Lighter than cast iron
Wax coating must be removed before use
Made in China
We purchased the BK Cookware Black Steel Open Frypan so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Much like cast iron, carbon steel is well-known and loved for its durable, nonstick performance. It can be used with metal kitchen utensils and is versatile enough to cook a variety of foods on virtually any cooktop. I've used plenty of cast iron and carbon steel pans, so I knew what I wanted to use the BK Cookware Black Steel Open Frypan for as soon as it arrived. I warned the smoke detector, got my seasoning oil ready, and lined up beef for searing and eggs for testing the nonstick ability, and plenty more food, just for fun. After using the pan continuously, I have the final results. Read on for my thoughts.
If I didn’t know what I was looking at, I might have thought my pan had a nonstick coating. It was slick and smooth, with an attractive dark gray finish. Overall, the pan looks good, but it doesn’t call attention to itself so it will fit into pretty much any kitchen, from modern to industrial to rustic.
The cast-iron handle is comfortable to hold and is attached with two rivets for security. It has a hole on the end of the handle so it can be hung on a hook in the pantry or on a pot rack to keep it within easy reach. Altogether, the pan is well-balanced, so I was able to flip food in the pan as I cooked.
While cast iron gets more and more nonstick with extra seasoning and continued use, this pan was amazingly nonstick right away.
The first few times I used the pan, I didn’t see much change in color, but as I used it repeatedly, the surface began to darken. It was subtle at first, and then it began to get darker and darker. The darkening wasn’t entirely even, but with a lot of use, it should darken completely.
While the company’s website talks a lot about their Dutch roots, this pan is made in China. While that’s not a dealbreaker—and to be honest, it’s not unusual for products to be manufactured there—some buyers will no doubt be disappointed that their Dutch pan isn’t Dutch.
Setup: Quick and easy
Made from black carbon steel and pre-seasoned with oil, this pan is almost ready for use when it arrives. But first, the protective wax needs to be washed off. That first cleaning wasn’t any more difficult than the usual first cleaning I give all my kitchen gear, then I seasoned it quickly with a little oil in the pan on the stove.
Performance: Very responsive
Carbon steel has the same heating capacity as cast iron, but since this pan was significantly thinner than my favorite cast iron pans, it was a bit more responsive. It heated about as quickly as stainless steel and was able to get smoking hot fairly quickly. It cooled faster than cast iron but retained some heat to keep food warm in the pan for a short while.
While cast iron gets more and more nonstick with extra seasoning and continued use, this pan was amazingly nonstick right away. The first thing I cooked was a pan of vegetables that I was able to swirl and flip without the least hint of sticking—not even a little hesitation.
This pan requires the same sort of cleaning as cast iron to preserve the seasoning and prevent rust.
The pan is metal utensil-safe and is oven-safe to 600 degrees, which is more than my oven can produce. I decided to use the pan to bake some biscuits, placing them directly on the pan with no oil. When I removed the biscuits from the oven, they weren’t sliding around, and I had a short uh-oh moment. Was this the food item that would stick? I slid a metal spatula under a biscuit, expecting to have to do some prying, but instead, it popped off the pan cleanly. I grabbed the next biscuit by hand, and it lifted easily. There were no bits of biscuit left clinging to the pan.
Cleaning: Like cast iron
This pan requires the same sort of cleaning as cast iron to preserve the seasoning and prevent rust. It must be washed by hand with hot water, using salt to scrub it if there is any sticking. It should be oiled after washing to preserve the seasoning, and acidic foods should be avoided to preserve the seasoning.
Because this pan was so nonstick when it arrived, washing was no trouble. Any food left in the pan simply rinsed away, and I didn’t need to do any extra scrubbing. Even when I seared some beef on high heat—which gave me an impressive crust and left just a little debris in the pan—I didn’t need to actually scrape the pan. The bits were loose and just needed a quick swipe with a sponge to remove them.
While there are super-inexpensive cast iron pans available, carbon steel tends to be more expensive. This pan is reasonably priced—retailing around $60—compared to the many boutique brands that are much more expensive. However, there’s no indication of a warranty. I emailed the company and got no reply to my query. Still, I don’t expect a carbon steel pan will break, and it’s inexpensive enough to replace easily. For the performance, I think the pan is worth its price.
BK Cookware Black Steel Open Frypan vs. Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet: With the introduction of carbon steel cookware, cast iron might seem old-school, but I still have a soft spot for the Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. Made in the U.S., the Lodge skillet is a classic and can be passed down for generations. It’s also very affordable. I’d recommend Lodge skillets to anyone who wants to enter the world of cast-iron cooking.
Still, the BK Cookware Black Carbon Steel Skillet has a lot going for it, starting with the lighter weight. It’s nice to be able to flip food in a pan, and it’s nice to be able to carry the pan upright with one hand. The super-nonstick surface right from the start also makes it likely that cooks will reach for this pan and continue using it. I'd recommend it to anyone who needs the lighter weight and doesn’t mind that the pan is made in China.
An impressive nonstick pan at an affordable price.
I enjoyed using the BK Cookware Black Steel Open Frypan, and I was particularly impressed with its nonstick performance and lightweight quality. While it's uncertain if there's a warranty, it's inexpensive enough to replace easily if it does happen to break.
- Product Name Black Steel Open Frypan
- Product Brand BK Cookware
- Price $60
- Weight 3.89 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 12 x 5 x 5 in.
- Color Black
- Material Pre-seasoned carbon steel; cast iron handle
- Warranty Unknown