A pan is one of the most common and straightforward cooking tools available, and often serves as the main way to cook a range of different meals without having to use an entire oven. However that doesn’t mean that they’re all perfect: like any kitchen equipment, you’ll want to look for the best.
Carbon steel pan designs are incredibly useful and reliable, coming with a range of benefits that simpler designs can’t offer, but there are hundreds of individual brands and thousands of designs to sort through if you want to make sure that you’re getting the best carbon steel pan available.
Below are ten of the best carbon steel pan options out there, as well as what they offer compared to other brands of that type.
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1. De Buyer MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan
The Mineral B rounded frying pan is made with all-natural metal with a protective beeswax covering to preventing rusting and oxidation damage. The base of the pan itself has been designed to handle high cooking heat for creating more nutritious meals, as well as helping with multiple tasks such as grilling, browning, and sealing.
Unlike a lot of designs, it’s also supposed to be used long-term, trapping flavors and seasoning on the metal to release it back into meals made later. The hand rivets, combined with the 3mm-thick surfaces and easy-to-grip handle, keep it easy to use without giving the pan any safety flaws.
+ Made of recyclable metals.
+ Strong hand-riveted design.
+ Warp and rust-resistant.
+ Balanced ergonomic handle.
+ Naturally non-stick.
Why We Like It – The Mineral B is simple in the best possible way, giving you excellent results with minimal extra effort needed, regardless of what you’re cooking or how many meals you’re making.
2. Mauviel Carbon Steel Fry Pan
This black steel pan is designed for extremely good heat conduction, keeping all of the warmth directly under the food and making sure that it can be cooked thoroughly. The riveted handle offers simple, balanced support without feeling weak, and the basic design means that the pan can be used on almost any kind of cooking surface with no issues at all. Unlike a lot of steel cookware, it’s able to turn non-stick naturally if you apply seasoning to it, and the design also uses beeswax to add extra rust prevention without harming the quality of the food you create.
+ Suitable for any kind of cooking method.
+ Excellent and consistent heat conduction.
+ Surface becomes non-stick when seasoned.
+ Well-designed handle.
+ Lightweight construction.
Why We Like It – This is another frying pan that offers a simple but effective steel design, conducting heat well and being straightforward enough to work for almost any meal or cooking type.
3. Ballarini Professionale Carbon Steel Fry Pan
This high-quality aluminum and carbon steel pan uses Thermopoint heat detection to indicate when the pan is safe to touch, showing green if it’s within safe limits and red if it’s hot enough to cook on. The handle uses an ergonomic and heat-insulated design that keeps your hands protected while still giving you a better grip on the pan itself, and the inner surface uses a three-part non-stick coat to make cooking a variety of meals even easier. Not only that, but it’s free of any heavy metals and nickel, so it won’t contain any common metal allergens in either the pan or the food you create with it.
+ Extremely durable and reliable.
+ Built-in Thermopoint heat tracking system.
+ Ergonomic and comfortable handle design.
+ Free from metal allergens.
+ Non-stick and scratch-resistant.
Why We Like It – This steel frying pan gives you everything you need to cook meals in a safe, efficient and enjoyable way without having to worry about the food getting stuck or filled with allergy triggers.
4. Souped Up Recipes Carbon Steel Wok
This carbon steel pan has a flat-bottomed design that works well on all cooking surfaces and heat sources, letting you cook meals nearly anywhere. Not only is it lightweight, but it heats up quickly to help you quickly cook smaller meals, and it uses a well-crafted wooden lid to help contain food without getting too hot to remove.
It also comes with a stainless steel spatula that’s specially chosen to work well with this pan. In terms of coating, the pan doesn’t have an existing pre-made coating, and is ready to be seasoned straight away with whatever fits your meal’s flavors the best.
+ Wooden lid for better safety.
+ Heats up quickly for faster cooking speed.
+ Easy to season for non-stick cooking.
+ Very lightweight design.
+ Can work on almost any cooking surface.
Why We Like It – Unlike many carbon steel pans, this design uses other materials (like the wooden lid) to give you as many benefits as possible while cooking tricky meals.
5. Paderno Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Frying Pan
This tough and thick carbon steel pan is perfect for cooking tougher meals at hotter temperatures, using a design that allows for longer periods of pre-heating and reaching higher temperatures wherever possible. The metals used also improved heat conduction, leading to faster cooking and more efficient use of heat regardless of the cooking surface you’re using.
The flat handle is attached with tough rivets for maximum durability while still being comfortable to hold for long periods of time, and the low weight of the pan as a whole means that it’s much easier to use for a wide range of different cooking types.
+ Faster heat conduction rates.
+ Able to reach higher temperatures than other carbon steel pans.
+ Very durable handle rivets.
+ Low overall weight.
+ Easy to use.
Why We Like It – This carbon steel cookware is perfect for cooking large meals and big dishes at high levels of heat, especially if you want to avoid wasting fuel or energy.
6. BK Cookware Carbon Steel Skillet
This high-quality black steel frying pan is made with dense materials that manage to stay corrosion resistant and stain-free for much longer, as well as far more durable than most carbon steel pans. The base is pre-seasoned and uses a silicone wax that can easily be removed after cooking, making it a great non-stick option that uses natural materials wherever possible: the more you cook using it, the better this non-stick nature becomes. The design is also heat-responsive to make searing and other cooking methods easier, all while staying safe enough for use in an oven and for stirring or adjusting food using metal utensils.
+ Non-stick inner surface.
+ Pre-seasoned using natural materials.
+ Designed for better heat responsiveness.
+ Durable and stain-resistant design.
+ Safe to use at high heat levels.
Why We Like It – Compared to other pans, this design is both durable and very effective at high temperatures, making it one of the best pans for dealing with difficult cooking situations.
7. Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
This pre-seasoned carbon steel pan uses a rounded and deep design that’s perfect for a range of meals, including eggs, soups, and sauces. The 12-gauge carbon steel provides extra durability in every situation, and the extended handle makes it easy to lift without being flimsy or easily damaged.
However, the main feature of the design is the excellent heat distribution and management compared to other carbon steel pans, giving you maximum cooking efficiency regardless of the surface or method you’re using. It’s very versatile, even working on outdoor fires, and can handle wooden, metal and silicone utensils without any issues or risks of harming yourself.
+ Extremely versatile design.
+ Can conduct heat extremely well.
+ Very easy to clean by hand.
+ Works on all cooking surfaces and/or heating sources.
+ Pre-seasoned for non-stick cooking.
Why We Like It – Most carbon steel pans struggle to work outside of full kitchens, but this design can handle high temperatures regardless of where and when you’re trying to cook.
8. Garcima Mirador Paella Pan Set
This raised carbon steel pan comes with its own durable legs to help you cook in a range of unconventional situations, taking barely any time to assemble at all. This reinforced tripod design stands up to 30 inches tall and can be used for outdoor cooking, but the pan itself can also be removed for indoor use too.
The included burner gives you two different heating rings that can be controlled independently for each meal, and the durable inner surface is perfect for creating a variety of food types while still being easy to wash and maintain after each cooking session.
+ Comes with a raised stand for versatile cooking.
+ Very durable pan surface.
+ Easy to wash.
+ Two concentric burner rings.
+ Reinforced tripod base.
Why We Like It – This pan may not be conventional in the usual sense, but it’s extremely easy to use and works best for short-notice cooking both in the kitchen and out of the house entirely.
9. Craft Wok Traditional Carbon Steel Pow Wok
This well-made carbon steel pan uses a classic wok design that’s suitable for commercial work, making it incredibly durable and reliable in the long-term. The round bottom makes it more suited to certain types of heat compared to others, but the specially-made wood and steel handle makes sure that you won’t burn yourself while you’re busy using it.
The raised sides make it much harder to spill food accidentally, and the design is perfect for any stir-fry meals or soups that you want to create. It can also double as a tool for steaming or smoking food without any extra damage or performance problems.
+ Uses a traditional wok shape.
+ Works as a steamer and smoker.
+ Great for stir-fry food.
+ Can be used to deep fry ingredients.
+ Very reliable and efficient.
Why We Like It – A wok might not be the first product you think of, but this pan combines a professional design with a traditional cooking experience that’s great for all kinds of roles.
10. Mecete Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
This straightforward Chinese wok pan can resist up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit without any damage or safety issues, and uses specially-chosen carbon steel to provide much higher durability in the long-term. The blue steel has been oiled for better rust-resistance, and has the added side-effect of making it a nonstick pan for better results regardless of the meal you’re making.
The thermal conductivity it offers also means that you can reach higher temperatures and get better results with every meal, as well as being able to get more nutrients into your food thanks to the iron that dissolves while you cook.
+ Excellent design for stable meal preparation.
+ Uniform and bubble-free design.
+ High level of conductivity.
+ Made with tough iron, carbon steel, and other materials.
+ Oiled for non-stick results.
Why We Like It – This wok is a great alternate to a boring frying pan, letting you cook a range of meals and get delicious results every single time.
Carbon Steel Pan Buyer’s Guide
The best carbon steel pans on the market aren’t always the most obvious ones: if you don’t know what to look for in a pan, it’s very easy to focus on the wrong details or end up buying something that really isn’t suited for that particular task or role.
Remember that each meal you cook might have different requirements or specifics, so there’s no such thing as the “best” carbon steel pans when it comes to literally every food you can cook – instead, you need to find the best carbon steel pans for your own needs, since each person or household will have their own preferences over what they cook, how they apply seasoning and what kind of methods or steps they like to use when preparing meals.
Obviously, when it comes to the best carbon steel pans, you’ll want to make sure you’re actually getting a carbon steel frying pan. However, that doesn’t’ mean that carbon steel pans are only made using carbon steel: they can often contain a range of other materials that might completely change how they’re supposed to be used, like cast iron or other metals. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each material can make a big difference if you’re hoping to use your carbon steel cookware for a long time.
Carbon steel pans that use no other materials are quite common, often being designed to allow for maximum durability and heat retention while you’re trying to cook a meal. They heat up faster than cast iron and can hold heat more efficiently than stainless steel, but their main benefit lies in the fact that seasoning can be used to make them into a non-stick pan with ease. Some of the best carbon steel pans might even come with seasoning pre-added so that you don’t need to get any of your own.
Stainless steel is similar to carbon steel since they’re both based on the same original material. However, unlike carbon steel pans, a stainless steel pan is completely rust-free and doesn’t need much maintenance. If it contains an aluminum core, the heat distribution can sometimes even be better than the best carbon steel pans, depending on how each pan is designed.
Cast iron takes longer to heat up than carbon steel, but can train and distribute heat better. They’re very similar materials, so these differences are often small, but cast iron can be a little bit more brittle due to the contents of the metals themselves.
Remember that the best carbon steel pans won’t be entirely carbon steel. Some might be cast iron/carbon steel designs that use a mixture of both, or have the cast iron placed in key spots to improve heat distribution. This depends on the designs of the pans, of course, so one skillet might use a single material whereas another skillet is made with four or five. If you only need a single material, there’s no harm in choosing to get a pan designed like that, so decide based on your needs.
Handles are a large part of any pan. Even the best carbon steel pans can suffer if they have a handle design that makes them incredibly hard to use, and it’s not something that you can reliably fix unless you have the skills to replace the handle outright. Each person has their own preferences in terms of handles, but some are generally seen as objectively better options.
Riveted handles can take a bit more cleaning, but they’re some of the sturdiest options available and never need any kind of tightening or adjustments (since the handle is riveted directly onto the outer surface of the pan. Some designs hide the rivets under another layer, which can reduce bacterial build-up, but this is only necessary for people who might not have the time or skills to clean the skillet properly.
Stainless steel pan handles are often seen as the best in terms of heat protection, but this isn’t always the case. Aluminum can struggle to stay cool if it’s connected to the carbon steel skillet directly, but can be much more lightweight if there’s another material separating them. Wood is another popular option due to aesthetics: while there’s always the risk of it burning if it touches an open flame, wood can surprisingly good at dealing with high heat, and won’t conduct it back into your hand.
Some handles are designed to act like ergonomic grips, meaning that you get the best possible support and comfort while working. Others are made as simple gripping points, focusing on structure and effectiveness. It’s up to you which you prefer, and not all designs are made in the exact same way – some might have hook spots, whereas others could have rubber or silicone grips built into them.
Finishes and Seasoning
Many new chefs will overlook seasoning and non-stick finishes, but these can be some of the most important features you can get when it comes to making your meal preparation easy and convenient. Non-stick finishes are exactly what the name suggests: a finish that makes it easy to pull food away from the surface without it getting stuck to the bottom of the pan and ripped in half. Even the most professional and experienced chef would prefer to use a non-stick surface where possible since it gets rid of one of the most common annoyances you can face while trying to cook.
However, you can also do the same thing with certain seasoning techniques: in fact, many steel skillet or steel pan designs are made with that in mind, allowing you to get your own seasoning and add it to the pan ahead of time for similar results. Seasoning techniques might differ depending on the meal and the design of the pans you’re using, but most carbon steel pans can accept this kind of preparation really well.
Certain pans can achieve this with a natural finish: these are finishes that don’t get any ingredients from artificial or environment-harming sources. These can sometimes add extra nutrients to the food as well, but this isn’t always the case.
Remember that branding plays a large role in all carbon steel cookware, and cookware as a whole. The best carbon steel pans aren’t all made by the same brands, and it’s easy to end up having to choose between two different brand names that offer similar pan designs. The best option in any situation are the pan designs that get you the best results: it doesn’t matter whether they’re from Matfer Bourgeat or De Buyer: both of those brands offer unique features and have their own pan and skillet designs.
If you like a pan made by Matfer Bourgeat more than one from De Buyer, then you can always buy it, even if De Buyer is recommended to you by more people. In the same way, if you find De Buyer pans to be more appealing, then go ahead and buy from them instead. As long as you’re buying legitimate De Buyer pans (which you can often check for looking for ‘all rights reserved’ copyright notices) you’ll get the results you’re expecting from them.
Watch out for fakes or illegitimate sellers: a while a skillet isn’t the most extreme thing to sell as a knockoff product, you can still give your name, email, address or phone number to a scammer. If you like a pan, it’s worth getting it from an official source, especially if you want to make sure it won’t suddenly collapse, catch fire or start flaking pieces of dangerous materials hidden inside.
Are carbon steel pans the best?
Carbon steel pans are the best option for a lot of people, but that doesn’t make them the only option worth using. You don’t have to stick to only one pan type: a cast iron skillet can have it’s own uses and drawbacks too, and having a range of skillet designs lets you choose the one you like for each individual task. No pan can solve every problem, but having a handful of pans that are each best at a different type of meal preparation can help you cover all of the bases.
That being said, carbon steel is quite often recommended to newer cooks, since it’s high-quality and can often be used for a wider range of meals. If you have no idea what you’re planning to cook yet, it can be a good idea to go with a carbon steel design that you like the look of, since it opens up the most options to you when you actually get time to cook properly.
Are carbon steel pans safe to use?
No pan is perfectly safe, and carbon steel pans are very good at conducting heat, which can make them very hot if you cook for a long time. However, this also means that they can endure high heats really well, and the heat distribution means that it’s not all concentrated into a single place. As long as you’re using the pan in a safe way, it can be even more protective than cast iron, making it one of the best choices for people who know how to cook but need a new pan.
A carbon steel skillet can also be good for new cooks as long as they’re able to learn the basics of how to cook. A carbon steel pan can have the same design as a cast iron pan, so it really comes down to the design and how hard it would be to use while you’re trying to cook. Materials come secondary to the design, just like all other major kitchen equipment.
Why do chefs use carbon steel pans?
Carbon steel pan designs have a range of extremely useful benefits. They can be cleaned without even needing a paper towel, have some of the best durability compared to pans made of cast iron and other materials, and are generally superior kitchen instruments. Chefs like them for more reasons than just this, but in short, they’re simply some of the best options for day-to-day meal preparation and don’t have many direct downsides or weaknesses.
Hopefully, by now you have an understanding of how to find the best carbon steel pan for your needs, as well as an idea of why carbon steel is often seen as the best choice compared to cast iron or stainless steel pan designs. The search doesn’t end here, though: our reviews should have given you a good starting point for where to look, and one or two of them might even be exactly what you’re looking for!
Take a look around the various pages and have a look at what they offer you: even if they aren’t exactly what you need, they might help you find something more appropriate or useful! Make sure to take your time and figure out what you need compared to what you want: this will make it much easier to find a carbon steel pan that’s right for you!