What We Like
Retains heat well
Creates distinctive grill marks
Heavy-duty and durable
Oven- and broiler-safe to 500 degrees
What We Don't Like
Sometimes hard to clean by hand
Handle gets extremely hot
Love grilling up fresh meat and vegetables but don’t have the space or budget for an outdoor grill? A grill pan, such as the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron Grill Pan, is the next best thing. These unique pieces of cookware have ridges along the bottom of the pan, designed to replicate the delicious char you’d get from true grilling.
While grill pans are a more affordable alternative to a full-size grill, they aren’t without their flaws. Many people find it frustrating to scrub down a grill pan after use, and some are let down by the lack of smokey flavor. To see if this specialty pan is a worthwhile investment, we put the popular indoor grill alternative to the test, using it to cook a variety of foods over the course of a week. Here’s what we found.
Performance: Practice required for perfect results
You won’t be disappointed by the performance of the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron Grill Pan, but you have to learn the proper way to use it first. Like many grill pans, this product took us some getting used to before we could consistently achieve beautiful char marks. The key here is a combination of the right heat setting and patience. Oh, and lots of oil!
Like many grill pans, this product took us some getting used to before we could consistently achieve beautiful char marks.
For best results, we found that we needed to give the cast iron pan plenty of time to heat up. We also made sure to put plenty of butter or oil in it—especially on the ridges, as we learned the hard way that meat sometimes sticks to them. The instructions recommend using the pan on medium-low heat, but we found medium to medium-high to be a better setting for prominent char marks. Finally, we discovered through trial and error that it’s necessary to give food plenty of time to cook on each side. It’s tempting to flip things early, but patience is important if you want those tasty lines.
This grill pan is also oven- and broiler-safe up to 500 degrees, which increases its versatility. When cooking a large slab of meat, we first seared it on the cooktop to trap in juices, then put it into the oven to cook the interior. However, it’s worth mentioning that food cooked in the Cuisinart Grill Pan isn’t an exact replica of true grilled dishes. We were able to get the same grill marks and crisp texture, but food cooked in a pan won’t have the same smokey flavor.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best nonstick cookware sets.
Design: Simple and pretty
Like most cast iron pans, the Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron Square Grill Pan is quite heavy—it weighs around 5 pounds. This may make it difficult to handle if you have problems with your hands or wrists. The pan is a 9.25-inch square with 1-inch-high sides, and there’s a pour spout which we used to drain off fats or liquid.
The bottom of the pan is smooth, so it didn’t scratch up our glass cooktop, and the enamel coating gives the cookware a sleek appearance. The size of the grill pan fit quite well on our cooktop’s 9-inch heating element, but because it’s a square, the corners did hang over a bit.
Material: Everything you love about cast iron
This grill pan is made completely from cast iron, which is why it’s so heavy. If you can get past the weight, however, you’ll love how durable and heavy-duty the pan feels. We weren’t worried about it warping or getting scratched—we simply avoided using metal utensils on it.
The one downside of this cast iron pan is that the handle gets hot as well, even if it’s just over a burner.
The sides and bottom of the pan are coated in a porcelain enamel that’s both shiny and richly colored, making it a beautiful showpiece for our kitchen. We’d also proudly use it as a serving dish at our next gathering. The interior is also coated with porcelain enamel, which ensures the pan doesn’t absorb odors or flavors. The pan’s handle is made from the same enamel-coated material as the body, and while the shape is comfortable enough to grip, it felt a bit slippery to us because the finish is so shiny.
Check out our guide to the best small saucepans you can buy.
Heating Capability: Heats up slow, but stays warm longer
One of the reasons people love cast iron pans is because of their unbeatable heat retention. This metal takes a little while to warm up, but once it does, it boasts even heat distribution. This meant we didn’t need to worry about hot spots while cooking. Plus, it stays warm for significantly longer than other metals—this can be a good or bad thing depending on your cooking style.
The one downside of this cast iron pan is that the handle gets hot as well, even if it’s just over a burner. We learned to have a pot holder handy whenever we were cooking with this pan, especially if we put it in the oven or under the broiler.
Cleaning: Not as hard as it sounds
One of the common complaints about grill pans—especially cast iron ones—is that they’re tough to clean, as you need to get in between all the ridges. We didn’t have any problems washing the Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron Square Grill Pan by hand. We found that a brush worked best to loosen up food trapped between the ridges, and it only took a few minutes of scrubbing to get the pan clean. However, we were also diligent about oiling up the pan before cooking to prevent things from sticking too much.
We found that a brush worked best to loosen up food trapped between the ridges, and it only took a few minutes of scrubbing to get the pan clean.
If that sounds like a lot of work, you’ll be glad to know this pan is also supposedly safe to put in the dishwasher. So instead of scrubbing, you can just put it into the appliance and enjoy hands-off cleaning.
Price: Good value for a long-lasting pan
As long as you care for cast iron properly, it will likely last forever—the pan even has a lifetime warranty in case you run into any defects. Because it’s so heavy-duty and high-quality, the retail price of $40 seems well worth it, especially if you use the pan on a regular basis.
Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron Square Grill Pan vs. Anolon Advanced Nonstick Square Grill Pan
If the weight or scrubbing of the Cuisinart Grill Pan gives you pause, you might prefer the Anolon Advanced Nonstick Square Grill Pan. While they both serve the same purpose and cost about the same, these two pans couldn’t be more different.
The Anolon pan is made from hard-anodized aluminum, so it weighs about half as much as the Cuisinart cast iron grill pan. The Anolon also boasts a nonstick surface, so cleanup is significantly easier. Further, the Anolon grill pan is quite a bit bigger, measuring 11 inches across and sporting 2-inch sides. However, it is only oven-safe up to 400 degrees and can’t be put in the dishwasher. Ultimately, you can go wrong with either of these pans. It’s just a matter of preference.
If you like cast iron, buy it
Some people absolutely love the performance of cast iron pans, and if you fall into that camp, you’ll definitely be happy with the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron Grill Pan. Sure, it requires a little more upkeep than, say, nonstick pans, but the beautiful, even results are worth it, and the grill pan will likely last forever.
- Product Name Chef’s Classic™ Enameled Cast Iron 9.25" Square Grill Pan
- Product Brand Cuisinart
- SKU C130-23CR
- Price $39.95
- Product Dimensions 9.25 x 9.25 x 1 in.
- Color Cardinal Red, Provencal Blue
- Material Cast iron with porcelain enamel finish
- Warranty Lifetime