For consumers wishing to avoid potentially harmful materials often found in nonstick coatings, EarthPan Hard Anodized Cookware offers an alternative. The anodized aluminum cookware has an eco-friendly, sand-based nonstick coating that is free of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Less expensive than many other brands of green cookware, EarthPan performs well in professional reviews. Some reviewers find its nonstick coating is not as slick as Teflon, but it is more durable.
No other alternative nonstick cookware outperforms EarthPan. In professional tests, it provides very even heat and maintains a steady simmer. On the downside, testers note that its nonstick surface isn't quite as slick as a traditional Teflon pan's. However, owners who reviewed this cookware at Walmart.com and Buzzillions.com are generally satisfied with its nonstick properties. We saw multiple comments raving that food "slides right out" of these pans, and one owner at Walmart's site calls them "far and away the slipperiest non-stick I have ever used." A couple of users note that it is necessary to "prime" or "season" the pans, using them occasionally with oil, to achieve this level of nonstick. Owners are also happy with this cookware's heat distribution. "From sautéing to braising and boiling, maintaining a constant temp is no problem," says one Walmart.com reviewer. Several owners comment that they can achieve good results with lower heat than cooking with other brands. Another Walmart.com user warns that it takes a little time to adjust to the cookware's lower heat requirements. Also, like all anodized aluminum cookware, the EarthPan pots won't work on an induction cooktop.
Professionals and users alike say this cookware is a joy to use. Owners say the weight of the pieces is ideal -- heavy enough to be durable, light enough to handle with ease. Both professionals and owners also like this cookware's handles, which are wide and comfortable to grasp and stay cool on the stovetop. Some users do wish the individual pieces were larger and one owner mentions purchasing a larger skillet to complete the set, but more commonly, users wish a 3-quart saucepan was included. As of now, EarthPan doesn't make a saucepan in this size.
When it comes to cleanup, this cookware really shines. Although it isn't dishwasher-safe, both professional testers and home cooks say it is very easy to clean by hand. Testers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute do warn that the handle rivets require extra attention during cleaning, as food can accumulate under them. They also warn that the cookware may stain with use, although an abrasive cleaner will remove the stains. Users rave about the EarthPan's easy cleanup -- some saying it's as easy as a swipe of a paper towel.
Owners like the way this cookware looks. An owner at Walmart.com describes the shape of the pots as pleasantly rounded, slowing slightly inward toward the top. (This shape makes it difficult to nest the pans for storage, but stacking them isn't recommended anyway, as it can scratch or chip the finish.) A user at Buzzillions.com describes the shape as "contemporary feeling" and says the pots look nice on the stove when guests come over. Other owners describe the cookware as "lovely" and appreciate the contrast between the stainless-steel handles and the matte finish of the pans.
Conflicting durability reports leave questions about longevity. Professionals and users alike agree that the cookware has good heft (one user describes it as "beefy") and the handles are sturdy. However, the PTFE-free nonstick surface gets mixed reviews for its durability. In one professional test, the nonstick surface holds up very well to extensive scrubbing with steel wool, outperforming most traditional Teflon pans. However, we read quite a few user reviews saying that the nonstick coating does not hold up well to real-world use. Owners complain that the coating began to scratch, flake and peel within as little as six weeks after purchase.
Yet a few owners say their cookware is still in good shape after a year or more. These users generally stress that they were vigilant about following the manufacturer's recommendations for using this cookware: no dishwashers, no metal utensils and, especially, no cooking spray. One owner at Walmart.com notes that the manual also recommends using peanut oil in place of butter or vegetable oil, which "ruins the pans." Another owner stresses the importance of storing the cookware properly, with a "dampening layer" (such as cloth or bubble wrap) between pieces to keep them from scratching. "Once the surface is blemished, there is no way to prevent it from spreading," cautions this user. The EarthPan cookware is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, but we found no comments from users who had successfully used it.
Review Credibility: Very Good ConsumerReports.org lists test results for 16 sets of nonstick cookware, including the EarthPan Hard Anodized 10-piece Cookware Set. Editors cook pancakes to measure cooking evenness and clean sticky béchamel sauce to evaluate ease of cleaning. They also test the nonstick surface by cooking four eggs in a row without adding oil between each, and they scrub the surface with steel wool to test its durability. This report puts special emphasis on handles, which get three separate scores for safety, comfort and sturdiness. Four nonstick and two uncoated cookware sets are recommended, while five sets receive failing scores for ease of cleaning.
Review: Kitchen Cookware, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of November 2012
2. Good Housekeeping
Review Credibility: Very Good Testers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluate nearly 50 lines of cookware on a wide variety of kitchen tasks. (The report covers cookware lines as a whole, not specific sets.) They simmer sauces, pan-brown burgers and (for nonstick cookware) prepare eggs without fat. Editors also evaluate the cookware's construction and how easy it is to clean. The EarthPan Hard Anodized 10-piece Cookware Set receives a grade of A-minus. Testers say it heats evenly, simmers steadily and is easy to clean by hand. However, its nonstick surface isn't as slick as others, and it stains with use.
Review: Earth Pan Hard Anodized with Sandflow Nonstick Cookware, Editors of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, November 2010
Review Credibility: Good This EarthPan cookware set earns 4.1 stars out of 5 overall from about 45 users at Buzzillions.com. These reviews are pulled from a variety of retail sites across the Internet, including Target and Cookware Essentials. Owners say this cookware provides fast, even heat, has a good nonstick surface and is easy to clean. However, a few reviewers complain that the cooking surface deteriorates within a year or so and loses its nonstick qualities.
Review: Earth Pan 10-Piece Hard Anodized Non-Stick Cookware Set, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Good The EarthPan Hard Anodized 10-piece Cookware Set receives more than 40 reviews from owners at Walmart.com, with an overall rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. (Reviews at this site do not overlap with those on Buzzillions.com.) Owners rave about this cookware's nonstick surface, saying it is much better than traditional Teflon and cleanup is a breeze. Their biggest complaint about this cookware set is the selection of pieces; several users would like to see a larger skillet and a 3- or 4-quart saucepan.
Review: Earth Pan 10-Piece Hard Anodized Non-Stick Cookware Set, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of December 2012