The 7 Best Carbon Steel Pans of 2020

Light and naturally non-stick, these pans are a great replacement for cast iron

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Our Top Picks
"Like Lodge's well-known cast iron cookware, this carbon steel skillet is pre-seasoned, so you can start cooking right away."
"Crafted from a single piece of steel, this pan is built to last for generations, but is preseasoned so there's no break-in period."
"Just dipping your toe into carbon steel? This affordable option is a good starter piece that comes ready-to-use."
"There's a reason carbon steel is a classic material for paella pans. This one will help you get the perfect socarrat every time."
"This carbon-steel wok has a flat bottom that makes it easier for home chefs to use on standard stovetops."
"Not just for crepes, this flat pan can also be used to sear meat, fry eggs, make flatbread, and more."
"Perfect for quick stir-frying, this deep frying pan will need to be seasoned when it arrives at your door."

Best Overall: Lodge 12-Inch Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet

Lodge is well-known for its vast array of cast iron cookware, so it makes sense that the company would venture into making carbon steel cookware as well. Like Lodge's cast iron, this skillet comes pre-seasoned, so you can start cooking with it right away, but of course, more seasoning will make it more nonstick and more rust-resistant. The skillet comes in a 10- or 12-inch size and is broiler safe.

Like cast iron, carbon steel pans become more and more nonstick over time, without the need for special coatings during manufacturing. In use, carbon steel pans are thinner and lighter than cast iron, and also more responsive to temperature changes. This one can be used on all cooktops, including induction, as well as on a barbecue grill or campfire. 

Best Splurge: SOLIDTEKNICS AUS-ION Non-Stick Skillet

Made from a single piece of Australian steel and designed to be a pan that gets passed down through generations, this skillet is pre-seasoned so you can get right to cooking, whether you’re searing steaks or cooking the perfect burger. The long handle has cutouts near the pan’s edge to help vent heat and keep the handle cooler in use, while a helper handle gives you an extra hand-hold when you’ve got a full pan to move.

Considering cast iron instead? Check out our reviews of the best cast iron pans for your kitchen.

Best Budget: BK Cookware 11-Inch Black Carbon Steel Skillet

If you’re not sure you’ll love cooking with carbon steel, this affordable 10-inch skillet is a good starter piece. It’s pre-seasoned, so you can use it right after giving it a preliminary wash to remove the protective silicone wax and it’s a nice size for searing a few small chops for dinner. The handle is coated cast iron, and shaped to give you a comfortable hand-hold while you cook.

Best Paella Pan: Magefesa 18-Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan

If you’re going to buy a paella pan, why not buy one from a Spanish cookware company like Magfesa? They’ve got the know-how and the experience to make a pan that will perform when you need it. Paella pans are often made from carbon steel, which helps to produce the socarrat—the crisp rice at the bottom of the pan—while the dimpled bottom on this pan also improves the cooking process. Two generous handles make this one easy to move and carry as it goes from stovetop to oven to table. This option is a generous 17-inch pan, but it's also available in 13.5- and 15-inch versions when you don’t need to feed as many people.

Best Wok: Joyce Chen 10-Piece Wok Set

Carbon steel is one of the traditional materials for woks, and if you peek into a Chinese kitchen, you may see woks in use that are well seasoned at the bottom of the bowl where the cooking occurs, with less seasoning towards the top. This wok is made for home use, with a flat bottom that allows it to be used on any cooktop, so you don’t need to fuss with a wok ring on your gas burner. The long handle has a convenient hanging loop for storing the wok, and a helper handle so you can carry it easily, even when it’s full of your favorite fried rice recipe.

Best Crepe Pan: Mauviel M'steel 9.5-Inch Black Steel Crepe Pan

Made in France by a well-known, premium cookware company, this crepe pan comes with a protective beeswax coating that should be removed before seasoning the pan. While this pan has low sides that make it perfect for making crepes, it can also be used for searing meat, making or heating tortillas, and cooking any foods that don’t require the higher sides of a traditional skillet or frying pan.

Best with High Sides: De Buyer Mineral "B" 12.5-Inch Steel Fry Pan

This pan straddles the line between a low-sided frying pan and a wok, with medium-high sides that will keep your food contained when you’re stir-frying, yet it won’t take as much storage space as a wok. This pick is made in France and comes with a beeswax coating that protects the metal as the pan travels from the manufacturer to your door. The pan has a long handle to help you toss the ingredients as you cook and easily hang the pan when it's not in use.

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