Can You Use Metal Utensils on Carbon Steel? (The debate)

Can You Use Metal Utensils on Carbon Steel? (The debate)

Due to its longevity and heat conductivity, carbon steel cookware can be enjoyable to use for both home cooks and professional chefs. However, metal utensils has one issue that frequently comes up in conversations regarding carbon steel cookware.

Can they ruin your carbon steel utensils? Or are they safe? Let’s talk exclusively about this here.

Understanding carbon steel cookware

Typically made of iron and carbon, carbon steel is a form of steel, just like we have stainless steel. It is renowned for its durability, strength, and capacity to quickly and evenly conduct heat.

a shot of carbon steel being used by a woman to cook food

In fact, it is used by Professional cooks due to its capacity to reliably attain high temperatures.

Carbon steel cookware can come in a variety of forms, such as pans, woks, and pots. They are also commonly used in commercial kitchens, where they can withstand the high heat and heavy use that is often required.

And lastly, their natural seasoning is typically one of their advantages. The more you use it, the more non-stick it gets, offering a healthy alternative to Teflon-coated pans, which over time and with heat emit poisonous gases.

Can you use Metal Utensils on Carbon Steel?

Simply put, yes, you can use metal utensils on carbon steel.

Carbon steel, much like its close relative cast iron, is incredibly durable. And just like stainless steel, it’s less likely a metal utensil can straightway scratch them.

In fact, they constitute our list of cookware that works well with metal utensils.

But why?

Well, this is due to their build which is able to withstand high heat, heavy ingredients, and yes, even the scrape of metal utensils.

But before you reach for that metal spatula, there are a few things you need to know.

While it’s true that your carbon steel pan can stand up to metal utensils, you’ll want to be mindful of your technique.

Related: Are Metal Utensils Good on Copper Chef Pans?

This isn’t about the pan’s ability to handle it, it’s about maintaining the seasoning that you’ve built up on your pan’s surface. A heavy hand or improper use of metal utensils can potentially chip away at that prized seasoning.

But then, carbon steel pans are loved for their non-stick properties that develop over time through the seasoning process.

So, if you’re scraping away aggressively with metal utensils, you may be running the risk of damaging this non-stick surface. And if you need to use metal utensils with non-stick surfaces, we have an article on that.

What the experts say

Experts in cookware and professional chefs have different perspectives on this issue.

Using metal tools on carbon steel cookware is encouraged by some, such as Chef Michael Symon, who claims that it “adds character” to the pan.

Chef Thomas Keller, on the other hand, stated that in order to prevent scratches on his carbon steel cookware, he prefers to use silicone, nylon, or wood utensils.

On their websites, many cookware manufacturers also offer recommendations for using metal utensils with their carbon steel items.

According to the website of Lodge cast iron, one of the most well-known manufacturers of carbon steel cookware, metal utensils can be used on their carbon steel pans, although extra care should be given to prevent damaging the surface.

Best practices for using metal utensils on carbon steel cookware

There are a few best practices you can adhere to if you decide to use metal utensils on your carbon steel cookware to reduce the chance of damage to the cookware’s surface.

Before anything else, make sure your carbon steel cookware is thoroughly seasoned.

The surface of a well-seasoned pan will be smoother and tougher, making metal utensils less likely to scratch or damage it.

By applying a thin layer of oil to the surface and heating your carbon steel cookware in the oven for several hours, you can season it.

Related: Is Using Metal Utensils on Calphalon a Bad Idea?

Second, stay away from using metal utensils with jagged or sharp edges. These may result in dents and scratches on the cookware’s surface.

Instead, choose cutlery with rounded edges made of silicone or stainless steel.

Third, use care when handling the cookware. Avoid dropping or slamming the cookware because these actions can result in dents or warping. As always, stay away from scouring pads and other abrasive cleaning tools.


The debate over whether or not to use metal utensils with carbon steel cookware is complicated, and different experts have different viewpoints and suggestions.

However, by adhering to the recommended practices mentioned above, you can reduce the possibility of harm coming to your carbon steel cookware and take advantage of all the advantages it has to offer.

The most crucial thing is to take proper care of your carbon steel cookware so that it can serve you well for many years to come, whether you prefer to use metal utensils or choose other sorts.

And as always, it’s best to verify with the seller or the manufacturer if you have any questions before using any utensils on it.

You May Also Like