The 9 Best Carbon Steel Pans of 2021 – Reviews And Buying Guide

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When it comes to choosing a frying pan for your kitchen, the first thing that comes to mind is a non-stick frying pan. Non-stick pans are a little difficult to work with because you can only use certain types of shells and spatulas with them, so as not to end up scraping or tearing the lining. But when it comes to carbon steel cookware, you don’t have to worry about all of it! Carbon steel cookware is popular with professional chefs and restaurants for its durability. They also do not contain harmful chemicals in their non-stick coating.

If you also plan to buy a carbon steel skillet, you’ve landed in the right place. Here are the top 10 carbon steel cookware, perfect for your daily use.

Our Top Pick

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 10 Best Carbon Steel Pans To Buy In 2021

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10 Best Carbon Steel Pans Review

Bestseller No. 1
ZhenSanHuan Chinese Hand Hammered Iron Woks and Stir Fry Pans, Non-stick, No Coating, Carbon Steel Pow (36CM, BlueBlack Seasoned with help handle)
  • Chinese wok, made in China. Our woks have been through 12 processes, 36,000 times of hand-hammering. It shines like a mirror. You can see all the hammer prints but hardly feel them. Mirror surface allows ingredients to slide smoothly inside the wok.
  • Our woks have no coating nor painting. You don't have to worry about the nonstick coating falling off.
  • Iron is reactive, and it will form a protective layer of iron oxide. The longer it is used, the more nonstick it is.
  • After going through thousands of times of experiments, we found the classic concaveness, not too shallow, not too deep, just right for heat conductivity, and best shape for stir frying. Free silicone handle cover to protect you from heat.
  • Products require seasoning before use, blue black wok is pre-seasoned, and you only need to wash it and oil it. For silver woks, you need to season them by yourself. We have detailed tutorial video and we encourage you to season it by yourself to see the miracle process.
Bestseller No. 3
Paella Pan Enamelled Carbon Steel 32Inches / 80cm / up to 40 Servings / 4 handles (Nonstick)
  • Non-stick -Enameled coating makes clean-up easy - Castevia Imports - 4 Black Handles
  • 32 Inches (80cm) Enamelled Carbon Steel Paella Pan for up to 40 serving
  • High end quality products originally from Valencia, Spain.
SaleBestseller No. 4
Magefesa® Carbon - paella pan 36 in - 91 cm for 37 Servings, made in Carbon Steel, with dimples for greater resistance and lightness, ideal for cooking outdoors, cook your own Valencian paella
  • RESISTANT MATERIALS: MAGEFESA CARBON STEEL paella pans are made of top quality carbon steel, this paella pans conduct heat quickly and evenly to create the perfect paella. With a thin and light material makes this skillet frying paella pan durable and reliable to use.
  • TECHNOLOGY DESIGN: The MAGEFESA CARBON STEEL Paella Pan has hammered dimple technology, that makes the bottom of paella pans more rigid and durable in time, the flat Surface in the bottom make it compatible with all burners on the market.
  • EASY CLEANING: After use, simply clean the piece with soap and wáter, dry the MAGEFESA CARBON STEEL paella pan well with a soft cloth to maintain its characteristic polished appearance and then rub the inside with a little vegetable oil to prevent rusting.
  • COOK ANYWHERE: With the MAGEFESA CARBON STEEL paella pan you can make your paella in wood fires, gas stoves, vitroceramics and gas burners. Enjoy your best paellas wherever and whenever you want, with family or friends. The essence of paellas is to meet and enjoy together
  • VALENCIAN TRADITION: MAGEFESA CARBON STEEL paella pans are authentic and imported from Spain. Magefesa since 1948 is one of the main kitchenware brands in Spain and europe, being the market leader in pressure cookers, pans, cookware…. We are present in more tan 50 countries on five continents.
Bestseller No. 5
NUWAVE Mosaic Induction Wok, Precise Temperature Control, Includes Authentic 14-inch Carbon Steel Wok with Vented Tempered Glass Lid, Frying Rack, Wok Stand, 8pc Bamboo Accessories & Wok Cookbook
  • MAKE ADJUSTMENTS ON-THE-FLY – Want hotter temperature or need to cook it longer? Simply adjust on-the-fly any time. The digital controls are easy to operate, and the response is immediate. Adjust the temperature from 100°F - 575°F in 5°F increments. Add or deduct cooking time without starting the cooking process over again. NUWAVE is the first to revolutionize the industry by introducing precision temperatures to induction cooking.
  • FAST AND EFFICIENT – The carbon steel wok is custom-made for the Mosaic’s induction base, ensuring the curvature of the wok and the base match perfectly. This means that the total surface of the wok comes in contact with the induction surface, ensuring every part of the wok heats up quickly and evenly every time. Ensuring no hot or cold spots for optional cooking experience. With no open flames the Induction Wok cooks faster with virtually no wasted heat and safer than any traditional wok.
  • HIGH QUALITY CONSTRUCTION – The Mosaic’s 14-inch carbon steel wok study, lightweight, and easy to season. The unique material and curvature of the wok can reach the perfect stir-frying temperature in less than a minute. The wok also includes an easy grip silicone handle that remains cool to the touch while cooking. With the combination of the Mosaic induction base and carbon steel wok, you can now achieve “Wok Hei” to infuse complex charred aroma and flavors into your favorite dish.
  • TRADITION AND TECHNOLOGY COMBINED – With induction technology you get even heat distribution and precise temperature control, wide temperature range, carbon steel wok, tempered glass lid, stainless-steel frying rack, digital timer and wattage control, all combined to be the most complete wok cooking package ever!
  • ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES – The NuWave Mosaic Wok lets you make a homemade stir-fry or fried rice in as little as 5 minutes. Beyond stir-fry, the Mosaic is great for soups, pastas, fajitas and even desserts. It is designed to work well when the power source is less than ideal. With 3 wattage settings of 600, 900 and 1500 watts, you can cook anywhere. Now It’s easy to prepare healthy, great tasting meals with a touch of a button.
Bestseller No. 6
Full Drywall Hand Tool Set, Blue/Carbon Steel - LEVEL5 | Pro-Grade | Taping Finishing Tool Blades, Knives, Pan, Mixer, Saw | Sheetrock Gyprock Plasterboard | 5-610
  • PLEASE NOTE: These professional finish tools feature high carbon and blue steel blades. They require proper care and storage or they will corrode/rust (see care instructions in description below). For the stainless steel easy care version of this set, search B078H524FT in Amazon.
  • PROFESSIONAL GRADE | Designed and built using nearly 20 years of input from professional finishers. Our tools are meant for reliable, daily use on the job site.
  • PREMIUM QUALITY | Carbon steel, precision-ground blades provides proper flex and feel for faster application rates, better blade control and smoother finishes. Polished for easy cleanup.
  • ERGONOMIC | Lightweight, impact resistant, full soft comfort grip handle ergonomically designed for all day use with minimal fatigue. Glass reinforced nylon core.
  • BUILT TO LAST | LEVEL5 Tools are built by industry professionals for daily use by professionals and are designed to exceed your expectations
Bestseller No. 7
Luvay Hand Pan Steel Drum - 9 Notes 22 inches - Percussion Instrument - with Bag, Stand, Cleaning Cloth
  • Body is made of Carbonized steel, edge is coated by protecting plastic
  • 9 Notes, tuned, D Minor (D3 A Bb C D E F G A)
  • Diameter: 22inch (55.6cm), Height: 14inch (35cm), big size, 8LB(3.7kg) portable, Color: carbon black
  • Package included: Steel drum, bag, Stand, Cleaning Cloth
  • A wonderful instrument by the principle of Helmholtz-resonator
Bestseller No. 8
De Buyer 5110.28 Carbone Plus Round Lyonnaise Frying Pan, Heavy Quality Steel, 28 cm Diameter
  • The "lyonnaise" profile pan has a high flared and curved skirt
  • This very distinctive shape, with no sharp angles, enables the food to slide easily from the frying pan onto a plate or dish
  • The strip steel handle is firmly riveted
  • 28 cm in diameter
  • 4 cm high and 3 mm thick
Bestseller No. 9
Steak and Veggies
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Julia Collin-Davison, Bridget Lancaster (Actors)
  • Herb Sevush (Director) - Jack Bishop (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)
Bestseller No. 10
Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic Joe II 18-inch Charcoal Grill with Cart and Side Shelves, Blaze Red
  • Premium 18″ Ceramic Grill with Cast Iron Cart & Locking Wheels – The Kamado Joe Classic II gives the perfect cooking size of 18 inches along with its Premium cart that comes with the purchase of your grill, including locking casters and wheels.
  • 2-Tier Divide & Conquer - Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System transforms the humble grill grate into the most powerful cooking tool in your arsenal. The revolutionary multi-level, half-moon design frees you to cook different foods in different styles at different temperatures—all at the same time
  • Kontrol Tower Top Vent - Maintains consistent air setting for precise airflow management during dome opening and closing. Constructed of powder coated cast aluminum, the patent pending dual-adjustment top vent is rain resistant and allows you to smoke from 225F all the way to searing at 750F.
  • Air Lift Hinge – The air lift hinge significantly reduces dome weight. The grill dome can be lifted with a single finger giving the most comfortable grilling experience there is.
  • AMP (Advanced Multi-Panel) FireBox – The patent pending six-piece design eliminates breakage and increases grill efficiency.

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel contains both carbon and iron, and it is different from the steel or, more precisely, stainless steel. The major difference between carbon steel and stainless steel is that carbon steel does not have chromium, whereas stainless steel has chromium.

Carbon steel material gets blacker when you use it, and it is a good thing. The black covering means that the surface is getting non-stick with the usage. To protect the surface of carbon steel pan and to prevent from rust, oil seasoning is needed frequently.

What To Look For When Buying A Carbon Steel Pan?

If you’re looking for a carbon steel pan, you’ll probably be wondering about the kind of factors you should take into consideration when choosing – so let’s have a look at some of the most important ones now.

Shape

Depending on what you want to cook with it, the shape of the pan may be important. For example, if you want to cook omelets, it’s better to have a pan with gently rounded edges that allow you to fold or flip the omelet easily.

In short, make sure the shape of the pan you choose is the right shape for the kind of cooking you need it for.

Temperature Resistance

Different pans have different temperature limits, so you should check the maximum temperature a pan can withstand. The final pan in this review can withstand temperatures of up to 800°F but 500°F is more normal.

Oven Safe

Can the pan be placed in the oven? Also, check the maximum temperature as well as the maximum length of time it is safe to leave a pan in the oven.

Related to this, some pans have epoxy coverings or similar on the handle, which means that, while it is safe to put the pan in the oven, the handle can’t go in and has to remain outside.

Easy To Season

Carbon steel pans need to be seasoned when you first use them, and after that, their performance will improve with time. Make sure the pan is easy to season and that it responds well to the seasoning process.

Easy To Clean

Ease of cleaning is an important factor. With most carbon steel pans, you should just clean them with warm water and perhaps a little soap. When you do this, any food should come off easily and you shouldn’t need to use anything stronger to clean it.

Non-Stick Performance

Properly seasoned carbon steel pans should be naturally non-stick. Make sure that any pan you are considering performs well in this area.

Handle

Make sure the handle is long enough and is comfortable to hold. Pans with short handles can be awkward to hold and difficult to cook with.

Durability

A properly cared-for carbon steel pan should last a very long time – practically forever. However, this might not be the case with inferior quality products, so check that any pan you are considering is solid and well-made.

How to Season Carbon Steel Pan

It’s vital to properly season your carbon steel pan regularly so that you can get the desired results. By following these steps, you can effectively season your carbon steel pan.

  • First, heat up the pan. You can use an oven or a stove for this purpose.You should heat up your pan on medium heat (up to 400 F)—Preheat the pan for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Now, remove it and let it cool down. Then apply a layer of vegetable oil. You can do this by using a paper towel. Make sure that the whole surface of the pan is covered with a thin oil coating.
  • Now, put your carbon steel pan back onto the stove or oven for about an hour. And set the heating temperature at 400 degrees F.
  • Gradually, the pan will get blacker.
  • Now, shut down the oven or stove and let the pan cool down a bit. It will take an hour or two to cool down.

And you are finished with seasoning carbon steel pan, and you can cook now.

Why do chefs use carbon steel pans?

For all the professional chefs’ carbon steel cookware is the first choice due to many reasons. The main reason is that carbon steel pans and cookware are light-weight, the surface of the pan is non-sticky. Carbon steel pans are safe to use in an oven as well. Furthermore, the heat conduction is even and quick throughout the pan. And these pans last longer than the chef’s life!

Is carbon steel pans good?

In short, yes, they are. Now you probably want to know why carbon steel pans are good. There are several reasons. The first and foremost reason is they are versatile. You can use carbon steel pans for many purposes, such as braising, searing, browning, sautéing, and stir-frying.

The second reason is its durability. They usually last for decades, and you can use metal items with carbon steel pans! Another benefit of using carbon steel pans is that they don’t contain harmful material like Teflon; hence they are safe for your health. And most importantly, the carbon steel pans are much more affordable than any other cookware.

Greatest Benefits Of Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is so useful in the kitchen because it’s very durable, and can become exceptionally nonstick. 

The initial cost of a carbon steel fry pan is often between $30 and $75 depending on what brand you go with. That can be a little more expensive than a Teflon or ceramic nonstick pan, but the carbon steel option should last for generations. 

Compared to cast iron, it can also be slightly more expensive, but you get big weight savings. Being a lighter weight pan makes carbon steel more friendly to use on a daily basis.

The nonstick capabilities are also very impressive, but they do take some work and consistent upkeep for the life of the pan.

If you do put in the time and effort, you’ll end up with a nonstick pan that contains no chemicals and won’t need to be replaced every few years.

Common Drawbacks Of Carbon Steel

The biggest and most obvious drawback is that carbon steel requires maintenance in order to function properly.

An initial seasoning process is required and there are special steps that must be taken for cleaning and storage. When used and cared for improperly you’ll have a pan that foods always stick to, and is likely to rust.

Some people also find the appearance of this type of cookware to be less than attractive. Most options out there have a similar rudimentary design, and they can’t be scrubbed and polished to a sparkly sheen. 

I on the other hand love the way that the pans develop and change as they are used more and more. As your pan develops its nonstick patina, it becomes a badge of honor that you can show off to those in the unofficial carbon steel cooking club. 

Safety

Most carbon steel pans are made from 99% pure iron and 1% carbon. So you know what you’re getting and you don’t have to worry about any potentially dangerous chemicals.

The one thing to keep in mind from a health perspective is that an unproperly cared for pan can develop rust. If that does happen you should take the steps to scrub away the rust with steel wool and restart the seasoning process.

The thin iron handles that most brands utilize can have a tendency to get hot during longer cooking sessions on the stovetop. The unique slotted handle on the Solidteknics skillet does a good job of mitigating that.

Performance And Responsiveness

Carbon steel shares a lot of cooking characteristics with cast iron. After all, iron is the main ingredient in both.

Carbon steel is much thinner than cast iron. Because of that, it doesn’t distribute heat quite as evenly and hot spots are more common.

The great benefit of the thinner material is that these pans are very responsive to temperature changes and you don’t have to wait ages to preheat your cookware.

Since carbon steel is pressed or hammered from a sheet of metal it is incredibly smooth from the start. This is a characteristic the leads to a better and more easily achievable nonstick surface.

The iron content also means that you can use any carbon steel pan with induction cooktops, and any other type of cooking surface. The only exception on our list is the wok, but that’s due to the rounded bottom and not the material itself.

How Heavy Is Carbon Steel?

As you may have noticed, carbon steel pans are often compared to cast iron, and I’m going to do it again here. Cast iron skillets are known for their weight and thickness. Two things that contribute to their durability and great heat distribution.

Carbon steel cookware is generally much thinner than cast iron, but are still made from hefty gauged metal. Most of the options on our list are between 2-3 millimeters thick, while a classic Lodge cast iron skillet is around 5-millimeters.

The thinner material means less weight. Have you ever tried tossing a stirfry in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet? It can be a good arm workout, but also leads to a messy stovetop. Carbon steel pans are designed to be more mobile and maneuverable on the stovetop.

When you consider carbon steel is the material of choice in many restaurant kitchens, you can imagine that it’s important for cooks to be able to lift and toss these pans repeatedly during a busy lunch or dinner service. 

Still, they are not what I would call a lightweight option. Most of the choices on our list are between 3.5-5 pounds.

Is Carbon Steel Durable?

A good carbon steel pan will last for generations, especially when cared for properly.

One of the reasons cast iron pans are so thick is that it is a rather brittle material. It’s not common, but cast iron pans can crack, but they’ll never bend. Carbon steel on the other hand is more malleable. 

Rather than cracking, carbon steel will bend. This is what allows manufacturers to stamp and mold pans using thinner gauged metal. This also means that it is more durable (in a sense) than cast iron.

While it’s rare that a carbon steel pan will ever crack, it can bend or become warped. All of our choices have solid track records for maintaining their shape, but there are occasions where owners did have warping issues. 

How To Maintain And Clean Carbon Steel

The maintenance and cleaning of carbon steel are very important and also one of the reasons more people don’t use this kind of pan.

If you have a cast-iron pan that you regularly use and take care of then a lot of this information will be familiar. If this is your first time, don’t get discouraged, after a few uses you’ll develop a routine that becomes second nature.

Seasoning

Seasoning is the process of adding a protective layer to your pan to protect against rust and makes your cookware more nonstick. That layer is made by bonding oil to your cookware in a hardened layer.

As you continue to cook foods with oil and fat on a seasoned pan, you can continue to add layers and durability to the protective layer.

There are a wide range of techniques to season carbon steel cookware, and I’ve previously published a simple guide on how you can get started with seasoning in your kitchen. It’s a simple fast method that works better than any other I’ve tried. It’s also a big time saver, and will give you tips on which oils to use for best results.

Cleaning

When it comes time to clean your carbon steel pan avoid using soap as that will break down your seasoning layer. Instead, use hot water and a stiff-bristled brush. I like to keep a bamboo wok brush in the kitchen for this and my other cast iron cookware.

Another alternative is to use coarse salt and a towel to scrub off any stuck-on food. After any cleaning with water, dry the pan thoroughly and rub just a drop of oil on it before storage.

What Is Carbon Steel And How Is It Made?

Carbon steel is primarily made from iron. Most carbon steel cookware is made from 99% iron and 1% carbon. Cast iron on the other hand usually has between 2-4% carbon.

The higher carbon content in cast iron makes it very brittle, and the metal must be melted and poured into molds to sets.

The lower carbon content of carbon steel makes it much more malleable. To make a pan, a piece of carbon steel is cut from a sheet and then pressed or hammered into the desired form.

Because of this, carbon steel cookware can be much thinner and smoother than cast iron.

Carbon Steel Vs. Other Cookware Materials

Each cookware material has unique strengths and weaknesses. None are objectively better than the others; it really depends on how you intend to use them. 

Here I’ll provide a direct comparison of how carbon steel performs next to other popular cookware materials. If you want to dig deeper on a particular material you can find specifics in our recent article about performance characteristics of the best cookware materials.

Carbon Steel Vs. Blue Steel

Blue steel is carbon steel. It has simply gone through a heat treatment to create a protective outer layer. There is no effect on performance and it has the same attributes as non-treated carbon steel.

Carbon Steel Vs. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel was a novel discovery because the chromium content inside of it acts as a layer of protection against corrosion. Practically speaking, this means that stainless steel is easier to maintain. It doesn’t require seasoning and won’t rust. 

Stainless steel is also considerably more expensive than carbon steel, and can be more challenging to cook with. Carbon steel is much more affordable, and can achieve a non-stick property with proper seasoning. This is a benefit you won’t find with stainless steel.

Carbon Steel Vs. Cast Iron

Carbon steel and cast iron cookware have a lot of similarities. They are both generationally durable, affordable materials that build up non-stick properties on the cook surface when properly seasoned.

The primary differences between the materials has to do with their weight and heat responsiveness. Cast iron cookware is much thicker and heavier than carbon steel. This makes it excellent at heat distribution and retention which are great qualities for braising, stewing and baking.

By contrast, carbon steel is thin and light. This makes carbon steel cookware easier to handle in the kitchen, which is convenient if you are moving the dish or flipping ingredients with a flick of the wrist. Carbon steel is also much more responsive to temperature changes. 

Carbon Steel Vs. Nonstick Cookware

While you can achieve good food release over time with a carbon steel skillet, nothing is more convenient out of the box than a nonstick pan. Nonstick food release is superb, and in most cases individual dishes are very affordable.

Carbon steel may not be as user friendly as nonstick cookware, but you will get exponentially more value from it over the life of the pan. Carbon steel skillets should last more than a lifetime if treated properly, while nonstick cookware typically lasts under 5 years before needing a replacement. There is also some concern about the environmental impact of chemicals used in the making of traditional nonstick cookware.

Maintenance Guide for Carbon Steel Pans:

Carbon steel pans require a lot of care and maintenance in order for them to work at peak performance. Care and maintenance fall into two main categories, namely seasoning, and cleaning. This section discusses each category in detail so that they can serve you well for the longest possible time.

Initial Seasoning

A brand new carbon steel pan will usually have some form of cover, usually in the form of beeswax. This can be removed using hot water and soap. Along with this, you will need to scrub the covering with a steel brush. Do not worry about any remnants as the second step will remove the remaining particles still clinging to the pan.

Different carbon steel pans will have different instructions for initial seasoning. However, the typical method is to heat the pan after scrubbing in order for it to dry. Once that has been done, you can then add salt, oil, and potato peels and cook the mixture over medium heat, allowing the mixture to touch all surfaces of the pan. You will then see changes in the color of the pan.

Once this has been completed, remove the contents of the pan and let it dry. After that, wipe the surface dry with paper towels and you are now ready to use your pan for the first time.

Regular Seasoning

The seasoning should be done before you start to cook in order for it to become non-stick. This can be accomplished by applying just enough oil to cover the surface of the pan and heating it until the oil starts to bead up. Wipe away beaded up oil and heat again. Repeat the process until the pan starts to emit smoke.

If the coating does not seem to be to your liking, you are free scrub it away just like you would in the above section. This will give you a clean surface that you can season again.

As mentioned, different carbon steel pans may have different instructions on how to properly season. Check out their instructions first and try with your own method should you feel that the results are not acceptable.

Cleaning

Cleaning can be done with water, but avoid using soap due to the reason stated above. Soak the pan in warm water to loosen any residues. You can then scrub the surface with a mildly abrasive sponge. After this, dry the surface with a clean cloth or with paper towels.

Once this has been done, you should lightly cover the surface of the pan with oil. Wipe excess oil with paper towels and store the pan in an area with little moisture in order to avoid rust.

Verdict

A carbon steel pan will greatly enhance your cooking experience, and it is a great alternative to other cookware options as it is a healthy and natural choice if you want a non-stick surface in your pans. Carbon steel pans also have a classic look and design, so traditionalists would love to have one or more of these in the kitchen.

Our choice for the best carbon steel pan is the De Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Pan because of its appeal and usability. It can be used in a variety of ways and is pretty versatile as well. For the price, it is very much worth it as there are also other carbon steel pans that are more expensive but provide similar or even inferior qualities.

Look into a carbon steel pan that will be able to serve your needs. Your options may not necessarily be the most expensive or the cheapest. By finding the right combination of usability and size, you will greatly enjoy cooking every day with your carbon steel pan, whether it be for commercial or personal use. Happy cooking!

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