Made in France
Seasoning video available (in French)
Enamel-coated handle limits oven use
Poorly balanced and heavy
Must be hand-washed
We purchased the de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
An unsung hero of the culinary world is carbon steel cookware. Although its cast iron equivalents are more well-known, carbon steel has many of the same benefits. Aside from being durable and versatile, carbon steel is lighter in weight than cast iron and can heat up more quickly. Carbon steel also has a smoother surface, making it easier to cook foods that are prone to sticking, like eggs or pancakes. One such pan that claims to deliver on these promises is the de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan.
I've worked with plenty of cast iron and carbon steel cookware, so I looked forward to testing the French-made de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan. I readied meats and vegetables, made sure I had eggs on hand, and stocked up on high-heat oil. After continuous testing, I know what I like—and what I don’t like. Keep reading for my honest review.
Design and Material: Utilitarian carbon steel
Right out of the package, the pan looked attractive, with a finish that looked almost like stainless steel. I wouldn’t call it particularly pretty, but it wasn’t unattractive. With use, the look changed.
The body of the pan is made from carbon steel. The long handle is also made from carbon steel, but with a protective coating of epoxy. I thought that this was an odd choice because this coating limits the pan’s use in the oven—it can only be used for less than 10 minutes at under 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This pan acts much like cast iron, although it heats a bit faster thanks to being a little thinner than most cast iron pans.
As I hefted the pan, I found it quite heavy, which was another oddity. One of the selling points of carbon steel is that it can be made much thinner than cast iron. This is indeed thinner, but it’s still heavy, made worse by the fact that the pan is quite unbalanced. Even empty, there’s no way to grab the pan by the long handle and easily hold it level—it dips downward because of the weight. I often found myself grabbing the handle with both hands.
Fortunately, there’s a helper handle, made from a shiny metal that looks like stainless steel. The long handle is held on with three rivets, close together in a triangle pattern. The helper handle is held on with a pair of rivets.
After the very first seasoning, the pan started to darken in spots, from gold to bronze to brown. The seasoning was very uneven, and even after much use, parts of the pan were dark brown and nearly black, while others are still light gold or even silver.
The good news is that the lighter-colored surface works as well as the dark. However, for those who value aesthetics, the mottled seasoning isn’t at all attractive. It does, however, look like pans you might see in a restaurant. I'm not sure how long it will take for the pan’s seasoning to even out—if it ever will. But that’s the least of my concerns.
Performance: Heats up quickly
This pan acts much like cast iron, although it heats up a bit faster thanks to being thinner than most cast iron pans. It can handle stovetop heat to sear a steak or do a super-fast stir-fry, and it retains heat well, so it keeps food warm—not quite as well as cast iron, but it does stay warm longer than my favorite aluminum nonstick pans.
Because it heats so well, it’s great for any high-heat cooking, but I also tested it with foods that needed gentler heat. I used the pan for cooking refried beans and got almost no sticking as I stirred the smashed beans. I also used the pan to cook some eggs. While they didn’t slide around on the pan, once I slid a spatula under them, they released from the pan, and I was able to coax them onto my plate.
Cleaning: Much like cast iron
This pan arrives with a beeswax coating that needs to be removed. Or maybe it doesn’t need to be fully removed—I found one small reference that said the remaining coating will actually help the seasoning to stick. The beeswax was definitely stubborn to remove, and although I thought my cleaning was thorough enough, I smelled burning wax when I put the pan on the stove for the first seasoning.
The packaging included some information about seasoning, but the type is tiny, and it’s printed in black ink on cardboard-brown paper. Fortunately, the miniature manual is also available online, where it’s easier to read. I found an official video online that started with manufacturing, continued with packaging, and ended with seasoning. It was interesting, but unfortunately, the subtitles are in French. Still, it should help anyone who needs to see a pan being seasoned on the stove.
The long handle is also made from carbon steel, but with a protective coating of epoxy. I thought that this was an odd choice because this coating limits the pan’s use in the oven—it can only be used for less than 10 minutes at under 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Going forward, the pan requires the same care and cleaning as cast iron cookware. It should be washed in hot water, using salt for scrubbing if required. It should be dried immediately and rubbed with a thin layer of oil before it’s stored. Also, acidic foods should be avoided.
While the pan was mostly nonstick, I found that food sometimes did stick, and getting the food off of the pan required a little bit of persuasion when I washed it. It was never a tremendous amount of work, but a swipe with a sponge wasn’t enough.
Most foods left me with a mostly clean pan, though. Even when I cooked refried beans and left the residue in the pan to dry, the food loosened easily under hot running water.
Price: Moderately expensive
Retailing at around $55, this pan is not the most expensive carbon steel pan I’ve seen, but there are many that are more affordable. I didn't receive a reply when I emailed to ask if the pan has a warranty. The price is not a dealbreaker, and the fact that it’s made in France is a plus. It’s certainly worth consideration to see if its features fit the kitchen’s needs.
de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan vs. BK Cookware Black Carbon Steel Skillet
BK Cookware Black Steel Open Fry Pan: Under the hood, the BK Cookware Black Steel Open Fry Pan is quite similar to the de Buyer skillet since they’re both made from carbon steel. While I liked the De Buyer skillet on the stove, I was disappointed it can’t be used in the oven. I also disliked the poor balance. The downside for the BK Cookware pan is that it’s made in China which can be a turnoff for some buyers. However, it has better balance so it’s possible to flip food in the pan, and it’s oven safe to a whopping 600 F. Because of that, I prefer the BK Cookware pan.
An average carbon steel pan.
The de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan performed well in the tasks I gave it, so it's certainly worth a try. However, since it's not well-balanced and oven use is limited, there are better options on the market.
- Product Name de Buyer MINERAL B Fry Pan
- Product Brand de Buyer
- Price $55
- Weight 5.79 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 12.6 x 4.2 x 1.7 in.
- Color Silver-Gray
- Material Carbon steel skillet
- Warranty Product can be returned within 30 days if unused. No other warranty information available.