There’s a rumor going around that Our Place's Always Pan was given its name because it's always selling out. Over the past few years, this eco-chic cookware has gone viral. It's brightened up our social media feeds with its unique colorways and claims to revolutionize the one-pan dinner. But, how does this wonder pot actually stack up for a young professional living in a tiny studio apartment with a nearly non-existent kitchen? Below, join me on my journey as I put the internet's favorite cookware to the test by whipping up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with it — and also while giving one of Our Place's bestselling accessories, the Spruce Steamers, a whirl. Writer's note: I received the Always Pan to test for this story — but, while it was indeed gifted in the name of shopping research, my review is honest & true with no prompts or approvals from Our Place.
What is the Always Pan?
Our Place first stepped on the scene in 2019 to assuage the struggles of the modern kitchen; tiny stovetops, barely-there counter space, and shallow sinks. Rather than snagging a traditional 8-piece cookware set that floods the cabinets, the Always Pan is a multi-faceted, non-toxic, and ethically-sourced kitchen tool that gets the job done on its own accord. The 10-inch diameter pot replaces everything from a steamer to a strainer, a sautee pan, a saucepan, a saucier (rounded saucepan), a skillet, a frying pan, a non-stick pan, AND a spoon rest. "As immigrants, my partner and I literally found Our Place in America by cooking and sharing food with our new communities," Shahid explains. "That's why we believe so fundamentally in the importance of home-cooking. Because cooking and sharing our foods is often how love, culture, and identity and most fully expressed."
How is the Always Pan packaged?
Knowing that I was about to receive a hefty do-it-all piece of cookware, I prepared my apartment for an onslaught of boxes, plastic wrapping, and general clutter hysteria — but, was impressed by the seamless bio-degradable cardboard encasing (no plastic!). The famous pan fits inside a single cardboard box along with a pamphlet on proper care instructions and an eco-friendly dehydrated sponge for washing. In the second box were the two bamboo Spruce Steamers, chopsticks, 15 paper linings, another dehydrated sponge, and a care instruction pamphlet. Our Place Founder Shiza Shahid previously shared with us that, "sourcing ethically and sustainably, shipping our products in 100% recyclable and biodegradable boxes, using partially recycled materials in our products, sourcing most of our product from women-owned factory partners, and giving back to important causes including food justice, immigration rights, and racial justice." To put it simply, "impact isn't one thing, it's everything," Shahid explained.
What can you cook with the Always Pan?
Everything from fried eggs to pasta, steamed veggies, and beyond — Our Place's co-founder, Shiza Shahid, shares that her favorite things to make in this magical pan are "simple everyday pleasure like fried eggs or pasta, and also nostalgic foods from my childhood like daal" while also adding that "fried eggs practically levitate off the pan!". Check out the breakfast, lunch, and dinner I decided to whip up with it below.
I started off with the ultimate non-stick test: two fried eggs. Before greasing the pan with some classic cooking spray, I gave it a quick gentle wash in the sink as per instructions. My first impression of the pan was: woah, it's huge. It did make my stove look even more miniature than it is and I felt extra for using it to just fry up two eggs, but it passed the test with beautiful sage green colors. My eggs were crisp, and not a single crunchy fried remnant was left in the pan. From previous frying experiences, I had come to terms with the fact that crispy eggs equal a crusty pan — but, today, my assumptions (just like my eggs) were flipped upside down.
Later in the day, I busted out the Spruce Steamer. (Full disclosure: this photo is from the second time I used it because the first time I did not use it correctly — so I suggest all novices read the instructions carefully.) For perfectly steamed Trader Joe's veggie dumplings: make sure to lay down one of the steaming sheets thoughtfully provided by Our Place into the spruce basket, then place your frozen dumplings on top. In the meantime, pour water into the bottom of your Always Pan and get it boiling. Once it's simmering, stack the spruce baskets with dumplings on top and slap on the Always Pan's lid to start steaming. Seven minutes and a beautiful Studio Ghibli-Esque puff of steam later, my lunch was done. This contraption is the ultimate mini-culinary sauna for when you want more than just cooked veggies — everything from tamales to dumplings, fish, and more healthy meals can be whipped up in a snap.
When 6:30 p.m. rolled around, I was tired of cooking. Uber Eats was calling my name but I pushed through and rounded out the day with my 100%-one-pan-only shrimp noodle dish. As an evidently lazy cook, I love the idea of a one-pot meal — but, I never successfully pulled one off until this weekend. I boiled the pasta, drained it with the strainer, sauteéd the rest of my ingredients, and then threw the pasta back into the pan once everything was done. Using the spatula was fab, as well, thanks to the built-in spoon rest at the base of the pan's handle. I don't think that a dish was one of Our Place's intended uses for its do-everything cookware but whatever, YOLO, I also ate dinner out of the pot. I used wooden chopsticks because I knew silverware would scratch the non-stick coating, and just dined like I normally would. Even though I did not form a connection across the kitchen table with the Always Pan this weekend, I did find another item for it to replace: a plate.
How Was The Clean-Up?
The most taxing clean-up was the post-dinner dishwashing because I used the strainer, the pan, the lid, and the spatula. But, compared to my usual parade of pots and pans, it was a breeze. I did not need to soak it, scrub it vigorously (you’re definitely not supposed to), or prepare for food to slip down the drain because the non-stick coating effortlessly slid every single leftover into my container. All it took was a quick soaping up of the various Always Pan parts and I was done. Thankfully, my dish drying rack was empty because the pan did gobble up the whole thing (but as would have three pots, some spatulas, and various utensils).
The rumors are false: I don't think the Always Pan got its name because it's always sold out, it actually got its name because it will always have your cooking needs covered — whatever they may be. I never thought to buy myself nice cookware since I have such limited kitchen space, but now I find it hard to reach for my $20 frying pan. Even when this cookware is not in use, I like to set it on my stovetop and utilize it as a lovely piece of home decor because it's seriously gorgeous. The steamer is definitely extra but it’s an A+ product through and through. Although you can steam with the strainer that comes with it, I recommend treating yourself to the bamboo one if you want to sizzle up anything more than just veggies. After receiving this product, I may retire my Uber Eats app altogether — because from one tiny kitchen owner to another, the Always Pan truly delivers on its multipurpose-magic promise.
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