The Always Pan: Hype or Hit?
Does the Instafamous Always Pan live up to the hype? After months of resisting the barrage of alluring social media ads, curiosity wore us down. Here's our review of the Always Pan by Our Place.
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By now, there’s a very slim chance you haven’t seen the peachy-pink Always Pan on just about every social media feed, with enticing claims that it will replace most pans cluttering up your cupboards. With the versatility to sear, fry, boil, strain, braise, and steam – plus its lightweight and ultra-nonstick construction – the Always Pan is pretty darn irresistible.
In the ads, we’re tempted by images of perfectly cooked dumplings being lifted out of a sleek insert steamer and eggs gliding around the pan with elegant ease. It elicits flashbacks of rice-caked pot bottoms or performing unsuccessful surgery on foods that refuse to separate from their clingy vessels – and enchants us with the promise of effortless (never-stuck) cooking days ahead.
It all looks and sounds too good to be true but then you hear the record scratch a little when you land on the $145 price tag. Dang! $145 for a pan? Is the Always Pan worth the hype? I went on a mission to discern hype from hit.
Does the Always Pan really do all the things?
Pros: For a month, I tested this pan in every way it’s purported to work, which is 8 different ways and replacing 8 different tools: a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula and spoon rest. I seared lamb shanks, made risotto, fried eggs, and shredded potato breakfast hash, sautéed chicken, boiled pasta, prepared dumplings and more. It manages very well for all promised functions. I love how the beechwood spatula has a dedicated nesting place on the pan’s handle and how the lid fits perfectly over top – meaning, when it’s not in use, you can leave the whole kit and caboodle right on your stovetop for a little kitchen glam.
Con: My only design note would be that I’d like a version of this about 2-3 inches deeper, especially for boiling pasta or making soups and stews. It manages fine for my family of two, but I can easily see the benefits of a deeper pan, especially if you’re a brood of four or more or like to batch cook.
Is it really that nonstick?
First, I love that it’s nonstick coating is nontoxic, free of PFOAs, PTFEs, PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals and nanoparticles — an essential aspect when selecting clean cookware. And it is unequivocally one of the best nonstick pans I’ve used. But, it should be noted that a lot of pans start out this way and over time, their nonstick nature tends to wear. This would be a shame given the Always Pan’s name. Only time will tell if this pan will keep its promise of “always”. While it’s technically dishwasher-safe, they recommend hand washing the Always Pan to best preserve its condition. I’ve opted to go that route, especially since it’s so lightweight and a breeze to clean anyway.
Do the packaging and construction live up to expectations?
We all know that the cover doesn’t define the book but the packaging was fashionable and impressive (much like the pan), which turns the excitement dial even higher when this pan arrives on your doorstep. Well packed and arriving with its own dedicated soft sponge and instructions, the simple-yet-thoughtful details were a nice touch.
Most importantly, how was the food?
Everything I prepared in the pan came out pretty close to perfect and requires very minimal or no oil, if you prefer. The only thing that didn’t match the alluring ads were my fried eggs one Saturday morning, which failed to dance through the pan and threaten to hop right out onto my plate like they did on social media. But I’ll admit, I think I’m partially to blame having set the heat a touch too high on my gas stovetop. The eggs didn’t stick by any means, but I was expecting an eggs-on-ice, figure-skating performance like we see while scrolling our feeds.
Speaking of cooktops, another bonus of this pan is that it’s compatible with all cooktops, which in case you didn’t know, is not the case with all cookware.
Will the Always Pan hold up in the long run?
Well, that’s the $145 question with this social media darling. I’ve seen some reports of discoloration on the bottom of the pastel-colored pans over time (did I mention it comes in 7 different colors?). I can’t say I’m all that surprised, I mean, you should see the bottom of my decade-old pans. And truthfully, I wouldn’t mind that as much as if the nonstick bottom suddenly stopped doing its job. But, if outer discoloration begins to climb the sides and detract from this pan’s eye-catching beauty, I’ll definitely be bummed. I plan to update this post in several months and keep you guys posted on those crucial points.
The bottom line
I’ve already retired a couple of totaled pans from my collection and the Always Pan is stepping in strong as a new workhorse. She’s pretty but performs and doesn’t ruin my recipes like some of my (double the cost!) cookware have been known to do (I’m not naming names).
We’ve all been cooking more than ever and frankly, staying energized and motivated to cook from home calls for some new gear every now and again. If buying a new pair of yoga pants or sneakers motivates you to ramp up your workouts and get back into it a routine with gusto, then the Always Pan will definitely do the same for your home cooking. The lifespan of its nonstick coating and beguiling good lucks remain to be seen, but the bottom line is, the Always Pan gets my vote for hit, not hype.