Carbon Steel vs Cast Iron : In-depth Comparison & Honest Review

Carbon Steel vs Cast Iron : In-depth Comparison & Honest Review

We usually get to use a lot of either cast iron or carbon steel cookware in our daily life kitchen surfing, and that’s normal.

But have you ever drifted to the not-so-normal side of both kinds of cookware?

You probably did not or maybe you never got the right answer but here we are, with all the details.

So the world is almost going gaga over the basic difference between both, Carbon Steel VS Cast Iron, why is it so and how to get best between both?

These are the chief complications and we got these covered, with great care in fact.

Apart from usual nonstick, aluminum, and stainless steel cookware, this duo also exists equally and holds a special place in our kitchens.

If you already own of one these but not well aware of all its sides, this thread is for you, and the chances are high you may end up deciding to own one soon, as we also have prepared the lists of Best cookwares each.

Cast Iron vs Carbon Steel: Which Pan Is Right For You?

This is a famous comparison in the cookware world, for a reason, that both of the items involve two main ingredients with different proportions, I.e., Carbon and iron.

You can use any of the two without much contemplation, or just one in general with much contemplation.

However, we are going to help you in both cases, after all, your confusion is our responsibility and since we are working day and night in cookware, you gotta trust us. Right?

From a normal 1 to 99 ratio to 2, 3 to 98, 97 ratios of carbon and iron, we need to know what exactly draws a thick line between both and how one surpasses the other.

1- Construction

Actually, carbon leads the game with its slightly extra presence in cast iron ending up into the brittle form, hence directly affecting the existence of iron meanwhile.

So, Cast iron tends to have 97 or 98 percent of iron and 3 to 2 percent of the carbon in the complete construction.

On the other hand, Carbon steel, unlike Cast iron, is first hardened and then the intended size is formulated by cutting. Later on, the iron oxide is layered on it making it stronger in built-up. It tends to have 99 percent of iron and just 1 percent of iron. However, the lesser concentration of carbon is thought to be ideal.

Bottom line: So construction-wise, the Carbon steel is more sturdy, smooth and good in cooking performance in the kitchen than the Cast iron. The former has been evaluated to last longer in such terms.

2- Variable Cooking

Cast iron extends to be more useful in the kitchen in terms of a variety of purposes than Carbon steel.

Though they both will somehow manage to be good in your needs still, cast iron wins this race as due to its rough nature, you can take it straight into the oven too.

Carbon steel, on the other hand, being soft and smooth, requires to be handled with care and does not let you use a for a variety of purposes.

You need to check your daily average kitchen needs with the specific cookware and then buy accordingly.

As you can go about for roasting, frying, and grilling in both types but simmering and braising in just cast iron cookware.

3- Heat Retention

Cast iron pans are more likely to keep your food hot for a longer duration than Carbon steel would, which makes it a great choice for sure.

Though Carbon steel is also great in the process, Cast iron has greater timings in this case.

Most of the time, it’s a blessing as after cooking we may get caught up in some other household chores and by the time we reach the table to finally enjoy the food, it’s cold enough not to be eaten at that time.

That’s the double effort, warming the food again does not seem much pleasant.

Cast iron for sure is the hero of such frequent events at your place, I’m too the victim.

4- Cleaning

With great heat retention power comes a major drawback of cleaning.

You can’t clean your pan or pot right away after cooking because it will hot like hell and you would not want to damage its efficiency.

So wait and wait and wait until the cast iron pan or pot reaches the room temperature and who knows if you feel like washing that cookware by then or not.

But Carbon steel does not drag the cleaning part like Cast iron, proving to be breeze on our parts.

5- Pricing

Carbon steel is lower in price meaning it is much inexpensive than cast iron, making it an available choice for the consumers.

People not only look at the features but also the price, first.

So if your budget is low and expectations are high, Carbon steel is going to be the safest choice of the season.

However, on special terms, keeping in view the definite requirements, if Cast iron is your direction, it’s okay to invest in some good Cast iron brand and let it be.

6- Durability

As mentioned beforehand, leading through the construction, Carbon steel asks for seasoning, though Cast iron to does, Carbon steel already enjoys an extension of good and prolonged life. On top of that, if you remain successful in seasoning it on time and with great care, it may last an infinity.

7- Nonstick interior

The so-called natural nonstick interior is directly related to good seasoning practice. If you follow a seasoning routine as well as keep the maintenance of your pan or pot, it will naturally alter into a nonstick surface. That will be a two-in-one cooking surface, great recipes in wait.

Nonstick, being famous for the easy-release finish, tends to cook faster and hence fewer oil is required which further predicts good health on your part.

8- Weight

The weight of Carbon steel is heavier than Cast iron, which is at the same time good and bad in two different areas.

Well, if you don’t like carrying heavy cookware in the kitchen, bad for you.

It gets difficult, I believe, but the taste is never compromised.

Cast iron is also heavy than usual pans but a little lesser than carbon steel.

The gain of heavyweight cookware is that of it sits equally on the cooktop, the heat us distributed evenly, and the food comes out to be delicious.

9- Temperature handling

So Carbon steel is known to be great in bearing all the modes of temperature efficiently and timely than Cast iron.

So if your kitchen is all about cooking and keep on cooking a variety of meals requiring sometimes medium and the other times high temperature, Carbon steel should be your first and probably the only preference.

10 Best Cast Iron Cookware

Lodge L10SK3ASHH41B Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 12” inchesSilicone hot handle holder for protection up to 500 degrees F, Safely induction compatible, Pre-seasoned for the easy-release finish, Multifunctional, Made in the USA, and Easy to clean, etc.Check Price
Le Creuset LS2024-3067 Handle Skillet, 11 3/4" inchesAvailable in maximum colors, Great for low-fat cooking, Even heat distribution, Upgraded enamel interior, Large loop helper handle, and Dishwasher safe, etc.Check Price
Victoria SKL-212 Cast Iron Skillet, 12” inchesLarge helper handle, Optimal heat retention, Lifetime Warranty, Multifunctional, Contoured pour spouts, and big hanging holes, etc. Check Price
Royal Dutch Cast Iron 1815 - 11 Piece Cook BoxEco-friendly, Easy installation, Weatherproof, Intense ultrasonic signals to keep animals at bay, Vintage Carrying storage box, and powered by solar energy, etc.
Check Price
Simple Chef Cast Iron Skillet 3-Piece Set, SC-CSTIRNSKLT-3PCMultifunctional and durable, Superior heat retention, Heavy duty construction, Virtually indestructible, Cool design, and Easy to maintain, etc.Check Price
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle, L5HS3Super heat retention, Sturdy construction, For all kinds of cooking, Easy release finish, Durable, and provides a nearly nonstick surface, etc.Check Price
Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, UK0040, 12.5” inchesReady to use factory seasoning, Compatible with a variety of cooktops, Great design, Superior heat retention keeps food warm, Strong built-up, and easy to maintain, etc.Check Price
AmazonBasics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 2104, 12” InchesOven safe up to 500 degrees F, Ready to use pre-seasoning, User-friendly handles, Even heat distribution and retention, Compatible with all cooking surfaces, and 1 year warranty, etc.Check Price
Kookantage Cast Iron Skillet Pre-Seasoned Cookware-6", 8", 10" Pans, CJ-1PFOA/ PFAS/ Lead/ Cadmium free, Low oil cooking, Double pour spouts, Perfect heat retention, Heat resistant handle covers, and High pressure forging technology, etc.Check Price
Stansport Cast Iron 6 Piece Cookware Set, 16903Easy to clean, Even heat distribution, Perfect heat retention, Heavy cast iron lid, Cast iron hot handle holder, and Great quality, etc.Check Price

10 Best Carbon Steel Cookware

De Buyer MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan 12.5-Inch - 561032PTFE/ PFOA free, Adopts to nonstick finish, 99% pure iron, Two helper handles, Made in France, and durable, etc.
Check Price
Mauviel 3651.32 M'Steel, carbon, nonstick fry pan, 12.5” InchesBrilliant heat conduction, Made in France, Extra thick construction, Natural nonstick, Compatible with maximum cooktops, and durable, etc.
Check Price
Lodge Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet, CRS12, 12” inches Made in the USA, Even heat distribution, Compatible with many cooktops including induction, Ready to use pre-seasoning, Heavy gauge carbon steel construction, and multifunctional in cooking, etc.
Check Price
Imperial Home Carbon Steel Nonstick 7 Piece Cookware Set, MW1292Tempered, vented glass lids, Stay cool bakelite handles and knobs, Nonstick interior, Quick and easy cleanup, Sturdy built-up, and durable, etc.
Check Price
ARABYAN BROTHERS Carbon Steel Nonstick Red Pots and Pans (Set of 7)Heavy thick gauge construction, Nonstick interior, House bakelite handles and knobs, Tempered lids are made from vented glass, Excellent quality, and Easy to clean, etc.
Check Price
Garcima C-15RED 15-Inch Carbon Steel Paella PanMade in Spain, Excellent heat conduction, Durable, Hammered dimpled bottom, Quick cleanup, and All-rounder in cooking, etc.
Check Price
Joyce Chen 22-0060, Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok Uncoated Carbon Steel, 14” inchesGood for electric and gas cooktop, Ergonomic Phenolic handle, Additional helper handle, Loop on the handle for hanging storage, Great quality, and durable, etc.
Check Price
Matfer Bourgeat 62005 frying pan, 11 7/8” Inches Induction compatible, High quality construction, Durable, Extra strong steel strip handle, Even heat distribution, and Nonstick finish, etc.
Check Price
Paderno A4171424 Heavy-Duty, Polished Frying Pan, 9 ½” inchesThick construction, Superior heat conduction, Flat, riveted handle, Perfect for searing, and Durable, etc.
Check Price
Magefesa Carbon Steel Paella Pan, FBA_01PAPAEPU42, 17” inchesCompatible on all stovetop’s, Dual-riveted- looped handles, Sturdy construction, Easy cleanup, and Cool design, etc.
Check Price

Things to Consider before buying any of these cookware

No matter how much information you keep on any type of cookware, a little quick guide is always helpful as it enlarges your vision on the product.

1- Size

You need to consider the size much in detail if you are thinking of buying the pan only. In case you want a complete set, keep whatever size comes.

The traditional way is to decide the size of your cookware or pan in general as per the size of your family.

If the family is quite big, having different sized pans will be more than useful.

A single person will be good to go with a normal-sized pan or cookware set and even that small size.

2- Handles

Before buying, do check not only the size of the handles of the pan or pot but also the quality and if it does support cool touch or not.

3- Lids

Carbon steel or cast iron cookware may also have the same material lids but if you want exceptional, it’s better in fact great to have a glass tempered lid.

4- Warranty

Well, if you are ready to pay high, do a little more research and opt for the company that boasts a good amount of warranty on its products.


Carbon steel or cast iron, both are great once you get used to it, but what matters at earnest is your own capability of handling it. So be gentle and attentive to your products, they don’t come in free.

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Risa Weiner
By Risa Weiner

Risa is a Canadian Food writer, YouTuber, Food developer, and Food stylist. She writes about food, kitchen gadgets, wellness, and ideas to make all your favorite recipes into Low-Fat recipes.

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