Carbon steel pans have plenty of features that are similar to cast iron pans. For instance, both contain a small percentage of carbon.
However, despite these similarities, many professional chefs have preferred using carbon steel pans and skillets in their kitchens for decades.
Why the Pros Use Carbon Steel Pans?
Carbon steel pans come with several advantages. For instance, they are compatible with a variety of heating sources and are quite lightweight.
They offer a safe, non-toxic and healthy option for preparing food
Here is a list of other important reasons why pros use carbon steel pans.
Reason #1 – Carbon Steel Pans are Very Versatile
A major factor that makes carbon steel pans versatile is that they can be used for various cooking methods.
For instance, you can use them for stir-frying, braising, sautéing, browning, searing, and also for baking.
Carbon steel pans are perfect for searing chicken, fish, and steak.
You can use these pans to make pancakes and scrambled eggs, prepare egg-fried rice, bake an apple pie or deep-dish pizza, or simply sauté some vegetables.
Reason #2 – Carbon Steel Pans are Compatible with Different Heat Sources
One of the best things about carbon steel pans is their compatibility with different heat sources.
They can be used on electric ovens, gas ovens, and even on induction cooktops.
This makes carbon steel pans convenient for pros who want to cook over induction cooktops along with a conventional oven.
Moreover, carbon steel pans can even be used on the grill and stovetop and in the broiler or oven.
Reason #3 – Carbon Steel Pans are Highly Durable
Carbon steel comprises 99% iron and 1% carbon which makes it extremely strong. This allows the steel to be molded into pans and skillets during manufacturing without breaking.
Carbon steel pans can easily last for more than 30 years, given that they are properly maintained.
This feature makes them very different from PTFE-coated cookware that only lasts for a couple of years even with proper care.
So, if you mistakenly drop your carbon steel pan on the floor or overheat it, the likelihood of it getting damaged is quite low.
At most, the carbon steel pan is going to get a minor scuff or a small dent.
Reason #4 – Carbon Steel Pans Are Safe and Healthy to Use
Carbon steel cookware is completely safe to use. This because both carbon and steel are non-toxic and safe elements.
Moreover, carbon steel pans do not have any PTFE coating like Teflon. Properly seasoning carbon steel pans with vegetable oil or lard creates a relatively non-stick surface.
When cooking food in carbon steel pans, you only need to add a small quantity of fat. This ensures that the food you prepare is healthy and less fattening.
Reason #5 – Carbon Steel Pans Have a High Heat Tolerance
Another reason why pros use carbon steel pans is that they can withstand heat.
In simple words, carbon steel pans are able to handle high temperatures for lengthy periods. This superior feature allows chefs to leave these pans on the burners without any worry.
Typically, carbon steel cookware can withstand temperatures up to 600 Fahrenheit. However, some have even higher heat tolerance.
For instance, the ICON carbon steel pan can handle temperatures up to 800 Fahrenheit.
Moreover, the Made In carbon steel cookware can easily handle temperatures ranging up to 1200 Fahrenheit.
This ability to withstand high heat makes carbon steel very useful for chefs who cook steaks and burgers.
Reason #6 – Carbon Steel Pans Heat Up Quickly
Many pros and chefs use carbon steel pans because they need to prepare food quickly to serve orders.
When compared with cast iron, carbon steel pans heat up much more quickly. The carbon steel pan’s slim design allows heat to transfer swiftly from the stove to the surface.
Another advantage is that carbon steel cookware is able to cool down fairly rapidly. This feature is useful for pros who cook delicate ingredients.
Moreover, it also helps them save time because they don’t have to wait for long before cleaning it up.
The responsiveness of carbon steel pans to heat makes it ideal for pros. This is because it helps them avoid undercooking or overcooking their meal.
Additionally, pros are easily able to regulate temperatures while adding or removing ingredients.
Reason #7 – Carbon Steel Pans Have A Great Design
Carbon steel pans have sloped walls which make them perfect for sautéing foods. They also allow the user to easily flip foods like omelets and pancakes.
Carbon steel is quite lightweight when compared to cast iron cookware. For instance, a 12-inch cast-iron pan weighs approximately 8 pounds.
On the other hand, a 12-inch carbon steel pan weighs a little over 3 pounds. This lightweight feature makes it easy to maneuver carbon steel pans.
Lastly, carbon steel pans usually have a long handle. This makes it easy for chefs to lift it and move it around.
The long handle also stays relatively cooler than the pan itself, making it easy to handle. Carbon steel pans have a hole in their handle which allows pros to hang them when they aren’t being used.
Reason #8 – Carbon Steel Pans are Affordable
Cooking enthusiasts, chefs, and pros like carbon steel cookware because it’s affordable. For instance, you can easily get a carbon steel skillet for less than $50.
This cookware lasts for approximately 30 years, which makes it even more affordable.
The prices of carbon steel pans are close to that of cast iron pans. However, if you compare it with stainless steel cookware, these carbon steel pans constitute a small percentage of the cost.
So, if you want high-quality cookware on a limited budget, you should go with carbon steel.
How to Season Carbon Steel Pans?
If you are convinced of buying a carbon steel pan, remember you need to season it before you use it.
There are several reasons why you need to season carbon steel pans. Firstly, properly seasoning a carbon steel pan protects it from rust. This is especially true if you live in a humid area.
Secondly, seasoning a carbon steel pan enhances its performance. It gives the pan a non-stick surface which is essential for preparing different types of foods.
Here are some steps for seasoning a carbon steel pan.
Step #1 – Check if Your Pan is Pre-Seasoned
Most carbon steel pans are sold unseasoned with a protective coating that prevents rust. However, some sellers do sell pre-seasoned carbon steel pans.
Thus, you need to first check if your cookware is pre-seasoned or not.
To determine the seasoning of the pan, check its color. If the pan is not seasoned, it’ll have metallic grey color.
Step #2 – Wash and Dry the Pan
The next step is to remove the protective coating and wash the pan. Then thoroughly scrub the pan with soapy, lukewarm water.
This will get rid of any germs or bacteria lingering on the pan.
After washing the pan, use a towel to dry it. However, this might not be effective in removing all the moisture.
Therefore, place the pan over a heating source to get rid of all the moisture.
Step #3 – Apply Oil and Buff the Surface
Pour a small amount of cooking oil on a kitchen towel. Grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil all work equally well.
So, you can pick one that is easily available to you. Next, rub the greased kitchen towel inside and outside the pan.
Remember to thoroughly buff away any excess oil until the pan appears to become completely dry.
Note that excessive oil can damage your pan. For instance, it can cause hardened droplets to appear on the cooking surface.
Also, it can give the pan a sticky, splotchy coating that can be challenging to fix.
Step #4 – Heat the Pan
Place the oiled pan in an oven that is preheated to 450 Fahrenheit. Leave it there for at least 30 minutes.
During this step, your kitchen might get a little smokey, so make sure to open the windows for proper ventilation.
Here, the oil will turn into a polymer to create the first layer of coating. The primary reason behind using an oven is that it heats the pan evenly.
Even the most amazing stovetop burners can result in cool and hot spots, leading to irregular seasoning.
Step #5 – Repeat the Above Step
Rub the pan again with oil and buff away the excess residue. Then place it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
In total, you should repeat this step around 4 to 6 times for the best seasoning.
To check if your pan is properly seasoned, check its color. A dark shade of brown indicates that your pan is effectively seasoned.
Once the pan cools down, the seasoning process is complete, and your pan is now ready for cooking.
Last Few Words
The bottom line is that pros use carbon steel pans for their beneficial features including affordability, versatility, etc.
If you want to buy a carbon steel pan, remember to properly use it to ensure that it lasts a lifetime!
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