It’s tempting to buy cookware from brands making bold claims in ads and infomercials. But, despite their clever marketing, many fail to perform as promised.
Through extensive testing, I’ve found five cookware brands that aren’t worth your hard-earned money despite their hype.
In this guide, I’ll reveal which ones to avoid, explain their drawbacks, and recommend better alternatives.
Use the links below to navigate the guide:
- Cookware Brands to Avoid: Video Summary
- Our Place Always Pan
- Farberware Classic
- Blue Diamond Pan
- Gotham Steel
- Pioneer Woman Cookware
- Bottom Line
Cookware Brands to Avoid: Video Summary
Watch me reveal the 5 cookware brands you should never buy in this quick video:
The first cookware brand you should avoid is Our Place, specifically the Always Pan.
The Our Place Always Pan is one of the most popular pieces of cookware on the market. It’s all over social media and claims to be a 10-in-1 all-purpose pan that can perform nearly all cooking functions.
While you certainly can use many different cooking techniques, it’s just an aluminum non-stick pan with tall sides, a wooden spoon, and a steamer basket.
At first, the Always Pan performed great; eggs slid around, and nothing stuck. But not too long after I started testing it, the ceramic coating started to wear down, and I had to use more and more oil and butter to prevent sticking.
This all-in-one style pan saves space and helps you declutter your kitchen, but the notion that one pan can do it all is simply not true in my experience.
The Always Pan is 10.5 inches in diameter and has a 2.6-quart capacity, which might work for one or two people but not for a family of three or more. Unless you cook one-pot meals, you’ll need more than one pan.
Another aspect I don’t like about the Always Pan is the steamer basket. The metal legs are short, so you can only put a small amount of water in the pan. If you add too much, you’ll boil instead of steam, but if you put too little, it burns off quickly before fully cooking the food.
The metal legs on the included steamer basket can also scratch and further damage the delicate coating over time.
On top of all that, this pan is not broiler-safe, and you should only use low to medium heat to preserve the coating. For a pan that touts itself as the ultimate all-purpose system, it has several limitations.
Overall, it’s a decent pan, and I appreciate Our Place’s mission to reduce waste and simplify cooking. But it’s overpriced for a pan you’ll need to replace eventually.
Instead of the Always Pan, consider the Made In 3.5-quart stainless steel sauté pan. Its thick (3 mm) 5-ply body heats evenly and retains heat well. The wide cooking surface provides plenty of room for searing, while the straight sides make it possible to braise and simmer sauces.
Unlike the Always Pan’s delicate ceramic coating, the Made In pan’s exposed stainless steel surface is broiler and oven-safe up to 800°F, making it far more versatile. The flared rim enables drip-free pouring, and the handle stays cool on the stove.
Farberware has been around for over 100 years, and some of their non-stick cookware is of decent quality, but avoid their Classic Series stainless steel pans.
The best thing I can say about this cookware is it’s affordable. But, like most things, you get what you pay for.
This cookware is thin and lightweight. For example, the Farberware Classic 10-inch skillet weighs 1.3 pounds. Most 10-inch skillets weigh well over 2 pounds, sometimes over 3.
The thin walls and lack of heft make controlling the heat a challenge. The temperature fluctuates significantly as you add and remove ingredients, making it difficult to get consistent results. In fact, it’s one of the worst-performing pans in my heat retention test.
Another negative is that the sides of the pan don’t heat at the same rate as the bottom. Since Farberware Classic stainless steel pans have a cladded base with thin steel sides, the whole pan doesn’t heat evenly.
The thin sides won’t impact food that cooks primarily on the flat part of the cooking surface, like chicken or steak, but it makes a difference when sautéing, stir-frying, or cooking other meals that touch the sides.
Another downside worth mentioning is the short handles. At only 6 inches, the handles on the 10-inch skillet force you to place your hand closer to the heat.
Also, since the handles are plastic, these pans are only safe in the oven up to 350°F. Most stainless steel cookware can handle at least 500°F.
Because of its thin construction, short plastic handles, and low heat tolerance, Farberware Classic is a cookware brand to avoid.
If you’re looking for affordable stainless steel cookware, check out Misen and Tramontina Tri-Ply. Both are fully clad with thicker and heavier construction. They cost a bit more and heat up slower, but they heat more evenly, retain heat better, and are much less likely to warp.
You’ve probably seen the commercials for the Blue Diamond pan, the one with millions of tiny diamonds infused into the ceramic non-stick coating.
The makers of the Blue Diamond pan claim it’s five times harder, lasts ten times longer, and transfers heat four times faster than the competition.
However, there’s nothing to substantiate these claims in the fine print. There are no links to test results or reports.
Also, the fine print says, “Diamonds are 4X’s more heat conductive than copper.” That’s true, but the pan is not made of diamonds. It’s an aluminum pan with a ceramic non-stick coating that contains a minimal amount of diamond dust.
I called Blue Diamond and asked about these claims, but the customer service representative hurried me off the phone and told me to email them. I emailed and am still waiting for a response months later (I will update this article if I ever hear back).
Besides the bold claims and unhelpful customer service, the performance of these pans is nothing special.
Like most ceramic-coated non-stick pans, they heat fast and evenly, and food doesn’t stick initially. But over time, things start to go south. When the coating wears down, eggs and other delicate foods begin to stick.
Also, the hollow handle is open on the end, which allows grease from neighboring burners to splatter inside. It feels cheap and is difficult to clean.
Misen non-stick cookware is made from thick, commercial-grade aluminum that distributes heat evenly and remains flat.
The cooing surface is coated in a long-lasting non-stick coating (DuPont Platinum), and the exterior has a ceramic coating, which makes it easy to clean oil and sauces that spill over the sides.
The stainless steel base plate makes it compatible with all stovetop types, including induction.
All-Clad Essentials pans are made of heavy gauge (4 mm thick) aluminum for even heating and excellent heat retention. The high-quality PTFE non-stick coating lasts long and provides easy food release.
The double riveted stainless steel handles are secured permanently for safety and comfort. These pans are oven-safe up to 500°F and dishwasher-safe.
Gotham Steel is another brand similar to Blue Diamond that I don’t recommend. In their early commercials, celebrity chef Daniel Green claims using Gotham Steel is “Like cooking on air. Everything slides right off.”
I tested the 12-inch fry pan from the original collection, and the first thing I noticed was how lightweight it felt. The walls are thin, and it doesn’t have the heft of thicker, more expensive pans.
The advantage of lightweight cookware is that it’s easy to maneuver. The downside is that it’s super responsive to heat, so it’s easy to mistakenly burn or overcook food.
The thin handles were the next thing that stood out. Gotham Steel handles are flat, which makes it easy to tilt the pan, but the grip is uncomfortable, and the edges can dig into your hand.
Overall, Gotham Steel is another As Seen on TV pan with an intriguing name, bold claims, and disappointing performance. It’s inexpensive, so the risk is low if you want to try it. But if my experience is any indication, it’s not worth the hassle.
For an in-depth look at how Gotham Steel pans performed across a variety of tests, along with up-close pictures, check out my in-depth review.
Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman, has a cooking show on Food Network, an award-winning blog, and several cookbooks. And while I enjoy her show, I can’t say the same about her cookware, specifically the ceramic non-stick pans.
Like Blue Diamond and Gotham Steel, Pioneer Woman non-stick pans have a thin aluminum body with a ceramic non-stick coating. And the more I tested it, the less non-stick it became.
The handles have a silicone wrapper, which makes them secure and comfortable but also limits the oven-safe temperature to 350°F.
Because of the thin walls, these pans do not retain heat well. I conduct the same test on every pan I review to evaluate heat retention.
First, I bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove the pan from heat. After 5 and 10 minutes, I measure the temperature. The best retaining pans keep water above 120°F at the 5-minute mark.
Only one brand out of the 25 I tested performed worse than Pioneer Woman. After boiling, the water temp fell to just 104.3°F after 5 minutes, a significant drop compared to top performers like Demeyere Atlantis at 122°F. After 10 minutes, the 90.9°F reading matched the 2nd worst pan.
Since Pioneer Woman pans don’t retain heat well, the temperature drops when you add cold ingredients like steak or chicken. When this happens, the meat steams instead of searing. The rapidly fluctuating heat also prevents food from cooking evenly.
If you’re a fan of Ree Drummond’s show and are looking for low-cost, colorful cookware, go for it. But there are much better options if you want high-performing, long-lasting pans that retain heat well.
When shopping for cookware, avoid products that make bold claims without evidence.
Brands like Our Place, Farberware, Blue Diamond, Gotham Steel, and Pioneer Woman may seem appealing due to celebrity endorsements, infomercials, or bold claims in their ads. But they fail to deliver reliable performance based on my experience.
For stainless steel cookware that heats evenly, retains heat well, and will last for years, look for fully-clad pans that are at least 3 mm thick and made from quality materials like 300 series 18/10 stainless steel.
For affordable but good-quality non-stick cookware, look for commercial-grade aluminum pans with PTFE coating from brands like Misen or All-Clad Essentials. While more expensive upfront, these options will save you money in the long run since you won’t need to replace them as often.
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