Are you shopping for new cookware and wondering if the Misen carbon steel pan lives up to the hype? Perhaps you are even wondering what carbon steel is.
This type of cookware is being advertised as the lighter, hassle-free version of cast iron.
But are these claims true, and is the Misen carbon steel pan any good?
In this review, I break down the pros and cons of the Misen carbon steel pan.
You’ll learn whether carbon steel is right for your kitchen and if the Misen pan is worth it.
Let’s get started.
Use the links below to navigate the review:
- What Is Carbon Steel Cookware?
- Cooking Performance
- Seasoning Process
- Cleaning and Care
- FAQs About Misen Carbon Steel Pans
- Bottom Line: Is the Misen Carbon Steel Pan Worth It?
What Is Carbon Steel Cookware?
Before I get into the review of Misen, it’s important to understand the basics of carbon steel cookware.
Carbon steel is a metal alloy made of about 99% iron and 1% carbon. Its composition is similar to cast iron, which has 2-4% carbon.
Because the composition is similar, carbon steel cookware performs similarly to cast iron. Both are incredibly durable and have a high heat tolerance.
And like cast iron, carbon steel cookware is highly reactive. You can cook almost anything in it, except for acidic food. Tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, and other highly acidic foods will strip off the seasoning and react with the metal, resulting in a metallic taste.
However, carbon steel has some distinct advantages over cast iron. Due to the alloy’s lower percentage of carbon, it’s more malleable, allowing manufacturers to make the walls of carbon steel thinner than cast iron. With thinner walls, the cookware heats faster and more evenly, similar to stainless steel.
Another benefit of carbon steel is that it provides the utility of non-stick cookware when it is adequately seasoned.
Bottom line — carbon steel cookware is versatile, durable, and has high heat tolerance. It’s been prevalent in commercial kitchens for years, and it’s quickly gaining popularity among home cooks thanks to brands like Misen and Made In that have done a great job educating shoppers on the benefits of carbon steel.
Sure, it’s a bit higher maintenance than other types of cookware, but the results are worth it.
Out of the box, the exterior and cooking surface has a flat grey color.
But don’t get too used to that color because a brown patina develops after seasoning and several uses. The brown color gets deeper as you build up layers of seasoning.
The handle is attached to the pan with two rivets and has a removable blue silicone handle sleeve.
It curves upward right where it connects to the pan and flattens into a slight incline. That design helps you keep your hand safely away from the heat while still maintaining good control.
Speaking of control, unlike Misen stainless steel handles, which are rounded, the carbon steel pan handles are flat. This design helps you control the tilt and prevents the handle from rotating when you pour ingredients.
Instead of carbon steel, the handle is made of brushed stainless steel, which doesn’t conduct heat as well, allowing it to stay cool on the stove.
The blue silicone sleeve keeps the handle even cooler. I recommend keeping the sleeve on the handle whenever the pan isn’t going in the oven.
The pan shape is similar to most American-style pans, with sides that flare out from the cooking surface.
That shape is excellent for searing food because it provides a larger cooking surface and allows more moisture to escape the bottom of the pan, giving you a better crust.
The Misen carbon steel pan is simple and functional, similar to the pans you’ll find in any commercial kitchen.
The most significant advantage of Misen’s carbon steel pans is their versatility; you can cook almost anything that isn’t acidic.
Once they are properly seasoned, these pans are great for searing, roasting, and frying almost anything.
The Misen carbon steel pan has an extremely high heat tolerance. Without the silicone handles, the pan is oven-safe up to 900°F, and, with the silicone, it’s safe up to 500°F.
For comparison, Misen stainless steel cookware is oven-safe up to 500°F, and its non-stick pans are oven-safe up to 450°F.
That high heat tolerance allows you to get the pan piping hot before adding ingredients, which is ideal for searing. Take a look at the golden crust I was able to get on these pork chops:
In general, carbon steel takes longer to heat up than stainless steel. This pan takes even longer due to its 3mm thick walls. But it still heats up faster than cast iron, and once these pans are hot, they retain heat very well.
A well-seasoned carbon steel pan isn’t as slick as a non-stick pan, but it’s close. If you heat it on medium and grease it properly, food should not stick to the surface.
The one exception is eggs. Cooking eggs in a carbon steel pan can be a bit more difficult, especially if the pan is new.
Fried eggs will quickly release from the cooking surface and slide around a non-stick pan.
That isn’t how it works with a carbon steel pan.
You will need oil or fat to make eggs in a carbon steel pan. And if your pan isn’t perfectly seasoned, the eggs will stick. See the photo below.
Eggs aside, Misen’s carbon steel pans are great at cooking pretty much anything. You can sear meat, roast vegetables, and fry chicken. As far as culinary techniques, this pan can do just about anything except cooking acidic ingredients. The acidity will strip the seasoning.
Misen carbon steel pans are easy to maneuver because of the flat handle. You can keep a firm grip on the handle and easily control the tilt of the pan.
The silicone sleeve is comfortable to hold and protects your hands from the heat.
This pan takes multiple layers of seasoning until it is truly non-stick. Even if you do five or more layers of initial seasoning, you’ll need to use oil in the pan for at least the first month.
However, once it is seasoned, it is good to go.
Overall, it is higher-maintenance than stainless steel or non-stick cookware, but it lasts longer, boasts higher heat tolerance, and is more versatile.
All carbon steel pans require seasoning, including Misen.
And, since it’s such a critical part of using carbon steel, I’m going to quickly cover the best way to season a Misen carbon steel pan.
With proper seasoning, Misen carbon steel pans will have non-stick qualities. However, it takes multiple layers of seasoning and several uses for the seasoning to build up properly, so you will need to use plenty of oil and fat until then.
Here’s the best way to season a Misen carbon steel pan:
- When you receive your Misen carbon steel pan, the first thing you need to do is clean off the protective wax — just lightly scrub the pan with a sponge and hot water.
- Then, dry the pan completely with a paper towel.
- Next, put the pan on a stovetop, and put a few drops of oil in the pan. Misen sells a carbon steel seasoning wax, which is a blend of soybean oil, coconut oil, and beeswax. But you can use any high smoke point oil (soybean, grapeseed, and avocado oils work great).
- Spread the oil (or wax) with a paper towel on the inside and outside of the pan (everywhere but the handle). If you’re using wax, you might need to heat the pan on the stove to melt the wax before you spread it. If the oil begins to pool, keep spreading it around with a paper towel.
- Allow the pan to heat on low or medium until the pan begins smoking.
- Then, take it off the heat, rub away extra oil, and let the pan cool.
Alternatively, after covering the interior and exterior with oil, you can place the pan (cooking surface down) in an oven that’s been preheated to 400°F. Let it bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Then, turn the heat off and let it cool down in the oven.
If you choose this method, remember to remove the silicone handle before placing the pan in the oven and put a baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any excess dripping oils.
For best results, repeat the process four or five more times.
When you cook with your Misen carbon steel pan, you should still use cooking oil, at least the first few times.
Over time, the seasoning will create a naturally non-stick surface, and greasing the pan before adding ingredients won’t be necessary.
Cleaning and Care
The cleaning process for Misen carbon steel cookware is very similar to cleaning cast iron.
First, clean your pan with hot water and a soft scrubber or sponge. Don’t use a metal scrubber, and don’t use soap. Just wipe out excess oil and food bits, and dry the pan thoroughly (inside and out) with a paper towel.
Then, place your pan on the stove on low heat to evaporate any lingering moisture. Moisture causes carbon steel to rust, so it’s imperative to dry the pan completely.
After the pan has heated through, apply a thin coat of oil to the interior and exterior, and let it cool. Wipe away any excess oil and put the pan away.
It’s a similar process to cleaning cast iron, and, like cast iron, never put your carbon steel pan into a dishwasher. The harsh detergents will ruin the seasoning and can cause lasting damage to your pan.
Just because Misen carbon steel pans perform well doesn’t mean there aren’t some downsides.
First, this pan is quite heavy. The different sizes of Misen carbon steel pans weigh:
- Misen 8-inch carbon steel pan: 2.4 lb
- Misen 10-inch carbon steel pan: 3.8 lb
- Misen 12-inch carbon steel pan: 4.6 lb
- Misen 8-inch non-stick pan: 1.8 lb
- Misen 10-inch non-stick pan: 2.85 lb
- Misen 12-inch non-stick pan: 3.1 lb
- Misen 8-inch stainless steel pan: 1.85 lb
- Misen 10-inch stainless steel pan): 2.9 lb
- Misen 12-inch stainless steel pan: 3.6 lb
Cast iron pans typically weigh between 4 and 12 lbs, with the average 12-inch cast iron pan weighing about 8 lbs.
So, Misen carbon steel pans are noticeably lighter than cast iron, but they are still much heavier than stainless steel or non-stick.
These pans also take longer than average to heat up due to the increased thickness of the walls. If you are impatient, it can be tempting to throw your food in the pan before it’s heated up. But, you have to wait for the best results.
Greasing the Misen carbon steel pan or adding ingredients before the pan is heated enough guarantees food will stick.
Speaking of food, you can cook most ingredients in carbon steel, but you can’t cook anything acidic. That includes tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, etc.
If you cook acidic foods in a carbon steel pan, it will strip the seasoning, give your food a metallic taste, and ruin the protective barrier you spend so much effort creating.
I made that mistake with the Made In carbon steel pan, and you can see the results below:
Lastly, the Misen carbon steel pan (and all carbon steel cookware for that matter) is high maintenance, especially compared to stainless steel and non-stick pans.
You need to season it properly and continue to oil it after each cleaning. If you don’t season it correctly, your food will stick. And, if you don’t dry and oil it after you clean it, your pan will rust.
Finally, as a reminder, never put your carbon steel pan in the dishwasher; doing so will ruin the seasoning.
Carbon steel cookware is more affordable than stainless steel and much more affordable than copper.
And, within the carbon steel cookware market, Misen is competitively priced. They can offer lower prices because they avoid retail markups by only selling the carbon steel pans on Misen.com.
Misen’s biggest competitor, Made In, sells carbon steel pans in the same sizes. Misen’s pans are priced similarly or just a bit less.
When you consider the fact that these pans can last forever, these prices are an incredible value.
FAQs About Misen Carbon Steel Pans
This section will answer any outstanding questions you have about the Misen carbon steel pan.
Yes, the Misen carbon steel pan is oven- and broiler-safe up to 900°F without the silicone sleeve. With the sleeve, it’s oven-safe up to 500°F; however, it’s not broiler-safe.
Yes, carbon steel is mostly made of iron, which is magnetic. So carbon steel pans are induction-compatible.
All Misen cookware is designed in New York and manufactured right outside of Shanghai, China.
Currently, Misen carbon steel cookware is only available on Misen.com. However, the brand recently started selling its stainless steel cookware and kitchen knives on Amazon, so I’d expect the carbon steel pan will be available there soon, too.
Misen has a 60-day return policy. To initiate a return, send an email with the subject “return” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Misen doesn’t explicitly offer a written warranty, but the company does advertise a lifetime guarantee on its carbon steel cookware’s product page.
I reached out to Misen to clarify, and they said you can return any item within 60 days, no questions asked. If there’s a quality issue with the pan after that time, the customer service team will offer options, such as a replacement. However, there is no official warranty.
Theoretically, carbon steel can warp or crack, but you would need to heat or cool it incredibly fast. If you are just cooking and cleaning your pan normally, it shouldn’t ever warp. Learn more about why pans warp in this quick guide.
Since carbon steel is durable and scratch-resistant, you can use any utensils with it. However, to avoid scraping off the seasoning, it’s best to use high-temperature silicone or wood utensils.
Misen was founded by Omar Rada in 2015. The company began with funding from a Kickstarter campaign. At the beginning, it only offered a single chef’s knife. Now, the company offers a complete line of professional cookware and prep tools, and the small team has grown to a robust operation.
The name Misen is a play on “mise en place,” which is the French culinary term that refers to preparing all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Misen believes that proper preparation includes having the right tools available for the job, which the company aims to supply.
Bottom Line: Is the Misen Carbon Steel Pan Worth It?
Overall, carbon steel cookware is extremely versatile and reliable, and Misen’s lineup of pans is one of the best options available.
What makes the Misen carbon steel pan stand out?
- It can tolerate up to 900°F in the oven (most can only handle up to 600°F).
- The flat handle makes it easy to control and prevents the pan from rotating.
- The silicone sleeve keeps the handle cool and provides a secure grip.
- Compared to the competition, the flared sides provide a wider cooking surface, allowing you to sear larger cuts of meat or reduce sauces quickly.
- The walls are 3mm thick, making the pan more durable and improving heat retention.
- It’s affordable, and you can try it out risk-free for 60 days.
While the pans are heavy and require maintenance, you can’t argue with the results. These pans sear meat and roast vegetables as well as cast iron, yet they’re lighter, heat up faster, and are much easier to maneuver.
Sure, you can’t cook acidic foods and sauces, and making perfect eggs is more challenging, but that’s the case with every carbon steel pan.
The thick walls make the pans virtually indestructible and give them a sturdy feel. Simply put, these pans are workhorses, and they will last forever if you take care of them.
If you want a carbon steel pan that is lighter and heats faster than Misen, check out the Made In carbon steel pan.
If you are ready to grab some Misen carbon steel pans or want to read more reviews, check them out on Misen.com.
- Misen Cookware In-Depth Review (With Pictures)
- HexClad vs. Misen Cookware: An In-Depth Comparison
- Misen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review (With Pictures)
- Made In vs. Misen: Which Cookware and Kitchen Knives Are Better?
- Is Made In Cookware Any Good? An In-Depth and Unbiased Review
- Carbon Steel vs. Cast Iron Cookware: 10 Differences You Need to Know
- Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel Pans: What’s the Difference?
- Carbon Steel Cookware Pros and Cons: 17 Things to Know Before You Buy