As social distancing measures took hold across the country, I found myself spending less time eating at restaurants and more time cooking meals from my small, 40-square-foot kitchen in New York City. By April 2020, approximately 60 percent of Americans were doing the same, according to an International Food Information Council survey.
After sautéing, stir-frying and steaming my way through months of stay-at-home orders, I wanted to experiment with different recipes. Chana Masala? Sure. Unfortunately, these more involved recipes required skillets, frying pans and steamers, among other cookware essentials. Ultimately unable to store additional appliances in my cabinet, I set out to find a pan that did it all. But after rummaging through a seemingly endless stream of nonstick pans, I quickly grew overwhelmed with options: flared-lip, cast-aluminum construction, coated inner rivets.
It wasn’t until ads for the Our Place Always Pan inundated my Instagram feed that I learned about the pan’s 8-in-1 functions claim — and its staggering 30,000-person waitlist. But most of all, what intrigued me was the cookware’s sleek and monochromatic design, which meant I could leave it sitting on the stovetop instead of hiding it in my cabinets, doing away with the very need to store it in space I didn’t have. Soon after, when the pan went on sale during Black Friday, I finally committed and bought my own. Three months in, I’m confident to say the pan is great, at least for amateur chefs in small spaces who love to experiment in the kitchen, like me. I can do all the cooking I usually do with less kitchen clutter, with notable ease and, honestly, in style.
The Always Pan by Our Place promises to replace eight traditional pieces of cookware, acting as your fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan and spoon rest. Made from cast aluminum and coated with a layer of nonstick ceramic, this is far the most easy-to-use pan I’ve ever encountered: My scrambled eggs and stir-fry noodles cooked evenly with little to no residue sticking to the surface — every single time.
While the Always Pan is dishwasher-safe, most times I’ve simply wiped it clean with a soft sponge and water, thus eliminating the need for a dishwasher (which could be harmful to pans generally). Weighing a comfortable 3 pounds (add an additional pound for the lid), I can manageably hold the Always Pan in one hand, too.
For me, the one piece of cookware that the Always Pan didn’t completely satisfy was the steamer: The Always Pan comes with a stainless steel insert that allows it to function as a steamer. However, with its shallow 2.7-inch depth, the space between the steamer basket and the pan’s surface is too small for me. When I was steaming the frozen Pork Buns my grandma prepared for me, I found that I was only able to steam for 20 to 25 minutes before the water evaporated completely. However, if you’re looking to steam vegetables, like carrots or broccoli, the 2.6-quart capacity should be sufficient. For those who bake pastas or fish using their nonstick pan, keep in mind the pan is not oven-safe — it’s designed for stove use only.
When it comes to style, the monochromatic finish gives the Always Pan some serious countertop appeal. When I ordered my Always Pan, I opted for Lavender, but there are other fun colors to choose from: Spice, Heat, Steam, Char, Sage and Blue Salt. The pan, which has a 4.8-star average rating of more than 7,200 reviewers, also comes with a beechwood spatula that rests perfectly in the pan’s handle when not in use. For people with very little counter space, like me, this small feature is a big plus. I’ve also found myself drawn the brand behind the pan.
Our Place was co-founded in 2019 by Shiza Shahid, one of the co-founders of the Malala Fund. Environmentally-minded, Shahid and the team designed the pan to be sourced ethically: Our Place manufactures their pans in factories where they specifically examine and share working conditions. The pan is made from a portion of recycled materials and is also coated in a non-toxic, non-stick material without PFOAs, PTFEs, GenX chemicals, which are harmful for both you and the environment. Even the packaging is conscientious toward the planet: When my pan was delivered back in November 2020, there wasn’t a single piece of plastic in its packaging. Instead, the cookware was encased in a recyclable cardboard box with smaller cardboard pieces keeping the pan from moving around during delivery.
Despite the steamer drawback, as a twenty-something who loves to cook, this pan satisfies my cooking needs, again and again. In fact, it turned out to be so useful that I didn’t even feel guilty for throwing away my other pans. As I found myself cooking everything with my Always Pan, I didn’t feel the need to have the other pans collecting dust in my cabinets. For those looking to similarly Marie Kondo their kitchens and “spark joy” after clearing out cabinet space, I would highly suggest the Always Pan.
Other all-in-one pans to shop
If you’re looking for all-in-one pans but the Always Pan isn’t for you, here are several other highly-rated options at various price points.
Earning a 4.8-star rating out of 180 reviews, the All-Clad has no problem sauteing and stir-frying ingredients for one-pan meals as it features a similar wide base and rounded sides to the Always Pan. The pan is coated with what is called “induction stainless steel,” alternating layers of stainless steel and conductive aluminum, to provide even heating throughout. Unlike the Always Pan, the All-Clad is oven- and broiler- safe (up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the pan doesn’t come with a steamer at all so if you’re looking to steam vegetables, you must buy an insert separately.
If you’re looking for all all-in-one pan with steaming capabilities, check out this pan from Williams Sonoma. As the only pan on this list with comparable steamer capability, this cookware features a stainless steel insert (3 inches tall) that can steam just a little bit more than the Always Pan (2.7 inches). This eco-friendly pan is made from 100-percent recycled aluminum, layered with a ceramic-titanium coat that makes it great for low-fat cooking using minimal oil. The dishwasher-safe pan can go in the oven and broiler at temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The flared-lip shape allows this cast-aluminum pan from Tramontina to not only distribute heat evenly but also makes it easy to flip eggs and pancakes in it. Like the All-Clad, this nonstick pan does not come with a steamer, but you can easily buy one to fit onto the 12-inch version. What’s unique about this pan, which boasts a 4.7-star rating from nearly 9,000 reviewers, is its removable silicone handle that provides extra heat protection. However, one notable downside is the Tramontina isn’t compatible with induction cooktops.
Calphalon’s version of an all-in-one pan features a dual-layered nonstick interior. The pan’s hard-anodized aluminum exterior means it’s resistant to corrosion and designed to be very durable. While the Calphalon pan does not have steamer capabilities like the Always Pan, it can be placed in the oven with a 450-degrees Fahrenheit maximum. it has an average 4.7-star rating from almost 1,400 ratings.
Like the Calphalon, if you don’t frequently steam vegetables or frozen food, this nonstick GreenPan is a viable option, gaining a 4.4-star rating from more than 50 ratings. Free from toxic chemicals like PFAs, PFOAs, lead and cadmium, GreenPan’s classic diamond-infused nonstick coating offers durability and even heating, making harsh scrubbing a thing of the past. With an oven-safe temperature capacity of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, the pan can safely be put in the oven and broiler.