Which Is Better: Carbon Steel or Stainless Steel Pan?

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Steel vs steel, or carbon steel versus stainless steel pan. Both seem tough enough and are well-known, but is there a clear winner? Many skilled chefs feel that nothing beats carbon steel for waging high-heat fights in a restaurant kitchen.

Due to the entirely flat bottom surface of this pan, home cooks may find that stainless steel is a superior option for cooking on an electric cooktop.

Are things becoming clearer now? Wait, there are more differences and comparisons to be made between these two, so let’s get started.

What Is Carbon Steel Pan?

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel Pan – Which Is Better?

It’s a pan composed of a metal alloy, a mix of iron and carbon. Other elements like as manganese, silicon, or copper may be present, but in such minuscule amounts that they have little effect on the overall quality.

Blue carbon steel is another kind of carbon steel. Blue carbon steel pans are subjected to a heat treatment known as blue ironing, which generates a coating of rust prevention. They are blue in color, but since they are iron pans and hence reactive, the color darkens with time.

What Is It Good For?

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel Pan – Which Is Better?

The French typically use it to create omelets and crepes, while the Chinese utilize carbon steel woks to stir fry almost everything. One of the most significant benefits of carbon steel fry pans is its capacity to endure high temperatures. Consider the cooking techniques and meals that demand high temperatures to get a sense of what these pans are capable of. Do you need assistance? Let’s see…

  • Stir-Frying chicken, fish, noodles, vegetables
  • Searing steaks, pork chops and other cuts of meat
  • Cooking everything from fish and meat to eggs and vegetables on the stovetop
  • Stews, pot roast, soups, beef brisket, and beef bourguignon
  • Broiling roast potatoes, steaks, and delicious casseroles in the oven
  • Baking bread, pies, cakes and more

What Is Stainless Steel Pan?

The term stainless steel comes from the fact that it does not tarnish, discolor, or oxidize like steel. It is constructed of steel and chromium, a metal that renders the iron in stainless steel resistant to rust. Nickel, nitrogen, and molybdenum are other potential components in this substance.

Because stainless steel is a weak heat conductor, it is often coated with copper or aluminum, which transfer heat better. Combine these two elements’ outstanding heat conductivity with the endurance of stainless steel, and you get an exceptional quality material that will last a lifetime.

What Is It Good For?

Because stainless steel pans can endure high-temperature cooking, they are ideal for browning, searing, and crisping up chicken skin. Non-delicate meals may also be steamed, boiled, braised, poached, or fried. Without a question, it is a fantastic workhorse in your kitchen.

Because of its non-reactive qualities, it is ideal for preparing soups, sauces, and stews with acidic components such as wine, vinegar, tomato, or lemon.

Differences Of Carbon Steel And Stainless Steel Pans

Do you want to know which pan is heavier, healthier, or more expensive? These are some of the most often asked questions concerning these two kinds of steel pans. Here’s a comparison of the two based on certain key characteristics.

Heat Conductivity

Carbon steel is the preferred material for professional kitchens when it comes to quickly transmitting and sustaining high temperatures. These pans operate well under high-pressure settings and are quite adaptable. They may also be used to keep meals warm while doing other duties in the kitchen.

Heat conduction, on the other hand, is not one of the benefits of stainless steel. As previously stated, it transmits heat poorly; however, stainless steel pans with an aluminum or copper core perform better. They disperse heat more quickly and evenly.


Both of these materials are quite versatile, yet each has a foe. Carbon steel is reactive to some acidic components, causing discolouration and imparting a metallic flavor to your dish. This, however, may be avoided if the pan is well seasoned.

When it comes to cooking delicate meals, stainless steel’s adaptability is questioned since it is not nonstick, yet there are a few strategies you may employ to create a less sticky result.

Reactivity With Certain Foods

The point here is stainless steel. It does not react with specific components, making it ideal for making a variety of sauces, stews, and soups.

Health And Safety

Because carbon steel has inherent nonstick characteristics when properly seasoned, you may use less oil or fat while cooking, making it a healthier alternative. Furthermore, none of these two materials has a Teflon coating, which may be hazardous.

Both of these materials are generally deemed safe to use in the kitchen. Some investigations on stainless steel and the possible danger of nickel or chromium leaching into food were unable to provide consistent findings.

Suitability In Terms Of Heat Source

Carbon steel pans perform well with liquid propane or natural gas stoves, but they may be a poor option for a flat electric burner owing to their propensity to distort somewhat. The bottom of the pan must be entirely flat for the heat to spread evenly.

Furthermore, they may both be used in the oven as long as the handle material is oven-safe. Finally, carbon steel can be utilized with induction, but stainless steel can be used only if the base is magnetic.

Maintenance And Cleaning

The carbon steel pan is nonstick and easy to clean in general. It does, however, need additional maintenance time since it must be maintained seasoned. Seasoning will be stripped away by acidic and sticky components.

Remember that it might warp, therefore never put a hot pan in cold water and never put it in the dishwasher. A gentle brush and some mild soapy water would suffice.

Although stainless steel does not need seasoning, cleaning may be difficult, particularly if there are stains and discolouration. Furthermore, you may want a simple cleaning solution to keep its gleaming appearance. It’s also dishwasher safe, however some people prefer to hand-wash it.


The gleaming look of stainless steel is undeniably appealing, but as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we’ll let you decide.


Because carbon steel is lighter than stainless steel, it is simpler to move, lift, and clean.


A carbon steel skillet is often far less expensive than a high-quality stainless steel fry pan.

The Bottom Line

So, we’ve arrived to the stage where we must make a decision: carbon steel or stainless steel pan? If you want an all-purpose pan that is both attractive and long-lasting, stainless steel is the way to go. Carbon steel, on the other hand, is a better option if you need a fighter in your kitchen that is swift and sensitive at high temperatures, as well as nonstick and lightweight.


Is carbon steel better than stainless steel pans?

Carbon steel frying pans transfer heat significantly better, and their cooking surfaces may stay hot long after you remove them from the heat source. 4. Stickiness: While neither carbon nor stainless steel pans are totally nonstick, carbon steel pans resist sticky food considerably better.

Which is healthier carbon steel or stainless steel?

Health And Security

Because carbon steel has inherent nonstick characteristics when properly seasoned, you may use less oil or fat while cooking, making it a healthier alternative. Furthermore, none of these two materials has a Teflon coating, which may be hazardous.

What are the disadvantages of carbon steel cookware?

Carbon steel cookware is thinner and lighter, making it simpler to use on the stove. The disadvantage is that heat retention is reduced since there is less bulk to store the heat. It’s also not particularly thermally conductive, so anticipate hot areas that cause certain meals to cook unevenly.

Why do chefs use carbon steel pans?

Carbon-steel skillets can brown food as deeply and uniformly as cast iron skillets. It also has two advantages: it warms up faster and is lighter in weight, making it simpler to handle.

Why use carbon steel over stainless steel?

When compared to low-carbon steel, stainless steel provides a significant improvement in strength, hardness, and, most critically, corrosion resistance. High carbon steel has the strength to compete with, and occasionally surpass, stainless steel, although it is mostly a specialty commodity in the industrial sector.

Does Gordon Ramsay use carbon steel pan?

ScanPan brand cookware is one of the most popular cooking equipment among chefs. With the confidence of an expert, you can deglaze, fry, braise, and sear. It’s a sturdy pan with a carbon steel skillet, which Gordon Ramsay prefers.

Why do chefs use stainless steel pans?

Stainless steel cookware is used by chefs, professional cooks, and restaurants. They like it because it is almost unbreakable. A stainless steel pan’s structure and composition provide greater heat distribution, and when used correctly, it may prevent food from sticking.

What type of pans are the healthiest?

Nonstick pans and pots, such as cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and enamel-coated cast iron, are the least hazardous. These choices are free of Teflon coating and hence safe to use.

Which is best cookware for health?

To prevent dangerous components leaking into your meals, stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and cast-iron pots and pans are the go-to materials.

What not to use carbon steel pan for?

It cannot be used to make tomato, wine, or lemon sauces. Maybe you’ve heard that you can’t cook tomato, wine, or lemon sauces in a cast iron pan. You absolutely may, but you must wait to ensure that your seasoning is properly built up. Otherwise, the acid will remove the seasoning off the surface.

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