We all know how awesome cast iron cookware is (right?). But carbon steel cookware has yet to really catch on – at least in-home kitchens. They’re already somewhat popular in restaurants and commercial kitchens, but few home cooking enthusiasts have yet to make in the investment in some new carbon steel skillets or pots.

It’s not that carbon steel is new, it’s just that not nearly as many manufacturers make them – and not nearly as many people are using them. Which is a shame, because carbon steel is proving itself to be just as good a surface for cooking on.

How come? Carbon steel is a lot like cast iron in many ways. First, it gets hot – very hot – and does an excellent job at retaining that heat, making it an excellent choice for anything cast iron is good for – roasting chickens, searing steak…bacon over a fire. It also becomes essentially non-stick with proper seasoning and oiling.

In fact, a good carbon steel pan might even more non-stick than a similar cast-iron pan. It’s made from stamping sheets of metal  (iron melded with carbon) together, giving it a perfectly smooth surface that’s more akin to stainless steel than the rough surface often found on cast-iron pans. This makes it better for certain tasks, such as sautéing vegetables.

So, while carbon steel isn’t necessarily better than cast iron, it makes an excellent alternative or addition to any kitchen. It’s also relatively cheap compared to a lot higher-end cookware and can be a lot lighter – as steel is not nearly as brittle as iron, and does not need to be nearly as thick and heavy.

How to get started? Grab one of these Mineral B Carbon Steel Pans from De Buyer. Made in France in the classic French style, it features smooth, rounded sides and edges, which makes sliding food off the pan and into the dish easy. No chemicals, no coatings; just 100% carbon steel. Preheat with some fat, season regularly, and level up your skillet game.

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