Carbon steel pans from Ikea
The Pan of carbon steel, also called carbon steel. The underrated little brother of the cast iron pan. - @credits: Ikea

Cook and Pan, meanwhile, is not only a supplier of steel pans, we are also a great source of information about it. From fantastic recipes , to burning and using the pan and debunking myths about the steel pan. However, there is another type of pan that has similarities with cast iron and that is not yet well known to many, namely pans made of carbon steel, also known colloquially as carbon steel and known in English as carbon steel.

Our experts really love carbon steel pans , but because they are actually more common in restaurant kitchens than at home, we haven't written much about them yet, a shame really. And we will soon change that!

What is the difference between carbon steel and cast iron? Honestly not that much. Of course there are some differences, but these are relatively technical, the bottom line is that carbon steel and cast iron are remarkably similar. They both retain heat well, so once they're hot, they stay hot. This makes them ideal for tasks such as searing steaks or crisping up chicken or fish. Just like with cast iron, the carbon steel pan needs to be seasoned, in other words: 'seasoning'. This is nothing more than repeatedly heating the pan with a thin layer of oil until a natural non-stick coating is formed. You can also order the cast iron pans seasoned, then you no longer have to burn them in, for example, this is the case with the Jazz carbon steel pans . They can also both go straight from the stove to the oven, carbon steel and cast iron are both sturdy materials that will last longer than a lifetime.

They also share the same drawbacks. On gas stoves they both conduct less, this is because with gas the pans are only heated in the middle, with induction this is over the entire bottom of the pan. Also, both pans are not suitable for long-term cooking of acid or alkaline (substances that are basic, the opposite of acid). So you want to cook a complete bottle of wine in it for a long time (you can of course use it for splashes) or make a tomato sauce in it for a longer period of time.

searing rack of lamb roasting in carbon steel frying pan

A perfectly seared rack of lamb in a carbon steel frying pan.

So, why bother discussing Carbon steel at length when it is essentially the same as cast iron? There are a number of things that make the difference, making it more than worth considering switching to or choosing carbon steel.

Firstly, if you like the vintage cast iron pan with its thinner construction and smooth surface, the carbon steel pan will definitely appeal to you! Carbon steel is pressed and spun from sheet metal and not cast as cast iron is. This makes the baking surface extremely smooth, better than with a cast iron pan. This also means that a properly pre-seasoned carbon steel pan will perform significantly better than a properly pre-seasoned cast iron pan.

Second, the shape/size consideration. Carbon steel and cast iron are similar in terms of the metal itself, but their shape differs enough to be a very important factor: most cast iron frying pans have vertical sides (nearly perpendicular) making them suitable for tasks such as baking chicken or cornbread. and pan pizza.
Most carbon steel pans, on the other hand, have slanted sides that make them much better suited for sautéing as well. You can also 'throw' and flip with your ingredients better, which is very nice. If you want to send something up in the air, you have to send it up a slanted slope and not crash it into a wall (as with cast iron). Carbon steel pans therefore have the perfect shape for this.

Frying pan set 3-piece carbon steel Jazz

But there are several differences that make it better to choose carbon steel pans. Cast iron pans are thicker and heavier than carbon steel with exactly the same diameter, but therefore cast iron heats up a bit better. Carbon steel is better at baking and sautéing dishes, while cast iron is better at roasting meat. Carbon steel pans are a lot lighter in weight and are therefore easier to lift and move around with one hand.

Anne van Cook and Pan 'I happen to have two 30 cm frying pans at home, one of cast iron and the other of carbon steel. The cast iron pan weighs 3.3 kg while the carbon steel pan weighs only 2.5 kg'

Carbon steel is therefore lighter than cast iron, but this does not alter the fact that both are a lot heavier than aluminum pans. They are certainly not as light as that.

Carbon steel pan vs cast iron pan - We explain the difference to you!

The difference between the straight sides of the cast iron pan and the sloping sides of the carbon steel pan.

Just like cast iron, carbon steel is also quite cheap. Online prices can vary quite a bit. We do recommend avoiding the cheapest ones, unless you can personally check that they are not made of very thin metal. In comparison, good carbon steel pans are often thinner than cast iron, but not much thinner. Even if you are on the expensive side, chances are that you will not exceed 100 euros (even with larger sizes). Often you will spend a lot less, such as with our trusted and beloved Jazz pans made of carbon steel .

Conclusion : Carbon steel pans are not necessary in your kitchen, but they are a very nice addition that you will enjoy for a long time. If you already have a lot of cast iron pans in your kitchen, it is not necessarily necessary to purchase carbon steel pans. But, if you are still building up your collection, or if you like impulsively buying cooking pans (whether you need them or not), then it is definitely worth purchasing a number of carbon steel pans.

Do you have any further questions about this interesting topic? Or do you need help buying the right pan? Please feel free to contact