Kitchn Love Letters

I Love This New OXO Pan Even More Than I Love My Trusty Cast Iron Skillet

published Jul 18, 2022
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Credit: Erika Tracy

I don’t like to play favorites, but my cast iron skillet knows that I love it more than the other pieces in my cookware collection. I love it almost as much as I love my sweet pup. Which is A LOT (understatement of the year). So it really means something when I say that OXO recently came out with a new pan that I adore even more than my trusty cast iron skillet.

Historically, OXO hasn’t made a ton of cookware (the brand’s original line of cookware launched fairly recently, back in 2015), but the company just came out with three brand new collections: a carbon steel line, a ceramic nonstick line, and a tri-ply stainless steel line. I’m a huge fan of OXO gadgets, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of their new offerings. First up: the 12″ Carbon Steel Obsidian Frypan.

If you’re not familiar, carbon steel is lighter and thinner than cast iron. It’s meant to be easier to maneuver, and it heats up more quickly. It’s a staple in many professional kitchens and has been gaining popularity in home kitchens these last few years. Like cast iron, it gets seasoned and becomes more nonstick the more you use it.

I’ve tested plenty of carbon steel skillets throughout my career, and I’ve always loved the results. Carbon steel gives meat and veggies a ridiculously good sear. It’s relatively easy to control and incredibly versatile, but I’ve always struggled with the handles. Most carbon steel skillets come with handles that are very offset from the pan and also slightly U-shaped, so even though they are lighter than cast iron, I’ve found them awkward to lift. Plus, the handles usually dig into my palm, so I always end up going back to my cast iron. Sure, the cast iron is heavier, but I usually have an easier time with it.

But this new OXO pan is a different story. The first thing I noticed about it is the removable silicone sleeve — it’s so cushy! And it’s oven safe up to 428˚F (the pan without the sleeve is safe up to 660°F). With the sleeve, the handle is so effortlessly comfortable that I can easily shake the pan while sautéing, pop it into the oven, or bring the whole thing to the table for serving without any awkwardness or palm pain.

Of course, the pan cooks like a dream, too. It comes pre-seasoned, so it’s nonstick and ready to go right out of the box. (Wash it first, though, because you should always wash your newly purchased food tools before you use them.) During an unofficial test, I learned that it heats pancakes incredibly evenly — no matter where they are in the pan. The 12″ skillet feels extra-wide, with plenty of surface area. The walls are rounded juuust right so that I can shake-flip food in that cool, chef-y motion I’ve seen on TV but failed to replicate until now. And while my pan’s finish is starting to look less perfect than in these photos, that’s a good thing, because it means my patina is building up and the pan is getting more and more nonstick.

I’ve been reaching for this pan even more than my cast iron skillet (don’t tell… ), and I’m so happy to know that there are other pieces in the line:

Pros: Lighter than cast iron, cooks evenly, great for searing, includes a removable silicone handle, comes pre-seasoned and ready to go, comfortable to hold, decent price range, various sizes to choose from
Cons: The silicone handle is tough to get on when the pan is hot (but because it can withstand temps up to 428˚F, I’ve been leaving it on while I cook)
Who it’s good for: Anyone who is looking to try carbon steel cookware — especially those who struggle with the weight of cast iron or other awkward pans.

Do you have a carbon steel skillet that you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!