Our Place’s Always Pan, which includes a lid, a steaming basket, and a wooden spatula, retails for $145; Caraway’s Sauté Pan and Equal Parts’s Essential Pan, which come with lids but no accessories, cost $135 and $95, respectively, as of this writing. Expensive cookware can be a worthwhile investment if it lasts long enough to justify the cost. Spend some time scrolling through the comments on Our Place’s Instagram account, though, and you’ll quickly notice a pattern of unhappy customers complaining that the slippery, nonstick coating has worn off after just a few months. Both the Caraway pan and the Equal Parts pan have some customers commenting about similar experiences.
Dressed up in soothing colors and touted by influencers (including Oprah) as the “kitchen magician,” the Always Pan and its counterparts are fairly standard nonstick ceramic cookware.
According to Wirecutter’s kitchen team, wear is a common issue with ceramic nonstick coatings (which, by the way, aren’t actually made of ceramic but of a ceramic-like coating called sol-gel). “The biggest complaint about ‘ceramic’ pans is that their nonstick properties don’t last as long,” Lesley writes in our guide to the best nonstick pans. “We asked friends and family how long their sol-gel cookware lasted, and they all said about one year—and that they’d never buy it again.”
In general, we don’t recommend spending a lot on a nonstick pan, because even the most durable nonstick coatings eventually wear out. We expect a good nonstick pan to last about three to five years, and that’s with the best care (never using it over high heat or with metal utensils). If you want something that will last that long, you’re better off with a Tramontina nonstick fry pan. A quality option with a comfortable handle and a flared lip to easily flip food, this $30 pan is a much more reasonable—and likely more reliable—investment, especially if you care for it correctly (video). And if you really want a pan that will last a lifetime, you’re better off with a good cast-iron skillet (which becomes nonstick over time) or a quality tri-ply stainless steel skillet.