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KitchenAid's NITRO Carbon Steel Skillet: Less Rust, Less Fuss

by Josh Kirschner on June 28, 2024

As a long-time home cook with an array of carbon steel and cast iron cookware, I approached the KitchenAid NITRO Carbon Steel 10-Inch Skillet with curiosity. Typical carbon steel pan can be susceptible to rusting if accidentally left exposed to moisture. Not usually a problem if you care for it properly, but mistakes happen, and it can be hard to avoid in high-humidity environments. The new KitchenAid NITRO line aims to reduce that risk by treating a traditional carbon steel plan with the benefit of nitriding, imbuing the steel with greater rust resistance.

After several weeks of using the NITRO skillet, I found it to be a solid performer that offers the added rust resistance for those who want it.

KitchenAid NITRO Carbon Steel 10-Inch Skillet is shown held over a stovetop.

 + Pros  – Cons
  • Nicely sloped sides facilitate turning
  • Enhanced rust resistance
  • Durable and high-heat capable
  • Comfortable handle that stays cool during use
  • Higher price point than some competitors
  • Requires seasoning for non-stick performance
  • Slightly less cooking space than some alternatives

What is nitriding?

Nitriding is a heat treatment process that diffuses nitrogen into the surface of the steel, creating a hardened layer. This process gives the pan its black finish and offers several benefits: increased surface hardness (KitchenAid claims 22% harder than traditional carbon steel), improved wear resistance, and enhanced corrosion resistance. For those familiar with the maintenance demands of carbon steel, the latter could be a significant advantage, particularly in humid environments where it is often necessary to keep the pan oiled to prevent rusting.

Nitriding steel in cookware is not a new thing – it has been used for Chinese woks for years. However, KitchenAid claims this is the first time it has been used on skillets for the US market.

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Cooking performance

Weighing 2 pounds 12 ounces, the NITRO is a pretty typical weight for a carbon steel pan. The pan's sloped sides and comfortable handle facilitate easy food maneuvering, whether using a spatula or attempting a pan flip. One drawback to the sloping sides is the usable cooking space. At 7.5 inches, it's slightly less than the 8 inches I measured in my 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet.

In terms of cooking performance, the NITRO behaves like traditional carbon steel. It handles high heat well (KitchenAid rates it as safe to 750F), producing excellent sears on meats. However, like most carbon steel pans I've used, it also showed a slight hotspot in the center during my pancake test.

It's important to note that despite its non-stick appearance out of the box, the NITRO is not pre-seasoned. My kids learned this the hard way when attempting to cook eggs in the unseasoned pan, confusing the black surface for one of our non-stick pans. With proper seasoning, it will develop non-stick properties over time. And like any carbon steel pan, you can use any metal utensils without worry.

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Should you buy it?

Overall, the KitchenAid NITRO Carbon Steel 10-Inch Skillet is a capable addition to any home kitchen. While the NITRO is priced higher than some other carbon steel options from brands like OXO and BK, this price difference is justified if you value the enhanced rust resistance and potential for easier maintenance.

The KitchenAid NITRO Carbon Steel line is available in a 10-inch skillet ($89.99), a 10-inch stir fry pan ($99.99), and a 12-inch skillet ($109.99).

[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious]

Josh Kirschner is the co-founder of Techlicious and has been covering consumer tech for more than a decade. Josh started his first company while still in college, a consumer electronics retailer focused on students. His writing has been featured in, NBC News and Time.


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