In this guide, I reveal the ten biggest lies cookware brands want you to believe.
You’ll learn how these companies stretch the truth so you buy their products and spend more money than you need to.
Sometimes, it’s the things they’re telling you, but often, it’s the vital information they conveniently leave out that’s most deceiving.
So, if you want to be an informed shopper who’s never fooled by marketing hype, keep reading.
Prefer to watch? Check out the video version below:
Lie #1: Our Non-Stick Pans Last Longer
You’ve probably seen cookware companies advertising that their non-stick coating lasts longer than the competition.
Some say it lasts 250% longer, ten times longer, and even 70 times longer.
While these numbers may be backed by actual testing, the claims are big and bold, while detailed information about the testing methods and results is vague, limited, or nonexistent.
For example, the makers of the Blue Diamond pan claim it lasts ten times longer. But there’s nothing to substantiate these claims in the fine print.
It says the claims are “Based on a Technical Report from CSA Group in 2018”. But there’s no other information or link to the report. And when you search for the report number, nothing comes up. If your non-stick coating really performed so much better than the competition, wouldn’t you want your potential customers to see all the details?
Misen claims that its non-stick coating lasts 250% longer. They determined this by shaking metal balls on the surface to simulate heavy kitchen use and comparing the condition of the coating after the test to other non-stick pans.
While this test provides some insight, other factors that are difficult to simulate, like heat, oils, cleaning methods, and contact with sharp utensils, play into the longevity of a non-stick pan.
The fact is that all non-stick coatings wear down over time. Some may last longer than others. But based on my experience testing dozens of cookware brands, how you use and care for these pans plays a much more significant role in their longevity than specific coating. So take these claims with a grain of salt and always read the fine print.
Lie #2: We Guarantee Our Pans Forever
Another common claim cookware brands make is that their pots and pans come with a lifetime guarantee.
They use language like: We stand by our cookware for life, Guaranteed for Life, Designed to Last a Lifetime, or Lifetime Warranty.
But if you read the fine print, almost all of these warranties only cover defects in materials and craftsmanship.
They don’t cover normal “wear and tear” or other issues that arise from improper use, such as scratches, warping, or discoloration. And each brand has different definitions for care and use.
The point is that the only thing guaranteed is that the pot and pans arrive without any known issues. In most cases, there’s no recourse if the pan warps, dents, the non-stick coating wears down, or the handle breaks.
Lie #3: Our Handles Will Never Break
Speaking of handles, most brands attach the handles to the pans using very secure rivets.
Demeyere claims on its website that these handles are “Ultra-secure.”
In fact, they put out a video showing an employee jumping on the pan, showing the handles’ strength.
Unfortunately, welded handles are not always as secure as these brands claim. After about three months of using the Demeyere Atlantis pan, I noticed the handle was loose. As I examined what was happening, I lifted the pan, and the handle completely snapped off. I was lucky it didn’t break while cooking, and the pan was scorching hot.
I’m not saying this happens frequently or that you should avoid all pans with welded handles, but it’s a risk, and calling them ultra-secure isn’t true based on my experience.
Lie #4: More Plys Are Better
When shopping for stainless steel cookware, you may see pans marketed as 3-ply or 5-ply. This refers to the number of bonded metal layers that make up each pan.
Some brands emphasize having more plies, implying that 5-ply pans are superior to 3-ply. But in most cases, the core construction is actually the same.
Standard 3-ply cookware contains two outer layers of stainless steel with an inner aluminum core. But technically, that aluminum core layer is made up of three sheets: a thick middle aluminum alloy sandwiched by two super thin pure aluminum sheets that help bond it to the steel.
Rather than explaining this minor detail, they count the invisible aluminum layers and market their 3-ply cookware as “5-ply.”
For example, All-Clad D3 and Made In pans have the same composition, but the All-Clad pan is advertised as 3-ply, and the Made In pan is advertised as 5-ply. While the 5-ply label sounds more impressive, in reality, both pans have the same materials and thickness, and because of that, they perform similarly.
Lie #5: Buying a Cookware Set Saves You Money
Saving time and money is the oldest marketing message in the book, and cookware companies claim you can do both by purchasing a complete cookware set. They say: don’t waste your time picking out individual pieces; we’ve done that for you. And by the way, the set is cheaper than buying each piece individually.
While that is true, most sets include unnecessary sizes, extra lids, and pans you’ll never use. Some brands intentionally add pieces to sets that aren’t selling well individually to help manage their inventory.
So, if you really want to save money, only buy the essential pieces you’ll use regularly.
Lie #6: Number of Pieces
Another deceiving marketing tactic is how cookware brands tally up the number of “pieces” in their sets.
Most people assume a 5-piece set contains five distinct pots and pans. However, brands commonly count lids, utensils, and other accessories as pieces. So, a typical “5-piece” set usually breaks down to just three pans and two lids.
Before purchasing any pre-configured cookware set, carefully inspect what pieces are included. Pay attention to the pan selection – not the total number of items.
Lie #7: Our Cookware Is Made In the USA
Most people in the United States prefer to buy local, American-made cookware, and the marketing teams of these cookware brands know this.
So, the brands that make their cookware in the USA highlight that prominently on their website and in their ads. But in some cases, the cookware isn’t 100% made in the USA.
For example, All-Clad makes the body of its pans in the US, but the handles and lids are made in China. That’s why the bottom of the pan says Bonded, Engineered, and Assembled in the USA, and not Made in the USA.
Another example is Heritage Steel. The end product is formed and assembled in their Tennesse factory, but they import sheets of bonded stainless steel from South Korea, and the handles are made in China.
These companies don’t necessarily lie about this, but it’s often buried in their websites’ fine print or FAQs.
Lie #8: Metal Utensils Won’t Scratch Our Pans
Most non-stick cookware brands tell you to avoid metal utensils because they can scratch and ruin the non-stick coating. And that’s wise advice.
But some brands, like Ninja NeverStick, Calphalon Signature, and HexClad, try to differentiate themselves by calling their cookware metal utensil-safe.
The reality is that no non-stick coating is immune to scratches, and using metal spatulas, forks, and spoons increases the risk of damage.
Even HexClad, which has raised steel on its surface to prevent utensils from touching the non-stick coating, can get scratched.
Calphalon advertises their Signature pans as metal utensil safe. But after a customer left a review on Calphalon.com complaining about the coating scratching, the Calphalon customer service rep advised them not to use metal utensils. So, is the pan metal utensil safe or not?
Lie #9: Our Pans Are Dishwasher Safe
Similarly, many companies claim their pots and pans are dishwasher-safe. And for the most part, you can get away with cleaning them in the dishwasher.
But if you want your cookware to last long, I would avoid the dishwasher. The detergent, high heat, high water pressure, and potential contact with other items can damage non-stick coatings.
You can even run into issues with stainless steel cookware. All-Clad recently settled a class action lawsuit because of this. The lawsuit alleges that All-Clad advertised its cookware as “dishwasher safe,” but when cleaned in the dishwasher, one or more of the bonded layers become thin and sharp.
All-Clad did not admit wrongdoing, but they agreed to a settlement and to refund or replace any damaged pans. Since the settlement, All-Clad now says its pans are not dishwasher safe.
Lie #10: Our Pan Replaces 15 Pieces of Cookware
These pans promise to save you money and space by doing the job of several pans.
While you certainly can use many different cooking techniques, they’re just aluminum non-stick pans with tall sides, a spoon or a spatula, and a steamer basket. The only real difference between these pans and a standard saute pan is the steamer basket that comes with it. But you can buy one of those for under $10.
So if the Always Pan has ten functions, a standard stainless steel saute pan without the steamer basket has 9.
Also, if you look at the Always Pan FAQs, it says it replaces ten different pans, including a fry pan, saute pan, steamer, roasting dish, baking dish, skillet, saucier, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. But fry pans and skillets are the same thing, and a non-stick pan is a vague term that usually refers to a non-stick fry pan. So, there seems to be some double counting to get to the number 10.
My best advice is to avoid these pans because they’re expensive, don’t provide much additional value, and the marketing language is questionable.
While some marketing claims in the cookware industry hold true, many stretch the truth or omit important details. As consumers, we must read between the lines, analyze the fine print, and use common sense when evaluating products.
The most durable and versatile pans are stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel. All non-stick pans wear down and need to be replaced, regardless of what the company making them says. Building your own small collection of essential pieces usually makes more financial sense than purchasing a complete set.
- 5 Cookware Brands You Should Never Buy (And Why)
- The 9 Best Cookware Brands (After Testing Over 25)
- Best Cookware NOT Made in China: The Definitive Guide
- Best Cookware Made in the USA: Top Brands Reviewed
- Best Hard-Anodized Aluminum Cookware: The Definitive Guide
- 15 Stainless Steel Cookware Buying Mistakes (What to Look For)
- Best Lightweight Cookware: Top Brands Reviewed
- 22 Practical Gifts That People Who Like to Cook ACTUALLY Want
- 9 Italian Cookware Brands: The Best Pots & Pans Made in Italy
- 9 French Cookware Brands: The Best Pots & Pans Made in France