Choosing the right cookware to cater to your specific cooking needs is so exhausting. It is easy to get confused by the sheer choice of materials and features the market has in store for you. However, no matter how many varieties we are showered with, carbon steel pans have been and will always be favorite among home cooks as well as top restaurateurs.
It’s much easier to work with and clean than cast iron pans. The most like-about feature of carbon steel pans is its ability to reach high temperature super fast and of course, the lightweight which adds to the maneuverability.
In search for simply the best carbon steel pan without breaking a bank? Let me help you narrow down the choices.
Reviews of the Best Carbon Steel Pan
The first product on my list ticks all the right boxes. It boasts of an excellent heat retention ability, it’s lightweight despite the extra thick carbon steel coating and above all, there’s the nonstick factor.
The extra thick black carbon used as the base material of this cookware can withstand high temperature extremely well. As you might already know, good heat retention is the key to making a good steak or sauteeing meat and vegetable without any hotspots.
Culinary experts also believe that back carbon frying pans like this help to retain the essential nutrients of food when preheated or seared. One caveat here for you if use induction cooktop. The pan can get burnt if you use the max temperature. So make it a point to use medium heat while cooking to save yourself the trouble of rigorous cleaning.
While we are on the topic of different cooking surfaces, let me also ensure that this pan is safe to be used on stovetops, oven, and even electric skillet.
The next best thing about this pan is the lightweight which is one of the main downsides of cast iron pans. The lighter the pan, the more adeptly you can flip and toss the food. Moreover, the angled handle further adds to the ease of maneuverability.
The commercial-grade carbon steel used in it doesn’t come preseasoned. You should follow the manufacturer’s instruction of seasoning the fan. As time passes by, the pan will gain nonstick properties. While most nonstick carbon steel pans like this retain odors from the food cooked, this one, fortunately, is a clear exception. It will surely darken, eventually but won’t spoil the taste of your food.
The material is highly durable and won’t develop scratches from scraping. Also, once you take the pan out of the box, make sure to remove the beeswax with hot water and paper towel.
That’s just for the first time, though. Use the same method for washing the pan as well. I’d strictly recommend against using soapy water for the purpose.
- Great heat conduction.
- Durable yet lightweight.
- Develops nonstick properties with proper seasoning and use.
- Easy to clean up.
- Angled handle for easy maneuvering.
- Can catch rust if not taken care of properly.
- Removing the beeswax is a tedious process.
An expensive cut of steak deserves a good frying pan. It should be able to reach high temperature quickly and distribute the heat all over the pan. And of course, the food shouldn’t stick to the pan. The next product on my list does it all and much more.
Matfer is one of the most sought-after brands of cookware in the gastronomy world. Their latest line-up of carbon steel pans has created quite a buzz. The Bourgeat 062005 specifically known for its exceptionally durable construction and compatibility with all types of hobs.
You can sear meat, sautee vegetables, make scrambled eggs, paella, prepare delish pancakes and pretty much do everything cast iron and Teflon pans can do.
Just like with the previous model, removing the protective coating off the pan for the first time can be a little time-consuming. But that, in no way, counts as a dealbreaker. With adequate seasoning, this pan will gain excellent nonstick property.
Another feature of this model that often goes unnoticed is the size of the pan. It’s big enough to hold a lot of food or a big cut of meat, but small enough to fit neatly inside an oven.
Made it Germany, the pan is built to last for a lifetime and is incredibly easy to handle. The strip steel angled handle makes it easy to handle and protects your hand from the heat.
- Sturdy build.
- Even distribution of heat.
- Steel strip handle.
- Fuss-free cleanup.
- Doesn’t retain odor or flavor.
- Slightly on the heavier side.
- Tricky to remove the coating.
- Cannot be exposed to high heat suddenly.
Searing meat and making scrambled eggs is a delight on this frying fan. The key to a good steak is uniform cooking. The even distribution of heat Lodge delivers makes sure whatever cook on it is cooked thoroughly, leaving no hotspots.
You don’t have to tend your food constantly to avoid over or undercooking it. It’s good to know that your salmon won’t be slightly uncooked on one side and a burnt on the other when you are busy multitasking in the kitchen.
Lodge 12 Inch frying pan comes with factory pre-seasoning (of baked vegetable oil most probably). While I am not an ardent fan of factory seasoning, I can understand that it is important for protecting the carbon steel from rust. And you can always sand off the preseasoning and season it yourself if you are picky like me.
One thing you need to keep at the back of your mind is that the pan needs to be heated gradually. Don’t expose it to high heat suddenly, otherwise, it might start warping.
Weighing just over 1800 grams, the fan is way lighter than its cast iron counterparts. The surface is uniformly flat and reaches high temperature rapidly.
For cleanup, I’d suggest using hot water and paper towel. You should wipe the surface with oil once in a while to ensure longer shelf-life and longevity of the nonstick surface.
- Comes pre-seasoned.
- Heats high heat rapidly and distributes it evenly across the cooking surface.
- Long handle to shield your hand against high heat.
- Lightweight and flat bottom.
- Induction cooktop and oven compatible.
- Pouring liquid from the pan without dripping is tricky.
- The factory preseasoning isn’t up to the mark.
For those who don’t know, Paella is arguably the national food of Spain and is quite (QUITE) tricky to get right. The rice-based dish requires to be heated and cooked thoroughly in order to accentuate the flavors of spices.
Garcoma 15-inch pan is made from hammered carbon steel and is considered one of the best cookware to do this job by many paella purists.
The 15-inch pan can cook enough paella for 3-5 hungry blokes. The most striking feature of this pan is the dimpled bottom which prevents the oil from accumulating around the sides of the pan. The pan is only 2 inches thick which considered ideal for rice-based dishes.
This thinness of the pan coupled with shallow sides allows the development of socarrat which is the crown jewel of paella. Socarrat is the crusty, crispy, caramelized bottom of paella that’s hard to create without a precise adjustment of temperature.
The raw steel not only spreads the heat uniformly across the cooking surface but also retains the flavors and juices to enhance the taste of paella. The pan turns nonstick with use and with proper care, it should last you for a lifetime.
Last but not least, the pan has a strong and thick handle welded on the side which doesn’t heat up quickly. It also makes turning the pan and tossing the food convenient for the user.
- Hammered carbon steel enhances the flavor of paella.
- Good heat retention and distribution.
- Turns into a nonstick pan with proper seasoning.
- Stovetop, skillet, and oven-friendly.
- Low maintenance.
- Can catch rust easily if exposed to moisture for a long time.
What makes Paderno one of the toughest contenders for the title of the best carbon steel pan is its heavy-duty construction and heat conduction.
Be it fish kebabs, burnt-to-the-crisp bacon or breakfast eggs, with this bad boy in your kitchen arsenal, you can prepare a fancy spread that’s sure to get everyone’s taste buds tingling. You don’t have to babysit your food while it’s cooking to avoid over or undercooking it.
Even though it reaches high temperature incredibly quick, the heat is then distributed evenly all over to sure your dishes are cooked through. When it comes to searing, this pan is easily one of the best I’ve come across while preparing this list.
Another salient feature of this pan is the sheer variety of size it comes in. From dainty and lightweight 7 ⅞ inch pan to large 19 ⅝ inch pans- it offers something for everyone. My personal favorite is the 9 ½ inch version as it is easy to maneuver and also fits properly in my oven.
The only gripe I have about this product is the handle. The handle is hooked to the pan with the help of 3 rivets. You will have to be very careful while cleaning the pan to make sure no food leftover is struck around the rivets. The handle doesn’t have a silicone grip either which is a must to allow for a comfortable. But nonetheless, it serves the purpose.
- Comes in multiple sizes.
- Suitable for all types of hobs.
- Great for searing.
- Becomes nonstick over the course of time and adequate seasoning.
- Clean-up is not super easy.
- The handle doesn’t have silicone grip.
What to Look for When Buying a Carbon Steel Pan
- Weight: Carbon steel pans are preferred over cast iron pans due to the former’s lightweight stature. Cast iron pans are very hard to lift, especially for people with some sort of physical limitation.
On the other hand, most carbon steel pans are 2 or 3 mm thick and therefore, easy to handle.
- Next, you need to find out whether the pan comes preseasoned or not. If not, you will need to season it according to the manufacturer’s instruction to help it reach the non-stick stage. How long a pan will take to build up the non-stick coating depends on the quality of the material and accuracy of seasoning.
- Thin carbon steel pans have less mass and therefore, is extremely responsive to rapid changes of heat level.
- The best carbon steel frying pans come with long, textured, angled handles covered with silicon grip.
The size of the pan should depend on how much food you cook on a daily basis.
How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan?
With the right seasoning, a carbon steel pan would be as nonstick as a Teflon pan. Canola oil is touted as one of the best oils to season a carbon steel pan. But in case you don't have it readily available, vegetable oil will do the trick as well.
There are several methods of seasoning a frying pan, some are more complicated and time-consuming than the others. Since I have particularly fond of saving my precious time, I always follow the simplest and most effective method.
If you also love uncomplicated methods, here’s what you need to do to season your carbon steel pan like a pro chef:
1. Preheat the pan over the stovetop or in the oven over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it starts to brown.
2. Remove the pan, let it cool off and then apply a thin layer of your preferred oil on the interior and exterior of the cookware. Drip off the excess.
Now, if you are using the stovetop,
Heat the pan on high heat for about 30 seconds until the smoke comes out. After this process, the browned pan should turn black. You’ll have to repeat this process at least 6 times to get the best results. Once it is turned black, let the pan cool off.
If you are using the oven
Toss the pan inside the oven and heat at 400 degrees F until it starts to blacken. Once done, let it cool off to room temperature.
I hope my brief guide and in-depth reviews will make your decision considerably easier. As you might have already realized by now, you don’t have to drill a hole your wallet to own a good carbon steel pan. And you don’t have to be a master chef to season, use or take care of the cookware. Just the proper understanding of how carbon steel pans works is enough to help you pick the best product from the ocean of options.