HexClad is a cookware company that describes its products as "hybrid cookware." The brand claims that their products provide the benefits of stainless steel, cast iron and non-stick pans all in one.
But is HexClad really a better option than a standard non-stick pan? How does it compare to cast iron pans? And most importantly, how does it cook?
In this article we’ll answer these questions by reviewing the materials used in HexClad and sharing a real, unsponsored user review of the products with a cooking demonstration. First, we'll analyze a few medical studies on the safety risks of traditional non-stick pans to provide context.
Are Non-Stick Pans Unsafe?
Most cooking pans you’ll find in big-box retailers are “non-stick,” meaning they contain synthetic chemical coatings on the cooking surface which allow food to cook without sticking to the pan.
This technology is convenient but medical research suggests it may be harmful to human health. A 2017 medical review found that non-stick cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), more commonly known as Teflon, presented significant toxicity concerns due to the chemicals used, and that newer versions of non-stick materials weren’t necessarily any less toxic than older ones.
Another review published in the Social Studies of Science journal concluded that there’s not nearly enough safety data to show that the chemicals used in non-stick coatings are safe for consumers. The study described the use of these chemicals as an “issue of social and scientific concern.”
We do not recommend non-stick cookware, and it seems illogical in our opinion to purchase non-stick cookware when there are alternatives that are free of this potentially-harmful chemical coating.
Is HexClad Safer?
HexClad’s base contains two layers of steel covering a layer of aluminum. These are high-quality cookware materials.
Stainless steel is one of the most popular cookware materials for good reason: it’s stable at high temperatures and relatively non-toxic. There is some medical research suggesting stainless steel cookware can leach nickel, but the researchers suggest the levels shouldn’t be a problem in regular, non nickel-sensitive patients.
Aluminum may be a health concern when absorbed by the body, as we discussed in our Dr. Squatch review, but since the aluminum in this product is lined with stainless steel it shouldn’t leach into food at all.
HexClad doesn’t state whether the aluminum they use is anodized. This is a process ensuring the metal won’t leach into foods, so it’s always recommended in cookware. We urge HexClad to publish this information.
Based on the research reviewed in the previous section, you're probably wondering: "what's used in those 'non-stick valleys'?"
The non-stick chemical compound used on HexClad pans is PTFE. This is the most common non-stick coating used on commercial pans. It’s very effective, but its safety is questionable as we reviewed earlier.
We do believe that PTFE is safer than perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is a different compound found in non-stick cookware.
It appears that the same technology and materials are used for all of the HexClad products: pans, woks and pots. For this reason our general comments apply not only to the pans but to all of their products.
While we consider HexClad to be a superior option to the average non-stick pan which may be made with PFOA, we do not recommend it overall due to the use of PTFE. We also find it to be ethically questionable that HexClad shares the information about PTFE in an FAQ page on their European (.eu) website and this information is not published transparently on their main (.com) website.
We urge HexClad to transparently publish in the materials section of their website that their products are made with PTFE. This is important information for consumers to make an informed purchase decision.
HexClad Real User Review
One of the most popular YouTube reviews of HexClad is published by a channel called "Freakin' Reviews" and has achieved over 1 million views at the time of writing this article. The video appears unsponsored and the creator shares his thoughts on the HexClad pan, as well as provides cooking demonstrations on eggs, shrimp, quesadillas and steak:
Our Cookware Recommendation
We consider cast iron pans to be the safest and healthiest cookware option. Cast iron has been used for thousands of years and is non-toxic.
Cast iron pans are made primarily from iron and steel, and are somewhat naturally non-stick because of the effects of fat heated on the cooking surface over time.
One fascinating fact about cast iron pans is that the minimal levels of iron leaching may have a beneficial effect on human health. Iron is an essential mineral, and many people are deficient in iron (particularly women). Cooking in cast iron pots has been proven in medical trials to improve iron status.
We recommend Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet as our top cast iron pan because it's free of any questionable chemical coatings. The only material is cast iron. This pan costs $51.05 while a 12" HexClad pan costs $129.99.
Interested consumers can check out Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet at this link.
HexClad Customer Reviews
HexClad is sold on Amazon which is a more objective resource for customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion. Their 12 inch frying pan has been reviewed over 1,500 times and has an impressive average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars at the time of updating this article.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Teresa" who claims that the HexClad pan is versatile and effective:
"Bottom line is - if you are on the fence about spending your hard earned bucks on these pans, as long as you use common sense to keep these pans in a good state, you won't regret the purchase...😊"
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "JM" who claims that food sticks to the pan:
"Even well seasoned (3x seasoned with wax and 1x with oil), unless you swim the pan with oil (or butter) eggs will stick right off. The same oil in a stainless steel pan with zero non-stick gets the EXACT same results. Heat distribution is good, but so what! The pan need to be scrubbed like crazy after something sticks - and things stick like mad (it's all the texture of the pan that they claim is great)."