Ann and I are real people, cooking real food, in real consumer kitchens (ours, and those of friends and family). In contrast, supposedly “professional” reviews are often flawed and follow a herd mentality. For instance, Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen’s methodology is flawed in many ways:
- Their testing is unrealistic–most home chefs don’t have access to big, professional gas stoves, which benefit clad designs more than disc-base designs. (Clad pans often aren’t as even heating as disc-base, but the difference lessens on big gas burners.)
- They often don’t seem to care about factors like handle comfort or ease of cleanliness–yet home chefs care about such things.
- They tend to select a handful of weak competitors to challenge the cookware they anoint as “best.”
- Their reviews are inconsistent; what matters in one review doesn’t seem to matter in another.
- CI has a history of shoddy reviews. E.g., they promoted the cheap OXO can opener but that model falls apart quickly. Ditto when they promoted the old KitchenAid blender (cracked jars), Zyliss garlic press (nonstick coating peels off after a while), T-Fal (crowns in the middle despite CI’s claiming its longevity), etc. CI’s recipe guides are good, but their product reviews need improvement.
Celebrity TV chefs don’t cook realistically, either. They often get free stuff as part of their sponsorship deals with kitchenware companies. They often cook on pro-grade gas stoves as well–not realistic for most home chefs. And they don’t really comment on handling, heating performance, value, corrosion resistance, or ease of cleaning. After all, some poor intern is the one doing the dishes.
Then there are typical, low-quality internet review sites, most of which don’t do their own homework; they just crib notes from others or copy and paste from manufacturer brochures. Some sites even take free or discounted samples from manufacturers and then claim that they are unbiased. Yeah right.
And don’t get us started on the biased reviews that plague the internet where companies send samples to reviewers who are pressured into giving high ratings or else the flow of free stuff ends. (But at least those biased reviewers might have actually used the product at all. My advice would be to disregard any online “review” site that only has stock photos. A genuine reviewer would have shots of the product in action, like I do.)
This site is not like others.
We actually use stuff like a home user would, with photos to prove it. We do NOT take any free samples or any other incentives. We pay for everything ourselves. We’re cooking enthusiasts, not paid shills for some megacorporation. This site is a labor of love, and we cook like home chefs actually cook: on residential-grade electric coil, induction, and gas stoves. We talk about pros and cons. And we use testing equipment properly. Many readers have written in to say that they love the unique, detailed reviews on this site, so we’ve continued to review products.
This site did not start off as a cookware review site (which for better or worse is the most popular part of this site right now), but we happened to have a LOT of different cookware because of our obsession with even heating and avoiding creating carcinogenic chemicals due to overheating. That might sound extreme, but when your spouse develops colon cancer in their 30s and the blood tests show that the cancer was not caused by genes, it makes you worried about environmental carcinogens.
Okay, off the soapbox now. Let’s get to how we rate kitchenware products:
Ratings are inherently subjective, except for even heating. Nevertheless, you can use these subjective rankings as a rough guideline. 5 = Excellent, 1 = Very Poor.
Overall ratings are derived from various factors and subfactors:
|Ability to do one-pot meals; interior and exterior care required; rivets vs rivetless; dishwashable
|Corrosion, impact, heat, warp resistance
|Relative ranking on induction (or gas if induction not available)
|Handling and ease of use
|Essentially, how kid-friendly is it? Tolerance for large temperature changes and being left in the sink; staycool handles; helper handles; handle design and comfort; oven-safe; heaviness fully loaded with food or water
|initial and ongoing price, warranty
|ability to perform multiple styles of cooking tasks, not give off colors/flavors regardless of acidity or salinity; dishwashable