You might be wondering what the difference is between a carbon steel and stainless steel pan. And that’s an excellent question. Today I’m going to answer it for you. I will also show you a lot of photos and discuss some pros and cons of each type of pan. Let’s jump straight in!
What Is A Carbon Steel Pan?
A carbon steel pan is a flat cooking surface that’s shaped like a sauté pan, with gently sloping walls and a long handle that doesn’t get hot. Carbon steel pans are lighter than cast iron pans but heavier than stainless steel pans. Carbon steel pans are durable, affordable, and have many uses beyond the kitchen. We use them for camping and outdoor cooking, for making paella, pancakes, and crepes. They’re also great for roasting meats and vegetables in the oven—and we’ve even used ours to make pizza!
Advantages Of Carbon Steel Pan
Now that you know a little bit about carbon steel pans, why should you even consider using one? There are numerous advantages to using them.
1. They are very inexpensive compared to other types of cookware.
2. They are lightweight and easy to handle.
3. They are non-reactive so they can be used for high heat dishes (like stir-frying or deep frying) or acidic dishes like tomato sauce without the worry of the pan being damaged by the heat or acid in the food.
4. They provide excellent heat conductivity which makes them perfect for searing meats at high temperatures and then finishing the cooking process at lower temperatures on the stovetop or in the oven.
5. The thinness of the pan helps make it possible to get a great sear on meat without overcooking it due to having too much heat inside of the pan (as is often the case with thicker stainless steel pans).
6. The thinness also allows for easy flipping of foods such as pancakes and crepes which can be difficult with thicker pans.
7. The thinness also makes it easier to use a spatula or spoon to scrape up bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan while cooking since there isn’t much space between the food and the bottom of the pan.
8. The stainless steel disc on the handles makes them easy to hold and less likely to burn your hands which is a problem for cooks using thick stainless steel pans.
Disadvantages Of Carbon Steel Pan
You can use one for frying, baking, sautéing, and even as a wok. Here are some of the disadvantages of using carbon steel cookware:
1. Carbon steel pans can be expensive to buy. You can get a cheap pan for about $20, but if you go for a quality pan you will pay more than $100 for one.
2. The handles on a carbon steel pan get very hot when cooking on the stovetop so you will need to use potholders or oven mitts in order to avoid burning your hands and fingers.
3. If you have never used one before then there may be an adjustment period where it takes time to learn how to properly season them so that they don’t trust easily or stick while cooking food on them at high temperatures like when frying chicken breasts in oil or sauteing vegetables with butter or olive oil in them over medium-high heat levels on your electric stove burner coils, gas range top flame burners, etcetera…
4. Carbon steel pans are not dishwasher safe and must be hand-washed with a sponge or stiff brush and a mild dishwashing liquid (like Dawn or Palmolive) and the water must be hot.
5. You should avoid cooking with acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar, wine, etcetera…in them because this can cause the pan to corrode much faster than if you were to cook with these types of food items in a stainless steel pan or an aluminum cookware pot or frying pan.
6. Carbon steel is a poor heat conductor so it takes forever to bring food from one side of the pan to the other side and the food can easily stick to it because of this lack of heat transfer.
What Are Stainless Steel Pans?
Stainless steel pans are versatile products that are great for cooking a wide variety of dishes. They are made of a mixture of steel and chromium. The chromium is what gives stainless steel its famous shine, but it also gives the metal its strength. Stainless steel pans are known for being very durable, and they’re great for distributing heat. If you want to cook something that requires very high heat, a stainless steel pan is usually your best bet because it will be able to withstand the heat without warping or melting. Stainless steel pans are also good for cooking items like eggs because they won’t stick as much as other types of pans.
Advantages Of Stainless Steel Pan
1. They conduct heat well, so foods cook evenly and quickly.
2. They’re easy to clean.
3. They’re durable enough to be used with most cooking utensils without scratching the surface.
4. Some models come with nonstick surfaces that prevent food from sticking in the pan while it cooks or after it’s done cooking (and they don’t require oil).
5. They’re available at a wide range of price points depending on quality – which means there’s something for everyone!
Disadvantages Of Stainless Steel Pan
Stainless steel pans have a number of disadvantages which have led many cooks to choose other materials for stovetop cooking.
1. They are more expensive than other types of pots and pans. Stainless steel pans typically cost about two times more than aluminum pans. While stainless steel pans are more durable, they weigh more than aluminum pans which can make them harder to handle. In addition, stainless steel pans are not suitable for induction cooktops because of their poor magnetic properties.
2. They are slow to heat up and can have hot spots (areas that cook more than others).
3. Stainless pans are difficult to clean. The nonstick properties of stainless steel are nearly non-existent; even with proper seasoning and regular oiling, a stainless pan will stick to foods
4. Stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat. They can retain heat very well but cannot distribute heat evenly. Hence, they are not the best choice for frying foods and dishes requiring a lot of stirring.
5. They react with alkaline and acidic foods. For example, cooking tomato sauce in a stainless steel pan will cause the sauce to turn black and change its taste. To avoid this, you need to use non-reactive cookware such as ceramic or glass cookware for cooking acidic foods.
6. They are difficult to season properly. An improperly seasoned pan will not have the nonstick properties you need for your cooking, so it’s important to take the time to season your pans correctly. The process is simple enough; simply coat the pan with oil and heat it in the oven until the oil forms a dark coating on the pan that creates a nonstick surface when cooled.
Stainless Steel Vs Carbon Steel Pan: The Debate!
Stainless steel and carbon steel cookware are both beloved by chefs and home cooks alike. Depending on who you ask, each one might get the stamp of approval as being the ultimate kitchen equipment to use when cooking. But is one truly better than the other? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each one to help you decide which one is right for you. Here’s what to know about stainless steel vs carbon steel cookware.
1. Materials And Construction
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, and other metals. It is rust-resistant, but it is not as hard as carbon steel. In cooking, it is non-reactive to acidic foods. Stainless steel cookware can be polished to a mirror finish and it is durable enough to last many years with proper care.
Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It has a thinner wall than stainless steel, so it heats up faster than stainless steel (and conducts heat better). Carbon steel is generally more affordable than stainless steel. Hardness and durability make carbon steel a good choice for cooking utensils and tools that are used frequently or on high-heat surfaces.
Stainless steel, by definition, can’t rust nor corrode, because of its chromium content. While it’s tough and anti-corrosive, however, it’s not as good a conductor of heat as carbon steel. This means that food cooked on stainless steel cookware will not be cooked as evenly.
Carbon steel pans and pots can be seasoned to create a nonstick surface that is better than the coating found on nonstick versions.
3. Thermal Conductivity
Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, and this can be an issue when cooking with it. You may find that your stainless steel pan takes longer to heat up, and, once heated, it may retain the heat for a shorter period of time than some other materials, such as copper.
Carbon steel has much better thermal conductivity than stainless steel. This means that carbon steel heats more quickly and retains more heat after use. The added thermodynamic capacity of carbon steel makes it a better choice for cooking fast-paced recipes that require you to quickly adjust the burners or move the pans on and off the stove.
The density of a type of cookware is one of the main factors that will affect how it performs during cooking.
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel, chromium, and nickel, with 10.5 percent chromium and 8-11 percent nickel being the standard percentages used in cookware.
Carbon steel also called high carbon steel, is a type of plain carbon steel with a higher percentage of carbon, usually around 2 percent. The increased presence of carbon makes it stronger than other types of steel, but it is also more brittle and less ductile.
Both stainless steel and carbon steel are heavy materials, but there are some differences.
Stainless steel is generally heavier than carbon steel, although this depends somewhat on the thickness of the steel used to make the pans. However, both are lighter than cast iron.
Carbon steel is slightly more durable than stainless steel because it’s more malleable – meaning that if you drop it on the floor, it might not leave as large a dent as its stainless counterpart.
6. Corrosion-Resistance Ability
If you want to know which metal will be best for your cooking needs, you should look at their corrosion-resistance abilities.
Stainless steel has two or three layers of chromium oxide on top of a metal alloy core; this allows it to resist corrosion from food acids and salt very well.
Carbon steel, in contrast, will corrode easily when exposed to food acids and salt. Therefore, if you want to cook with acidic ingredients or salt-rich foods like pickles or salted meats, you should use stainless steel instead of carbon steel.
7. Heat Tolerance
The greatest difference between stainless steel and carbon steel is the ability to withstand high temperatures.
Carbon steel is much better at withstanding high heat than stainless steel, making it a popular choice for cooking methods like searing, frying, deep-frying, and sautéing.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is better suited for simmering and boiling food—although there are exceptions to this rule.
If you’re looking for the most affordable cookware, carbon steel is probably your best choice.
Good quality carbon steel pans can be found for as little as $30.00 (although you might want to spend a little more than that if you want something that won’t easily warp).
Most stainless steel pans cost at least $85.00 and can go much higher. The price has more to do with a brand name, weight, and design than anything else.
9. Dishwasher Safety
Both stainless and carbon steel are dishwasher-safe, although some manufacturers recommend washing by hand. If you decide to use a dishwasher, it is best to dry the cookware after each cycle.
A Short List Of Things To Remember When Using Stainless Or Carbon Steel Pans
Carbon Steel Pans
Here are some helpful tips that will get you started right away with your new Carbon Steel Pan.
1. Preheat the pan before the food goes in
2. Use oil with a high smoke point (canola or vegetable work fine)
3. Always use tongs when turning food over
4. If sticking is an issue, consider using a nonstick spray instead of oil
5. If food is sticking, add a little water and let it evaporate before scraping off stuck pieces (the steam might help loosen them)
6. Make sure your pan is well seasoned before using it for the first time – it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Stainless Steel Pans
Cooking with stainless steel is a great way to prepare meals because of its consistent heating ability. However, there are some things you should know:
1. It is important to heat your pan before adding any ingredients, especially those that need to be browned or seared, such as meats and vegetables.
2. Don’t use oil when cooking with stainless steel if you can avoid it. Stainless steel has a high heat retention ability, so if you heat it properly, it won’t need any extra help from oil or fat to prevent sticking.
3. Avoid using metal utensils—they can scratch the surface of the pan, which could allow food particles to become trapped in the scratches where they could then grow bacteria—instead, use wooden or plastic utensils
4. If a stainless steel pan gets too hot, it may discolor slightly. This is normal. If it bothers you, you can polish out the discoloration with baking soda and water (or hydrogen peroxide and water if it’s really stubborn).
5. To avoid food sticking, always add oil before adding food.
6. If food does stick, use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape and lift it off the pan. A metal spoon or spatula will scratch the surface of your pan.
7. Never use steel wool or other abrasive materials on stainless steel pans—they’re tough, but they’re not infallible!
Carbon Steel Pans
Here are the basic steps you need to take to keep your carbon steel pan in tip-top condition.
1. Clean the Pan ASAP
After cooking, rinse the pan with hot water while it’s still warm to the touch and wipe it down with a sponge or non-abrasive scrubbing pad.
2. Dry It Thoroughly
Using a towel, gently wipe the interior surface of the pan until it is dry to the touch.
3. Season It
Once your pan is completely dry, add a thin layer of oil (we like flaxseed oil or grapeseed oil) onto all surfaces of the pan using a paper towel or clean rag and heat on low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the oil begins to smoke slightly.
4. Clean Your Pan Right Away
The longer you wait to clean your pan, the harder it will be to remove the food from it. The best time to clean your pan is before the food has cooled off completely.
Stainless Steel Pans
Let’s go over some guidelines for cleaning stainless steel different from other materials.
1. Seasoning Your Pans
When you buy new stainless steel pans, they will have a thin layer of oil on them. This helps protect the pans during shipping and storage.
2. Using Oil
If you season your pans as described above, using oil whenever you cook will help keep your pan looking and working its best! Even if you don’t think you need to – if you season often, you’ll never need to use oil.
3. Use baking soda
Sprinkle a little bit onto the pan, and then scrub it with a wet sponge until it comes clean.
4. Use salt on sticky stains
Pour some salt directly on top of greasy spots or burned-on food residue; rub vigorously using your fingers (or even better—a piece of coarsely cut potato, which will help break down stubborn stains).
5. Don’t leave food to sit in the pan overnight
If food is left in the pan, it can stick to the base of the pan and be hard to remove, especially if it has dried on. It also means you have a lot more cleaning to do the next day rather than just soaking and wiping off any residue.
6. Clean while still warm
It’s easier to clean a stainless steel pan while it is still warm, but be careful not to burn yourself!
1. Why Should I Use Carbon Steel Or Stainless Steel Instead Of Non-Stick?
A: Non-stick contains chemicals that can be toxic to your health. Both carbon steel and stainless steel are healthier alternatives for frying, sautéing, and baking. They also don’t pose any risk of flaking or chipping during cooking.
2. Which One Is Better For Searing Meat?
Carbon steel conducts heat rapidly, making it perfect for searing meat at high temperatures. Stainless steel is also good at conducting heat but not as efficient as carbon steel.
3. Which One Is More Durable?
Carbon steel is known for its durability and longevity, while stainless steel is more prone to rusting.
4. How Long Do Carbon Steel And Stainless Steel Pans Last?
If you take care of your carbon steel cookware, you can expect it to last a lifetime, while stainless steel cookware will last between 10-and 20 years.
5. Can I Use My Carbon Steel Pan On High Heat?
Yes, but be careful not to overheat your pan. We recommend preheating the pan until it’s very hot, then lowering the temperature and adding your oil or fat so that the food doesn’t stick to the pan.
For some of you, this might be the first time that you are going to buy a pan. Carbon steel vs. stainless steel pan guide will help you narrow down what is available in the market and help you make an informed buying decision.