The Best Carbon Steel Pan of 2020 – The Secret of Chefs Everywhere

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:

  1. Matfer Bourgeat – Black Carbon Steel Pan — Best Overall Option
  2. De Buyer – Carbon Steel Fry Pan  — Best Authentic Carbon Steel Pan
  3. De Buyer – Carbon Steel Crepe/Tortilla Pan — Best for Specialty Items
  4. 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:

  • Lightweight.
  • Durable.
  • Temperature-friendly.

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 from 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 precautions against this.

eggs 1467283 1280

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 tie at the top position.

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 quality.
  • Protective coating: Most come with a protective coating to keep it safe until use. These include beeswax and silicone.
vegetables 592282 1280

Our Top-Rated — Best Overall Option

Matfer Bourgeat - 12 5/8-inch Black Carbon Steel Round Frying Pan, Gray (062

Customer Rating
4/5

Includes

  • 12 5/8-inch Black Carbon Steel Round Frying Pan, Gray

Features

  • Popular for all levels of cook.
  • Well-trusted brand.
  • Can handle high temps.
  • Black iron handle.

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 effortless.

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.”

Negatives? Some home chefs found the initial seasoning to be challenging.

Our Top-Rated — Best Authentic Carbon Steel Pan

De Buyer - 12.5-inch Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan (5610.32) MINERAL

Customer Rating
4.5/5

Includes

  • 12.5-inch Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan

Features

  • Warp-resistant.
  • Authentic French design.
  • 100 percent beeswax coating.
  • Thick and sturdy.

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.”

Negatives? Some home chefs found the logo stamped inside the pan to be a turnoff.

Our Top-Rated — Best Crepe and Tortilla Pan

De Buyer - 12-inch Round Carbon Steel Crepe/Tortilla Pan

Customer Rating
4.5/5

Includes

  • 12-inch Round Carbon Steel Crepe/Tortilla Pan

Features

  • Built to last.
  • Perfect for eggs, tortillas and more.
  • Well-reputed brand.
  • Easy to clean.

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!”

Negatives? It is not the most versatile pan.

Our Top-Rated — Best in Black

BK Cookware - 12-inch Black Carbon Steel Skillet (CC002354-001)

Customer Rating
4.5/5

Includes

  • 12-inch Black Carbon Steel Skillet

Features

  • It comes pre-seasoned.
  • Easily removable coating.
  • Safe with metal utensils.
  • Suitable for very high temps.

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 that 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.”

Negatives? 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.

Alternatives

Some that didn’t make the top-rated list but deserve consideration are:

best carbon steel pan

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 with it 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.

Recommended products

Matfer Bourgeat - 12 5/8-inch Black Carbon Steel Round Frying Pan, Gray (062

4/5

Granite Mortar and Pestle Set

4.7/5

Granite Mortar and Pestle