In this review, we are going to take you through all there is to know about the Debuyer Carbone Plus fry pans, and why they might be the best carbon steel choice for you. These pans have just recently become widely available in the U.S. and we can’t wait to share our experience.
Let’s dive straight in.
The Carbone Plus series captures the classic French design, that De Buyer has been known for since the 19th century. It was originally designed to be good at its main function, to cook food, and nothing else. There are no design elements of the pan that doesn’t serve a function directly related to cooking. It was not made with design in mind, it was made to be useful and cheap. But over the years, its simple nature and characteristics have become an icon that the Carbon Plus perfectly resembles.
The best part about the look of this pan is that it changes over time with the seasoning becoming darker and darker. It is fun to watch, and it feels like you’ve almost created the pan by yourself.
Even though there are cheaper alternatives, the De Buyer Carbone Plus is great value for money. It is substantially cheaper than the almost identical Mineral B pan from the same manufacturer, and also a lot cheaper than other pans with similar abilities.
You can check the current price on Amazon here:https://amzn.to/3ZaiGPY
The Carbone Plus fry pans are very good at cooking foods at both higher and lower temperatures. But it is at the high temperatures that these carbon steel pans exceed: they become very very hot, and not just in one place - the pan distributes heat evenly throughout itself, making it very good at searing meats and sautéing vegetables.
The Carbone Plus pans are also excellent at retaining heat, much like cast iron. The downside compared to cast iron is that the Carbone Plus series can only go in the oven for 10 minutes at a maximum of 205 C (400 F) because of the epoxy-coated handle. We have tested it for a lot longer without issues, but De Buyer doesn’t recommend going any longer or higher than this. The upside compared to cast iron, is that they are a lot lighter and easier to handle while still having almost the same cooking abilities.
The Carbone Plus pans are suited to cook almost anything, but they are, like most other carbon steel pans, not made for acidic foods. Acid will make your seasoning dissolve and you will have to re-season them. This means that lemon, tomatoes, wine, vinegar, and likewise should not go into your Carbone Plus pans too often. It can be fine in small amounts once in a while, but these pans are not made for simmering sauces of tomatoes or other acidic ingredients.
As it is with most Carbon steel pans, the Carbone Plus becomes naturally non-stick after it has been seasoned and keeps getting better the more you use it. These pans have no added chemicals unlike normal non-stick pans and are PTFE and PFOA free. Whereas a non-stick pan is best right out of the box, the Carbone Plus needs an initial layer of seasoning and then becomes better the more you cook with it and build up more layers of seasoning. But a traditional nonstick pan will last a couple of years, or until someone by mistake uses a metal spatula on it, while the Carbone Plus will last a century. It might not be quite as non-stick in the very beginning, but once you get it going, the non-stick performance will be almost, if not equally good as any actual non-stick pan.
Carbone Plus vs Mineral B
At a glance, the Carbone plus and the Mineral B carbon steel pans from De Buyer, seem almost identical. They have the same shape and come in the same types and sizes. And the base of the pan is a 2,5 mm thick pressed carbon steel plate, consisting of 99% iron and 1% carbon, and is exactly the same on both the Mineral B and the Carbone Plus series. So what’s the difference?
Well, it comes down to two slight differences: the beeswax and the handle.
The natural beeswax is the main selling point of the Mineral B series, other than the carbon steel base that both pans share. However, the beeswax doesn’t do much. Its only true function is to protect the pan from oxidation while being transported from the manufacturer In France to its destination, or while it’s sitting on a shelf waiting to be sold.
De Buyer also claims that the beeswax will aid a faster seasoning in the beginning. But at the same time, they also instruct the user to thoroughly remove all the beeswax before seasoning, which seemingly is very contradicting. Through our testing of different Mineral B and Carbone Plus pans, we have seen no difference between the two in how long it takes or how good the seasoning becomes.
To further diminish the case for the Mineral B, it has never been a problem for us with oxidation on any of the Carbone plus pans we have received. They all arrived just as clean as a Mineral B and without any signs of oxidation or rust. And even if you should somehow receive a rusty Carbone Plus, it’s fortunately quite easy to remove with a steel brush or something similar. You could actually argue that it’s easier to remove any rust that happens to be on a Carbone Plus than it is to remove the beeswax from a Mineral B - which can be a quite tedious task, and is obligatory before seasoning and using it. So, the beeswax is a rather pointless feature of the Mineral B series.
The other difference between the De Buyer Mineral B and Carbone Plus is the handles. They are both made from carbon steel with a coating of epoxy to make them transfer less heat and allow you to use the pans barehanded without getting burned. On paper, the handles are the same, but there is a clear visible difference between the two handles. The Mineral B handle has a more light grey color and it feels like the epoxy layer is quite thick, whereas on the Carbone Plus you could mistake it for not having any coating at all. However, they are both very good at keeping cool, and functioning wise there is very little difference between the two. The difference is mostly a matter of personal preference: the Mineral B handle gives the pan a slightly more modern look, while the Carbone Plus stays more authentic to its old French design.
You can read our full review of the Mineral B series here: [Review] De Buyer Mineral B
De Buyer has been know to make cookware that will outlive their owners multiple times. The Carbone Plus is probably no exception of this. The build quality is really good, and it feels very sturdy in the hand. The handle is secured with three big rivets that isn’t going anywhere.
We have heard some stories where the pans have warped slightly when used for the first time on either an electric stove or induction. But, in our testing it has not happened even if we took a cold pan and put it over max heat on induction. However, it might be a good idea to heat it gradually if you’re using any of these heat sources.
The De Buyer Carbone Plus fry pans work on all heat sources. They work on Induction, gas, electric, in the oven, and even over an open fire. But gas is the far superior heat source for The Carbone Plus pans.
Gas is the best source of distributing heat evenly while having full control of the heat and without the risk of warping the pan. Even though these carbon steel pans are great at distributing heat, they just can’t distribute the instantaneous power of induction fast enough, and it will leave us with the outer areas of the pan a lot cooler than the center.
To get the best results no matter which heat source you’re using, always aim to match the size of the pan with the size of the burner.
Ease of use
While the Carbone Plus fry pans are easier to handle than cast iron skillets and quite a bit lighter, they still don’t come close to using a pan made from aluminum or stainless steel. They are heavy pans - the 32 cm (12.5 inches) pan comes in at just over 2.3 kg, double the weight of a high-quality thick aluminum pan of the same size. This of course makes them harder to maneuver around the kitchen. However, most people will still be able to hold the big pan (32 cm) one-handed and do a couple of tosses. It’s quite the workout, but it is possible unlike with a cast iron skillet of this size. When The Carbone Plus series exceeds 32 cm there will be an additional round handle on the opposite side for easier handling.
The handle is not very ergonomically shaped, since the design is more than a hundred years old. But it’s alright actually, not completely terrible. It’s nice to have the hole at the end of the handle, which makes it possible to hang them in your kitchen and always have a pan on hand.
It might sound like the pans are not so much fun to use, but that’s completely wrong. They are very rewarding to use, and it truly feels like there are no limitations to what you can do with them. It also feels like you’ve really earned your meal once you’re done cooking because you can still feel it in your arms.
Seasoning and care
As mentioned above, it is necessary to season The Carbone Plus pans before they can be used for the first time. If you don’t do this, the food you will cook the first many times will just stick to the pan and it’s not going to be fun.
Seasoning is a process that involves cleaning the pan and then burning ultra-thin layers of vegetable oil onto the surface that then creates a natural and harmless non-stick surface. Not only will the seasoning make your food slip and slide around in the pan, but it will also protect the pan against iron's worst enemy: corrosion.
Seasoning a carbon steel pan can be difficult, and there are many different takes on how to do it - most of them are not very effective and take too long time. That's why we’ve put together a simple step by step guide to get the best seasoning on your new carbon steel pan: 7 Steps to Properly Season a Carbon Steel Pan
Follow this routine every time you use your Carbone Plus pan, and you will be rewarded with a beautiful pan that’s non-stick and will last you forever.
1. Wash it
Cleaning your Carbone Plus pans should only be done in hand and without using soap or detergent as it will make your seasoning dissolve. Just use hot water and a soft sponge to clean the pan.
Too much scrubbing with a harder sponge or brush will take off some of the seasoning. If you have something that’s stuck, try deglazing it before washing. Since it's made mostly of iron, it will corrode if you leave it to soak for a long time. But you should be able to soak it for five minutes without any problems.
2. Dry it
The same goes for drying the pan. You have to wipe it completely dry or it will start to corrode as well. If you really want to make sure your pan doesn’t corrode and you can get that perfect black seasoning over time, you can put the pan back on the heat for a couple of minutes after it's been washed and wiped dry. Then the very last bits of water will evaporate.
3. Store it
Before storing in a dry place, you must put one drop of vegetable oil on your pan and wipe it around the pan(front and back) using a paper towel. This, again, protects the pan from corrosion and also aids further seasoning of your pan.
Different versions and sizes
The De Buyer Carbone Plus series consists of many different fry pans and pots. You can get grill pans, crêpe pans, blinis pans, omelet pans, oval pans, woks, and more. So there should be a version for whatever need you have.
The normal Carbone Plus fry pans come in sizes ranging from 18 cm (7.1 inches) all the way up to 50 cm (19,5 inches). One thing to keep in mind when shopping for these pans is that the measurements are the diameter at the top of the pan. The actual cooking surface is 8 cm (3.15 inches) smaller because of the sloped edges.
We recommend getting the 24 cm (9.5 inches) as a medium size pan, and the 30 or 32 cm (11.8 or 12.5 inches) as a full-size pan if you’re just starting out.
You can check the available sizes here:https://amzn.to/3ZaiGPY
The De Buyer Carbone Plus is quite possibly the best carbon steel pan out there right now. It’s is almost identical to the incredible and much appreciated Mineral B series, but only a lot cheaper and maybe even slightly better. The Carbone Plus has excellent cooking abilities and is a thrill to use. It’s built rock solid and will last you a lifetime - it's everything you want from a carbon steel pan at a very competitive price. That's why it's currently our favorite carbon steel pan!