Strong, lightweight and incredibly durable, carbon steel is a hit among home cooks and pro chefs alike. Whether you’re in the market for a wok, roasting pan, griddle or even a paella pan, you’ll find an option here made from that material. Here’s what to know about how to use, store and care for your carbon steel pan.
How to Use Carbon Steel Cookware
Carbon steel heats evenly and provides consistent results. Some comes seasoned, such as this Lodge skillet. Others are nonstick, such as this Calphalon cookie sheet with a ceramic coating. (Be sure to read the care instructions carefully!) A really great carbon steel skillet is essential for frying eggs, stir-fries and steaks alike; this one from de Buyer comes with a beeswax finish that helps season the skillet until it builds up seasoning. Check to make sure your pans are safe for them, but if using induction or glass stoves, avoid starting on high heat, and make sure you gradually raise the temperature to avoid warping.
How to Care for Carbon Steel Cookware
Traditionally forged carbon steel pans may require seasoning with oil before the first use. The process is easy to accomplish by swirling a small amount of oil in the pan while heating it on the stovetop. (This short video demonstrates the easy step-by-step technique.)
Once your carbon steel pans have been used for cooking, it’s best to avoid a long soak in soapy water to clean them, which might strip off the seasoning. If you have particularly dense baked-on ingredients, try hot water first; consider adding a bit of salt. Don’t use too much soap. And avoid cooking with acidic food in seasoned pans, which could also affect the seasoning. (For most of these pans, you can always re-season afterwards.)
For particularly tricky cooked-on ingredients, try deglazing the pan with water while it’s still hot, then carefully scrape away leftover food with a soap-free sponge. Dry the pan thoroughly with a paper towel or briefly put it back on a flame over medium heat to dry faster. For carbon steel with nonstick coatings, you may want to pick up a wooden spoon set or silicone spatula set, to avoid scratching.
How to Store Carbon Steel Cookware
Read the care instructions carefully. Before storing your carbon steel pans, especially those that have required seasoning, consider using a paper towel to wipe a thin layer of grapeseed or other high smoking point oil over the pans interior surface to keep their seasoning intact and prevent rusting. Before storing pans, dry them thoroughly with a towel, then store the pans in a dry place. For nonstick and regular pans, you’ll likely want a paper towel in between pans, or felt pan protectors, to avoid scratches.
When treated right, your carbon steel cookware can last a lifetime.