I Normally Swear by Nonstick Pans, but I'm Obsessed with Made In's Easy-to-Use Carbon Steel Skillet

 A simple-to-clean surface with superior heat retention. 

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Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
Photo: Courtesy of Made In

I've long sworn by nonstick skillets — especially throughout the early pandemic. For many months, I cooked three meals a day for myself in a space that lacked a dishwasher, which meant I was the dishwasher. So every night when I'd craft myself elaborate meals, I'd reach for my faithful nonstick skillet because I knew it would be quick and easy to clean.

And while I certainly do rely on that same pan to scramble eggs or fry fat squares of tofu,Made In recently sent me its new pre-seasoned carbon steel skillet to test out, and it has seriously changed my cooking and cleaning routine.

If you're unfamiliar with carbon steel pans, here's how I would best describe them: The pans are the best of both worlds, a hybrid of nonstick, cast iron, and stainless steel. These skillets are often relied on in professional kitchens, since they're durable and offer powerful heat retention.

Made In's latest carbon steel pan should be a staple in home kitchens as well. Unlike previous models, this skillet comes pre-seasoned, so it's nonstick out of the box. It isn't absolutely lightweight, but it's much easier to lift than a typical cast iron pan. Plus, thanks to its heat-proof, curved handle, you'll have much better control as you cook.

Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
Courtesy of Made In

To buy: Made In 10-Inch Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan, Pre-Seasoned, $109 at madeincookware.com

The first thing I did after receiving this pan was sear and shallow-fry foods high in fat, like slabs of steak and bacon. This helps to further develop the patina (and turn the pan even more naturally nonstick). Make sure not to add acidic-heavy foods to the pan, like tomatoes, vinegars, citruses, or wine, since this will strip the seasoning. Even after the first use, I noticed that the pan was wonderfully nonstick; the hunks of chicken I cooked moved around effortlessly without latching onto the bottom.

The pan retained heat very well too. I didn't have to wait long after turning on the burner for the oil to be hot. I cooked on medium-low heat, which allowed the chicken to brown and crisp up without automatically burning. Plus, I appreciated how deep the pan was so that my stovetop wasn't immediately splattered with excess oil and juices.

If you've long been turned off by cast iron or carbon steel because you've heard how difficult it is to clean, Made In provides plenty of detailed instructions on how to properly clean the cookware. There are a few different ways, but I would recommend this: After cooking, allow the skillet to come to room temperature, then apply coarse salt directly to the pan and rub it around with a paper towel. This will help release any stuck-on bits without having to use harsh soap and water that will strip the seasoning.

In terms of the rest of the specs, the skillet is oven-safe up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can be used on both induction and glass cooktops. The pre-seasoned pan is available in 10- and 12-inch sizes, and shoppers can also choose an 8-inch skillet if they want to season themselves. And as a reminder, these pans should never go in the dishwasher.

Head to Made In to snag one of these pre-seasoned carbon steel skillets for as little as $109. If you're anything like me, you'll soon notice that your once beloved nonstick skillet is starting to collect dust.

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