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Misen/Background: Katsumi Murouchi/Getty Images

  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Quality/Ease of Use: 18/20
  • Aesthetics: 17/20
  • Nonstick Ability: 20/20
TOTAL: 95/100

We have serious love for cast-iron skillets. But even though they’re durable and retain heat like a charm, they’re also ridiculously heavy, tough to maneuver and poor heat conductors, if they’re much bigger than your burner. Stainless steel pans are lighter and easier to use, but they definitely don’t last as long. Behold, the best of both worlds: the Misen carbon steel pan.

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Misen/Background: amguy/Getty Images

What’s So Special About the Misen Carbon Steel Pan?

It’s made from carbon steel, which is super versatile and less porous than cast iron, meaning it requires very little oil or wax to be seasoned. (Proper seasoning is what makes the pan nonstick, but more on that later.) Carbon steel offers all the flexibility, durability and endurance of cast-iron, nonstick and stainless-steel pans. It’s essentially indestructible if cleaned properly over time and retains a searing-hot temperature, just like cast iron. Routine seasoning gives the pan a nonstick coating that will essentially last forever. Finally, it’s 42 percent lighter than cast-iron pans of the same diameter, so they’re as easy as stainless steel to maneuver (trust, your bulky skillet will feel pretty medieval once you have Misen’s alternative in your hand). Even better, the pan is compatible with just about every type of stove burner, as well as oven safe, meaning you can sauté, bake, fry and sear with ease.

While there are tons of carbon steel pans out there, this particular one has a few bonus perks. Its cooking surface is 20 percent larger than that of its competitors, meaning you can cook more food at once without overcrowding the pan. It also has high side walls, which not only reduce grease splatter, but also allow the airflow necessary for browning and searing. It’s also built with the strongest carbon steel possible: Its iron-to-carbon ratio strikes just the right balance between durable and lightweight.

The Misen carbon steel pan may not be the trendiest or prettiest cookware you’ve ever seen, but it’s *so* multipurpose, versatile and long-lasting. Its design and appearance are reminiscent of the pans used in restaurant kitchens (it is used by plenty of chefs, after all)—they’re plain, but easy to lift, move and cook with. So, if you’re shopping with utility in mind, you really can’t go wrong. Most importantly, it’s pretty darn affordable, starting at $55 for an eight-inch pan—quality carbon steel pans can cost anywhere from $80 to $200 a pop.

Misen

Is It *Really* Nonstick?

Yes—if you season it properly and routinely. Materials like carbon steel and cast iron retain microscopic layers of polymerized oil—that’s what you’re allowing to happen when you season the pan with wax or cooking oil. Over time, layers are baked into the metal when you season or cook with it, creating a patina, or natural nonstick layer, that’s free of chemicals.

The patina not only keeps food from sticking to the pan, but it also protects the pan from moisture. Some of you may see this pan’s aversion to water as a downside, but we find the seasoning process to be well worth it, since the reward is a pan that never needs to be replaced. (Also, isn’t there something so Zen about seasoning a skillet? No? Just us?) The pan can be washed with warm water, soap and a non-metallic brush or scrubber, but it will need to be dried and seasoned immediately after. (Sorry, dirty dish soakers.) And before you ask, it’s not dishwasher safe, since that could destroy the patina. Luckily, the upkeep is nothing to stress about—Misen has a ton of resources for fixing rust, a flaking patina, stickiness and more, plus a handy seasoning demo.

How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan

The first seasoning is super important, but it will take you about four hours if you really want to do it right. When the pan arrives, it’s covered in a protective beeswax coating, which can be scrubbed off under hot water or melted onto a baking sheet in the oven (be warned, this method may get a little smoky). Once the beeswax is melted and you’ve wiped off the excess, all it takes is blotting some cooking oil or seasoning wax on the pan with a paper towel and baking it in the oven for an hour three or four times until the pan starts to gain some color. (There’s also a way to do it on the stove if you’d like to save some time, but a forever pan is worth the wait in our book.)

After it’s seasoned, your once-silver pan will look sort of golden or brown in color. Over time, it’ll turn even darker, like borderline black. And that’s totally okay: Every carbon steel pan has a unique look, due to its patina gradually changing as its used. The first time you cook with it after the initial seasoning you may still need a bit of cooking fat to keep your food from sticking. (Although we fried an egg in the pan sans-oil after the four initial seasonings and it didn’t stick.) Eventually, once enough fats and oils have been soaked in, it’ll be nonstick on its own—and stay that way.

We know buying new cookware can feel like such a commitment. Thankfully, Misen offers a 60-day test option that allows you to try the pan for yourself no strings attached, plus a lifetime guarantee that you’ll get a replacement if anything ever happens to it.

Psst, you can get 20 percent off plus a complimentary seasoning wax (a $15 value) if you use the code “SZNURMZN”—act fast, since the deal is only eligible from June 22 through June 25.

Buy it (from $55)

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.

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