How to Cook With Carbon Steel Cookware

Once you’ve mastered how to cook with Carbon Steel Pans, all you need to do is decide what recipe you’ll cook up next.

By Emily Borst
Apr 25, 2022
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One of the main reasons home and professional chefs reach for Carbon Steel Cookware is because of its versatility. Carbon Steel Frying Pans can be used on the stove, under the broiler, over an open flame, or in a pizza oven, just to name a few, and can be used to cook a wide variety of dishes. And, once it’s built up a seasoned non stick coating, the possibilities of what you can cook are truly endless. To experience the wide variety of dishes you can produce with Carbon Steel, you first need to master the cooking process. Cooking with Carbon Steel is really as easy as cooking with Non Stick once you know what you’re doing. Here are four things to keep in mind when cooking with Carbon Steel.

Avoid Delicate Foods at First

A new, freshly seasoned Carbon Steel Frying Pan will need some time to build up its signature non stick patina that makes it such a versatile piece of Cookware. This is why it’s important to avoid cooking delicate foods at first, like eggs or fish. These foods can stick to the Pan and not cook properly, leaving you with either an inedible pile of food or a burnt mess to clean up.

We recommend cooking a fatty protein, like bacon or steak, in your Pan to kick-start the buildup of a non stick surface. Though you will need to wait a few uses to really start to get the most out of your Carbon Steel, this patience truly gets rewarded once the coating is established.

Preheat Your Pan

Before you even put your Pan on the stove, take care with your ingredients to give you the best cooking experience possible. Make sure your food is tempered and as close to room temperature as possible. Fridge-cold food runs the risk of thermal shock, which can warp your Carbon Steel Pan.

Before adding your ingredients in, preheat your Pan over medium-low for 2 to 3 minutes, then add in your cooking oil or butter. Let that heat up for 1 to 2 minutes more before adding your food. Be careful to not crowd your ingredients—this can end up steaming your food, instead of achieving the Maillard reaction you’re looking for.

Watch the Heat

One of the many reasons we love Carbon Steel Pans is their ability to handle temperatures up to 1200F—but that doesn’t mean they have to. Carbon Steel heats up quickly and retains heat exceptionally well, so you may often find that you need less heat than you might’ve thought.

Unless you’re doing some serious high-heat cooking (like over an open flame or under the broiler), we recommend cooking with Carbon Steel over medium heat. This allows for perfect sears and crispy proteins without running the risk of burning your food.

Clean Up After

While this doesn’t strictly have to do with cooking, cleaning your Carbon Steel Pans correctly is an important part of maintaining your Cookware for meals and years to come. You can read our full guide on how to clean Carbon Steel or check out our video below, but remember: no soap unless you’re fully reseasoning it afterwards.

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of cooking with Carbon Steel, you just opened up a whole new world of possible dishes and cooking techniques—all you need to do is decide what’s on the menu first.

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