Read more: Carbon Steel vs Cast Iron : In-depth Comparison. The manufacturer etches the surface to remove the black color.) Get FREE ACCESS to every recipe and rating from this season of our TV show. With cast iron, you can find heavy-duty skillets, wedge pans, griddles, Dutch ovens, casseroles, grill pans, and pots. As cast iron is reactive with acidic ingredients, which may strip the seasoning and produce an unwanted metallic flavor, it’s best to avoid cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes and wine sauces in a cast iron pan. As such, carbon steel cookware is easier to handle and offers better maneuverability. To prevent rust spots, make sure to dry your cast iron cookware thoroughly. It is excellent for searing, stove-to-oven recipes, and baking, too. Regardless of which option you choose, you’re in for a great experience. A Lodge 10.25″ cast iron skillet weights 8 lbs. Carbon steel and cast iron both retain heat well, but cast iron is the clear winner in this category. All rights reserved. Cast iron's heavy fabrication makes it fairly brittle in comparison, which means it can fracture or shatter if dropped. We may earn a fee if you buy via links in this post (at no extra cost to you). Carbon makes up between 1 and 2% of the alloy. After you clean the skillet, you’ll need to dry it thoroughly because carbon steel and cast iron are both susceptible to rusting with even the tiniest exposure to moisture. Carbon steel and cast iron skillets are not dishwashers safe. Get smarter about what you're buying. And it’s almost an inch larger! For my quick cooking style, a design that can heat up quickly with a lighter weight and attractive looking cookware would be best for me. Carbon steel cookware consists mostly of frying pans, skillets, woks, and sauté pans. You can cook eggs on cast iron if you properly season the skillet. Thus, caring for cast iron essentially comes down to preserving the seasoning, which means drying it immediately after washing (to prevent rust) and giving it a coat of oil after each soap and water rinse. If you're on the hunt for new pans, we have you covered. The smoother surface plus the seasoning are what make carbon steel so slippery. What Are the Best Cookware Materials? Compared to stainless steel or copper cookware, carbon steel and cast iron skillets are very affordable. Carbon steel, like cast iron, also requires seasoning. Why does such a seemingly small difference matter? All Rights Reserved. That’s why carbon-steel pans are less weighty than cast-iron pans but perform very similarly. The Bestselling Carbon Steel Skillet on Amazon The bestselling carbon steel skillet on Amazon comes from Lodge, the company that makes arguably the best cast iron skillets. Plus, if you try to simmer an acidic liquid in cast iron, like a tomato-based sauce, for instance, the acid will both break down the nonstick seasoning and impart a metallic flavor to your food. Carbon steel is composed of roughly 99 percent iron to 1 percent carbon, while cast iron normally contains 2 to 3 percent carbon to 97 to 98 percent iron. It’s also possible that preparing acidic food or using too much oil for seasoning can result in discoloration. Heavy exposure to acidic ingredients will completely strip the seasoning. The downside is that the enamel coating can crack at temperatures as low as 400 F, which somewhat defeats the purpose of cast iron. Carbon steel is composed of roughly 99 percent iron to 1 percent carbon. If you’ve accidentally cooked a tomato-based pasta sauce or shakshuka in a cast iron pan, rest assured, the unpleasant flavor won’t cause any harm to your health. Like the blackish surface appearance of anodized aluminum cookware, these finishing treatments are relatively stable but can wear off over time or after cooking or cleaning with acidic ingredients; the pan will eventually look brownish-black like regular carbon-steel cookware as it acquires layers of seasoning. Since carbon steel skillets are lighter, smoother, and have longer handles and flared sides, they’re better for stovetop meals that require a lot of manipulation. So how should you use your cast iron pan? As it does in chef’s knives, the metal in cookware has a grain structure that determines how it performs and how it can be shaped. This uneven surface grips food, maximizing the surface contact and making it the perfect cookware for searing meats. Which is simply a matter of following the manufacturer's instructions, and it's not difficult, but it is an extra step. Our testers at Reviewed ran various tests searing, braising, frying, sautéing, and making pan sauces on stainless steel and cast iron skillets to find out which ones will truly last you a lifetime. Let's take a look at the the two, break down the differences and what they're each good and not-so-good for. Durability - Carbon steel is slightly more durable than cast iron. You can get a quality cast iron skillet for under $50, and carbon steel skillets typically range from $60 to $70. Heat retention is important for a few reasons. This flat, uniform surface makes it much easier to mimic a non-stick pan with proper seasoning. First, when you put a cold piece of meat on a hot skillet, the cookware’s temperature drops. Steel is also an alloy of iron and carbon, but to be considered steel, it needs to have less than 2 percent carbon. Carbon steel and cast iron are kind of like cousins. Carbon Steel Cookware Pros and Cons: 17 Things to Know Before You Buy. This 11″ nitrogen hardened pan weighs only 3 lbs! While cast iron is known for its ability to retain heat, stainless steel pans are actually better at evenly distributing heat over a stovetop, according to chef and food writer Kenji Lopez-Alt. Unlike non-stick pans that only last a few years, this type of cookware can last a lifetime. Before I dive into their differences, let’s take a quick look at all the ways they’re similar. Now that you understand the similarities between carbon steel and cast iron, let’s dive into their differences. What they don’t know is that carbon steel frying and sauté pans can be made at about two thirds the weight of cast iron ones, taking a substantial load off without sacrificing longevity. Cast iron, on the other hand, contains 2-3 percent carbon to 97-98 percent iron. Because of this, cast iron skillets are made with thick walls by pouring the melted iron and carbon mix into molds. In an experiment testing various types of pans, he compared the heat conductivity of cast iron, stainless steel, and carbon steel. It’s easier to maintain and doesn’t discolor and rust as easily as carbon steel. Carbon steel is composed of roughly 99 percent iron to 1 percent carbon, while cast iron normally contains 2 to 3 percent carbon to 97 to 98 percent iron. From classic desserts like cobblers to quick breads like Irish soda bread, cast irons can bake up grandma-style, buttery desserts with crispy edges without requiring too much baking knowledge. To make carbon steel skillets, manufacturers roll out sheets of carbon steel, cut the dimensions, and bend the sides into shape. Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. When most people think of cast iron, they think of the bare, black skillets. (And How to Prevent It), Merten & Storck 10-inch Carbon Steel Skillet, De Buyer MINERAL B 12.5-inch Carbon Steel Skillet, Mauviel M'Steel 11-inch Carbon Steel Fry Pan, Utopia Kitchen 12.5-inch Cast Iron Skillet, Lodge Dual Handle 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet, Backcountry Cast Iron Skillet 12-inch Cast Iron Fry Pan, Utopia Kitchen 12.5-inch cast iron skillet (, BK Cookware 12-inch carbon steel skillet (, De Buyer MINERAL B 12.5-inch carbon steel fry pan (. Carbon steel is composed of roughly 99 percent iron to 1 percent carbon, while cast iron normally contains 2 to 3 percent carbon to 97 to 98 percent iron. A DeBuyer 10.2″ carbon steel skillet weighs over 4 lbs. By contrast, with less carbon in its makeup, the metal in carbon-steel pans has a more uniform grain structure, helped along by mechanical processes such as rolling the metal between heavy rollers while it’s hot, and/or dousing it with cool water or oil, all of which helps “freeze” the grain structure in its best configuration, which makes the resulting metal stronger. Rust happens because carbon steel doesn’t contain enough chromium to create a corrosion-resistant barrier. So, the question is: should you buy carbon steel or cast iron? All rights reserved.