Photos: Our Place

Why I Don’t Love My Always Pan
(and Why I Still Use It)

Mehreen Karim • March 5, 2021

Hi! I maked this review. It is my personal reflection on why the Always Pan (AP) does and does not work for my kitchen. Every home cook, cooking station, budget, etc. is different and you deserve to make an educated decision about what serves your habits as they exist— not what an ad convinces you you’ll need.

This product allegedly “does-it-all.” If you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with Our Place ads strategically touting the AP as an 8-in-1 product, promising its capacity to replace 8 pieces of cookware. My frustration with the AP began here: the moment I sorely realized that it replaces a few items I sometimes reach for, but cannot replace any of my most essential cookware. I’ll dive deeper into why it cannot replace my stove-top necessities in a bit.

We purchased the AP for $145 and it arrived at our door ~4 months later. I’ve rotated it in and out of my mealtime routine for 7-8 months now. At first use, I was in love with how it made me feel. I felt like I could fry eggs by the dozen with not a trace of burnt egg white left to tell the tale. I felt like I could sear steaks in it and simultaneously juggle due to the pan’s pleasant, manageable weight. And most notably, owning the AP made me feel like I was cool *cringe*. Here's the thing about my glowing feelings: they simply did not last any longer than the abysmal non-stick coating on the AP pan.

Photo: Mehreen Karim

Why it frustrates me:

The non-stick coating wears off all too fast.

And I am not alone in this scrub-worthy debacle. Within two months of owning the pan, I noticed my eggs needed more and more oil if I wanted them to slide around the pan, stick-free—the way eggs seem to fry in their ads. Not long after and a few tablespoons of olive oil deep, I was staring at tattered and unmovable fried eggs. From only two months in and up to this day, egg whites leave a film wherever they travel on the AP. The list doesn’t end at eggs. Fried rice, crispy mushrooms, pancakes have all stuck and later burned brown spots onto the bottom of the pan. 

I think back to the debut of this red flag and recall living in denial. At the time, I considered the following justifications: I probably wasn’t careful enough when washing the pan; Maybe I shouldn’t have fried mushrooms on it the other day?; Did I turn the heat (on my meager electric stove) too high? It’s comical how I allowed Our Place’s robust marketing to gaslight me into thinking I could have prevented a $145 pan from failing to perform its single, most coveted function: not sticking. I take care of my cookware and have preserved 3-year-old non-stick pans that, to this day, wouldn’t dare hurt egg whites, or anything that I cook with oil, for that matter. I return to my random, Home Goods non-stick pan when I want to fry rice, salmon, frozen dumplings, and pretty much anything that is meant to be dry-ish or crispy. 

It is not oven-safe.

I can’t stress enough how valuable cast-irons and most skillets are for the sheer fact that they survive, if not thrive, in your oven. And that means your food thrives, too. My kitchen is stocked with two dutch ovens and a cast-iron skillet, both of which I use for baked pastas, seared and slow-cooked meats, rice dishes (maqloubehmaqloubeh, anyone?), and just about any dish where heat retention matters...which is a lot of dishes. Let it be known that high quality, oven-safe, pans cost a fraction, if not as much as the AP. I’ll let you and the New York Times analyze the return on investment for a pink pan you can’t put in the oven 🙄 .

The pan's aesthetic appeal didn't entirely last, either.

My “spice” pink pan looks great against my kitchen tile backsplash. Take a closer look and you’ll find that the paint is chipped around the top edges of the pan, presumably from the lid scratching against it. No later than 3-4 uses of the pan, the entire underside of the pan was brown. Not pink! Burnt brown. At this point, I’m wondering how long this pan will keep as the centerpiece of my stovetop. I’m wondering what about the AP justifies its remarkable price tag—if not its (now blemished) exterior. I still don’t know the full answer to that question, but reading about Our Place’s ethical labor practices did bring me some relief.

Photo: Joe Ray @ Wired

Why it's still on my stovetop:

When your ingredients are wet, it is actually easy to clean.

Sauces and tadkas come together effortlessly in the AP. I don’t have to worry about anything scorching into burned bits at the bottom of the pan because everything is liquid and simmering away at low heat. I made a tomato sauce the other night and forgot to clean the pan for a few hours. As soon as the pan hit warm running water, the dried, red sauce remnants lifted off with ease. Back in the AP’s and my honeymoon phase, I only ever needed to wipe it with a paper towel and call it a day. 

That spatula and its holster!

Not everyone agrees with me on this, but I enjoy sticking my spatula on the AP’s handle. And I use its wooden spatula with meals I’m not even making in the AP. A few people have complained about the wooden spatula staining easily and no longer looking presentable. Mine is definitely not polished, but I also expect that from wooden spatulas if they aren't meticulously cared for.

In conclusion,

If you have further questions about what type of pan to buy or whether you should return yours, I can't really answer that for you! It's ok to purchase the beautiful cookware that seemingly everyone on Instagram is enamored by. It’s ok to desire products based on their design. But most importantly, it’s ok to question anything a company sells—especially when it sounds and looks too good to be true.

Thanks for reading!

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