I didn’t find the Always Pan; the Always Pan found me, but not in a cute way; it was more of “I-won’t-leave-you-alone-until-you-give-me-attention” sort of way. The pan flooded my Instagram feed with ads of highly staged dining tables and kitchen counters. I was annoyed, but intrigued.
In 2019, Shiza Shahid founded Our Place, the direct-to-consumer cookware company behind the Always Pan. Shahid, who is also a founder of the Malala Project, started the company to make cooking and dining essentials that celebrate the international backgrounds of the foods we cook and eat with them. Previous releases include separate limited-edition collections revolving around Lunar New Year and Mexican heritage. Our Place’s stalwart product, however, remains the Always Pan, a 10-inch, 2.6-quart, non-stick cast aluminum sauté pan with a detachable wooden spatula, domed lid and nesting steamer tray. I was curious whether or not the eight-in-one cooking tool could truly “do the work of eight pieces of traditional cookware” like the website said, so I tested it.
The Always Pan is photogenic as hell, which it probably owes to the pastel colors — spice, steam, char, sage — it’s available in. But we’re not judging based on looks (maybe just a little). I was impressed by the pan’s even heat distribution, which I tested using the flour test. I sifted a layer of flour across the surface of the pan and toasted it on the stove, where the flour browned steadily and evenly.
The pan features a ceramic non-stick coating that passed two egg tests. The first test, cooking an over-easy egg, was a success thanks to a slick layer of oil, a flick of the wrist and the pan’s curved sides. (There was a day when I got burnt egg residue stuck in the pan. The non-stick coating made it easy to rinse off and start anew.) The second test, preparing a French omelette, was also a success. I was able to make a fluffy and vibrant yellow omelette with a gooey, eggy center. I was again impressed when, in the process of rolling the omelette, I tilted the pan and the egg rolled into itself and slipped off onto a plate.
I initially thought the built-in spatula was gimmicky, but I found it to be a thoughtful inclusion. The edge is thin enough to get under foods, and the holder made my spoon rest unnecessary.
What’s Not so Good
You’ll always reach for the Always Pan, Our Place implies. Unless you need to bake something, that is. The Always Pan is not oven-safe, so the pan is left to its exclusively stovetop devices. While not a deal-breaker, a lot of non-stick pans out there — like Made In’s non-stick frying pans — are oven safe. Of the eight cookware pieces the Always Pan can replace, bakeware is not one of them.
The lid was designed to catch condensation and prevent it from dripping back into food, and the handle is silicone-coated to be heat resistant. The lid’s handle is slightly rounded, which means it wobbles when placed upside down on the counter. As someone who does this often to prevent the counter from getting wet, I was annoyed by this detail. Then again, I could buy a pot lid holder, but that defeats the purpose of having an all-in-one tool.
No piece of cookware is truly a one-trick pony. Almost all pots and pans are multifunctional to a degree. I can fry a chicken, make a sauce and sauté vegetables in a cast-iron skillet, and I can use this $30 Calphalon non-stick pan to make omelettes and, if I add a $4 steel cooling rack, steam food, too. The $145 price tag isn’t low and you could spend less money on a few more products to do all the jobs the Always Pan can. In essence, you’re paying for convenience and good looks.
The Always Pan won’t replace all the pots and pans you already have. The brand’s website states it can “do the work of eight pieces of traditional cookware,” and that’s true. But obviously it can’t do all eight functions simultaneously, and you’ll still need other cookware to make meals.
Despite being a workhorse of a pan, it’s made for someone who’s building a kitchen arsenal from scratch. I still find myself reaching for my All-Clad non-stick pan to make my fried egg breakfasts, but it’s not because it’s a superior pan. I can pull my All-Clad out of the drawer in one fluid motion versus taking out the Always Pan, removing the lid and setting aside the steamer basket. Although the pan is targeted to all, it’s more apt for beginner chefs (especially those who have minimal storage space). If either of those apply to you, the Always Pan should be at the top of your shopping list.
Our Place provided this product for review.
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