3-ply construction with an aluminum center
Highly responsive to temperature changes
Unique stainless steel hexagonal ridges and nonstick-coated ceramic valleys
A Much-Needed Compromise Between Nonstick and Stainless for Serious Home Chefs
HexClad cookware may not completely live up to the hype (and few products could considering how much hype this brand gets), but these pans do have a lot to offer. The hybrid surface design gives you the effortless cleaning and usability of nonstick while the exposed stainless steel pattern allows for searing and offers unparalleled durability.
The three-ply construction with an aluminum center makes for highly reactive cooking and impressively quick heating. Paired with additional features like stay-cool handles, an easy-clean exterior, and a beautiful overall design, these pans are worth the investment.
Review Criteria Ratings
- Easy to clean
- Durable surface that’s metal utensil safe
- Heats up very fast
- Responsive to temperature changes
- Stay-cool handles
- Requires seasoning for optimal use
- Contains synthetic non-stick coating
- Will discolor over time
Should You Buy It?
If you are a serious home cook that doesn’t have time to soak and scrub pans or meticulously care for sensitive surfaces, these are the pans for you.
They have more to offer than your typical nonstick or stainless steel fryer, are a breeze to clean, and require little maintenance and upkeep.
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HexClad Cookware Overview
HexClad is an e-commerce company launched in 2015 with the goal to reinvent premium cookware. Their solution was a unique combination of stainless steel hexagonal ridges and nonstick-coated ceramic valleys, creating a cooking surface like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
The unique attributes of the HexClad cooking surface make it one of the better nonstick options for cooking meat.
This is because the stainless steel elements of the pans will form a bond with the meat surface, allowing for the high heat exchange that causes proteins and sugars to sear. This doesn’t happen on traditional nonstick surfaces because the nonstick elements repel food, forcing an air gap between the surfaces.
But unlike traditional stainless steel and cast iron, HexClad pans also contain nonstick valleys between these searing ridges that prevent food from sticking. The two in combination offer a compromise that allows for some searing ability without the hefty cleanup afterward.
HexClad cookware is available in all standard types and sizes. Their Everything Set includes all 13 pots and pans they make, matching lids, their Japanese Damascus steel knife set, mixing bowls, and cutting boards. You can also buy their cookware and accessories individually or in smaller sets.
I had a chance to try HexClad’s 6-piece fry pan set, which includes their 12”, 10”, and 8” fry pans, each with a matching tempered glass lid.
Keep reading to see my full HexClad Cookware review and to find out how close these pans came to living up to the massive hype behind the brand (thank you Gordan Ramsey!).
How Hexclad Cookware Performs
The 6-piece fry pan arrived in a single box with each piece individually packaged inside. The pans came with their own individual protective bag that could be useful for keeping them in pristine condition during storage but is probably unnecessary given how durable these are supposed to be.
As soon as I pulled the first fry pan out, I was struck by how different these pans looked and felt. It isn’t just the eye-catching pattern; the inside of the pans have a wholly unique feel compared to anything I’ve reviewed in the past.
The inside is not smooth like a typical nonstick, but quite rough. Even more so than a quality cast iron pan. Needless to say, I was very interested in how these pans would perform and immediately put them to work.
The odd texture on the cooking surface of the pans is thanks to the stainless steel ridges and pegs mixed with the ceramic nonstick valleys.
What, exactly, those nonstick valleys are made of is a bit of a mystery, as is usually the case with these products. We know from the marketing material that there is a “non-toxic,” “PFOA-free,” Japanese-made coating over the ceramic. Most likely, it is some type of synthetic PTFE coating.
PTFE is considered non-toxic when used correctly and is much safer than PFAS coatings. But these synthetic coatings are still chemicals with some risk. Most specifically, they can break down and form toxic gas when overheated.
So, while HexClad pans are marketed as non-toxic and high-heat safe, it is advisable to use the same precautions with them as you would any Teflon or PTFE pan. That is, stick to low and medium heat and do not expose them to temperatures over 500 degrees.
How long HexClad’s special non-stick coating lasts before breaking down and potentially leaching into food is not yet known given how new these pans are to the market. However, all HexClad cookware comes with a lifetime warranty which tells you how confident the company is in their pans’ lasting power.
In addition to the pans’ unique surface are two more design elements worth mentioning.
First, these are very shallow frying pans. They are optimized, design-wise, for cooking meat, sautéing veggies, and preparing other solid-state foods. The low sides make these frying pans a poor choice for cooking sauces and liquids.
The second one is a feature I found very impressive: the stay-cool handles. Both the ergonomic handles on the pans and the lid handles resisted heat impressively well. I never had to reach for a hot pad while cooking with these frying pans.
The pan handles were a bit shorter than most but were still well-balanced. This made it easier to fit the pans into my cupboard, which I appreciated.
These pans were certainly pretty, but could they cook? I started with some standard concept trials to see how these pans matched up to my ceramic, stainless steel, and cast iron cookware. For each, I used the 12-inch frying or sauté pans to compare.
I started with a simple water boiling race, then measured the temperature of the pans five minutes after the heat was turned off to see how reactive they were to temperature changes. I measured the temperature again after 10 minutes to determine overall heat retention. I also weighed each pan to see where the hybrid would fall.
Here are my measurements:
|Hexclad Hybrid 12” Frying Pan||Ceramic 12” Saute Pan||3-Ply Stainless Steel 12” Saute Pan||Cast Iron 12” Fry Pan|
|Time to Boil||4 minutes 7 seconds||6 minutes 30 seconds||8 minutes 8 seconds||13 minutes 41 seconds|
|Temperature After 5 Minutes (Reactivity)||137 degrees||145 degrees||125 degrees||131 degrees|
|Temperature After 10 Minutes (Heat Retention)||119 degrees||121 degrees||109 degrees||105 degrees|
|Weight||3 lbs 1.8 ounces||4 lbs 1.6 ounces||3 lbs 5.6 ounces||7 lbs 2.8 ounces|
In terms of heating potential, the HexClad left all others in the dust. It got the water to a roiling boil twice as fast as the stainless steel pan and two minutes faster than the ceramic.
For reactivity, the HexClad fell somewhere between the ceramic, which was not overly reactive, and the stainless steel pan, which was the most reactive. Here, the HexClad hybrid performed a lot like a cast iron pan. Interestingly, the HexClad retained heat much better than the stainless and cast iron pans and acted more like a ceramic pan in this instance.
In terms of weight, the HexClad was the lightest of my pans. The ceramic and stainless were high-sided sauté pans, which added a decent amount of bulk. The cast iron was about the same size and shape as the HexClad, but, of course, was much thicker and denser.
In terms of cooking actual food, I really did enjoy using these HexClad pans.
The manual recommends seasoning the pans before use. I’m not going to lie, I skipped this step the first time I cooked with them and they still performed as well as a true nonstick. I did use oil as recommended and kept the heat on the lower end.
Food moved over the surface easily without sticking, even my scrambled eggs. But unlike my nonstick ceramic pans, I was able to quickly achieve some browning on my veggies and meat. It wasn’t quite the sear I get from my cast iron, but it was a huge improvement over typical nonstick pans. And I was impressed with how evenly the meat cooked.
Overall, these pans were easy to maneuver on the stovetop, decently reactive to temperature changes, and provided balanced heat for an enjoyable cooking experience.
The Hexclad Clean Up
To my surprise, the rough surface of the pans did not cause any issues during cooking or cleaning. Both with seasoning and without, the pans cleaned up in a flash.
I had to spend a bit more time running a soapy rag over them than I do with my ceramic pans, but the process still required zero scrubbing or elbow grease.
A nice thing about these pans is that if they do get dirty, you can use steel wool on them without worry. In fact, that’s the recommended cleaning option given in the manual.
The stainless steel pattern and diamond dust added to the nonstick coating are, apparently, enough to protect the nonstick surface from damage even from abrasive metal.
One more thing worth mentioning is how easy it is to clean the outside of these pans. Many nonstick companies neglect the outer coating when designing their pans, but not HexClad. The walls and burner surface feature the same durable stainless steel and hexagon pattern as the inside, making it super easy to clean the entire pan.
Many reviews of HexClad products point to their price as a major con. While these pans are more expensive than premium ceramic or my favorite affordable cast iron pans, they are marketed as premiere cookware. So that premier price point should not surprise.
In fact, compared to name-brand premiere cookware, like All-Clad, HexClad is very well-priced for what you get.
So, no, this is not bargain-priced cookware or even “affordable premium” cookware. But considering the warranty, build quality, and unique design, I think these are well worth the price tag.
Hexclad Cookware Alternatives
HexClad combines the usability and easy-clean nature of a nonstick pan with the high durability and searing power of a stainless steel pan. For the home cook who values versatility and ease of use, it really doesn’t get much better.
But if you’re after a cookware set that offers non-stick power without chemicals or premier pans that can sear like nothing else, there are other options out there.
For a completely chemical-free, non-toxic, non-stick cookware set, I highly recommend Caraway Cookware. These ceramic pots and pans are naturally nonstick and are made and packaged with the environment in mind. They require more careful care than HexClads and nonstick-coated pans, but they are worth it and are even easier to keep clean.
If you cook a lot of meat and enjoy a good sear, then it’s probably worth the extra scrubbing to get a traditional pan that can cook steaks the way they were meant to be cooked. In this category, I recommend Legend Cookware. Their copper core 5-ply stainless cookware provides unparalleled quick heating, reactivity, and heat retention with a cook surface made to brown meat to perfection.
|Materials||3-ply aluminum clad stainless with ceramic nonstick coating||Aluminum core naturally nonstick ceramic||Copper core 5-ply stainless steel|
|Perfect for||Versatile cooking and easy cleaning||Nonstick cooking without the chemicals||Cooking meat like a professional|
While all the pans above have a lot to offer, HexClad cookware is unique in that it gives you the best of both worlds. It cleans like a nonstick but is incredibly durable, easy to care for, and cooks more like a cast iron or premiere stainless steel pan.
To learn more about HexClad cookware or to pick up a set of your own, click here.