Photo: Our Place / Composite by VICE Staff
Ask any cook, and they’ll likely have a favorite kitchen tool (for me, it’s the OXO salad spinner of my dreams), but it’s pretty hard to achieve true perfection in a single item. The sold-out-everywhere Always Pan from Our Place comes close, however; it has a cult-like following for its nontoxic materials, non-stick coating, vibrant colors, and nesting spatula, so when I heard about the brand’s follow-up, the Perfect Pot, I was psyched to see if this single piece of cookware could replace an entire fleet of pots and pans.
Priced at a reasonable $165 relative to comparable pots and Dutch ovens (it’s also currently on sale for $125), the Perfect Pot has a bunch of great features that set it apart from other multi-use cookware pieces. It promises to do it all, and we do mean all—Our Place says it can “boil, crisp, bake, braise, roast, steam, strain, pour, serve, [and] store.” It has a huge 5.5 quart capacity, is compatible with all kinds of stovetops, has a nesting design with a built-in pour spout, and it’s also super lightweight.
When I received my Perfect Pot and unboxed it, I couldn’t wait to put it to the test with a variety of dishes—and to see whether it could really keep all its promises.
Cast-iron Dutch ovens and hefty stock pots can be cumbersome, especially when a recipe calls for stove-top cooking that finishes in the oven. The Perfect Pot’s aluminum body, however, cuts down on the total weight, and reacts to temperature changes quite quickly—perfect for making, say, crispy-skin salmon, when the threat of burnt edges is a matter of just a few seconds on too-high heat.
What was rad
The non-stick coating is also really as good as they say it is—I actually implore you to try to get something to stick to the bottom of this pot. (Spoiler: It won’t.) Of course, as avid home cooks know, sometimes you do want that sticky contact, especially when searing meats and veggies to create a delicious crust, thus leaving behind the good brown bits, otherwise known as fond, to develop a complex and flavorful dish, so this may be something to consider before buying. (Your cast iron can handle that.)
The domed lid of the Perfect Pot is great for steaming and nailing fluffy, not-too-soggy-or-burnt rice. Cooking rice is my kryptonite, but get this—I recently figured it out, and I’m going to give a hefty amount of credit to the Perfect Pot, since water boils rapidly, and the offset lid provides a surprisingly tight seal, retaining all the heat and steam you need to achieve the perfect texture. The built-in strainer in the pour spout is genius, and makes draining rice and pasta ridiculously simple compared to busting out a strainer in the sink.
For stocks, soups, and one-pot dishes, I probably won’t pull out another old-fashioned stainless steel vessel ever again. I also loved the perfectly notched spoon that comes with the pot and rests on its handles, as well as the roasting rack.
If you’re on TikTok as much as I am, you may have noticed the trail of Emily Mariko breadcrumbs I’ve been leaving. The ultimate test for the Perfect Pot would be a fresh version of the viral leftover-salmon-and-rice sensation that I’ve been craving since first stumbling upon that infamous and much-imitated clip. The result was really crunchy skin (using the included roasting/steaming rack as a crisping rack was quite ingenious), and fluffy jasmine rice that I drained directly from the pot using that handy, built-in strainer.
Overall I made jammy fried eggs, Asian-inspired chicken lettuce cups, jasmine rice, and crispy-skin salmon in my Perfect Pot, and it all felt easy and tasted scrumptious.
The inside of the Perfect Pot is also incredibly easy to clean—grease just slides off and scrubbing requires very little elbow grease. Clean-up was such a breeze, it reactivated my joy of cooking more adventurous meals on a weeknight, and the compliments from satisfied diners definitely sweetened the deal. If you want a colorful (think millennial pink, lavender, or really funky acid green) pot you saw on Instagram that’s designed for doing as much as possible in the smallest amount of space, then absolutely go for the Perfect Pot. You will not be disappointed with the size or its capabilities.
What was tricky
The external matte coating is a little trickier to wash, so if you’re spill-prone, you may want to consider a dark color choice. And if cool colors and providing an aesthetic backdrop to your #foodpics isn’t top of mind, there are cheaper options that will get the job done, such as this Lodge Dutch oven that’s a fraction of the price, but they won’t have any of the shiny design elements and extra (but genuinely useful) bells and whistles.
Another potential pitfall is that the Perfect Pot isn’t designed for temperatures above 425 degrees, which may be tricky if you find yourself cranking serious heat a lot with your cooking. But my biggest qualm with the Perfect Pot is the fact that the metal handles get blazing-inferno hot, although the lid has a nifty rubber coating that allows you to pick it up with bare hands. (Not that big of a deal when you have other items in your repertoire, but if this is a big purchase for your budget, it’s an important thing to consider.)
TL;DR: Is the Perfect Pot worth it?
In short, the Perfect Pot is worth it [slams gavel]. It acts as an excellent sous-chef for quick weeknight dinners or slow afternoon roasts that fill up the entire house with umami aromas. If this is your first kitchen or you live in a small apartment, then a coordinating Perfect Pot and Always Pan set may literally be all you need to feed you and some friends on the reg. Plus, they’re aesthetic enough that you can display them on your stovetop, and they won’t take up an entire shelf in your already overstuffed cabinets.
So, was the Perfect Pot the one shining piece of cookware missing from my kitchen that’s going to solve all my problems and cure my existential dread? No. But am I now going to get rid of a bunch of old dented pots and pans it can definitely replace? Yes—and you should, too.
Happy basting, pot heads!
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.