If you’re just discovering the Starfrit The Rock, then you may be wondering if this product lives up to the claims that are showcased on its TV promotions.
Spoiler alert, it doesn’t.
But that doesn’t mean Starfrit has a terrible product. It’s just an indicator that novelty sells. No surprise there. I’ve put dozens of nonstick pans through hands on trials in our Test Kitchen and was surprised to discover that some of my favorite were As Seen on TV.
Starfrit “The Rock” isn’t the pan for everything, and it won’t last forever. But it will perform certain kitchen tasks very effectively. In this article, I’ll walk you through:
- Advantages you’ll get with The Rock Pan.
- Drawbacks worth considering.
- How it compares with dozens of other pans we put through rigorous tests.
What we like
- Exceptionally durable for the price.
- Very affordable.
- Well-designed practical use pieces included.
What We don’t
- Not for use with high heat.
- The ads say it’s “dishwasher safe,” but the care instructions recommend against it.
- The induction compatible version is available, but does cost more.
In This Article
The Rock pan is made using a 4mm thick forged aluminum base.
Aluminum is incredibly lightweight, and this pan weighs only 2 lbs. It’s a great heat conductor too, which means that you won’t be waiting forever for this pan to arrive at cooking temperature.
The primary downside of the aluminum base is that it doesn’t retain heat very effectively.
If the temperature on your stovetop fluctates greatly, then so will the cooking surface of the pan. And, when adding cold ingredients to a hot pan, the temperature may dip temporarily before it regains temperature.
Another downside of its aluminum base is that The Rock pan isn’t compatible with induction cooktops. This is because induction stoves rely on magnetism to create heat, and aluminum isn’t a magnetic metal.
If you plan on using an induction stove then you’ll need to reach for an induction-ready pan that is built with steel or iron as part of its base material.
Starfit does make an induction compatible bi-clad pan which usually costs a bit more because of the extra materials needed to build it.
Overall, the design profile used for the Rock is slender and attractive.
For handles, Starfrit offers some pans with Bakelite (plastic resin) handles and others with stainless steel. The stainless steel handles are oven safe to 450 F, and I wouldn’t recommend using Bakelite in the oven. It’s also important to make sure that the burners on a gas stove don’t and damage or overheat the Bakelite handles.
The frying pan doesn’t come with a lid, but most of the other pieces in the collection do. They are glass with stainless steel loop handles and rims.
Starfrit uses a multi-layer coating which they’ve dubbed “Roc.Tec,” as the nonstick surface of their cookware. It’s a PTFE-based ceramic produced as part of PPG’s Quantanium consumer cookware coatings division.
Is it any good?
Like other non-stick coatings, this one has its benefits and drawbacks. If you’re hoping to go “oil free” then this pan won’t get you very far down the road. The truth is that all nonstick pans work better with a little cooking fat, and the food comes out better too.
I don’t know of a material that is easier to use or clean than PTFE, but durability is always an issue. Even though Roc.Tec is applied in 3-layers with titanium dust and textured with steel balls specifically to improve scratch resistance, this pan won’t take much abuse.
If you have a bird in the house, this pan is not for you. Look instead for a nonstick pan without PTFE, because the substance will cause them respiratory distress even at low temperatures.
f you’re buying nonstick, the single most effective piece of cookware you can get is a frying pan. Nothing is quite as easy to use and clean, especially if you’re working with a delicate meal like fish or eggs.
With that said, Starfrit does offer a full set in case you need to quickly outfit a full kitchen.
It’s a middle-of-the-road option. You can easily find a nonstick set for half or twice as much.
All of the pieces are fairly standard – fry pan, saucepans, and a stock pot. And together they should be capable of handling 95% of your average Western kitchen’s cooking jobs.
One value-add from the full set is that the handles are stainless steel and slightly more ergonomic than the single fry pan. Mostly this is aesthetic value, but you’ll also gain some durability and temperature rating from the materials upgrade.
The good news is that these pans don’t require any special seasoning or maintenance. The other reality is that nonstick pans, as a rule, won’t stand up to much abuse.
As a rule of thumb, I tell my friends not to expect their nonstick pan to last more than 2 years. Is it possible that yours could? Absolutely. But it’s probably prudent to plan around the rule rather than hope for being an exception.
There are a lot of ways to ruin a nonstick pan, and you should definitely familiarize yourself with the most common mistakes people make before you start cooking.
Low durability is a tradeoff that many people are willing to make because of the attractive price, and convenience of use.
I had a great experience in my 120 day test with the Granitestone pan. It’s affordably priced, but in my opinion doesn’t look as good as The Rock. If you’re looking for a pop of color, there is no option better than GreenLife.
And, if you’d like a pan that is going to last you might try a carbon steel skillet instead. They tend to be slightly heavier, but not so much as cast iron, and will give you a natural nonstick that lasts more than a decade for a similar price.
Does Starfrit the Rock have PTFE?
While Starfrit does offer a ceramic PTFE-free version of the Rock, most of their products do contain PTFE. We found that the product labeling can be confusing, or in some cases misleading, so be sure to look for explicitly stated “PTFE-free” if that is a dealbreaker criteria for your kitchen.
How long will The Rock Pans Last?
This ultimately depends on how well you treat your cookware. While nonstick pans can be incredibly convenient, they slick cook surface also tends to be quite fragile. Although there are exceptions, it’s common for the nonstick property of PTFE pans like the Rock to deteriorate in 2-5 years. Sometimes sooner.
What is the best type of Nonstick Cookware?
At the moment, PTFE nonstick cookware is incredibly popular among beginner and intermediate home chefs. In most cases, our kitchen actually prefers carbon steel and cast iron. While these two materials aren’t always “magic out of the box,” they are affordable, very nonstick, can last a lifetime and generally get better with time.