9 Things to Know About Carbon Steel

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Are carbon steel pans non stick?

Yes, mostly. It’s non-stick through the same seasoning process as cast iron. The oil layer patina makes it virtually non-stick. However, sugar will stick, and also be cautious about super sticky foods such as hash browns. Other than that, nothing will really stick as long as your pan is properly seasoned. Also, it’s important that you use it correctly: don’t put your food in a cold pan without fat or oil, and then use heat. Use a good amount of fat, and introduce food onto the surface after it’s heated somewhat.

Are carbon steel pans safe?

Yes, they are safe. The only possible safety issue with carbon steel would be if you are cautious about consuming excess iron, or have high iron levels already. Carbon steel is composed of 99% iron and 1% carbon.

What can you not cook in carbon steel?

The same things you can’t cook in cast iron also applies to carbon steel. This means no acidic foods or liquids as they will destroy your seasoning patina and you will have to re-season it. Acidic foods are anything citrus, vinegar and tomatoes. Also, sugar over anything higher than very low heat will stick and burn, ruining your patina.

How do you maintain a carbon steel pan?

A carbon steel pan needs to be seasoned like cast iron. This process includes an initial seasoning, and then maintenance. Never wash your carbon steel pan with soap. Simply rinse with warm water, wipe, then heat again to dry.

Does carbon steel rust easily?

Yes, it does rust easily if it’s not cared for properly. Though caring for it really isn’t high-maintenance, so this should be easy to avoid. Just make sure to not wash with soap, and don’t let it stay wet. You should dry your pan immediately and make sure it always has some oil on it.

Why do chefs use carbon steel pans?

Chefs use carbon steel because it has the positive aspects of cast iron, but it’s lighter, stronger and more durable. Cast iron retains heat will but doesn’t respond well to sudden temperaure change. It’s also very heavy and can crumble if it gets banged around. Carbon steel has great heat retention, but it also responds to temperature change quickly, which is ideal for professional chefs who want precise control. Carbon steel is lightweight, durable, and will take a beating from use in a professional kitchen. Chefs like Bobby Flay and Julia Child have been known to use carbon steel.

Carbon steel is a great material for woks

Does carbon steel work on induction?

Yes, carbon steel does work on induction. Be aware that induction stoves can be very powerful and get very hot, and carbon steel should only be used under low to medium heat, as it conducts heat so well.

Can carbon steel go in the oven?

Yes, carbon steel is oven-safe. The versatility of carbon steel is part of the appeal.

Does carbon steel warp?

Carbon steel can warp if it is exposed to drastic temperature differences in a short time. An example of this would be taking a piping hot carbon steel pan out of the oven and then putting it under cold water. Since carbon steel conducts heat so well, it responds to the rapid change in temperature and can warp. They also could warp if you use the wrong size burner for the pan. Be careful when using electric burners as they can heat up hotter than you intend, but this could also happen with gas burners.

If I have a cast iron pan already, do I really need a carbon steel pan?

This is a very personal decision. Honestly, if I had limited storage space, I would probably go for one and not both. I would probably pick carbon steel over cast iron, as it’s lighter and easier to use. Carbon steel is often used for stir fry and in the shape of a wok, which makes it more versatile than cast iron.

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