Ultimate Carbon Steel Frying Pan Buying Guide

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!

Our Top 10 Picks

1.Misen Carbon Steel Pan – Best Overall

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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.


Solid constructionVery affordableEasy to cleanThe base is designed to provide 20% more cooking surface compared to other models of similar sizeFully non-stick when properly seasoned


Requires seasoning, which not everyone will want to do

2.De Buyer Mineral B Element 12″ Frying Pan – Best Value

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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.


Made in FranceDe Buyer has a long history of making quality carbon steel cookwareOven safe for up 20 minutes at 400FProtective beeswax coating stops oxidationHigh-quality handcrafted construction


Epoxy coating on the handle limits the amount of time it can spend in the ovenNot everyone like the angle of the handle

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3.Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Frying Pan – Best Unseasoned Pan

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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.


The welded handle makes the pan easier to cleanMade in FranceProfessional Quality


Will require an initial seasoning

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4.BK Black Steel Skillet – Best Pre Seasoned Pan

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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.


AffordableOven safe at temperatures up to 600FComes pre seasonedCooking surface is covered with a highly effective non stick coating


Made in ChinaComes with a silicone coating that must be removed before use

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5.Mauviel M’Steel Non Stick Fry Pan – Best for Searing

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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:

GasElectricInduction cooktopsHalogen stovetopsOven

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.


Life time warrantyQuality constructionMade in FranceCan be seasoned in over


Seasoning process is more complicated than other options

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6.MageFesa Carbon Steel Paella Pan – Best Paella Pan

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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.


15 inches in diameterQuality constructionDimpled bottom ensures even heat distributionpre seasonedTraditional style


Large handles may make it difficult to store in standard kitchen cabinetsNot dishwasher friendly

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7.Lodge Pre Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet – Best Budget Option

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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.


Good value for the priceComes pre-seasonedMaintains heat very well


Handle is thinner than average, making it awkward to hold for some people

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8.De Buyer Mineral “B” Crepe Pan – Best Crepe Pan

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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.


AffordableShallow sides make it great for cooking crepes, omelets, fried eggs, and pancakesNon-stick and lightweight


Low sides make it impractical for cooking other types of mealsDepending on what is being cooked, low sides may spray grease and oil around the stove top and kitchen counter, requiring a fair amount of cleaning

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9.Craft Wok Carbon Steel Round Bowl – Best Wok Bowl

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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.


High quality hand-hammered wok bowlLarge amount of cooking spaceSignificantly lighter than cast ironAlso works well for stir frying


Seasoning process can be difficultThe thin-gauge steel is prone to denting if handled poorly

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10.Denmark Tool Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Grill Pan – Best Grill Pan

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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.


Constructed out of heavy duty carbon steel materialA good alternative to cast iron skilletpre seasoned and fully non stickOven friendly


The grill style cooking surface is more difficult to cleanThe handle is extra-long, which may make it difficult to store

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Other Carbon Steel Pan Options

With so many great options to choose from, not all carbon steel frying pans were able to crack our top 10. That being said, there are still several quality options that we should take a moment to briefly mention.

Merten & Storck Black Steel Frying Pan

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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.


Metal utensil friendlyOver safe at temperatures up to 600FComes pre seasoned12-inch model can be purchased for under $30Safe for campfire use


Quality isn’t as high as other modelsMade in China

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Yosukata Carbon Steel Frying Pan With Removable Wooden Handle

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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.


High degree of versatilityWooden handle is both heat resistant and detachableOven friendly (when handle is removed)Affordable


Removing pan from oven without a handle can be challengingThe product hasn’t been thoroughly reviewed

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Winco French Style Carbon Steel Pan With Extra Long Handle

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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.


Very affordableMade in SpainExtra-long handle


The extra-long handle may make it difficult to storeNo large version is available

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De Buyer 12 inch Country Fry Pan

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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.


Very versatileLarger than normal depthMade in FranceTop-quality construction


At nearly 5 pounds, this pan is considerably heavier than averageThe 9.5-inch model is not suitable for frying eggs or making pancakes

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BK Black Carbon Steel BBQ Frying Pan

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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.


Perfect for cooking on the BBQ or an open flamePre seasoned15-inch version is availableMetal utensil safe


Can’t be used on a stovetopRelatively expensive for something that has such limited use

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BelleVie Cajun Style Carbon Steel Pan

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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.


suitable for Cajun style cookingAffordable pricingGreater than average depth


Thin gauge steel is prone to warpingLimited warranty

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Garcima 20 Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan

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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.


20-inch diameterAffordableComes complete with a highly informative pamphlet detailing seasoning instruction, carbon steel care, and even two paella recipes


Handles are a little too small for someCarbon Steel material is a bit on the small side

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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.


Extra long handle with heat resistant coatingHigh sidesVery affordable


Handle must be removed before pan is placed in the ovenLong handle may may storage impractical


Why do I need to season my carbon steel pan?

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.

How do you season a carbon steel pan?

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.

What is the best oil for seasoning a carbon steel pan?

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

Rapeseed oilLardGrapeseed oilCanola oilOlive oilsoybean 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.

Seasoned vs. unseasoned carbon steel cookware. What’s the difference?

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.

How do I clean a carbon steel frying pan?

Cleaning 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.

What’s the difference between carbon steel and cast iron?

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.

re carbon steel pans better than cast iron pans?

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.

Who makes the best carbon steel pans?

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.

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