Always Pan by Our Place Review
Is It Worth It?
I am currently on the hunt for the best nonstick cookware to replace my no-longer nonstick Teflon set. My hunt begins with well-designed cookware (both visually and functionally) and I've had my eye on a number of new to market, online-only brands popping up in the cookware space. The Always Pan was one of the first to come to my attention—I was instantly drawn to the round design and stylish colors.
The Always Pan is a cookware system designed to replace a 16-piece-set and save space in the kitchen. The pan itself has an aluminum core and a ceramic nonstick coating as an alternative to Teflon. I tested the Always Pan in my kitchen for over two months and I think it’s a good piece for those who are cooking for 1-2 and want an easy to clean pan that will look stylish in their kitchen. While I was happy with the pan's looks and performance, I found it heavy and the handle was uncomfortable to hold. I also noticed some wear on the exterior over time.
Our Place is based in Los Angeles, California and was co-founded by Shiza Shahid, formerly the CEO of the Malala Fund. Read more about how Shahid started Our Place and developed The Always Pan.
Always Pan Quick Facts
The Cost: $145.00. Includes 10" pan, lid, steamer basket, and wooden spatula.
Ships to: All 50 US states for free.
Differentiator: The Always Pan aims to do the work of up to eight pieces of cookware in your kitchen. It is available in four colorways including a black color (char) and less-traditional colors like terracotta (spice), greige (steam), and green (sage).
The Always Pan replaces the fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula and spoon rest.
Good to Know: Due to increased demand, all colors of the Always Pan are available for pre-order with shipping estimates for each color displayed on the product page.
This product was sent to My Subscription Addiction at no cost for review purposes.
Pros & Cons
|Is It Worth It?||
|I'd Recommend the Always Pan If You:||
Ceramic vs. Teflon
There are debates surrounding the safety of Teflon cookware and the merits of non-stick ceramic coating as an alternative. I took to the internet to learn more where I discovered this helpful article on nonstick cookware safety. The basics are that chemical compounds in Teflon can break down when heated above 500 degrees, which is when toxic particles can be released.
Ceramic surfaces don't start to break down til around 800 degrees, but it is unlikely that you're cooking anything at a high heat temperature close to that.
The short story is: don't overheat your non-stick cookware (Teflon or otherwise), don't use metal spatulas that can scratch and chip surfaces, and it's better to just hand wash, even if your cookware is dishwasher safe.
Nonstick Coating Test
I tested the nonstick capabilities of the Always Pan with the stickiest, hardest-to-clean-out-of-a-pan food I know of: Just Egg (a vegan egg substitute that cooks up like scrambled eggs). The slideshow above shows the Just Egg poured into the pan and then fully cooked. You can see that I was able to clear a path through the vegan egg straight to the pan's surface with the beechwood spatula. Small bits of the vegan egg did stick to the pan during cooking but were very easy to clean off. Alternatively, when I cook this vegan egg substitute in my Teflon pans, large portions stick to the pan and are very tough to remove, often requiring a bit of a soak. I am pleased with the ceramic non-stick surface on the Always Pan that not only meant an easy hand wash but also very little food loss.
I've found that the Always Pan conducts heat evenly and well. It gets hotter much faster than my nonstick Teflon pans, so I've dialed back the heat from medium to medium low when cooking with this pan on my gas range. The long handle of the pan has a matte rubber coating and stays cool to the touch. The small handle opposite the larger handle conducts heat at the same rate as the pan and gets very hot while cooking, so be sure not to grab it without a pot holder.
Design and Quality
The Pan and Lid
The Always Pan's design is stylish enough to be displayed and reminds me of the mid-century cookware I used to hunt for at thrift shops. I chose the spice color because I'm very into all things terracotta-toned right now, but I was also very tempted by the new sage color. The pan's exterior has a textured surface that reminds me of a cast-iron skillet while the long handle has a rubberized finish. The pan has a diameter of 10" with two spouts for easier pouring.
The set also includes a matching domed lid with a rubber-coated knob that stays safe to touch during use. The modular lid also has a notched area that allows for steam release when properly positioned along the edge of the pan. A downside to the design of the lid is that the knob on top is not perfectly flat, meaning that combined with the weight of the domed lid, it will wobble when set knob-side-down on the countertop - a move taught to me by my mother to keep water off the countertops!
The nesting beechwood spatula and built-in handle spoon rest are some of my favorite features of this set. I love being able to rest the spatula securely on the handle instead of placing it on the counter or on a separate spoon rest. The curve of the spatula is also a bonus; it means that when I run the spatula over the edge of the pan to remove food, the food falls back into the pan instead of all over my stovetop. Because the spatula is made of wood, I don’t have to worry about it melting in contact with the pan or heating up and becoming too hot to the touch. The only downsides to wooden utensils like this spatula are that they are hand wash only and may take on stains from ingredients like turmeric.
The Steamer Basket
The stainless steel steamer basket is shallow, has collapsable handles, and small feet. It fits neatly inside the Always Pan and can be used in two ways: as a steamer basket for steaming or as a colander for boiling.
I am used to steaming veggies by piling them in a high-sided pot with a traditional, petal-style steamer basket, so steaming in a pan was new to me. I put the steamer basket in the pan, added water just to where it touched the bottom of the basket, then spread out bite-sized broccoli pieces evenly across the basket. I popped the lid on and set the water to boil. I was able to fit two heads of broccoli (cut into even-sized florets) in the steamer basket, which held much more than I was expecting. Spreading the broccoli out across the basket instead of stacking it high in a pot allowed it to cook each piece more evenly. The lid's handle remained cool to the touch when it was time to remove it and serve. To clean up, I put the all-metal basket into the dishwasher.
The next test for the steamer basket and Always Pan combo was boiling pasta. I put the basket into the pan and filled it with enough water to cook a box of Daiya mac and cheese. I raised the handles on the basket so they might be easier to grab when draining the pasta, but I found the lid does not go on when the handles are up. The water boiled quickly and due to the shallowness of the pan, ended up boiling over. Draining the pasta was a bit of a feat as the pan itself is on the heavier side and especially so when filled with water. I was able to safely drain the water into the sink, lift the basket to shake water from the pasta, and dump the pasta back into the pan, but it was a bit of a precarious process.
I would use the basket and pan again for steaming vegetables because I found it to be an improvement over my old process, but boiling pasta and draining with this set up is something I'll skip in the future.
Included with the Always Pan was a natural sponge. I appreciate that they sent a small bonus item and that it is not made of plastic. The sponge is nice and scrubby but doesn't hold soap suds the way I am used to with my sponges. In the last image the slideshow above, you can see how the sponge expands when wet and has scrubby nubs that pop out.
Ease of Cleaning
This pan is a breeze to wash. There is no heavy scrubbing; everything comes off easily with light passes from a dish brush or sponge. I recommend always hand washing your nonstick cookware. A reminder here too that you'll need to hand wash the wooden spatula instead of tossing it into the dishwasher.
Although I prefer and recommend hand washing cookware, one of the selling points for this pan is that it is dishwasher safe. I am comfortable putting the steamer basket in the dishwasher every time, but only put the pan through the dishwasher once. I want to be sure to call out what I was testing for here: will the pan survive the dishwasher? Judging how clean the pan got in the dishwasher feels like a better measure of my dishwasher than the pan itself, which is why I did not show the dirty pan. And, I always rinse food bits off of my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (another lesson from my mother that I can't unlearn).
The pan came out clean but with water spots (says more about my dishwasher than the pan) but did take up a lot of space. Because this pan is so easy to wash by hand, I highly recommend skipping the dishwasher for the longevity of all your pots and pans, especially those with nonstick surfaces.
On the subject of the pan's longevity, I'm happy to report that after more than two months of use, the ceramic nonstick surface remains nonstick. I've noticed two areas of wear on the exterior of the pan: one is on the bottom of the pan and another is around the exterior rim of the pan (pictured above.) The wear on the bottom of the pan is minor and is likely due to rubbing against the metal grates on my gas range. This is probably why most pans have a metal bottom vs. a painted or coated surface. The chips on the exterior side of the pan's rim became more evident after going through the dishwasher but are likely caused by storing the pan on its side inside a cabinet. While this does not impact the function of the pan, it's important to note as it does affect the overall aesthetic.
The Always Pan from Our Place comes packaged in biodegradable and recyclable corrugated cardboard. No plastic (no bags, no bubble wrap, no plastic tape) was used in the packaging and everything arrived safely with no damage.
The package also included a small card bundle with the sponge (reviewed above), a card quickly introducing the brand, and a bookmark with use and care tips. The tips include washing the pan before cooking with it, always use soft utensils, don't heat up an empty pan, and don't walk away from an active stovetop. For care, don't put a hot pan into water and use soft, non-abrasive sponges to clean. Hand washing is recommended over dishwasher use.
The capacity, style, and nonstick surface have made this a pan that I choose over nearly all of my Teflon pieces. In my kitchen, this system has not replaced 16 pieces of traditional cookware but it has taken the place of three of my sauté pans for cooking nearly everything plus my steamer basket and high sided pot for steaming veggies. I use the spatula often with the Always Pan (I love how it safely nests on the pan's handle) but it hasn't replaced my other cooking utensils. The pan remains nonstick and very easy to clean. With this Always Pan review, my hesitation in giving this pan a higher rating comes from its weight, the non-ergonomic shape of the handle, and the signs of wear that have begun to appear on the pan's exterior. I am still using this pan more than any other in my kitchen and I find its color and overall style cheerful and a welcome addition to my kitchen.
Have you tried the Our Place Always Pan? How was your experience? Do you have a tried and true nonstick pan you absolutely love? Let me know in the comments.
Looking for other design-forward ceramic nonstick pans? Read my review of the Equal Parts Big Pan.