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8-Inch Carbon-Steel Skillet

Published November 2018
More on the Best Carbon-Steel Skillets
We also love the 12-inch and 10-inch versions of this skillet. Our full review of carbon-steel skillets with detailed brand comparisons is available here.

How we tested

Carbon-steel skillets, once rarely found outside restaurant kitchens, are being embraced by home cooks for their light weight, versatility, heat retention, and durability. We’re converts, too: In our review of 12-inch carbon-steel pans, we found that carbon steel sears like cast iron, performs like tri-ply, and is as slick as nonstick.

For most home kitchens, we recommend a 12-inch carbon-steel skillet (a size roomy enough for cooking up to six portions of food), but smaller skillets also have their place in the kitchen. We particularly like a small skillet when we’re cooking for one—scrambling a couple of eggs or searing a solitary fish fillet. Smaller skillets are also handy for toasting nuts, browning butter, and other tasks that require just a bit of space.

In our review of full-size carbon-steel skillets, we gave top marks to the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 11⅞", praising its nonstick performance, searing capability, and comfortable, long handle. To see if our recommendation would hold true for a smaller size, we tested a smaller version of the Matfer pan (this model is sold as "8⅝ inches" but can be considered comparable to other skillets within the 8-inch realm), using it to toast almonds, brown butter, and cook Perfect Scrambled Eggs for One. (We also tested and recommended the 10-inch version of this pan.)

As with the 12- and 10-inch versions, we loved this skillet’s solid construction, smooth interior, and ergonomically angled handle. Once we’d seasoned the pan using the company’s instructions (which we’ve since adopted as our preferred method for seasoning carbon-steel pans), it performed, for the most part, flawlessly: Scrambled eggs slid right onto a plate, almonds toasted evenly, and butter browned beautifully.

Our one complaint is that the cooking surface is cramped, even for a small pan; it measures about 5.8 inches across, compared to 6.45 inches in our favorite traditional 8-inch cast-iron skillet. This pan also has high sides that made it feel even tinier and failed to protect us from mishaps that arose due to the small cooking surface: When we were browning a whole stick of butter, one slip of the spatula sent butter spilling over the side of the skillet. However, a few tablespoons or a half stick of butter fit just fine.

If you’re looking for a small carbon-steel skillet, we can recommend the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 8⅝". While the cooking surface was a bit small, the pan heated and handled effortlessly.


Methodology

We tested the 8⅝-inch version of our top-rated carbon-steel skillet, using it to cook Perfect Scrambled Eggs for One, to toast almonds, and to brown a stick of butter. To assess how the 8⅝-inch skillet compared to the 12- and 10-inch versions, we weighed, measured, and visually compared the three skillets.

Cooking: We scrambled two eggs (and one yolk), toasted ½ cup of almonds, and browned one stick of butter. We looked for fluffy scrambled eggs with no off-flavors, evenly toasted nuts, and nutty, deeply colored (but not burnt) browned butter.

Nonstick Ability: The pan received high marks if it consistently released food without sticking.

Ease of Use: We considered design factors such as shape, weight, and thickness as well as the angle, length, and comfort of the handle. We also rated the pan higher if it was easier to clean.

Capacity: We took note of how much food could comfortably fit in the skillet.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*