Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Here at Serious Eats, we’ve long held the opinion that you shouldn’t spend a ton of money on a nonstick skillet; they just don’t last long enough to justify a big price tag. Instead, if you’re looking to invest in cookware, we often point you toward a sturdy stainless steel, carbon steel, or cast iron skillet, all of which are versatile, durable, and can get a nice sear on meats (and cauliflower steaks, if you’re into that). But the truth is, so many folks love a nonstick skillet for its ease of use, including many of us editors (it’s true!). 

This is why we’ve been super curious about HexClad, a brand that peddles “hybrid” cookware that “brings together the performance of stainless steel, the durability of cast iron, and the convenience of nonstick”—or so they say. It also comes with a hefty price tag, with the 12-inch skillet costing $200. 

Could this expensive, hybrid skillet that supposedly combines the best of nonstick and stainless steel prove that you can truly have it all? We set out to find out by using the 12-inch frying pan for around a month, pitting it against fried eggs, crepes, seared steak, pan sauce, sauteed mushrooms, and much more. 

The Tests

Serious Eats / Grace KellySeasoning: Prior to using the skillet, we seasoned it per HexClad’s instructions. This involved heating the pan over medium, spreading one teaspoon of oil around the interior, then leaving the pan on medium heat for two to four minutes. While we aren’t sure seasoning is really necessary for this type of pan, it’s easy enough to do, and we don’t think the company has anything to gain from people doing it. Water Boiling Test: We boiled one cup of water in the skillet without a lid, timing how long this took. Fried Egg Test: We cooked two over-easy fried eggs in the skillet, one with oil and one without oil. We used a metal fish spatula to flip the eggs and remove them from the skillet. Crepe Test: We made a batch of crepes in the skillet, examining how the pan was able to lift and spread the batter, as well as how easy it was to flip the crepes. Steak au Poivre Test Test: We made steak au poivre to test the pan’s searing ability and use over high heat. We also examined the pan’s durability by using a whisk to make the pan sauce. Sauteed Mushroom Test: We made our recipe for sauteed mushrooms, examining how the skillet fared when tossing and stirring the fungi.Cleaning Tests: We hand-washed the skillet and ran it through the dishwasher. 

What We Learned

What Is HexClad Anyway?

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

When you look at a HexClad pan, the first thing you might notice is, well, the hexagons covering the surface. (Senior culinary director Daniel Gritzer says they look like they were made in the same factory as the Tie fighters that whiz through space in Star Wars—and we concur. They’d probably be what Darth Vader would use if he cooked). These hexagons are made of etched, raised stainless steel. Paired with an aluminum core and tri-ply layers of stainless steel cladding, you get a pan that’ll heat up fast (it boiled water on our electric stove in less than two minutes). 

Between the raised steel hexagons are what HexClad calls “nonstick valleys,” which, according to the company, are made from “high-grade non-toxic Japanese coating infused with diamond dust for extra toughness.” While they beat around the bush a little bit, in their FAQs you’ll find that this coating is made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a subgroup of PFAS. They briefly state, “Our nonstick coating contains PTFE, which is listed in the Biomonitoring California Priority Chemicals List.” So if you’re looking for a pan that doesn’t contain PTFEs (which is what you’ll find coating pretty much every nonstick skillet these days), this isn’t the pan for you.

In essence, with HexClad, you get a pan with the heating abilities of stainless steel, as well as a somewhat nonstick surface, for a fairly high price. The question is, is it worth it?

The Nonstick Ability Was (Mostly) Good 

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Daniel, who has owned a Hexclad pan for years at this point, says that while the pan is durable, it’s not quite as nonstick as is claimed. “The Hexclad offers the best durability I’ve ever seen in a nonstick pan, I’ll allow it that,” he says. “But where it falls short is in its claim that it’s just as nonstick as any other nonstick pan. In my experience, it is not.”

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This is because this pan isn’t the same kind of nonstick pan as a, well, explicitly nonstick pan; the nonstick “valleys” are broken up by the stainless steel webbing, so that’s where the “hybrid” adjective comes from. The stainless steel hexagons mean that you need to heat your pan properly and use oil with it, or else you’re at risk of, say, your over-easy eggs sticking, as happened to us during our tests. However, once we added a quick squirt of canola to the pan, we were easily able to flip and remove the fried eggs. We had no issues with delicate crepes sticking, though, and that was without any butter or other grease lubricating the surface (though you can use a stainless steel skillet to make crepes, so that’s not super surprising). 

Its Durability Has Held Up—So Far 

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

As part of our testing, we made pan sauce for steak au poivre, which requires a good amount of whisking, as well as setting the pan over fairly high heat to reduce the sauce. Even after whisking the sauce, we didn’t find any scratches or scrapes along the interior surface, and the high heat of searing steak and simmering sauce didn’t have any effect either; there was no discoloration or darkening. 

The downside is, as mentioned above, the pan is coated with PTFEs, which means its longevity is limited to some capacity, especially if you’re using the pan over higher heat. While HexClad discourages users from doing this, saying, “Our patented HexClad design allows heat to distribute faster and more evenly, which means you can cook at lower temperatures. We recommend that our customers start cooking at lower temperatures and increase if needed. You rarely need to cook on high heat with HexClad,” we find that somewhat disappointing; why have the stainless steel if you can’t set it over a slightly higher heat? In order to get a nice sear and prevent food from sticking in a stainless steel skillet, you have to heat the pan up somewhat high (but not TOO high) before placing oil in the pan. This helps close the steel’s pores, reducing the likelihood of the oil seeping into them and food sticking to the pan. On the other hand, if you’re heating up the HexClad to a shimmering oil kinda of heat, you could be damaging the PTFE surface. You can’t really win, unless you’re just leisurely sauteeing some mushrooms or gently scrambling eggs

That all said, senior commerce editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm has owned a Hexclad skillet since 2016 and the coating is still totally intact. Daniel agrees, saying, “I sure do appreciate their durability; they’re better than any other nonstick pan I’ve ever used in that regard.”

We Liked the Pan’s Ergonomics and Shape

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

We were a little skeptical at first of the rather straight, tubular handle on the skillet. But while sauteeing mushrooms and swirling crepe batter, we found the handle quite comfortable to hold and maneuver. We also liked the gently curved sides which let steam vent readily, essential when searing steaks or sauteeing mushrooms. While the pan was a tad heavy, weighing two pounds, 15.6 ounces without the lid, our favorite stainless steel skillet from Made In weighs a similar three pounds.

The Verdict

We really liked cooking with the HexClad 12-inch skillet in terms of form factor, results, and ease of use; the curved corners helped steaks get a nice sear (without steaming) and contained mushrooms whilst sauteeing. And while our editors have seen the durability of the pans IRL, we still question their overall longevity and, in some ways, the pan’s purpose; it’s like a Frankenstein mashup of nonstick and stainless steel, but each of these components weakens the other (as in, the stainless steel keeps it from being truly nonstick, while the nonstick coating means it’s not as durable as a purely stainless steel skillet). We think you might be better off investing in a sturdy stainless steel skillet and a cheaper nonstick skillet; combined, they’d probably be the same price as a single Hexclad pan. That said, if you’ve had your heart set on a HexClad, it likely won’t disappoint—but you better be prepared to (literally) pay for it. 

Pros

We liked the handle, which stayed cool and felt balanced with the skillet itself. The sides of the skillet were nicely sloped, too, allowing us to saute and stir fry without flinging ingredients everywhere. The shallow, curved sides also allowed steam to escape, so we got a good sear on steaks. The pan also heated up quite quickly, bringing water to a boil in under two minutes on our electric range. Bonus: It’s induction-friendly

Cons

We question the pan’s durability and purpose: stainless steel brings quick and even heating, but prevents it from being truly nonstick, while the PTFE coating gives the pan some nonstick abilities (though not entirely, because of the stainless steel webbing), but isn’t as durable as stainless steel. That said, Hexclad does have a lifetime warranty, which is heartening (though it comes with strings attached; the website says, “Our warranty does not cover damage occurred as a result of failure to follow proper care and use guidelines as outlined in the product inserts and on our website.”). 

Key Specs 

Materials: Stainless steel, aluminum, nonstick coating Weight: 2 lbs, 15.6 ouncesCleaning: Dishwasher-safeWarranty: Lifetime warranty (though we recommend reading through the fine print)Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

FAQs

Does HexClad have Teflon in it?

Teflon is a proprietary brand of PTFE made by Chemours. While HexClad doesn’t use Teflon per se, it does use a PTFE nonstick coating (a subgroup of PFAS) on its cookware. 

Why is food sticking to my HexClad pan?

Because HexClad uses stainless steel in addition to a PTFE nonstick coating, you can get some sticking unless you oil the pan or heat it up before adding food. 

Do HexClad pans last long?

HexClad pans have a lifetime warranty, provided you use the pan properly. You can read more about their warranty coverage here. We will continue to use the pans we have from HexClad to guage their longevity over time. 

Why We’re the Experts

Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor at Serious Eats. Prior to this, she tested equipment and ingredients for America’s Test Kitchen, and she’s also worked as a bartender and cook in various restaurants. She has written dozens of reviews for Serious Eats, including petty knives, tinned fish, fish spatulas, and tortilla presses, among others. To test the HexClad 12-inch frying pan, we made over-easy eggs, crepes, sauteed mushrooms, and steak au poivre with pan sauce. We also asked two of our editors who have used the pans for years about their experience cooking with them.

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