A carbon steel pan is a highly sought after piece of kitchen equipment. We only recently added one to our arsenal, and we’re glad we did. They’re easy to use and clean, which we appreciate when the little ones are at our feet.
In a hurry? Our favorite carbon steel pans are:
- Matfer Bourgeat – Black Carbon Steel Pan — Best Overall Option.
- De Buyer – Carbon Steel Fry Pan — Best Authentic Carbon Steel Pan.
- De Buyer – Carbon Steel Crepe/Tortilla Pan — Best for Specialty Items.
- BK Cookware – Black Carbon Steel Skillet — Best in Black.
Read on for more…
Are Carbon Steel Pans Good?
You might wonder what makes one of these frying pans a better option than a regular steel pan or a cast-iron one, for example? There are some similarities, but this variety has some standout features all-around.
The benefits include:
Carbon steel pans function better with age, seasoning with each meal, like cast iron. You must season them upon arrival if the company hasn’t done so already. Have no fear, though, it’s usually a simple task.
Where they differ to cast iron is in their weight. They’re lighter across the board. This makes it easier to maneuver them around when cooking up a storm in your kitchen.
You can control temperature changes more efficiently than cast iron, too. The latter often takes a mess of time to heat and cool down, which won’t be an issue here.
For durability, a carbon steel option beats about any other material. Copper, regular ‘non-stick’ varieties and stainless steel can’t come close. While a cast-iron variety will last you for years to come, the added benefits of a carbon steel pan outweigh this.
With a family in tow, kitchen gear can take a beating. You use your go-to pan so often that you want to know it’s up to the task, and this won’t be a worry.
Is Carbon Steel Safe for Cooking?
To say we understand this concern would be an understatement. With kids around, you want everything you use to be safe and non-toxic. “Are carbon steel pans toxic?” is a legitimate question here, but the answer, until now, is “no.”
However, note, that like cast iron, these can leak minuscule amounts of iron into your food. We found no evidence that you need to take any cautions against this.
Who Makes the Best Carbon Steel Pans?
There are a few different brands on the market that rank up there as the best. Based on our research, both Matfer Bourgeat and De Buyer come in at the top.
Check out a demonstration of our favorite pan in this video:
What Factors Drove Our Ratings?
The specifications that helped us decide which pans made the list include:
- Versatility: This is a must for our family, and the best pan should provide you with endless opportunities come mealtime.
- Easy to use and clean: Is the pan easy to maneuver and clean up after dinner? These questions are important when time is valuable.
- Durability: Most of these pans are budget-friendly, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t last.
- Heating qualities: You’ll want a pan that can hit a high temp, both on the stove and in the oven. Even heat distribution is an essential tool.
- Protective coating: Most come with a protective coating to keep it safe until use. These include beeswax and silicone.
Our Top Rated — Best Overall Option
Coming in at the top of our list, home cooks and professionals alike praised the Matfer Bourgeat – 12 5/8-inch Black Carbon Steel Round Frying Pan, Gray (062006). You have nine size options to choose from, and we’ve gone with your standard 12-inch variety here.
You can use this pan on all types of hobs, including the popular induction style. The black iron handle is plenty sturdy for moving it around the stove when you have other dishes in queue. It weighs around 5 pounds, which makes maneuverability even less complicated and effortful.
The company provides seasoning instructions, so be sure to comply with them before using the pan. This way you’ll be ready to prepare a variety of foods from the get-go.
In March 2016, Morgan labeled this pan as “amazing:” “I seared some short ribs the other night for a crockpot dish and WOW did it function well!!! Beautiful crust and 100 percent non-stick. Way better than my cast iron, it seriously surprised me how slick the pan was.”
Some home chefs found the initial seasoning to be challenging.
Our Top Rated — Best Authentic Carbon Steel Pan
Not all carbon steel pans have a coating, but this De Buyer – 12.5-inch Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan (5610.32) MINERAL comes with a layer of 100 percent beeswax for added protection during shipping. Follow the company’s instructions for removing it.
This product is handcrafted in France from top to bottom, including the rivets, which should stay in place over time. An ergonomic handle ensures comfortable use and makes for easy balance when you’re cooking.
Its base is around 0.9 to 0.11-inches thick and ready for all hob types. High temperatures and even heat distribution shouldn’t be an issue here, either. You can also place the pan in the oven for up to 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In January 2016, an Amazon customer said: “The French know how to make great pans, great knives, great wine and great art. Give these pans a try.”
Some home chefs found the logo stamped inside the pan to be a turnoff.
Our Top Rated — Best Crepe and Tortilla Pan
We adore this De Buyer Crepe/Tortilla Pa pan. It boasts all the same features as the pan directly above, including the Mineral B coating. However, the company created it specifically for these dishes. You’ll love cooking breakfast or Mexican feasts with your kiddos.
The brand lists this pan as great for browning, grilling and sealing your foods.
It’s labeled as “eco-friendly,” too. This can add some extra peace-of-mind when you’re worried about health precautions.
One important note here is that you can’t put this pan in the dishwasher. You can use coarse salt to sterilize it and hot water for deglazing, though, which is simple enough.
In August 2018, Daniel said: “I love this pan. I have been trying to get away from non-stick pans for years and could never truly get the hang of the cast iron. This pan is the answer!”
It is not the most versatile pan.
Our Top Rated — Best in Black
The BK Cookware 12-inch Black Carbon Steel Skillet is sure to impress. It’s corrosion and stain-resistant, so it should maintain that pretty look. With that said, it’s a budget-friendly model, with other merits, too.
The company has been in operation since 1851, which gives us some assurance that it knows what it’s talking about when it comes to cookware.
This pan comes pre-seasoned with oil. All you need to do is remove the protective silicone wax coating and you’ll be ready for cooking straight away.
Other great features include a heat-responsive design and the fact you can use metal utensils without scratching it up. It’s also safe for the oven up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
In December 2019, Andrew Chiang said: “So far, the non-stick properties have been one of the best I’ve seen. The fact that it’s all natural with no chemical coatings is amazing.”
Some home chefs noted that the wax coating needed to be entirely removed with soap and water before use, or you may compromise the non-stick qualities.
Some that didn’t make the top rated list but deserve consideration are:
Steel the Show
Were you as impressed with this selection as we are? From crepe pans to traditional French skillets, there’s a unique variety available.
We had to choose the Matfer Bourgeat – 12 5/8-inch as our favorite. It’s a durable unit with a long black iron handle that makes it easy to manage when cooking. You should be able to maneuver it easily and cook a variety of dishes for years to come.
This product doesn’t come pre-seasoned, so do that before using it for the first time. It shouldn’t be a major task, simply follow the instructions provided by the company.