When it comes to searing the perfect steak, whether it’s classic cast iron, versatile carbon steel, or a sleek stainless steel, each material brings something unique to the table.
The perfect skillet for steaks is not just about build quality but also aligns with personal cooking styles and preferences.
As a former chef, I've encountered my fair share of perplexing steak orders – "medium-rare but with no blood" was always a puzzler! But through my experience, I learned that a top-notch skillet is as crucial as culinary expertise in achieving that sublime steak.
Weather can sometimes foil our grilling plans, pushing us to explore indoor options. This is where a trusty skillet comes to the rescue.
The Best Skillets For Steak
Delving into the world of skillets, we'll explore three popular types – cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel. Each has its advantages, and understanding these can help you find your ideal steak companion.
We’ve also curated a list of the top 5 skillets made from various materials, ensuring you have the perfect tool to cook an unforgettable steak.
Plus, don't miss our guide at the end of this article, detailing different types of skillets favored for steak preparation. It's an essential read for anyone serious about their steak game!
|Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
|De Buyer Carbon Steel Fry Pan
|Beeswax finish, 14″
|Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
|Tramontina Stainless Steel Fry Pan
|Induction stove safe, 12″
|Simple Chef Cast Iron Skillet Set
|Pre-seasoned, 10″, 8″, 6″
Read on to see more details on the features and drawbacks of each skillet included in the top 5. If you are looking for a solid investment, then definitely purchase the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, but if you are looking for value and a good range of different sizes for the one price, then purchase the Simple Chef Cast Iron Skillet Set.
1. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
The lodge is among the most popular brands of durable cookware. This special cast iron pan is guaranteed to last for a long time. It is pre-seasoned, ideal for all kinds of cooking, and particularly suitable for cooking stakes for searing. We recommend that you season the cast iron before your first time using it.
One of the major advantages of this cast-iron skillet is its hot handle holders included with the skillet. It is silicone and can protect your hands when the skillet is hot.
The handle can be useful in cooking as it increases the grip. We’ve already talked about the heavy cast iron skillets have, so an improved grip is an important benefit.
Not to be left out, you can cook this pan on the stovetop or oven, which is an added benefit.
- Made from cast iron, without synthetic chemicals
- This item comes with an authentic hand-crafted leather hot handle.
- Some of the drawbacks, in this case, are directly related to the materials used in cast iron.
- Cast iron cookware is more heavy and difficult to manage.
- It takes longer to warm up; however, while this may be a negative, it’s also beneficial as it holds the heat for longer.
2. De Buyer Carbon Steel Fry Pan
The skillet from De Buyer is entirely made of natural materials and is 99% pure iron. Although we have picked the largest model, you can opt for one of five small variations of this skillet if you do not require an enormous one.
Although these pans don’t appear attractive, the De Buyer uses beeswax to provide an extra layer of security against rust. It also helps improve the seasoning you’ll need to apply if you require a non-stick coating since the pan isn’t already seasoned.
This pan cooks very well and fast, even at high temperatures. It is also known for spreading heat evenly over all times. It can also be utilized for baking for short periods with temperatures up to 400 F.
- Made of 100 percent natural materials
- Protection against rust and oxidation by using beeswax
- It cooks well even at high temperatures.
- Apart from typical drawbacks associated with stainless steel cooking appliances, the main problem with the pan is that it doesn’t come pre- seasoned.
3. Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
We picked a second skillet made by Lodge due to the unparalleled high-end quality of the brand. This time, we’ve got the carbon steel skillet which is ideal for cooking steaks, and, as the name implies, it comes already seasoned. Again, there are various sizes. However, we went with the 12-inch one because the size is more practical.
This skillet stands out from this carbon-steel cookware set due to its thickness, which helps keep the heat longer than is typical. Even at these dimensions, it heats up quickly and efficiently and cooks flawlessly in low and high temperatures.
- The thick surface improves the retention of heat
- It cooks evenly at high temperatures, making it ideal for grilling a steak.
- Due to its additional thickness, the pan is not as lightweight as a standard carbon steel pan. However, the difference isn’t too significant.
4. Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Frying Pan
The name implies that the stainless steel skillet is constructed from a mixture of aluminum, stainless steel, and magnetized stainless steel. The structure helps distribute heat and also retention.
It is a stainless-steel skillet suitable for all kinds of cooking, including induction. In the past, we have discussed stainless steel; you can use this pan in the oven as long as it is kept at or below 500 F.
While stainless steel may not be the most durable material for cooking, Tramontina gives you a lifetime guarantee on the skillet. This is why you can easily obtain an exchange from the manufacturer even if the skillet fails to function for a decade.
- Tri-Ply structure made of aluminum, stainless steel as well as magnetic stainless steel
- Perfect heat distribution and retention
- Lifetime warranty
- This pan isn’t prepared for seasoning, which is unfortunate as the cost is considerably higher than the typical cast iron skillet, for instance.
5. Simple Cast Iron Chef Skillet 3-Piece Set
To finish our list on an optimistic note, we chose the cookware set, which is ideal for those who are just getting their kitchen set up. It has three skillets of cast iron in different sizes: 6, 8, or 10 inches.
The company is intriguing because it doesn’t have an official website or many details. They do, however, sell genuine cookware top-quality and are rapidly growing in recognition. Their marketing strategies are sporadic and often include competitors in their presentations of their products.
However, these three skillets are as durable as cast iron can get. You can be sure that your skillets will last for a long time.
Contrary to the majority of skillets available today, the three mentioned above are factory-prepared, and, according to the manufacturer, the seasoning is high enough not to cook at home. We strongly recommend that you try it.
Like all cast iron cookware, they can cook gradually but evenly, which makes them suitable for cooking steaks.
Last but not least, the package comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, which allows you to return the product for a full reimbursement if you aren’t satisfied within the first 30 days following the purchase.
- Three-cast iron skillets are heavy-duty and durable in various dimensions.
- 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- Cast iron is heavy and slow to heat.
- The absence of a dedicated website.
- If you’re used to buying from the most reputable brands, you might be cautious about less well-known brands such as Simple Chef.
The Most Popular Type of Skillets
While cast iron can be considered the best choice, you might prefer stainless steel or carbon steel cookware because it will match your taste in cooking. It’s good to know that there are plenty of options in every category.
1. Cast Iron Skillets
Cast iron is without doubt one of the strongest material used in cooking. It is thought to be the best option for searing steaks as they can hold and distribute high heat evenly.
The only issue is that it usually takes longer for a cast iron pan to warm up. However, it will keep the heat for a longer period of time.
Although most cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned, we recommend that you re-season yours before using them the first time. I’ve written a great guide on the best oils to season your cast iron skillet if you need to season the pan.
If you’re unfamiliar with the procedure, cast iron pans are coated using oils or other similar food ingredients to enhance the pan’s appearance. This makes it non-stick. At some point, you’ll need to season it after a certain amount of use to avoid damaging the surface.
If you take treatment of the cast iron skillet, it can last for a lifetime. Incredibly, it’s going to cook better over time and with use.
Pros of Cast Iron Skillet:
- The cast iron cookware is the only one that retains the heat.
- Cast iron is completely free of chemical additives, which is why many consider it a healthier alternative to other cookware products.
- Cast iron pans naturally enrich the iron content of your food, which is yet another health benefit.
- Although cast iron skillets might seem costly, they can last for a long time, which makes them an investment for a lifetime.
Cons of Cast Iron Skillet:
- Cast iron skillets will require seasoning.
- Cast iron skillets are constructed of one element that helps improve heating distribution while cooking; this means that the handle absorbs a significant amount of heat. You can burn yourself if you forget about this.
- Cast iron cookware is typically heavier, which makes it uncomfortable to handle for some.
- Cast iron skillets require more time to warm up.
2. Carbon Steel Skillets
Carbon steel cookware can be a commonly used option to cast iron, and it has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Carbon steel is too tough and long-lasting, but it will require additional maintenance. In contrast, to cast iron, it is necessary to be able to season it frequently for it to last.
Carbon steel cookware is more costly than cast iron skillets but is still a good investment for those who plan to use it.
Avoid cheaper alternatives as they are typically constructed from thin and cheap carbon steel, which doesn’t properly heat up and will not last very long.
As opposed to cast iron, steel is quick to heat up and can react quickly to temperature variations in the cooking process. However, it cools down quicker, so you shouldn’t expect it to keep the heat for a long time.
Pros of Carbon Steel Skillets:
- Carbon steel’s smooth, flat surface helps improve searing.
- Carbon steel pans and skillets are lightweight and comfortable to use.
- Carbon steel cookware is not contaminated with synthetic chemicals.
- The carbon steel pan will likely develop a non-stick coating as time passes if it is seasoned frequently.
Cons of Carbon Steel Skillets:
- Carbon steel disperses well and holds heat but doesn’t retain heat well.
- Carbon steel skillets require greater maintenance and periodic re-seasoning.
- The handle could become hot enough to be dangerous when you cook at high temperatures.
- Washing a carbon steel pan with regular soap removes the flavoring.
3. Stainless Steel
The primary benefit of stainless steel cooking equipment is that it can cook any food you want without harming the skillet or pan.
In contrast, in the case of carbon steel or cast iron, you must be careful of acidic food items that can harm the surface.
It is simple to warm up and is extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Because most stainless steel pots and pans are constructed by mixing various components that include a core constructed of something other than aluminum or copper, They distribute heat more effectively than other pans like carbon steel and cast iron.
Similar to this, pans made of stainless steel tend to be a bit more expensive; however, they will last many years when maintained.
Pros of Stainless Steel Skillets:
- You can cook any food, including steak, without risk of wear or damage.
- The stainless steel is lightweight and easy to work with.
- Stainless steel is easy to clean and can be placed in the dishwasher.
- Stainless steel distributes heat evenly and cook effectively when cooking at high temperatures.
Cons of Stainless Steel Skillets:
- Cookware made from stainless steel is usually higher priced than carbon steel or cast iron.
Should you put butter on cast iron for steak?
Yes, you can, and it adds extra flavor to the steak. Once the steaks are seared, butter is added to the skillet, adding a delicious richness and helping to brown the beef.