The Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet is a nonstick pan that uses an eco-friendly ceramic coating in place of Teflon. This eliminates the use of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), two controversial chemicals used in the manufacture of Teflon. However, this green skillet gets mixed results in both professional tests and user reviews. While some reviews praise its performance, others say the ceramic nonstick surface isn't as good or as durable as Teflon.
It sticks, but it doesn't. Reports about how well the Cuisinart GreenGourmet pan performs are conflicting. In tests conducted by Fine Cooking magazine, it's a top performer. Reviewer Maryellen Driscoll says the skillet "conducted heat in a controlled and even manner," and food did not stick to the ceramic surface. It also gets high marks from testers at The Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine, with little detail about testing methodology. However, it bombs in tests at another foodie magazine, with bottom marks for both performance and design. Eggs stick to the sides, and steaks burn on the outside before they're cooked through. We found similarly mixed reviews for this skillet at Amazon.com. Most reviewers praise the pan's performance, especially its nonstick surface. "Even my 8 year old can make beautiful (no tears) fried eggs with it," enthuses one owner. However, we also found a significant number of dissenting reviewers who say everything sticks to the pan.
Helpful feature discontinued. Driscoll, once again, is enthusiastic about the pan's design. She praises its balance and rolled edge, which she says facilitates pouring. She also says that the skillet's stay-cool handles are comfortable to use. However, the editors of another foodie magazine are unenthusiastic, complaining that the pan's undersized cooking surface left steaks crowded together. (Reviewers at both publications appreciate the GreenGourmet's helper handle on the side opposite the main handle; however, the version of the skillet that's sold now no longer includes this feature.)
Owners at Amazon.com also differ over how easy the skillet is to clean. Many reviews praise the pan's easy cleanup; one owner says with satisfaction that it "cleans with a wipe and a rinse." However, others complain that oil burns onto the sides of the pan, leaving a black residue that takes lots of scrubbing to remove.
Utilitarian: It's a skillet. Reviewers say the gently sloping sides make it easy to slip omelets out of the Green Gourmet pan. The comments we saw from owners didn't enthuse about the skillet's appearance, but they didn't complain about it either.
Here's where the complaints lie. Owners say that within a short time -- anywhere from a few weeks to a few months -- the ceramic surface begins to deteriorate and lose its nonstick properties. One owner called the manufacturer to complain about the problem and was told to soak the pan in hot, soapy water with vinegar to "remove any surface oils that might have built up." The user says this technique didn't work.
The GreenGourmet skillet is backed by a lifetime warranty, but users report mixed results when trying to use the warranty. One owner was "pleasantly surprised" to receive a new skillet after spending $18 to ship the damaged one back to Cuisinart. However, another user mailed the pan back and had the claim rejected on the grounds that the problems with it were not due to a manufacturing defect -- even though the owner said that all of Cuisinart's care and use instructions had been meticulously followed.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good Editors test eight alternative nonstick skillets, including the Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet. The pans are rated for nonstick performance, design and durability. The editors cook eggs, fish, steak and vegetables in each pan to assess nonstick performance. They also test scratch resistance by cutting a frittata in the pan with a chef's knife and removing slices with a metal pie server. Overall, editors find that the pans can't match the quality and durability of traditional nonstick skillets. Pans with silicone coatings do better than those with ceramic coatings, but no skillet is recommended without reservations.
Review: Green Skillets, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Sept. 1, 2009
2. Fine Cooking
Review Credibility: Very Good Writer Maryellen Driscoll tests 10 nonstick skillets by cooking pancakes to check heat evenness, pork chops to evaluate browning and fish and eggs (without oil) to see if they stick. She names four pans as "keepers," with top honors going to the Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet. This pan, Driscoll says, "conducted heat in a controlled and even manner" with no sticking. She also praises the skillet's user-friendly design, with good balance, gently sloped sides, a comfortable stay-cool handle and "a rolled edge for easy pouring."
Review: Test Drive: Nonstick Skillets, Maryellen Driscoll, February/March 2009
3. The Wall Street Journal
Review Credibility: Very Good Writer Katherine Cancila tries out more than a dozen nonstick pans for The Wall Street Journal (though she doesn't discuss her testing methods). She recommends the Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet as one of her top five picks, calling it a Green Goddess for its eco-friendly surface. Cancila says the ceramic surface is "suited for everything from searing steak to poaching delicate fillets of fish," but she does warn that it's vulnerable to chipping.
Review: Nonstick Frying Pans, Katherine Cancila, March 30, 2012
Review Credibility: Good The Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet gets mixed feedback at Amazon.com. In about 210 reviews, it earns an overall rating of 3.4 stars out of a possible 5. Most users are thrilled with the pan's performance when it's new, saying it delivers even heat, great nonstick performance and easy cleanup. However, longtime users are often disillusioned, saying that the ceramic surface loses its nonstick properties within anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Review: Cuisinart Green Gourmet Skillets, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
5. Food & Wine Magazine
Review Credibility: Good Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly tests cast-iron, nonstick and stainless-steel skillets and makes three recommendations in each category. The Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard Anodized 12-Inch Skillet is one of her picks in the nonstick category, but she doesn't explain what she liked about it or her testing methodology (aside from saying that she "tried out" all the pans). However, the article does discuss what to look for in a nonstick skillet in general terms.
Review: Testing Skillets to Find the Best, Kristin Donnelly, November 2008