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Ultimate Carbon Steel Frying Pan Buying Guide

Best Overall
Misen Carbon Steel Pan
5/5
Best for Searing
Mauviel M'Steel Non Stick Fry Pan
5/5
Best Paella Pan
MageFesa Carbon Steel Paella Pan
5/5

Are you looking for the perfect carbon steel pan to add to your arsenal of cookware? If so, we’ve got you covered.

After some extensive research and a bit of personal experience, we have put together a list highlighting some of the best carbon steel pans on the market. The products we will cover are meant to fit a wide range of budgets and needs, and we guarantee that by the end you’ll have no doubt which one is best for you. So, now that you know what you’re in for, let’s begin!

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Our Favourite Products And Some Other Carbon Steel Pan Options

With so many great options to choose from, we present our top 10 along with several quality options that we should take a moment to briefly mention.

1. Misen Carbon Steel Pan

Since 2015, Misen has been dedicated to delivering professional-grade cookware at an affordable price, something they have no doubt accomplished with their latest 12-inch non-stick carbon steel pan. At first glance, one can tell a fair amount of thought has gone into the design and construction of the pan. The ‘Goldilocks’ wall height is designed to provide enough airflow to allow for browning and searing while still be high enough to stop grease splatter. Moreover, the pan’s base is made to provide 20% more cooking surface than the standard pan of the same size.

If all you want is the dollar-for-dollar best carbon steel pan available, then stop scrolling, as this product by Misen is what you’re looking for.

Since 2015, Misen has been dedicated to delivering professional-grade cookware at an affordable price, something they have no doubt accomplished with their latest 12-inch non-stick carbon steel pan. At first glance, one can tell a fair amount of thought has gone into the design and construction of the pan. The ‘Goldilocks’ wall height is designed to provide enough airflow to allow for browning and searing while still be high enough to stop grease splatter. Moreover, the pan’s base is made to provide 20% more cooking surface than the standard pan of the same size.

On top of all this, the Misen Carbon Steel Pan is truly built to last a lifetime; using the ideal ratio of 99% iron to 1% steel, the pan features first-in-class construction that can’t be matched by other options within its price range.

Upon first arriving, customers will note the pan features a sharp silver tone, However, the color will darken to a deep reddish-brown after seasoning, a look many people find to be visually appealing. For those who are somewhat hesitant to try the seasoning process themselves, Misen offers a no-questions-asked 60-day money-back guarantee, which can be redeemed even if you incorrectly season the pan.

All in all, we haven’t come across any other pan on the market that provides such a high level of quality and attention to detail for under $70.

Pros
Cons

2. De Buyer Mineral B Element 12" Frying Pan

Unlike the vast majority of carbon steel cookware, each Mineral B Element frying pan is built to last a lifetime. What’s more, De Buyer has taken special care to make sure the pan is PTFE and PFOA free and comes equipped with a perfectly flat bottom for the ultimate cooking experience.

With over 200 years of experience in manufacturing cookware, Be Buyer is one of the most recognized and sought-after brands around. Not only are all their products manufactured in France, but their carbon steel pans are made out of 99% iron and come covered in the company’s proprietary anti-oxidation beeswax coating.

Unlike the vast majority of carbon steel cookware, each Mineral B Element frying pan is built to last a lifetime. What’s more, De Buyer has taken special care to make sure the pan is PTFE and PFOA free and comes equipped with a perfectly flat bottom for the ultimate cooking experience.

If you’re looking for one of the best carbon steel pans at a very reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with this offering from De Buyers.

Pros
Cons

3. Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Made in France, this Matfer pan is constructed out of black carbon steel, meaning you will have to season it if you want it to function as a nonstick pan. One aspect we really like about this model is how the ergonomic handle is welded to the fry pan body instead of using the traditional rivet method. By doing this, Matfer has made the pan very easy to clean.

Next up, we have the Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Pan. Unlike many other options, this model comes in various sizes ranging from just under 9 inches to nearly 18 inches in diameter. That being said, the 11-inch version is by far the most popular and has become a staple amongst those who are serious about cooking.

Made in France, this Matfer pan is constructed out of black carbon steel, meaning you will have to season it if you want it to function as a nonstick pan. One aspect we really like about this model is how the ergonomic handle is welded to the fry pan body instead of using the traditional rivet method. By doing this, Matfer has made the pan very easy to clean. Furthermore, the angled sides make the pan very versatile, allowing users to do anything from friend eggs to stir frying.

Pros
Cons

4. BK Black Steel Skillet

Besides the overall affordability, the BK Black Steel Skillet comes pre seasoned, which is perfect for those who want a product that’s ready to use right out of the box. That being said, the fry pan does come covered in a silicone coating that must be removed before use.

If you’re looking for a quality carbon steel pan with an affordable price tag, the BK Black Steel Skillet is worth a serious look. At just over $50, this offering from BK is considered one of the better options in this price range and comes outfitted with an impressive nonstick coating that rivals most other carbon steel pans in effectiveness.

Besides the overall affordability, the BK Black Steel Skillet comes pre seasoned, which is perfect for those who want a product that’s ready to use right out of the box. That being said, the fry pan does come covered in a silicone coating that must be removed before use.

Pros
Cons

5. Mauviel M'Steel Non Stick Fry Pan

M’Steel Non Stick Fry Pan comes with a lifetime warranty which is pretty impressive considering the standard 11-inch model has a price tag of under $100. However, while most top quality steel carbon pans don’t come pre seasoned, the M’Steel non stick pan is considerably more difficult to season than most carbon steel cookware

Made out of extra thick black carbon steel, this non stick fry pan by Mauviel provides excellent heat conduction and is perfect for searing. One thing that separates this item from most other carbon steel cookware is it’s safe to use on a variety of cooking surfaces, including:

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Induction cooktops
  • Halogen stovetops
  • Oven

What’s more, the M’Steel Non Stick Fry Pan comes with a lifetime warranty which is pretty impressive considering the standard 11-inch model has a price tag of under $100. However, while most top quality steel carbon pans don’t come pre seasoned, the M’Steel non stick pan is considerably more difficult to season than most carbon steel cookware. That being said, unlike the De Buyer model, this Mauviel product can be seasoned in the oven, and when done correctly, results in a genuinely non stick surface.

Pros
Cons

6. MageFesa Carbon Steel Paella Pan

As is to be expected, this carbon steel skillet has a broader diameter than the average fry pan and is equipped with two large handles that allow the dish to be picked up and moved easily. On top of this, the pan is constructed with a dimpled bottom resulting in the even heat distribution necessary to properly cook paella and can even be used while cooking over firewood.

Paella is one of the best-known dishes of Spanish cuisine, and as anyone from Valencia will tell you, it requires a special type of pan to cook correctly. Traditionally, a paella pan is meant to be used on a gas burner stove, have sloping sides, and be shallow in depth to allow the rice to cook evenly and lock in flavor.

Unfortunately, the average carbon steel skillet doesn’t meet all these criteria, meaning anyone hoping to cook the dish successfully will have to make sure they have the right pan. Luckily, the Spanish manufacturer MegaFesa makes a high-quality and very affordable carbon steel Paella pan that will allow you to bring a little taste of southern Spain to your home.

As is to be expected, this carbon steel skillet has a broader diameter than the average fry pan and is equipped with two large handles that allow the dish to be picked up and moved easily. On top of this, the pan is constructed with a dimpled bottom resulting in the even heat distribution necessary to properly cook paella and can even be used while cooking over firewood.

Pros
Cons

7. Lodge Pre Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet

Constructed out of 14 gauge steel, this carbon steel skillet is a bit thicker than most carbon steel pans around, meaning it retains heat very well and provides a nice even cook. Because of its sturdy construction, the pan is safe in the oven for more extended periods than the average carbon steel fry pan and is also safe to use outdoors and over an open flame.

Not everyone wants to go through the trouble of seasoning their carbon steel skillet, especially if they’re not overly familiar with the process. If done incorrectly, food will stick to the pan surface, and moisture may cause oxidation, rendering the frying pan useless. If this sounds like something you would like to avoid, then the Lodge carbon steel skillet may be the best choice for you.

Constructed out of 14 gauge steel, this carbon steel skillet is a bit thicker than most carbon steel pans around, meaning it retains heat very well and provides a nice even cook. Because of its sturdy construction, the pan is safe in the oven for more extended periods than the average carbon steel fry pan and is also safe to use outdoors and over an open flame.

Considering this item retails for just under $45, it’s easy to see why many consider it one of the better carbon steel skillets around, especially in the price range.

Pros
Cons

8. De Buyer Mineral "B" Crepe Pan

While not everyone feels buying a separate pan just for crepes and a select few other breakfast items is justifiable, others couldn’t disagree more. If you frequently make crepes or omelets and want to buy a good carbon steel pan for the job, this offering by De Buyer is one of the better options around.

The second item by De Buyers to be featured on this list is a 12-inch lightweight crepe pan that breakfast enthusiasts will love. Unlike the standard frying pan, a crepe pan is characterized by shallow sides that make it easy to get your spatula under the crepe, omelet, pancake, or fried egg you’re cooking.

While not everyone feels buying a separate pan just for crepes and a select few other breakfast items is justifiable, others couldn’t disagree more. If you frequently make crepes or omelets and want to buy a good carbon steel pan for the job, this offering by De Buyer is one of the better options around.

Pros
Cons

9. Craft Wok Carbon Steel Round Bowl

Craft Wok is a company that has made a name for itself amongst wok and stir fry enthusiasts as one of the top makers of hand-hammered wok bowls. At 14 inches in diameter, there is plenty of cooking space, and the relative thinness allows the bowl to reach high heat levels very quickly.

If you’re into wok or stir frying you know the right cookware makes all the difference. Unfortunately, most producers of carbon steel cookware have neglected this design, meaning a good carbon steel wok bowl is hard to come by.

Craft Wok is a company that has made a name for itself amongst wok and stir fry enthusiasts as one of the top makers of hand-hammered wok bowls. At 14 inches in diameter, there is plenty of cooking space, and the relative thinness allows the bowl to reach high heat levels very quickly.

Furthermore, the wooden handle is finished with a non stick coating and provides an excellent grip not often seen on other carbon steel pans. It should be noted that, like most carbon steel cookware, this wok bowl must be properly seasoned before use. Unfortunately, user reviews indicate that people have had some difficulties seasoning this item compared to more traditional carbon steel frying pans, meaning it may only be appropriate for those comfortable in their seasoning skills.

Pros
Cons

10. Denmark Tool Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Grill Pan

This offering from Denmark Tools comes pre seasoned and is equipped with a rectangular 10.5-inch grill surface perfect for grilling chicken breasts, steak, salmon, and much more. What’s more, this carbon steel pan is 100% PFOA and PFTE free and can be safely used in the oven, even when set to broil.

Rounding out our top ten is a heavy-duty grill pan by Denmark tools. At first glance, you might think this product is made out of cast iron, but don’t let appearances fool you, this fry pan is 100% carbon steel.

Along with being highly durable, this offering from Denmark Tools comes pre seasoned and is equipped with a rectangular 10.5-inch grill surface perfect for grilling chicken breasts, steak, salmon, and much more. What’s more, this carbon steel pan is 100% PFOA and PFTE free and can be safely used in the oven, even when set to broil.

While the design and texture may be a bit unconventional, it will make a great addition to anyone’s cookware collection.

Pros
Cons

11. Merten & Storck Black Steel Frying Pan

This carbon steel pan from Merten & Storck is equipped with high sides and a triple-riveted steel handle for extra support. One trait that sets this particular pan apart from many others is that it’s oven safe up to 600F. Moreover, the hardy surface makes it safe to use metal utensils.

This carbon steel pan from Merten & Storck is equipped with high sides and a triple-riveted steel handle for extra support. One trait that sets this particular pan apart from many others is that it’s oven safe up to 600F. Moreover, the hardy surface makes it safe to use metal utensils.

Pros
Cons

12. Yosukata Carbon Steel Frying Pan With Removable Wooden Handle

The fry pan is a truly unique product that can cook everything from bacon or stir fry with ease. However, while the pan itself is oven safe, the wooden handle isn’t, meaning it must be removed before being placed in the oven.

This stylish carbon steel pan draws inspiration from both traditional frying pans and wok bowls. The result is a unique item with high sides and a visually pleasing heat-resistant wooden handle that is also removable.

The fry pan is a truly unique product that can cook everything from bacon or stir fry with ease. However, while the pan itself is oven safe, the wooden handle isn’t, meaning it must be removed before being placed in the oven.

Pros
Cons

13. Winco French Style Carbon Steel Pan With Extra Long Handle

Winco is a Spanish manufacturer known for making low-cost, high-quality carbon steel cookware. Here, the pan in question makes its French influence known with its flat bottom, curved sides, and an extra-long handle.

Winco is a Spanish manufacturer known for making low-cost, high-quality carbon steel cookware. Here, the pan in question makes its French influence known with its flat bottom, curved sides, and an extra-long handle. Somewhat uncommon for a carbon steel pan in this price range, this Winco product will need to be properly seasoned before use and comes in sizes ranging from just over 7 inches to just under 13 inches in diameter.

Pros
Cons

14. De Buyer 12 inch Country Fry Pan

Like all De Buyer products, the pan comes with its own seasoning wax and is made in France quality which, as you should know by now, is designed to last a lifetime.

We so strongly believe that De Buyer makes some of the best carbon steel pans around that this is the third product of theirs we’ve included on this list. As should be pretty obvious, this particular pan has considerably more depth to it than the average frying pan and skillet and is excellent for making sauces, whisking, or cooking a large amount of food at once.

Like all De Buyer products, the pan comes with its own seasoning wax and is made in France quality which, as you should know by now, is designed to last a lifetime.

Pros
Cons

15. BK Black Carbon Steel BBQ Frying Pan

As can be seen from the image, this BK product is fitted with several holes throughout the pan body, allowing open flame to cook whatever meat or vegetables contained within.

Although we’ve looked at several frying pans that are grill and BBQ friendly, we haven’t looked at one specifically designed to be used for these purposes. As can be seen from the image, this BK product is fitted with several holes throughout the pan body, allowing open flame to cook whatever meat or vegetables contained within.

Pros
Cons

16. BelleVie Cajun Style Carbon Steel Pan

This carbon steel pan from BelleVie utilizes thin gauge steel that heats up quickly and is perfect for Cajun-style cooking. Although this option may not be the best carbon steel skillet on the market, it’s quite high quality for its price and is perfect for those looking for a pan with greater than average depth.

This carbon steel pan from BelleVie utilizes thin gauge steel that heats up quickly and is perfect for Cajun-style cooking. Although this option may not be the best carbon steel skillet on the market, it’s quite high quality for its price and is perfect for those looking for a pan with greater than average depth.

The primary issue with this offering by BelleVie is the gauge is very thin, which can lead to warping over time. Moreover, thin gauge steel is much more susceptible to dings and dents.

Pros
Cons

17. Garcima 20 Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan

Garcima is another Spanish company known for making well-constructed Carbon Steel paella pans. Being safe for the stovetop, oven, or grill, this 20-inch pan is another excellent option for anyone looking to engage in Spanish cuisine. Upon arrival, this carbon steel pan will need to be seasoned.

Garcima is another Spanish company known for making well-constructed Carbon Steel paella pans. Being safe for the stovetop, oven, or grill, this 20-inch pan is another excellent option for anyone looking to engage in Spanish cuisine. Upon arrival, this carbon steel pan will need to be seasoned.

Pros
Cons

Carbon Steel Pan Buying Guide

When it comes time to purchase a frying pan, there are several factors you will want to consider when making the decision, the most important of which are listed below.

Affordability: The buying process is made much easier if you know how much you’re willing to spend. Once a price range has been determined, it really narrows down your options, making it easier for you to make a decision.

Warranty: Warranties are essential when it comes to anything carbon steel, as the material is prone to rust and oxidization if not adequately cared for. Besides the warranty length, clarify what options you have if the pan becomes ruined during seasoning. Some manufacturers, like Misen, will still replace the item, whereas others will not.

Seasoned or unseasoned: One of the most common complaints about carbon steel is that it needs to be seasoned before use. If you’re not comfortable going through this process, narrow your search by looking for a seasoned carbon steel skillet only.

Purpose: When shopping for a carbon steel skillet, take a moment to think about what it is you want to do with it. As we saw, several options cater to more specialized needs, such a paella, wok, stir fry, crepes, and grilling.

Size: Part of choosing the best carbon steel skillet for you involves deciding which size you want. As we have seen, some models range from as small as 9 inches, whereas others reach nearly 30 inches in diameter. If you don’t give some thought as to which size is the best for you, the chances of making a decision that you end up being unhappy with are significantly increased.

Delihom Stay-Cool Handle Carbon Steel Skillet

Although a relatively unknown manufacturer, Delihom has been putting out some quality carbon steel cookware at very affordable prices. This particular model features an extra long removable handle, high sides, and a rice tag of under $40.

Pros

  • Extra long handle with heat resistant coating
  • High sides
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Handle must be removed before pan is placed in the oven
  • Long handle may may storage impractical

FAQS

Like any cast iron pan, the average carbon steel frying pan needs to be seasoned if you want it to work correctly. Contrary to popular belief, seasoning is not the layer of grease left behind after use, and seasoning does not help build up flavor over time.

In reality, seasoning has two primary roles, to provide the pan with a nonstick coating and prevent oxidation and rust. Carbon steel and cast iron both maintain a nearly invisible layer of polymerized oil after each use. With time, these layers become baked into the alloy, creating a buffer between the carbon steel or cast iron and the outside world. This layer, called a patina, is a natural, chemical-free nonstick coating that also protects the pan from moisture.

As you may have guessed, the first seasoning is the most important, and when done right, it will take about four hours to complete. When you take the pan out of its packaging, it will likely be covered by a protective wax coating which comes off easily when scrubbed under hot water.

Once the protective wax layer has been removed, use a paper towel to dab cooking oil or seasoning wax onto the pan’s cooking surface. Once fully covered, place the pan in the oven (at around 475F) for an hour at a time, repeating this process up to four times if necessary. With each successive hour, you should see the sharp silver color slowly turn red, getting progressively darker after every use.

NOTE: This is a very generalized overview of how to season a carbon steel pan, and the manufactures instructions should always be followed. Some pans are meant to be seasoned in the oven, whereas others are to be seasoned on the stovetop.

Almost all oils are acceptable for seasoning, although the most common ones include:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • Lard
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • soybean oil

Most manufacturers of a good carbon steel skillet will sell their own seasoning wax (usually for around $15 a tube), which some people prefer over cooking oils. While it ultimately doesn’t matter, it is recommended that you shy away from flaxseed oil as it is known to cause flacking after continual use.

As we described above, the seasoning process consists of baking layers of oil into the pan with the goal of forming a patina. With unseasoned cookware, the owner must do this process themselves, sometimes several times before the nonstick, hydrophobic layer is complete. Seasoned cookware, on the other hand, has already undergone the seasoning process allowing the buyer to use it right away as they wish.

leaning a carbon steel or cast iron skillet involves a very different process than what is required for the standard stainless steel pans found in most people’s kitchens. Unlike the latter, carbon steel and cast iron cookware cannot be cleaned with dish soap or placed in the dishwasher, and a more involved cleaning process must be undergone.

Step 1: Once you’re done cooking, wait for the pan to cool off a bit before using a paper towel to wipe off any remaining food still in the pan. If seasoned properly, the nonstick coating should ensure that any excess food comes off fairly easily.

Step 2: When the pan has cooled down to the point that it can be easily handled, run it under warm water and scrub it using a brush, light steel wool, sponge, or any other soft cleaning material. Once all food bits have been successfully removed, give it another wipe down with a paper towel to make sure the surface is dry.

Step 3: Sometimes, even with a nonstick pan, food bits can become caked on and challenging to remove. If, after scrubbing, you find some bits are still not coming off, put a thin layer of water in the pan and slowly bring it to a boil. Doing this should remove any stubborn food material that you couldn’t get rid of by scrubbing.

Step 4: Just because the pan is clean doesn’t mean the cleaning process is over. To preserve the seasoning and non stick properties, place the pan in the oven to dry and add a thin layer of vegetable oil to it.

Cast iron is very similar to Steel in that it’s an alloy of Carbon and Iron. However, whereas Steel typically contains less than 1% carbon, most cast iron cookware contains closer to 3.5%. This extra amount of carbon gives cast iron its bumpy texture and is the primary reason why cast iron pans are so thick. You see, the more carbon an alloy has, the more brittle it becomes, meaning cast iron pans need to be extra thick to ensure they don’t crack and crumble.

Like cast iron, carbon steel is also an alloy of iron and carbon but has a carbon content closer to 2%. By lowering the amount of carbon, manufacturers can produce pans that are significantly lighter and smoother than their cast iron counterparts.

Neither is clearly better than the other, and both have their pros and cons. Because cast iron skillets are so thick, they retain heat very well, meaning they can quickly sear a steak in under two minutes. Furthermore, when properly seasoned, they can stay in the oven for much longer than carbon steel cookware, and they don’t oxidize nearly as easily. However, because of the bumpy service and high heat level, cast iron skillets are not suitable for cooking eggs, sautéing, or simmering at low to medium heat for an extended period of time. While a cast iron skillet makes a great addition to any cookware arsenal, they are notably more limited in use compared to a carbon steel skillet.

By contrast, carbon steel pans are significantly more versatile, and due to their smooth surface, can be used to cook a much more comprehensive array of foods. Not only are they suitable for sautéing, but you can also leave them to simmer on low heat for much longer since they don’t retain heat nearly as well as a cast iron pan does. The major downsides to carbon steel pans are they’re much more susceptible to rusting and don’t interact very well with highly acidic foods or sauces. Moreover, unlike cast iron cookware which usually comes pre-seasoned, the average carbon steel skillet must be properly seasoned before use.

The term ‘best’ is almost always open to some level of interpretation depending upon the criteria one chooses to use. That being said, those looking for a mix of quality and affordability can’t go wrong with the Misen line of carbon steel pans. If you don’t find yourself drawn to any Misen products for one reason or another, De Buyer and Mafter also make excellent products, some of which even professional chefs use.

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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