Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan
Lighter than cast iron
Becomes nonstick right after seasoning
Handle is welded to the body
Can be used on any heat source
Removing beeswax takes elbow grease
Needs to be seasoned
Needs regular upkeep
We purchased the Matfer Bourgeat Carbon Steel Fry Pan so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
In a world full of excellent nonstick frying pans and elegantly designed enameled cast irons, there is a silent but stoic workhorse that has traditionally been the staple of professional kitchens—the carbon steel pan. With a smooth surface, less heft and much more resilience than a cast iron, they are versatile and virtually indestructible. With each use, they get better at forming a nonstick layer (patina) that makes fried eggs and omelets slide right off. The carbon steel pans are especially wonderful for searing fish due to their smooth surface and nonstick quality. While they won’t replace your other beloved pots and pans, carbon steel pans are a great stand-in for cast iron and are much more durable than nonstick cookware.
When I got the Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan for testing, I set up various experiments from simply frying an egg to making cornbread. Having used plenty of carbon steel pans in professional kitchens, my criteria for a truly exceptional pan were high. Read on to find out what I liked and also what I didn’t like about the Matfer Carbon Steel Pan.
Design: Minimalist clean lines
Right out of the package the pan looks unassuming. The handle is welded to the body of the pan and there are no rivets. On first impression, it was sleek and good looking but nothing much to write home about. Then I washed and seasoned it the first time, and its looks started to change. After a second seasoning, the entire base of the pan got a black hue that instantly made the pan look well-loved and full of character. I was happy to just leave it on my stovetop for a quick fried egg or a dinnertime fish pan-fry.
After a second seasoning, the entire base of the pan got a black hue that instantly made the pan look well-loved and full of character.
The handle is curved and long, which makes it convenient to hold, and has a round hole near the end to hang it on a pot rack. While the handle is longer than cast-iron pans, it was advantageous to have as the handle does get very hot near the base. The end stays cool even after cooking on high heat, so it came in handy as I was able to turn the pan without using mitts. The sloped sides of the pan make the pan look wider, but it would be prudent to check the size of the base. This particular pan only has about nine inches of cooking area whereas the top rim dimensions are more than 11 inches. The pan does not come with a lid, but I had plenty of lids that I borrowed from other pans that worked.
Material: Carbon steel excellence
Carbon steel is an alloy made of about 1 percent carbon and 99 percent iron. It contains slightly less carbon than a regular cast iron pan, which allows it to be relatively thinner and lightweight yet maintaining all the qualities of cast iron. It also translates to carbon steel being less brittle than cast iron. This pan, although lighter than a cast iron pan of the same size, weighs nearly five pounds.
Performance: Heats quickly and evenly
The pan is induction-ready and, as per the manufacturer is compatible with all stovetops, can be used on open fire and grill and is oven safe up to 400 degrees Celsius (over 750 degrees Fahrenheit).
The pan heats rather quickly and distributes that heat evenly, with no hot spots. I seared some chicken thighs and all of them seared evenly with a nice golden crust. I highly recommend having the mise en place ready before setting this pan to heat up because in my testing, the pan was ready in no time. The pan also cooled off a lot faster, hence giving precise control when making the pan-fried fish where I wanted to start off with high heat, but then lower it to let the fish cook through.
Once properly seasoned, the pan was great for cooking fried eggs and egg scrambles. In both these dishes, the eggs did not stick to the pan and slid right off. This was really impressive since these were the first things I cooked after seasoning the pan. It was very easy to make potato hash for breakfast with eggs thrown in the same skillet. The eggs lifted off intact and the potatoes cooked to a nice crisp texture without sticking. Searing chicken or meat on high heat was effortless and even, due to there are no noticeable hot spots in the pan. The pan went in from the stovetop to the oven to finish cooking a frittata.
The sloped sides of the pan make the pan look wider, but it would be prudent to check the size of the base.
I pan-fried fish and then added some asparagus to the same pan, to let the fish cook through on low heat and cook the asparagus at the same time. The quick reduction in heat allowed me the control I needed to not overcook the fish. Staying true to its carbon-steel characteristics, the acid from adding lemon juice to the fish released some of the patina from the pan. The pan just needs to be seasoned again if this happens. I tried frying an egg without seasoning the pan again and it went mostly well. I only had to gently lift the egg to release it from a spot where it was stuck to the pan.
Cleaning: Requires care
The pan arrived coated in beeswax to prevent rusting during shipping, but it was not pre-seasoned. Seasoning it was easy, although a lengthy process. It took a few tries with hot water and a lot of scrubbing with soap to clean up the beeswax coating. Be sure to save the sticker glued onto the pan as that contains the manufacturer's instructions for seasoning. I followed them, setting the pan on heat, and adding oil, salt, and potato peels. The salt helped clean out any leftover beeswax and helped create a smooth patina. The pan acquired a glossy look due to the polymerization of oil on the steel.
After the pan was seasoned, I made sure to clean the pan with hot water after every use, dry it and apply oil again to keep it seasoned for next time. This is no different than how I usually maintain my cast-iron pans. There was no residue to clean with most of the foods as none of the foods stuck to the pan, so mostly cleaning was effortless. But in a couple of instances, like when I cooked meatballs marinated in gochujang and honey, the sugars in the marinade caramelized and left some residue. This was easy to clean with some salt and then I rinsed with just hot water.
Once properly seasoned, the pan was great for cooking fried eggs and egg scrambles.
Price: Reasonably priced
The pan retails for around $75 and is very much in line with most carbon steel or cast-iron frying pans of this size. It’s versatile and would be a great addition to a kitchen that cooks multiple meals a day.
Competition: Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan vs. Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet
The Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet is quite similar to the Matfer pan in design. It is however about a pound lighter than the Matfer pan making it a better choice for someone needing a lighter pan. The performance of both these pans is quite similar and it is just a matter of choosing your preferred weight.
Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Fry looks unassuming but delivers on each test you put it to. It feels like a good balance between cast iron and nonstick, and that is why it gets the thumb up for buying.
- Product Name Carbon Steel Fry Pan
- Product Brand Matfer Bourgeat
- SKU 062005
- Price $43.99
- Weight 4 lbs.
- What's Included Carbon steel fry pan, instruction sticker