbon steel is a great option.

Weight

Carbon steel pans are more lightweight than their cast iron equivalent. Although lighter, they still have a bit of weight to them to keep it from moving on a burner. If storing it and taking it out of your storage is becoming a hefty task for you, carbon steel might be a good alternative to cast iron cookware.

Heating Capacity

Carbon steel has extremely high heat tolerance, just like cast iron. This is why most carbon steel pans and skillets are suitable for any cooking stoves. Your carbon steel pan should withstand temperatures of 800 up to 1200 degrees.

Cast iron pan takes a while to heat up, while carbon steel heats up pretty quickly. The downside is that it cools down food faster than cast iron.

Versatility

If you’re paying for a high-priced pan as an investment in your kitchen, then might as well find one that serves different purposes. Carbon steel does great with different cooking styles. From frying to baking to sauteing, to searing — the fun in cooking is limitless.

Some carbon steel pans react badly with acidic food, but you can always build up the seasoning and even out the patina on the pan’s surface.

Budget

Each carbon steel pan comes in an array of prices. While they are generally priced higher than cast iron, the good thing is it’s still more pocket-friendly than most high-end stainless steel and copper pans. Consider getting a carbon steel pan that suits your budget. If you have more. there will be more options for you.

Ideal Brands for Carbon Steel Cookware

Lodge is the oldest and longest-running cast iron manufacturer in the US. Although known for their cast iron cookware, Lodge also has a small collection of carbon steel pans and skillets. Just their cast iron skillets and grills, their carbon steel line is still manufactured in the USA.

De Buyer has been the leading manufacturer of cookware in France for nearly 200 years. The brand prides itself on producing the best quality products, including carbon steel cookwares, that are meant to last.

Ease of Maintenance

Cleaning carbon steel pans is an easy task. If you know how to care for cast iron, then you’ll do well with carbon steel. They are generally resistant to scratch and are compatible with metal utensils, so you need not worry about wearing them out.

It’s important to note that you can’t wash carbon steel with dish detergent and place it in a dishwasher as it removes the seasoning. You can scrub off any particles and wipe with a clean towel. Or you can heat oil in the pan until it starts to smoke, then wipe it clean for storage.

FAQs

Who makes the best carbon steel pans?

It gets overwhelming to choose a brand as there are many of them in the market today. Some of our best bets are Lodge and De Buyer. 

Are carbon steel pans the best?

Carbon steel pans are highly durable, making them a good option when cooking in different stoves. They heat up more quickly than cast iron and are relatively affordable. If seasoned correctly, carbon steel pans make a great alternative to Teflon.

Do chefs really use carbon steel pans?

Professional chefs have long opted for carbon steel for its versatility. Some of the carbon steel pans used by chefs are mentioned in our top picks, which are the Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet and the De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan.

Wrap Up

My best pick is the De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan if you’re investing in a multi-purpose pan that does everything. Next to my top pick is the Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan. It may be a fantastic choice if you’re searching for the same quality at a lesser price than the De Buyer. The price of Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet doesn’t fall too far from the cost of the Matfer Bourgeat. But it could also be an excellent option for your everyday kitchen use.

Don’t forget to check out the current prices of each carbon steel pan. So, you can start cooking and serving delicious meals for you and your family!