Carbon steel has long been the choice of commercial cooks for its ability to cook like cast iron without the pain points. Carbon steel is lighter than cast iron, far less brittle and always arrives with a perfectly smooth surface, lending itself to more non-stick cooking tasks out of the box. Because the pans are generally made with a hydraulic press rather than huge casting machines, it’s also much more affordable and requires the same seasoning regimen. From a $30 pan from a famous cast-iron skillet maker to strangely coveted pans from Virginia, here are the five brands to consider when copping a carbon steel skillet.
Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
The Old Reliable of the cast iron world serves the same role for carbon steel lovers. Its skillets are affordable and arrive seasoned, which isn’t as common in the carbon steel space as it is the cast iron one. Lodge offers them starting at 8 inches and up to 15 inches.
de Buyer Carbon Steel Skillet
De Buyer’s been around for almost 200 years, which is only a little longer than the lifetime warranty its pans come with. Its utilitarian skillet design — the long handle, sharp-angled walls and riveted handle — is what most carbon steel makers have been copying for decades. These pans are just as affordable as Lodge’s, but they don’t come pre-seasoned. They’re coated in a protective beeswax to ward off rust until they arrive in your kitchen, where you’ll need to season them before using.
Made In Carbon Steel Skillet
Available i 10- and 12-inch versions, Made In’s carbon steel skillets are step up in quality and price from de Buyer and Lodge. The pan’s shape is less aggressive, which makes for easier tossing and stir frying, and it’s about 25 percent lighter than most carbon steel (the 10-inch is 3 pounds). The handle is also shorter, and closer to the length of a standard stainless steel skillet. This also allows it to fit in the oven easier than its long-handled competition, which often struggles with scraping the top of the oven.
Solidteknics US-Ion Skillet
This is a cheat pick, because it’s a hybrid of a hybrid skillet. This isn’t carbon steel, but it’s not cast iron, either — it’s wrought iron. Basically, Solidteknics has a proprietary machine that allows them to make an iron skillet like you’d make a carbon steel skillet, so you get the durability of carbon steel and the cooking power of cast iron. This one arrives unseasoned, so give it a round in the oven before using.
Blanc Creatives Carbon Steel Skillet
The grail. Blanc Creatives’ carbon steel is pressed into its rough shape, heated up, then hand-hammered into its final look. These pans sell out regularly and make great gifts — get on the company’s newsletter for a chance at buying one.
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