Is The Insta-Famous Always Pan Actually Worth It?
You’ve seen it in all your favorite influencers’ kitchens.
Since Our Place introduced the Always Pan in 2019, the piece of kitchenware, which is marketed as a do-it-all pan that can replace eight (!) pieces of cookware, it’s been impossible to ignore. The pan has more than 200,000 reviews online and has gone viral on TikTok for its chic design and dreamy colorways. The simple, monochromatic pan comes in soothing colors like blue salt, spice, and sage and can be seen in nearly every influencer’s kitchen, in a bajillion TikTok reviews, and in Instagram ads that have not stopped following me around for years. Oprah heralded the Always Pan, a product that says it can operate as a fry pan, steamer, skillet, and more as a “kitchen magician.” Our Place even partnered with Selena Gomez for a new set of bold shades including rosa and azul.
But since it debuted, the Always Pan garnered devoted fans (again… Oprah) as well as haters who say the picturesque piece isn’t worth the $145 price tag and that no, it can’t really replace the classic cookware that may already be in your kitchen.
Naturally, I was curious to see if the head-turning design can live up to the hype when it comes to preparing meals at home, especially in a small kitchen where space is limited. Read on to see how the Always Pan fared when put to the test for a month.
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Best for: Nonstick cooking and steaming
Brand: Our Place
What we like: Aesthetically pleasing, simple cleanup, environmentally friendly production, lightweight
What we don’t like: Does not actually replace multiple kitchen items, is not oven-safe, uncomfortable handle
What Is The Always Pan?
The Always Pan by the L.A.-based company Our Place is an Insta-famous pan that promises to “braise, sear, steam, strain, saute, fry, boil, serve, and store” food, and says it can replace up to eight pieces of cookware, including your fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. In reality, it’s a 10-inch nonstick pan with a ceramic coating. Our Place says that it’s made without “potentially toxic materials like PFOAs, PTFEs, other PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals, and nanoparticles.” The Always Pan comes with a lid that can let out or lock in steam, a custom stainless steel steamer basket, and a beechwood spatula that fits into the pan handle as a spoon rest. All in, it weighs 3 pounds.
How Does The Always Pan Work?
The Always Pan is supposed to function as a do-it-all kitchen tool, aiming to replace eight different items you may already have, thanks to a ceramic nonstick coating, a steamer basket, a notch for a spoon rest, and a 2.7-inch depth. But, there are many things that the Always Pan cannot do, most notably go from stovetop to oven. (The Always Pan is not oven-safe, unlike other pans that can perform similar tasks, most notably cast-iron pans, which become nonstick over time.)
The biggest gripe at-home cooks have with nonstick pans comes in the form of environmental impact and health risks. Nonstick coating is often made with synthetic polymer PTFE, but it has been produced for many years using PFOA, which is a chemical can that can be bad for the environment as well as potentially carcinogenic, especially when the pan is used with high heat or metal utensils that scrape off the surface of the pan. Our Place’s website says the Always Pan is made without PFOAs and PTFEs, and is instead made with a ceramic coating. Ceramic nonstick pans are popular because they’re manufactured using a sol-gel process that doesn’t use PFOA or PTFE. But most of these pans can only keep that nonstick coating for a few years. (It’s also worth noting that it’s hard to recycle pots and pans in many places in the United States if you do decide to ditch your pan after it loses its nonstick coating.)
The Always Pan is designed to look sweet and simple on your stovetop, matching whatever sort of home decor you have in place thanks to its 13 different colors. It comes with a modular lid that can release and trap steam, a beechwood spatula that’s designed to nest into a notch on the pan’s stay-cool handle, a steamer basket that fits into the domed pan that has two easy-pour spouts, and a second helper handle that also stays cool. The button on top of the lid also stays cool while cooking so you can lift it without getting burned. But the main handle is constructed in a bulky shape with hard angles that make it somewhat uncomfortable to grip.
When it comes to nonstick pans, best practices call for nonmetal utensils — wooden spoons or silicone spatulas work best to avoid scratching the nonstick surfaces, which can damage the pan. So it’s confusing that the steamer basket is made of metal, including the little legs that sit inside the pan. (Our Place does offer a bamboo steamer basket that’s designed to sit inside the pan, but it’s an extra $30.) While steaming and storing the basket inside the pan — and especially while trying to lift the basket out of the still-hot pan — I was worried about scratching the surface.
However, it’s undeniable that the pan is a cutie and can be transferred from stovetop to table with ease, functioning as an elegant piece of servingware.
As a nonstick skillet, the Always Pan works exceptionally well, releasing scrambled eggs, pancakes, and chunks of fried tofu with ease. While testing, I found the pan to be excellent when it came to stir-frying, simmering sauces, and steaming vegetables. But when doing things like caramelizing onions, I didn’t get the same depth of flavor as I did when performing the tasks in a cast-iron or a nonstick pan. (No nonstick skillet would be able to do that.)
When I continued using the Always Pan, I found that many cooking tasks could not be accomplished with this magic pan (sorry, Oprah). I could never get a nice browning going on a piece of meat intended for a braise and attaining crispy fish skin was a nonstarter thanks to the fact that nonstick skillets should avoid high heat. Searing steak was a no-no for the same reasons. It also wasn’t deep enough to do something like boil an egg without filling up the whole pan with water, which seemed like a waste.
I kept trying to think of things that I’d love to cook in the Always Pan and would take advantage of its fresh nonstick coating, but I kept coming back to the fact that the pan wasn’t oven-safe, meaning finishing dishes like frittatas or skillets full of shakshuka were impossible. (I will say, though, that omelets came out perfectly every time, as did chunky soups and pots of marinara sauce that simmered low and slow for hours.)
Though the Always Pan is the most IG-famous cookware marketed as a do-it-all product, other items like the Caraway saute pan ($145), the Greenpan saute pans and skillets ($60-$230), and the Phantom Chef deep frypan ($60) aim to accomplish the same tasks at varying price points.
Is The Always Pan Worth It?
Sort of! The Always Pan can be a workhorse in the kitchen, and if you care for it in the right ways — no high heat for long periods of time, gentle washing, taking care of stains immediately, avoiding the dishwasher — it may stay in pristine condition. But I would note that I tested the Always Pan for about a month, during which I used it daily with no problems regarding the nonstick coating. Reviewers and commenters online are quick to say that the pan tends to lose its nonstick coating after about six months or less with consistent, regular use. Cooking with it in a rotation with other pans might increase its lifespan.
At the $145 price point, I would not recommend the Always Pan to a seasoned, experienced cook looking for a piece of cookware that can do literally everything. This simply cannot. But the pan is an excellent purchase for a few types of home cooks (more on that below).
Here are the types of folks who will likely enjoy the Always Pan: a beginner cook with a small kitchen, the not-really-a-cooking-type of host who loves the aesthetic, and a cook who needs a pretty, big nonstick pan.
A beginner cook with a small kitchen (like a recent college grad or someone moving into their first apartment on their own) will find that the Always Pan can do lots of simple tasks for a meal that can feed as many people as they can fit at their tiny table and can take over duties of a few different pieces of cookware. They might still want a few other items like a Dutch oven, a cast-iron skillet, or a sauce pot to complete their cookware collection, though, especially if they plan to make meals that require two pots or pans, like boiling pasta and making a sauce.
The not-really-a-cooking-type of host will enjoy having this status statement piece on their stovetop and can use it for simple in-a-pinch tasks like reheating leftovers, steaming, flipping French toast, or scrambling eggs.
I fall into the third category, a regular and seasoned home cook who enjoys being in the kitchen and serving up meals to guests and may need a pretty, big nonstick pan. I’ll keep the Always Pan around for when I need to fry a dozen eggs at a time for a big brunch (again… fantastic egg fryer!), steam a bunch of frozen potstickers, or pull together a quick stir-fry. But there’s no way I’m giving up my stainless steel or cast-iron pans just yet.