March 13

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GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review: Affordable Nonstick (But Is It Any Good?)

By trk

March 13, 2020


GraniteRock/GraniteStone--essentially the same pans made by the same company--are a staple of late night TV infomercials. They dominate the low end of the nonstick cookware market. The claims are that these pans are so tough, you can abuse them with rocks and hammers and they won't scratch; cooking claims are that no butter or oil is needed and food--including eggs--will slide right out.

This is largely advertising hype. If you want to buy wisely, it's best to ignore most of it and try to figure out what GraniteRock cookware really has to offer.

The truth is that GraniteRock/GraniteStone products are basic aluminum pans with a PTFE nonstick coating (that is, a type of Teflon®). Their competitors are brands such as Copper Chef, Gotham Steel, some lines of T-fal (like this one), and dozens more brands of inexpensive stamped aluminum cookware. 

If you're in the market for an inexpensive nonstick pan, we'll show you in this GraniteRock review/ GraniteStone review how they stack up to the competition, and whether or not they're a good buy.

NOTE:

"Granite" has become a popular marketing term for nonstick cookware. It denotes durability, and more importantly, it sounds as if a pan doesn't contain any PTFE (e.g., Teflon®). However, "granite" is just a marketing term. All nonstick cookware is made from either PTFE or ceramic, and granite  nonstick cookware is no exception. Like most cookware with "granite" in the name, GraniteRock and GraniteStone cookware are PTFE products.

We make this clarification because, unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about nonstick cookware, and about "granite" nonstick cookware in particular. When shopping for nonstick cookware, remember that it's either PTFE or ceramic--there are no other choices for truly nonstick cookware--and most everything else is just marketing.  

GraniteStone/GraniteRock Buying Options at a Glance

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Technically, there are three buying options: GraniteRock is the first generation of products; GraniteStone is the second generation; and GraniteStone Diamond is the third (and latest) generation. However, the prices of the products are the same, and when you buy from Amazon or the maker's site, you may be shipped any one of these three options. From what we can gather, the maker reserves the right to sell them interchangeably. 

If you want to be sure you get the latest and greatest--GraniteRock Diamond--check out the Bed, Bath & Beyond link.

The company doesn't specify which coating is more durable or even discuss the differences, so we can assume, based on price, that the coatings are all about the same. They also performed pretty much identically in our testing, and receive similar reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. 

Here are the buying options, as well as we could sort them out. 

IMPORTANT: None of the GraniteRock, GraniteStone, or GraniteStone Diamond products are induction compatible.

Buying Opti​ons

Features/Claims

Rating/Price

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $20

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $30/$19 at GraniteRock

(note: If you buy off the GraniteRock website, you also get a free mini pan with your purchase, although some reviewers claim they never got theirs.)

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Glass lid

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $32/$37

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE 

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $28

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $60

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Helper handle

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $40

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $30-$35

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Metal utensil safe*

-Dishwasher safe*.

About $28

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*

-Includes 2 skillets, one sauce pan, 2 glass lids.

About $80

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Glass lid

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe*

-Includes 2 skillets, 3 sauce pans, 4 glass lids, steamer insert, and bonus 5 piece utensil set.

About $120

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Metal utensil safe*

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Dishwasher safe

-Includes 10pc cookware and 14pc knife set.

About $110

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

-Pressed aluminum body

-3 layers of reinforced PTFE

-Oven safe up to 500F/260C

-Stainless stay cool handles

-Metal utensil safe

-Dishwasher safe*

-Includes 2 skillets, 1 sauté pan, 2 sauce pans, 1 stock pot, 3 glass lids

-Stackable to save space.

About $160

* To get the longest life out of your pan, we recommend using silicone or wooden utensils and washing by hand. 

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Who Makes GraniteRock and GraniteStone Cookware?

GraniteRock and GraniteStone cookware are made by the Graniterock Pan company.

All products are manufactured in China. 

Do GraniteStone/GraniteRock Pans Contain PTFE?

Yes.

Like many other nonstick brands these days, they're made to look like old-fashioned porcelain-enamel cookware made by the Granite Ware company:

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

However, aside from the speckled appearance, GraniteRock pans are nothing like these old roasting pans. GraniteRock pans contain no enamel and no porcelain. 

Like most other nonstick cookware brands that boast granite, titanium, diamond dust, or other materials, the truth is that these are aluminum pans with a PTFE (i.e., Teflon®) coating. (Actually, 3 layers of reinforced PTFE coating, which may improve durability somewhat; it's common for makers to use more than one nonstick coating in an effort to make their pans more durable.)

Remember: granite is not a nonstick surface, nor is titanium or diamond. Thus, these are PTFE nonstick pans that are reinforced with other substances. The added benefit (perhaps even the main benefit) is that the makers can advertise the reinforcement material ("granite," "titanium") and downplay the PTFE, which has gotten a bad rap in recent years.

In fact, some of the Amazon GraniteRock/GraniteStone write-ups go so far as to say that the pans are "PTHE-free." That's probably not a typo.

But trust us: there's PTFE in them thar pans. 

For more information, see Nonstick Cookware Brands: PTFE or Ceramic? A Comprehensive Guide.

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Is Granite Nonstick Cookware More Durable than Regular Nonstick Cookware?

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Maybe. Probably not.

The latest marketing craze is to add in materials to strengthen the nonstick coating, but it's debatable whether this really adds much value. Our testing and research shows that the working lives of titanium nonstick, granite nonstick, diamond dust nonstick, and regular nonstick PTFE are all about the same. 

The truth is that PTFE coatings simply do not last very long. Even with the very best of care, you'll be lucky to get 3-5 years of use out of a PTFE pan. If you get more than that, good for you; we know people who have. But know that it's not the norm. 

If you want the ease of care that nonstick cookware offers, go ahead and buy it. But there's no magic bullet that will make it last more than a few years.

This is why we always offer the sage advice to buy inexpensive nonstick frying pans and to forego buying entire sets. Although, having said that, you shouldn't necessarily buy at the bottom of the market: you can get surprisingly high quality pans--pans you will actually enjoy cooking with--by spending just a little bit more.

Another thought: though we don't know how the GraniteRock/GraniteStone pans are manufactured, we do know that makers will add the smallest amount of a special ingredient allowed by law that they can legally claim it contains. (In some industries, this is called a "fufu.") Typically, this amount is so small that it has very little effect on the final product, and is there primarily for marketing and advertising. (Remember this the next time you're buying shampoo or hand lotion.) 

We're not saying that's the case with GraniteRock products, but it might be. And judging by the durability (or lack thereof) of reinforced PTFE vs. regular PTFE, we think it's probably the case.  

(And just so you know we're not picking on poor GraniteRock, this goes for every other brand of reinforced nonstick cookware as well, including some of the most expensive nonstick brands on the market.) 

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Are GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pans Safe (and Healthy) to Use?

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

This is a bit complicated to answer, even if we just look at GraniteRock/Stone as a regular PTFE pan (which it is).

PTFE in itself is an inert substance until heated to about 500F, at which point it can emit fumes that cause flu-like symptom in humans and are lethal to birds. But below that temperature, PTFE is perfectly safe.

And up until 2015, PTFE pans were manufactured with a substance called PFOA (you may also see this written as PFAS, the name of the chemical family PFOA belongs to). PFOA is a carcinogen and an environmental hazard, and it was outlawed in the manufacture of PTFE cookware in 2015. That's a good thing.

However, makers have not been straightforward about what they're using in place of PFOA, and without knowing that, it's impossible to say whether it's any safer, healthier, or better for the environment than PFOA was.

Even if makers are still using chemicals similar to PFOA, the truth is that it's used up in the manufacturing process--you're likely to get more exposure to PFOA (or similar chemicals) from your tap water than you are from your nonstick cookware. (Some tests showed this was the case even back when PFOA was being used by nonstick cookware manufacturers.) So it's not necessarily a direct health concern, although it remains a serious environmental concern.

There is also the issue of the aluminum base, which some people are concerned about because aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's and other illnesses. However, the aluminum is never in contact with food, so it isn't a concern unless the pan develops deep scratches (in which case you shouldn't use it).

So: If used properly, GraniteRock/GraniteStone cookware is perfectly safe to humans. But the environmental hazards are an unknown. (Conversely, if you have members in your household who won't use the pan properly--that is, with low to medium heat--you should probably not buy any PTFE pan.)

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Do You Need Oil or Butter with GraniteRock Pans? (Our Testing Results)

The GraniteRock and GraniteStone claims are that you don't need to use any butter or oil with their pans.

We tested them to see if that held true.

Our tests were pretty basic: frying an egg, searing a steak, and cooking a piece of fish. We used low to medium heat and silicone utensils for all tests. 

Eggs

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Without oil, the egg stuck to the pan. The rough surface likely contributes to this, but it wasn't pretty. A teaspoon of butter made all the difference, however, and with it, eggs slid out of the pan easily.

In all fairness, the eggs did release naturally after a certain point, like most food will from most pans. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, the egg was overcooked. So if you don't mind hard yolks, the GraniteRock pan is a good option, even without butter or oil.  

Steak and Fish

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Steak and fish stuck a little bit, too, but by the time they were ready to flip, they had released naturally (much like they do on stainless steel cookware). Unfortunately, you can't get a lot of very good browning at low-medium heat, as you can see in both of these images. (The GraniteRock site has some photos of beautifully seared steaks, but we suspect they used high heat to get them than way. We couldn't get those results without keeping an eye on the pan temperature, which, even at medium heat, can shoot over 500F pretty easily.) 

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Sadly, there wasn't a lot of fond in the pan to build much of a pan sauce (one of our biggest complaints about nonstick cookware in general). 

Cleanup

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

We have zero complaints about washing these pans: even washing by hand with a drop of dish soap, the GraniteRock pan was easy to clean. 

But What About Long Term Use? 

So the pans were, for the most part, nonstick, and for eggs, nonstick with a little bit of butter. But none of our tests addressed the more important issue, which is: how long will the nonstick surface last? 

That's a hard thing to test for, of course, because of the time factor needed. 

The reviews tell the story, though: of the people who gave the pans a bad review (3 stars or less, which averaged about 15% of the reviews across the products), many say the pan lost its nonstick properties in 3-4 months.

Even with the best care and use possible, the GraniteRock pans aren't likely to provide any longer service than other nonstick pans.

Also, we suggest you use a little bit of oil or butter for best results. 

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How to Extend the Life of Your GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan

Sine GraniteRock/GraniteStone products are PTFE, you can get the longest life out of your pan by following the basic rules for PTFE cookware:

  • Cook on low or medium heat--never use high heat. High heat breaks down PTFE over time, even if it doesn't reach 500F. 
  • Don't use metal utensils, even if the manufacturer says you can.
  • Don't put in the dishwasher, even if the manufacturer says you can. Dishwasher detergent has abrasives that are bad for the nonstick coating and the exterior aluminum.
  • Don't use aerosol cooking spray. There's a chemical in the aerosol propellant that breaks down PTFE.  
  • Don't put your nonstick cookware in the oven. Yes, GraniteRock pans are safe up to 500F, but the nonstick coating can start to wear at around 400F, and even if you never get above 500F, temperatures close to that will take their toll. If you want your nonstick pan to last, avoiding high temperatures is probably the most important precaution to take.
  • Avoid rapid temperature changes, which can cause your pan to warp. For example, always let pans cool to room temperature before washing.
  • Don't use abrasive cleansers or scrubby pads. They will scratch the nonstick coating.

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Is GraniteRock/GraniteStone Cookware Recyclable?

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

While it's unlikely that you can toss an old GraniteRock pan into your recycling bin, you can probably find a recycling center that will take it. Check with your trash hauler or local recycling centers to find out how to recycle your old nonstick cookware.

You may also find a way to repurpose old pans. You can scour Google and YouTube for ideas.

Whatever else you do, don't donate old nonstick pans to charity. If you don't like how they're working anymore, nobody else will, either. 

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What to Know Before Buying

When buying cookware, there are six categories to look at: heating properties, durability, stability (does the pan react with food? will it rust?), ease of care, design/aesthetics, and value. Knowing how a pan stacks up in each category will help you decide whether it's a good purchase or not.

To be a good buy, a pan doesn't have to score high in every category. In fact, no pan will; there's really no such thing as perfect cookware (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as well; one person's perfect pan may be another person's nightmare). Instead of looking for 5 stars across the board, look for what you're willing and not willing to live with. For example, if you're on a tight budget, value may outweigh heating properties to you, while if you're tired of throwing out cheap pans that don't last, durability might be your most important consideration. 

There's no right or wrong answer here. Rather, it's about understanding as much as you can about cookware before you buy.

This is especially true for nonstick cookware, which for all its appeal, has a lot of drawbacks. It's never going to score high in durability, for example. However, a lot of people are willing to live with that because cleanup is so easy.

Here, we rate GraniteRock and GraniteStone skillets in each category. And note that we only tested the skillets because we do not recommend buying entire sets of nonstick cookware. However, if you want a set, you can assume the ratings apply to all the pieces in a set.

Heating Properties

GraniteRock pans are made from stamped aluminum. This is the most inexpensive way to make an aluminum pan. So while aluminum heats quickly and evenly, stamped pans, which tend to be pretty thin, can heat unevenly and have hot and cold spots. (You can compare this to All-Clad HA1 nonstick skillets, for example, which are cast aluminum, and considerably thicker, which helps then heat more evenly and hang onto heat better.) 

In testing, GraniteRock/GraniteStone pans weren't great, but they weren't awful, either. We had some uneven heating at first, but after a few minutes of warming up, the heat evened out well enough to cook food satisfactorily. 

The upside of thin, stamped cookware is that it's lightweight and easy to handle. The downside is that, along with some unevenness, it also doesn't hang onto heat for very long. This makes these pans a good choice for some foods, like eggs and fish, but a poor choice for others, like steaks, which need a lot of pan heat to sear well. As you can see in the photos above of our cooking tests, we didn't get a lot of browning when cooking at the right temperatures for the pan (i.e., keeping it at medium heat and making sure the temperature didn't get above 500F).

Durability

All nonstick pans get low ratings for durability. Despite the advertisements showing people hammering rocks in these pans, GraniteRock pans aren't really any different. Most nonstick makers these days make all sorts of claims about the durability of their products, but that's because durability is the number one issue people have with nonstick cookware. And the truth is that, if you want your nonstick pan to last as long as possible, you shouldn't do any of the things the manufacturers say you can, including using metal utensils, putting them in the dishwasher, and heating up to 500F. 

You know going in that nonstick cookware isn't going to last more than a few years (or if you don't, you should); GraniteRock is no exception. 

Also, because the pans are made from stamped ("pressed") aluminum, they're thin, and they'll warp if they undergo rapid temperature changes. 

And despite the ads showing rocks being hammered in the pans, PTFE pans scratch easily. (Stay away from metal utensils!)

Once again, this is no worse than other inexpensive stamped aluminum pans, and should be expected at this price point (regardless of what the advertising claims).

Stability

Like all PTFE cookware, GraniteRock gets average ratings for stability. While PTFE is extremely inert and non-reactive at low temperatures, you have to be very careful to not overheat it, which will cause the PTFE to break down and give off fumes that can make people sick (known as the Teflon flu) and be lethal to birds. 

When used correctly, PTFE cookware can be great for eggs and fish; but you have to be so careful with it. 

Ease of Care

This is where nonstick cookware shines, and the reason people love it so much: it's easy to wash. Food doesn't stick, and the pan practically wipes right out. Or, if food does stick--like the eggs we cooked without butter--the pan still cleaned up easily.

If ease of care is your number one priority, nonstick is the way to go. (That doesn't necessarily mean GraniteRock though, as for just a little more you can get a pan with much better heating properties, like the All-Clad HA1 skillets or the Anolon Nouvelle Copper pans, our two favorite PTFE nonstick options.)

Design/Aesthetics

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

Design is really about your personal preferences. Are the handles comfortable to hold? Are the pans easy to maneuver? Do the lids (if any) fit well? Do you find the cookware attractive? (And yes, this matters, because you won't enjoy using pans you find ugly.)

We give GraniteRock/GraniteStone products slightly above average ratings for design because we actually like the looks and the feel of these pans. We like the overall design: the pan shape is good, with a lot of flat cooking surface and a curved lip for drip-free pouring. The stainless steel handles are durable and comfortable. 

Overall, the GraniteRock pans look more expensive than they are, and we think that's a good thing.

Value

If you're on a super tight budget, GraniteRock is a good option. At about $20 for a standard 10-inch skillet, the price is tough to beat.

These aren't our top choice for nonstick skillets, so we only recommend them if you absolutely can't afford to spend a little more. But you will probably get a good year or two of use out of them, so the value is definitely there. 

Overall Rating: 3.4

If you're leaning towards budget and easy care, GraniteRock and GraniteStone pans get the highest ratings. If you're looking for superb heating and durability, you should probably keep looking (and maybe consider something besides nonstick). 

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GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pans Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great value.
  • Look more expensive than they are.
  • Easy to wash.
  • Fairly even heating.

Cons

  • Not totally nonstick: some oil or butter is required for best results.
  • Thin; can warp from too-rapid temperature change.
  • Not great for searing (too thin to hold onto heat).
  • Will offgas dangerous fumes at high temperatures (above 500F).
  • Not induction compatible.

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What About All Positive Reviews on Amazon?

Hmmm, let's take a deeper look at the Amazon reviews. 

At The Rational Kitchen, we consider a good rating to be 80% or more 4- and 5-star reviews and less than 10% 1- and 2-star reviews. Average GraniteRock product ratings hover right around 80% positive reviews and about 13% negative reviews. So not great, but not too bad, either. 

The Fakespot ratings were all over the place. Many of the products got As, but some got Cs and one got a D. This doesn't necessarily mean the reviews are fake. It just means that some of the reviews may not be reliable. The Fakespot rating for the company is a C (so not the best).

Here's the thing about Amazon reviews. A lot of reviewers have only had a product for a short time, before they've had a chance to become fully acquainted with it. And often, when the product disappoints, people don't bother to update their glowing reviews.

With nonstick cookware, it's particularly important to read the negative reviews. All nonstick pans work great at first, but how long do they last? That's the most important question, and the negative reviews will help you answer it far more than the positive reviews will. 

For more info on Amazon reviews and how they can help you buy wisely, see our article Can You Trust Amazon Reviews?

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Our GraniteRock/GraniteStone Recommendations

GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

If you want an inexpensive nonstick skillet that will perform adequately and probably last a couple of years, GraniteRock products are a good option. Though there are three generations--GraniteRock, GraniteStone, and GraniteStone Diamond--there isn't a difference in price and the company doesn't differentiate them on their website. If you want the latest and greatest--i.e., GraniteStone Diamond--be sure to buy from the Bed, Bath & Beyond link. 

See GraniteRock pans on Amazon

See GraniteStone pans on Amazon

See GraniteStone Diamond pans at Bed, Bath & Beyond

You can also buy directly from the GraniteRock and GraniteStone web sites, but you'll probably have better luck buying through another retailer. The website offers a free 5-inch egg pan with the purchase of a 10-inch skillet, but some people say they never received it. Furthermore, lead times are really long: you may have to wait two months before your pan arrives. 

Also, the website doesn't offer all the options you'll have on Amazon. You can only buy the 10-inch skillet (plus the free mini egg pan), with no options for other products. But if all you want is the 10-inch skillet and don't mind waiting for it, here are the links.

buy graniterock skillet at graniterock.com

buy granitestone skillet at granitestone.com


Final Thoughts on GraniteRock and GraniteStone Pans

Despite much touting about the "granite" coating, GraniteRock/GraniteStone pans are just your basic stamped aluminum pans with a PTFE nonstick coating. They are nowhere near as tough as the marketing hype would have you believe, and work best with oil or butter in the pan. 

Yes, the coating has been reinforced with granite, or titanium, or perhaps diamond dust, but there's not a lot of evidence that these reinforcements add much to durability or pan life (true for all brands, not just GraniteRock).

If budget is your number one concern, GraniteRock is as good as anything else at this price point. However, for just a little bit more, you can get a cast aluminum pan (such as All-Clad HA1 skillet or the Anolon Nouvelle Copper pan) that's going to heat better, be less prone to warping, and last at least as long. 

Thanks for reading!

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GraniteRock/GraniteStone Pan Review

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