The Perfect Pan: 7 Things a Pan Needs To Be All-in-One
by HexClad Cookware
Many chefs love having a kitchen fully stocked with a shit ton of pots and pans, but some of us have less space at our places and need to extract more utility out of each and every piece in the kitchen.
Wherever you fall on this spectrum, having a piece of cookware that can function as multi-tool player — like both a sauté pan and a non-stick fry pan, for example — is always a win.
We have all the details on what you’ll need a multi-purpose pan to do — and why ours does all of that and more.
What Is an All-in-One Pan?
You may have heard companies or social media ads talk about certain pans being all-in-one, but what does that mean?
For a pan to be considered all-in-one, it needs to function in multiple culinary roles. That means that you could throw away most of the other cookware in your kitchen and still get dinner on the table using multiple cooking techniques. (Not that we’re saying you should do that.)
Let’s be clear: This one pan needs to be able to perform at least seven functions and hold its own for countless recipes and cuisine styles.
What Makes an All-in-One Pan?
Below is a list of a few essential qualities that an all-in-one pan should have.
The Right Material
First, you’ll want to make sure you know what your pans are made of. It’s essential for a number of reasons, but the two most important factors when assessing material and composition are heat and reactivity.
- Heat: Certain cooking materials heat up faster and more evenly than others, making them a better choice for multiple jobs. The process of heating quickly and evenly is called thermal conductivity.
All pots and pans are heat conductors but you’ll want to make sure that an all-in-one pan is made from a material that’s exceptionally good at conducting heat.
For example, cast-iron pans are notorious for their slow and uneven heating. This makes for a dreadful all-in-one pan. However, stainless steel heats quickly and evenly over the whole surface of the pan. This material is an excellent choice to be the always pan for you.
- Reactivity: Another factor to be aware of is how the pan reacts to foods. Pots and pans that react to acidic foods will leach metal molecules into your meals. This can cause a metallic flavor in your meals and even discolor your food. That’s why you need nonreactive cookware.
When it comes to materials for cookware sets there are several options to choose from, including ceramic non-stick pans, carbon steel pans, and stainless steel. However, for the best features, we recommend pans made from hybrid materials like our own HexClad pans which are made with an aluminum core surrounded by layers of stainless steel.
The durability of a pan refers to how long your pan will hold up in your kitchen. This is a crucial point of consideration for your cookware. An all-in-one pan will see a lot of use and it should be able to handle whatever in Hell’s Kitchen you throw at it.
You need a pan that can stand a lot of wear and tear. Certain materials such as an enameled cast iron might look pretty, but they are prone to thermal shock and chipping if they get smacked into something.
HexClad pans are built better — their hybrid componentry won’t chip or scratch when used with metal utensils.They’re the toughest, most durable pan you’ll find, making them the ideal option for your everyday pan.
You may not want to spend all your savings on an all-in-one pan but you also don’t want to buy the cheapest item on the market just to save a few dollars. That’s when you start to sacrifice quality.
Think of it this way — you’re buying one pan that can do the job of seven different pans, so the price should reflect the quality. You don’t, however, need to buy the most expensive one just for the sake of showing off.
One high-quality pan will also last you a long time, so you won’t need to get another one in a year or two. That’s great for your wallet, your kitchen, and the planet.
Copper and cast iron pots and pans are nice-looking but hard to clean and maintain. This is another factor to keep in mind when deciding on an all-in-one pan.
You want to buy quality, but you also want to make sure that taking care of your pans isn’t a nightmare — especially considering how often you will have them on the range.
You need your pan to be dishwasher safe, even if you prefer to handwash when you have time and energy. Easy clean-up saves you time and effort, so you can get back to planning your next big dish.
HexClad pans use patented PFOA-free non-stick technology to keep food from sticking to the bottom of your pan for easy clean up. Or ,if you don’t feel up to washing your dishes, these pans can easily be washed in the dishwasher.
Seven Things Your All-in-One Pan Needs To Do
For a pan to be considered all-in-one, it needs to do the jobs of at least these seven other types of cookware. Here’s what to look for.
The first piece of the all-in-one puzzle is a non-stick skillet or fry pan.
An all-in-one pan needs to be able to take care of frying foods. You’ll use this pan to deep fry crispy chicken, gently pan-fry delicate fish, or put a sear on a delicious cut of meat. It’s also your cookware of choice for stir-frying noodles in recipes that typically call for a wok.
An all-in-one pan should also act as a braiser. This is a gadget for slow-cooking meats and veggies. This means your pan needs to be able to start on the stovetop and then finish a recipe low and slow in the oven. That’s why our pans are oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
You should also be able to use your all-in-one pan to cook stews and broths with ease. The most popular options for these tasks are a dutch oven or a stockpot — items usually deep enough to hold liquid to fully immerse ingredients in broth and are oven safe. An all-in-one pan like the Hybrid Deep Sauté Pan and Chicken Fryer can easily replace these specialty items.
A home cook needs a pan that can sauté with the best of the best, and an all-in-one pan should do this with ease. This is the most basic of cooking techniques and any pan worth using can get it done.
This is where the durability of a pan really comes into play. You’ll need one that can last through all the trial and error of learning how to sauté foods evenly. For a novice home cook, this can be a lot of work.
It can also be tricky to clean a pan thoroughly if you have to scrape and scrub away burnt food. A lot of pans can’t handle the stronger sponges, but a quality all-in-one pan should be able to stand up to anything you throw its way.
Sauces come together quickly but can break just as fast. You need a pan that can retain heat but also cool down quickly once the heat source is removed.
Standard cookware has a hard time with this. Pans made from cast iron and enameled aluminum heat up very slowly, making them a subpar option. Aluminum can also be problematic as a saucier as it will react to high-acidity ingredients.
Even if it doesn’t come with a colander, an all-in-one pan needs to be able to function as a steamer basket. Anyone who enjoys steamed veggies or dumplings knows that a quality steamer is a kitchen necessity.
A good quality all-in-one pan will be able to steam items as well as it sears them. In fact, you should be able to steam foods using a small amount of water at the bottom of the pan. Just add a tight-fitting lid and make the magic happen.
The trial and error with cooking techniques and recipes are a lot less of a hassle when your pan is non-stick.
To ensure the safety of your health and the quality of your non-stick surface, pick a pan that is PFOA-free.
Stove to Table
This quality is less about the cooking power of your pan and more about the finishing touches.
The right all-in-one pan should be able to go from cookware to serveware just like that. If you use a high-quality pan, you’ll have zero issues showing it off on the dinner table as well.
Many times, especially with big family get-togethers, saving time between cooking to serving dinner is essential. You’ll want to get the food on the table fast and in style. Using a large, versatile pan will be a big help.
If you’re a Gordon Ramsay fan, you’ll know that an excellent risotto recipe is always a big hit at parties. Being able to turn off the heat and put the pan down in the center of the table with wooden spatula to serve everyone will be a shining quality of a great host.
And with any excellent risotto, you better expect your dinner guests to be go back for seconds and thirds. With a HexClad pan, you don’t have to worry about them switching up utensils and using a metal spoon to grab more food. All HexClad cookware is metal safe, so you can use your pan with any type of kitchen utensil.
What Other Brands Promise, HexClad Delivers
Some pans promise durability but crack under pressure. Some pans claim all-in-one status but aren’t safe to use in the oven or can’t handle acidic foods. Others can’t stand up to being cleaned or used every day without wearing down.
Here at Hexclad, we set out to make a versatile set of perfect pots and pans that you can use for every essential aspect of cooking.
We’ve created functional tri-ply pans of stainless steel pans with aluminum centers to give you everything from induction capabilities, heat-resistant handles, and oven-safe lids.