If you never thought a kitchen pan could get cool Instagram status, you have not encountered the original Our Place Always Pan. Praised by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton and more, the $ 145 non-stick tool from the Los Angeles-based kitchenware brand comes in eight beautiful colors, has been sold out several times since its launch in 2019 and has received 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 26,310 reviews on the brand’s website.
So it was only natural that we tested the latest offering for Our Place, the new limited edition of Always Cast-Iron Pan, to see if it can match the charm of the older sibling.
If you are willing to pay for an Instagram favorite and love the versatility of cast iron, this pan will look gorgeous in your feed.
For those who are intimidated by cooking with cast iron, it’s time to get over it: Cast iron is extremely durable and natural nonstick, and it keeps the heat amazing and only gets better with time. And while Grandma’s cast iron pan probably had to be seasoned with oil after use, today’s versions come pre – seasoned and ready to go straight out of the box.
To take it a step further, the Our Place version is made of black matt enamelled cast iron, which means that there is no need for spices at all – and unlike regular cast iron, it can be used to prepare acidic foods as tomato-based stews. It can also scratch, so metal tools should be avoided. And since you do not build up the spice over time, you must use a healthy dose of oil, butter or other type of cooking fat when cooking.
Our Place claims that the pan can be used as a frying pan, frying pan, sauté pan, griddle, oven, baker, braiser and more, but it is no different from other cast iron pans, which are compatible with all cookers (we used ours) on an induction hob). And, like other versions, it can be used seamlessly from the hob to the oven (sear the steak on the stove, then move it to the oven to complete it), and it can reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can also stick it under the broiler.
Unlike most cast iron pans we’ve seen, this version comes with an ovenproof (up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit) glass lid, which is handy when you want to add steam to a veggie batter, for example. I have to admit that I was nervous about smashing the thing, and I did not use it for my cooking tests, but I could see that it came in handy for something like a paella.
The pan includes two silicone grips – one for the 6-inch handle and one for the opposite smaller auxiliary handle (love these!) – as well as a wooden spatula, a smart built-in spoon support and a completely natural sponge for cleaning.
But this is a brand built on aesthetics. Designated as “heirloom quality”, the pans have a shiny exterior, and unlike the basic variety of most cast iron varieties, it comes in six gorgeous shades: a dusty pink, pale oatmeal, muted green, dusty gray-blue, charcoal and soft purple.
What we did not like about it
Now one thing to know about cast iron is that it is heavy. The Always Pan version weighs 6.9 pounds and measures 9.5 inches across. It may come as a shock to fans of the original 3-pound ceramic version, but the enamel coating ensures a nice, even surface (better for even heat distribution) without nicks, pits or scratches. The 6-inch handle is fairly standard and comfortable enough to hold, but you really need to use the auxiliary handle if possible to lift your forehead without a fight.
But how did it work, you ask? We put the Always Cast-Iron Pan through the same battery of tests used to determine the best cast iron pots in 2022. We measured how long it took to heat oil, how evenly the heat was distributed over the pan, how comfortable it was to hold and how easy it was to pour oil into a Mason jar. We also used it to fry eggs, fry beef and bake cornbread.
Cast iron is known to retain heat, but not all pans are heated evenly. We used an infrared thermometer gun to measure all areas of the forehead and found inconsistent results, with the center of the forehead measuring the warmest and the right side clocked in hotter than the left. It was slower to heat oil than all the cast iron pans we previously tested, and Always does not include pouring spouts, which are extra useful when trying to remove oil or grease from the pan. We noticed some splashes when we tried to pour oil from Always into a Mason jar.
When it came to cooking, our dishes were very good. Our eggs fried in butter became fine and crispy on the edges and turned slightly, leaving only the slightest trace when we removed them from the pan. Our rib eye, scorched in a tablespoon of cooking oil, got a lovely crust and managed zero match when we turned it a couple of times and pulled it out of the pan. And our cornbread browned evenly and came off the pan easily. It left some crumbs stuck in the forehead, but nothing that could not be easily removed with a stiff brush.
Speaking of which, cleanup, overall, was easy. Contrary to popular myth, cast iron pans can be washed by hand with a little detergent as needed, and a stiff brush or scouring pad helps remove food or grease that is stuck to the bottom. Just be sure to dry the pan completely when you are done to avoid rust buildup, although the enamel coating also helps with that.
Finally, no specific warranty is listed on the website, but the brand notes that it offers free exchange or return up to 30 days after the item is shipped to your home.
No doubt the Always Cast-Iron Pan looks great. The colors are soft and just lovely – there is a good reason why it is so Instagram-worthy. It is just very nice to look at and also works well, plus it is easy to maintain.
But it is also expensive. If you’re just looking for a great cast iron pan that is a total workhorse, you’ll be better off with the Lodge Chef Collection 12-inch $ 49.95 divider, the total winner in our cast iron steaks. At a third of the price of the Always model, it surpassed most of its more expensive competitors, has a comfortable, elongated handle that makes it seem less heavy, includes two pouring spouts and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
But if you’re one of the rabid fans of the original nonstick Always Pan, you want to add a colorful cast iron version to your collection and you swear by Oprah’s Favorite Things, you will not regret choosing Our Places cast iron.