I completely understand those days when you want a good ol’ steak prepared on the plate ready to eat. However, it is just sometimes unfortunate that the weather doesn’t cooperate or you don’t have the griller in your backyard, hence forcing you to think of a different technique to cook your steak.
Going to an expensive restaurant, on the other hand, is sometimes (or perhaps, often) not the ideal choice when you just want to eat steak on an average day. This then leaves you with just one option: run to your kitchen and employ the searing technique!
For beginners, searing or browning is cooking your meat at very high heat with very little oil in your pan. Now, your objective is not to cook the food entirely but to let it develop a dark brown and caramelized crust on the outside.
Why waste my time searing when I can just cook my meat right off the bat? Well, searing is one of the most critical steps to build your meat’s flavor. It gives the meat the certain deeply savory flavor that makes your meat different from just basically cooking it.
Searing your meat is not one of the significant steps to cooking your meat, but it is an extra step to make your food turn from good to fantastic.
But of course, you can’t have your perfect searing technique without your good, trusty pan. Hence, I’ve made a list of some of the best pans for browning or searing that could help you!
Best Pans For Browning Or Searing Compared and Reviewed
|Top||Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 10.25 Inch Dia||Lodge||Check prices on Amazon|
|MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan 14-Inch||De Buyer||Check prices on Amazon|
|All-Clad 440465 D3 Stainless Steel All-in-One Pan Cookware, 4-Quart, Silver||All-Clad||Check prices on Amazon|
|Mauviel M'Steel, carbon, nonstick fry pan, 14 Inch, Black Steel||Mauviel||Check prices on Amazon|
|Tramontina’s Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Pan||Tramontina||Check prices on Amazon|
1. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned with Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 10.25 Inch Dia
This Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is an improvement of their old iron skillet that they have previously released. This specific unit provides superior heat retention and can still distribute the heat well to sear your meat evenly.
If you’re into camping, this pan is suitable for all types of tops. This can be used at home in the oven, on the stove, on the grill, and even over the campfire you’ve set up. This feature caught my eye with this product that definitely speaks of its versatility and durability.
This cast iron pan is an excellent alternative to nonstick cooking surfaces. This pan has a natural nonstick and even has a pre-seasoned with oil for a natural easy-release finish that improves after many uses.
A pre-seasoned oil does the job for most Lodge cast iron skillets because it proves that your skillet is surely safe, with no synthetic coatings or chemicals that can leak into your food. Moreover, the pre-seasoned oil is 100% vegetable oil that will improve the more you use your skillet.
You can trust your cast iron skillets to be durable and keep your food warm for quite a long time. This can also be used for frying, broiling, grilling, baking, and more.
2. MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan 14-inch
De Buyer’s MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan takes pride in its safe materials that will inevitably not leak into the food you’re making. Carbon Steel is also known for holding heat well and is relatively lighter than some metals.
I take careful consideration of what I put in my body, not just with the food I take in, but also how and where it was made. So I like that this pan is free from Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a plastic, silicone-based material used in cookware.
PTFE makes your pan non-stick. Many are concerned with PTFE’s bad effects because it can break down when it gets too hot. And when that happens, chemicals go into your food that’s not supposed to.
However, the absence of PTFE on this MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan doesn’t automatically mean that it no longer has the non-stick properties. Instead, the pan has 100% Natural Beeswax finish. This pan remains naturally non-stick.
PFOA or Perfluorooctanoic acid is another material used in many industrial pans and is linked to many health concerns. However, you don’t have to worry because this pan is also PFOA free, making it entirely safe for you and the food you’re making and consuming.
The makers of this pan thought about the health of the consumer, and as a health advocate myself, this alone would make me buy this pan despite it being a bit expensive.
When using pans for a long time, you will surely notice the loosening rivets that detach the handle from the pan itself. However, this will no longer be the case with this pan because of the high-quality carbon steel rivets installed.
This is 2.5-3mm thick and has an ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip and balance. Moreover, the handle design makes it perfect for your searing, sauteing, stirring, and flipping.
3. All-Clad 440465 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe 4-QT Weeknight Pan
I always like to recommend that those who are new to searing purchase a starter pan. I think this is a good option when you’re only starting to explore the searing technique as it takes away all intimidations and is very easy to handle.
Starter pans ensure that they’re relatively light and have good heat distribution. This stainless steel pan is graded 18/10, which means that you have 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel.
I think this ratio is the best percentage because it provides the best protection from corrosion and keeps high quality while not imposing health risks.
This stainless steel is dishwasher-safe so you don’t have to overthink how to clean and maintain your pan. This is also a multi-purpose pan that is ideal for all kinds of preparations like sauteing, simmering, braising, and searing.
The dimensions of this pan is wide enough for searing and liquid reduction, and also able large foods to fit under the lid without having to worry about overcrowding. The lid is snug enough on the rim of the pan to allow for drip-less pouring.
All-Clad is famous for their stainless steels. Stainless steels are long-lasting and definitely durable. This uncoated stainless steel is one of the best choices for browning or braising.
Stainless steels are also known for providing quick and even distribution of heat. They’re also easy to maintain and clean.
4. Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Nonstick Fry Pan
Made of extra-thick Black Steel with riveted steel handles, this Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Nonstick Fry Pan definitely proves itself to be one of the most durable pans in the market. This is made out of carbon steel which gives a faster reaction to adjustment to heat. I like to call this the big boy’s pan.
The steel material used in this pan can withstand high temperatures that allows longer preheating, which is excellent for stir-frying, searing, and more. You can also use this for the majority of the cook-tops like induction stoves.
This is also made use of Beeswax that prevents it from rusting and also allows you to save time when seasoning. During your first use, wash this pan with hot water to remove the beeswax residue from the entire pan.
To ensure its longevity, do not use dish soap. Wash in hot water and use a soft sponge. Don’t forget to dry it thoroughly before storing.
Take note that you should not remove the black layer that formulates at the bottom of the pan. In the long run, you will notice the pan darkening, but this will make a more naturally nonstick surface.
5. Tramontina’s Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Pan
This 18/10 stainless steel grade provides help to lock in nutrients and heat, helping you sear your meat quickly and evenly. This pan is very durable and resistant to environmental effects because of its clad construction. Moreover, its tri-ply feature provides a good heat distribution from all sides of the pan; not just the bottom.
The handles are as well riveted for stability and extra support when handling your pan while cooking. This is relatively light, making your cooking work less hassle for you.
This pan is compatible with all cooktops, including induction stoves. If you’re planning to use this for professional use or as your go-to pan, this could be a perfect one for you because it can definitely withstand demanding environments
My Top Choice
Key Considerations When Looking For pans for browning or searing
When buying your pans or any cookware, you must always keep an eye for many things. Other than these pans being offered at a pretty high price, your health could as well be affected because of the risks the material poses.
When choosing a pan, you should always look for the pan that you want to use for a long time. This means that your pan should be both comfortable and ergonomic to give you maximum performance in the kitchen.
I’ve listed some buying guidelines that you might want to check first before locking your decision in on which pan to purchase. However, with all these guides, the final decision should always be about what works for you best.
When purchasing a pan, nonstick pans always sound the best option most especially when you’re going to make this as your primary pan at home. However, when searing, you should always look out for those pans that are made out of natural nonstick coating, rather than the manufactured nonstick.
Pans that have the material made out of manufactured nonstick are oftentimes not designed to cook at high temperatures. This is crucial because searing or browning requires you to sear your meat at a certain level of high temperature. More often than not, these kinds of pans can pose risks to your health when used at this temperature level.
Manufactured nonstick pans are also very faithful to their non-stick promise. This is not really ideal for searing because the technique requires the meat to actually stick to the pan for a bit to caramelize it and give it the right color.
Natural non-sticks are the best option when searing because they do not only give your searing technique easy, but they are also safe with no synthetic coating.
Some of the pans that have good natural non-sticks are Lodge Cast Iron Skillet for its pre-seasoned 100% vegetable oil, and MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan and Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Nonstick Fry Pan for their 100% Beeswax coating.
Material is always a big deal when purchasing your cookware. Looking for a pan with a good material or knowing what material works best for you is only a must because it maximizes your kitchen performance and also elevates your comfortability.
With different pans manufactured with different materials, it is no doubt that you are having a hard time to decipher which material works best for you. Of course, all materials have their advantages and disadvantages, and finally choosing what’s best for you depends on how you can work with its pros and cons.
Also, if you’re price-sensitive, material is an excellent way to measure which best suits you. The materials undoubtedly make other pans pricier than some because of the way they are manufactured, and as well the expense of getting the raw material itself contributes to its price range.
To be frank, thicker metals are the best option for searing and caramelizing the meat because the temperature of the surface doesn’t easily change once you’ve placed the cold meat. However, there are materials, like stainless steel, that are manufactured in a best way to give you still the best-seared meat results.
Cast irons are always an excellent alternative for nonstick pans because they are still seen as pans with a natural nonstick (if appropriately seasoned). Their material is thick, making it durable even after many uses. This can as well be pre-heated to a temperature that will give you the best browning results.
Because of their natural nonstick, people who are opting to switch to a healthier lifestyle purchase cast iron more. This is because they’re known for the absence of toxic chemicals.
Cast irons are also known to be a multipurpose cookware. So if you’re a home chef who wants a long-term go-to pan, cast irons are an excellent option.
Cast irons are safe for stovetops, ovens, broilers, grills, and even direct fire. For those who have induction stoves, cast irons will work on these cooking surfaces too.
They may come at quite a high price, but you don’t have to think twice because it really is multipurpose and versatile. These are good for searing, stove-to-oven recipes, roasting, frying, and even baking.
One of the downsides of cast iron is its heavyweight, which is not ideal, especially if you want to flip your food in the air. However, despite its weight, you are assured that this will not easily break and will definitely last. Another is that the handle can get extremely warm when used for a long time, so you better watch out!
Maintaining a cast iron can be a bit tricky because this dictates the longevity of the product. If not seasoned properly, it won’t release its non-stick elements and it could as well rust, chip, and crack easily. So, you should strictly follow the instructions on how to season your cast iron to avoid long-term issues.
You might want to look into Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, if you’re looking into buying a cast iron for you searing techniques.
Carbon steels are known for their fast reaction to the adjustment to heat. They also have a natural nonstick finish, making it a healthier option than other materials. When used for an induction stovetop, this is better than cast iron.
Carbon steel is one suitable material because of the addition of a variety of different alloying elements that make it more durable and efficient. However, if you’re planning to cook acidic foods, carbon steel pans may not be the best option for you.
One downside of carbon steels is its reactivity to acid. This type of pan doesn’t really go well with high amounts of acids because it can break down the natural nonstick seasoning.
Carbon steel is also not dishwasher safe because the natural nonstick coating can break down with the dishwashing process. It is quite tough to maintain in a way that you have to check the detergents that you use and you also have to make sure to dry your pan thoroughly before storing.
You can heat your carbon steel pan at a higher temperature; hence, you can trust this to do a fantastic job in assisting you with your searing technique. Another pro for carbon steel is that it’s relatively lighter than your cast irons.
As this has less mass, its heat retention is not as superb as cast irons. There’s a decreased heat retention because there’s less mass to retain the heat. Some have noticed that carbon steel tends to be not very thermally conductive so that hot spots can be spotted.
Some of the best-cast iron pans out there are MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan and Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Nonstick Fry Pan.
Since you’re worried that cast irons and carbon steels are reactive to your acidic foods, you might want to switch to stainless steel. Stainless steels are known for being non-reactive so that you can trust this pan with any kind of food.
Depending on the brand and the product unit, stainless steels are usually heavy. They’re also durable. However, it still heavily relies on the grade of stainless steel. There are stainless steels that are cheaply made, which can affect its longevity and cooking performance.
Stainless steels are often dishwasher safe, but you still have to check with the manufacturer’s guide to see how to clean and maintain your pan. With this in mind, the durable material will always not last long if you don’t properly take care of it.
You don’t have to worry much about the maintenance because they’re pretty easy to maintain. You’re not required to season your stainless steel like the previous two materials aforementioned. But, if you’re looking for a pan that has a natural nonstick, this one isn’t the best pick because they’re not a non-stick cooking surface.
Another disadvantage stainless steels have is that they usually have a poor heat transfer and distribution compared to cast irons and carbon steels, though this may not be true to all stainless steel pans.
The higher quality stainless steels can have a better heat distribution because of the aluminum incorporated in the material. Still, you can expect that they’re not going to come at a low price.
When it comes to rusting or oxidizing, you don’t have to worry that much because stainless steels resist such elements. They’re also perfect for most cooktops like your induction ranges.
Tramontina’s Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Pan and All-Clad 440465 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Pan are some of the high-quality stainless steels in the market
When cooking, you always have to find some ergonomic ways to give you a smooth flow and stress-free performance. Looking for a pan to help you with searing is one thing, but deciding which pan best suits you is another.
The weight of your pan can heavily influence your cooking performance. Of course, when you’re cooking for a feast, you usually have to transfer pans here and there, and getting a relatively heavy pan is such a hassle.
If you’re pretty sensitive to the weight and quickly get tired with heavy cookware, you might want to look into Tramontina’s Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Pan because of their ergonomic feature that gives you a lightweight feel.
Are you cooking on a gas stove? Perhaps, you want to take your pans out with you for a camping trip? Then, you have to look closely at the cooktop compatibility of each material you’re eyeing.
Cast irons are known to be the best when it comes to all types of cooktops, even open fire. If you’re planning to use your pan in a camping site bravely, make sure to bring a pan made out of cast iron. You might want to check out Lodge Cast Iron Skillet to keep up with your needs.
If you don’t want to invest in cast irons and still want a pan that’s good for your induction cooktops, it’s okay. I got you!
Stainless steels like All-Clad 440465 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Pan and carbon steels like MINERAL B Round Carbon Steel Fry Pan would also do an amazing searing!
Frequently Asked Questions about Pans
Question: Is it safe to cook on my lightly scratched pan?
Answer: When your pans are scratched, the nonstick coating can flake into your food, which can be harmful to your body. However, this usually only applies to manufactured nonstick pans.
If you’re working on a cooking surface that has a natural nonstick like cast irons and carbon steels, it’s okay, and you don’t have to worry about it being unsafe. You’re just probably not going to enjoy cooking on them. Also, if they’re only lightly scratched, there are methods on the internet on how to cure them.
Question: What is the safest material for pans?
Answer: Cast irons are known for being super durable and are the safest option because they’re not made with a harmful chemical that can leach into the food you’re making. Carbon steel cookware is also safe because it only composes carbon and iron, which are not harmful to you. Moreover, the non-stick coating carbon steel has is natural, and nothing terrible will leak into your food.
Cookwares made out of copper and titanium are also safe. The former is free from harmful chemicals; however, some individuals diagnosed with Wilson’s disease should stray from copper because this can accumulate in their organs. Regardless, this is generally safe.
Titanium, on the other hand, is a safe metal, and its nonstick feature doesn’t have any harmful chemicals that could affect you. Stainless steels are also safe, but you should always make sure that you’re getting the right or high quality stainless steel. There are cheaply made stainless steels circulating in the market, which could have harmful chemicals that can leak into your food
Question: How often should I replace my pans?
Answer: You usually replace your pans after 5 years of usage—or even less when you see them peeling. However, some may last longer, depending on the material and how it is made. You can usually check this on your manufacturer’s guide.
More often than not, high quality and expensive pans have a lifetime warranty so you don’t have to worry about breaking your bank again for another pan. However, the warranty only applies if it is evident that you maintained the product well.
Searing or browning is a tricky job most, especially when you’re only new to the technique. Hence, finding a pan that can help you is one way to keep you worry-free and elevate your kitchen performance.
A good investment in your pans should be one of the main priorities when buying your cookware. After all, this doesn’t come at a low price. So, I wish you good luck on your purchase, and may you concoct your best-seared steak, bon appetit!
Paul is an aspiring amateur chef from Sydney, Australia. Paul comes from Vietnam and has a passion for Asian food. He has visited Asia including Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Singapore and hopes to inspire others with his passion for food.