Best pans for steak: materials and models compared

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BEST OVERALL

Made In Cookware 5-ply Fry Pan

The Made In 5-ply fry pan gives you the premium performance of high-end cookware at a fraction of the cost:

      • 5-Ply construction for superior strength and warp resistance
      • Induction compatible. Dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 800F
      • Made In Cookware use a ‘direct to consumer’ business model to keep the price low
      • Made in the USA. American metals. American design. American quality
      • Limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind
BEST VALUE
Lodge Pre-Seasoned 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet (L8SK3ASHH41B)

Lodge's super affordable cast iron skillet has excellent heat retention and distribution, which is essential for cooking the perfect steak.

  • Improved upon the original design
  • Made from cast iron for superior heat retention and will last a lifetime
  • Useable on any stove, cooker, or campfire
  • Removable silicone handle & helper handle for ease of use
  • Skillet is seasoned with vegetable oil, so it's vegan friendly
  • What are the best pans for cooking a steak?

    The best pan to cook steak in is a cast iron skillet, carbon steel fry pan or tri-ply (or even 5-ply) stainless steel pan. They can reach a very high heat and retain it which is essential for searing a steak.
    Our recommended pans for each material:
    1. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Ironbest cast iron skillet
    2. Mineral B Carbon Steel Panbest carbon steel for steak (lighter than cast iron)
    3. Made In Frying Panbest stainless steel for steak (easier maintenance than cast iron)
    steak in a pan

    Cast Iron

    High temperatures are essential for searing steak, and cast iron is a perfect metal to use. Though it takes a while to heat up, it heats evenly and will stay hot for an extended period of time.

    Cast iron is a robust material that won’t damage easily and will stand the test of time. Maintained properly, a cast iron pan will last a lifetime and beyond.

    Many cast iron fry pans come pre-seasoned. While this gives you a solid foundation on which to build, we advise running two or three additional seasoning cycles before use to ensure the best non-stick coating possible.

    While most products fade and wear over time, cast iron improves with age, giving you a family heirloom that can be passed from generation to generation. 

    Pros:

    • Unrivaled ability to produce a delicious steak that’s juicy on the inside and cooked to perfection on the outside
    • Excellent value for money
    • Enormous longevity. Cast iron can last for decades
    • Doesn’t contain any chemicals or synthetics that can damage health
    • Easy to clean when properly maintained
    • Adds iron to your food for improved iron intake

    Cons:

    • Heavy and challenging to use, especially for those with weaker hands
    • Complex seasoning procedures essential to the pan’s performance and longevity
    • Takes longer than other types of pans to heat up
    • Handles known to get very hot

    1. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Frying Pan, 10.25-inch

    BEST CAST IRON FOR STEAK
    Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned with Silicone Hot Handle Holder , 10.25 Inch Dia, Black/Red...
    • CAST IRON SKILLET is 10.25 inches in diameter and includes red silicone hot handle holder. An improvement on the original: the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, featuring an assist handle. This will be your go-to pan for generations to come
    • SEASONED CAST IRON COOKWARE. A good seasoning makes all the difference. Lodge seasons its cookware with 100% vegetable oil; no synthetic coatings or chemicals. The more you use your iron, the better the seasoning will get
    • CAST IRON provides superior heat retention and is unparalleled for even cooking. Lodge Cast Iron Skillets are at home in the oven, on the stove, on the grill or over the campfire
    • EASY CARE: Hand wash, dry, rub with cooking oil
    • MADE IN THE USA. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware in South Pittsburg, Tennessee (pop. 3,300) since 1896. With over 120 years of experience, their cast iron is known for its high quality design, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility

    The 10.25-inch pre-seasoned cast iron fry pan from Lodge is built to last. Its solid cast iron construction is ideal for use on top of the stove or in the oven for frying, sauteing, searing, braising, and baking.

    While the pan is pre-seasoned, the seasoning isn’t optimal, so if you don’t want your juicy steaks sticking and burning, it’s a good idea to run through a few more cycles of seasoning before use. However, Lodge’s seasoning uses 100% vegetable oil, so it’s vegan friendly, and the cast iron base won’t leach any unpleasant toxins into your food.

    When properly maintained, cleaning the Lodge 10.25-inch pre-seasoned skillet is relatively straightforward. Lodge recommends washing this skillet by hand using very light dish soap, or no soap at all, so you don’t destroy the coat of seasoning. Re-season your pan regularly for optimal use.

    This Lodge cast iron skillet comes with a silicone ‘hot handle holder’ to ensure you don’t burn your hands when using the pan at high temperatures. The handle cover is effective up to 600F.

    The majority of customers think the Lodge cast iron skillet is excellent value for money. However, they also confirm additional seasoning cycles are essential before use, for the optimal non-stick coating to be effective.

    2. T-fal Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Frying Pan, 12-Inch

    CHEAPER CAST IRON
    T-fal E83407 Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Durable Cast Iron Skillet / Fry pan Cookware, 12-Inch, Black -
    • Dress up grilled steak; fish and veggies with authentic restaurant stripes which is perfect for browning; searing; flying and saut?Ing
    • Large; extra long handle with easy to grip side helper handles and signature thumb rest for easy handling
    • Comes pre seasoned for first use and includes step by step instructions for seasoning case
    • Heats evenly and consistently, as cast iron is the best material for heat retention and distribution; oven safe up to 600 degree fahrenheit and is pfoa free and cadmium free
    • Pouring spouts allow for controlled transfer of contents

    The T-fal pre-seasoned cast iron frying pan has all the hallmarks and capabilities of a decent piece of cast iron cookware for an incredibly low price point. 

    It can cook all the same foods in similar genres as does the Lodge cast iron skillet, but T-Fal’s pan is larger and less expensive. It’s functional on all types of stoves and cookers and can be used in the oven up to 600F.

    While the pan is heavier than its closest rivals, T-Fal tried to offset the heft with an extra-long handle with thumb rest, an easy-grip helper handle, and pour spouts on either side. The pan is PFOA and Cadmium-free.

    We have already talked about the importance of seasoning, and it is even more prevalent with the T-Fal pre-seasoned 12-inch cast iron fry pan as many consumers have struggled with food sticking to the base when first using it for cooking food.

    There are numerous reports of oxidization too, which further highlights the importance of proper maintenance. That said, when you consider the extremely low price point, it’s not that much of a surprise.

    It is important to season your cast iron pan properly to prevent it from rusting. Regularly seasoning your pan will maintain the natural nonstick surface and prolong the lifespan of your pan. Customers comment that the pan is heavier than other steak pans. The majority are pleased with their purchase and would recommend it. 

    Carbon Steel

    Carbon steel bridges the gap between durable and heavy, yet affordable cast iron cookware and lightweight, robust and expensive high-end stainless steel cookware. 

    It’s the happy medium of the cookware world.

    This style of pan has many of the positive qualities of cast iron and few drawbacks. However, this is only true of more expensive carbon steel products. The positives of budget carbon steel pans may not outweigh the negatives.

    Even though carbon steel is very robust, it’s surprisingly lightweight, giving you more control of your cookware and easier to handle for people who don’t have super strong hands. It reacts more quickly to temperature change, so you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up. While it doesn’t retain heat as competently as cast iron, carbon steel still performs relatively well in this department to the untrained eye.

    The smoother surface makes it more suitable for frying fragile foods like eggs and fish with a reduced risk of sticking.

    A carbon steel pan will usually arrive with a wax coating to prevent oxidization, which needs to be removed before seasoning to your satisfaction.

    Pros:

    • Lightweight
    • Smoother surface sears steak better than cookware with a rough surface
    • Retains heat relatively well
    • Can be used on all stove and cooker types and is over safe
    • No synthetic chemicals in the coating
    • Better non-stick properties than cast iron

    Cons:

    • High maintenance. Requires regular seasoning
    • Acidic foods will destroy the seasoning coat
    • Aggressive cleaning will remove the seasoning coat
    • Handles may get hot with use at high temperatures

    3. Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan, 14-Inch

    BEST CARBON STEEL FOR STEAK
    Sale 34%
    de Buyer - Mineral B Frying Pan - Nonstick Pan - Carbon and Stainless Steel - Induction-ready - 14"
    • Carbon Steel Pan: 99% iron and 1% carbon, slippery with better sear, without any synthetic coating
    • The Darker The Better: Signature beeswax finish protects against oxidation
    • Nonstick Kitchen Essentials: Has natural nonstick once seasoned; Follow seasoning care instructions
    • Made in France: Engineered and manufactured following the most stringent quality requirements
    • About de Buyer: French maker of premium kitchen accessories, pastry equipment, and cooking utensils

    De Buyers Mineral B carbon steel pan is both functional and healthy to use. The pan is PFOA and PTFE free so that it won’t contaminate your food with nasty toxins. It’s also made from 99% iron and is 100% natural.

    This pan does require seasoning, though you will need to remove that wax coating that covers the cookware first. Multiple consumers have expressed concerns regarding how much of a challenge it is to remove the wax.

    The manufacturer has a set of specific guidelines for optimal seasoning of your carbon steel pan, which includes ‘bee’s wax’ to help with seasoning, and a very gentle cleaning regimen. 

    The Mineral B frying pan excels at cooking steak thanks to its ability to reach high temperatures very quickly while simultaneously distributing and retaining heat, which helps preserve food’s vitamins and minerals.

    While it is possible to put this pan in the oven, you can only do so for a period of 20 minutes without exceeding 400F.

    Overall, customers love this pan and believe it is well worth the money.

    4. Lodge Carbon Steel Seasoned Frying Pan, 12-Inch

    ALTERNATIVE CARBON STEEL
    Sale 10%
    Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 12-inch
    • 14 GAUGE CARBON STEEL heats quickly and retains heat for even cooking; best for searing and browning
    • Use on gas, electric, induction stovetops, outdoor grills or open fire
    • Seasoned with oil for a natural, easy-release finish that improves with use. Its lightweight design and long, comfortable handle makes it easy to maneuver from the stove to the table
    • Easy care: hand wash, dry immediately, rub with cooking oil
    • Made in USA; Approx. 12" diameter rim to rim/9.875" bottom

    Lodge’s carbon steel pan can withstand exceedingly high temperatures, which is essential for searing and browning meat, the perfect conditions for cooking juicy steak.

    The pan’s thickness ensures it heats up quickly, without negatively impacting heat retention. Its sturdy construction is designed for use on all stoves and cookers styles and functions well at both high and low heat. However, it is a little heavier than competing carbon steel pans.

    As with most seasoned cookware, we recommend a couple of your own seasoning cycles before use for optimal non-stick properties.

    Though the pan’s quality is decent, consumers have noted that the pan could warp over time and that its rough surface makes it a challenge to season. However, most people love their pan and are glad they switched from cast iron to carbon steel.

    Stainless Steel

    A high-end stainless steel frying pan is the pinnacle of cookware, and in particular, they’re fantastic for cooking steak. Stainless steel is lighter than cast iron and carbon steel, yet it’s just as durable.

    This type of cookware has all the benefits of other frying pan and skillet styles and none of the pitfalls, except for the price point, which can become ludicrously high when you look at the premium quality stainless steel pans.

    Stainless steel is a relatively competent conductor of heat, though cookware brands recognize that steel is not the best metal to use, so many of them fit a central core of aluminum to give it a helping hand. Building up layers or ‘Ply’ helps increase durability and functionality, though more often than not, it also increases the price tag.

    Not only are stainless steel pans superb for cooking steak, but you’re also able to cook with them using acidic ingredients without fear of damaging the seasoning, as a seasoned coating isn’t required with stainless steel cookware.

    A lack of seasoning and non-stick coating also means you can use metal utensils with these pans, and they can be washed in a dishwasher with relative ease.

    Pros:

    • Superb heat conduction and retention
    • No time-consuming seasoning needed
    • Lightweight yet durable
    • Suitable for oven use
    • Not affected by acidic ingredients
    • You can use a metal utensil with this style of cookware
    • Dishwasher safe, easy to clean

    Cons:

    5. Made In 5-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan

    BEST STAINLESS STEEL FOR STEAK

    Made In Cookware 5-ply Fry Pan

    The Made In 5-ply fry pan gives you the premium performance of high-end cookware at a fraction of the cost:

    • 5-Ply construction for superior strength and warp resistance
    • Induction compatible. Dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 800F
    • Made In Cookware use a ‘direct to consumer’ business model to keep the price low
    • Made in the USA. American metals. American design. American quality
    • Limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind

    The ‘Stainless Clad Frying Pan’ from Made In is an award-winning piece of cookware, and one of the best-selling stainless steel fry pans on the market. Made In carefully selected a range of alloys with different properties to ensure their 5-ply cladding performs optimally in heating the pan quickly, efficiently, and evenly, without leaching nasty chemicals into your food.

    Available in three different sizes (12-inch, 10-inch, and 8-inch), this pan has substantial versatility. It’s lightweight for ease of use, and the stay-cool ergonomic handle is comfortable in your hand.  The pan is perfect for searing and frying and is even oven-safe up to 800F, so it’s possible to use it for roasting. 

    When you’re finished cooking, there’s no painstaking clean-up process. The Made In 5-ply frying pan is dishwasher safe, so it’s super simple to clean.

    Produced entirely in the USA, Made In’s 5-ply frying pan became an instant hit and allowed the company to grow; it is their flagship product. The company uses a ‘direct to consumer’ business model so that they can sell their cookware for a more affordable price point. Premium cookware for a reasonable cost makes it easy to see why this frying pan is enormously popular.

    6. All Clad D3 Stainless Steel Frying Pan, 10-inch

    ALTERNATIVE STAINLESS STEEL
    Sale 38%
    All-Clad D3 Fry Lid, 10 Inch Pan, Dishwasher Safe Stainless Steel Cookware, Silver, 10-Inch
    • A kitchen staple featuring a flat base and flared, mid-sized sides that allow for easy flipping and tossing
    • Classic tri-ply construction, made with a responsive aluminum core bonded together with 2 layers of durable, stainless steel all the way around for maximum durability and fast, even heat distribution
    • Secured with riveted stainless-steel handles to ensure a safe grip and to add a bit of style with stainless-steel lid to match
    • Compatible with all cooktops including induction, and oven and broiler-safe up to 600°F
    • 10-Inch covered fry pan with wide flat base and versatile low-profile shape

    The All-Clad stainless steel D3 frying pan is a 3-ply construction with a stainless steel outer layer and inner layer surrounding a central aluminum core. It has a decent capacity and good for searing a couple of medium-sized steaks.

    All-Clad produces this pan in the USA from American sourced materials, so the quality is excellent.

    This pan is designed for use with any style stove or cooker, and like the Made In frying pan, it can be used for cooking in the oven up to 600F so you can cook your steak to perfection.

    There are a couple of drawbacks to this piece of cookware as several consumers report the pan’s base can warp over time, and despite its smooth cooking surface, it can still be challenging to clean.

    If you’re after something more robust, a little larger, or more high-end, consider the All-Clad D5 pan, which is 5-ply rather than 3-ply.

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