The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Inch Skillet isn't as outstanding a performer as the top-rated All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan (*Est. $140) , but at roughly half the price, it's a good value. The pan is roomy, and heat distribution is fairly even. As with other stainless pans, sticking is a problem, and some users find cleanup a hassle. Also, the bottom of the pan may start to bulge over time.
Like other stainless pans, food sticks. This is a good thing when you're searing a steak or cooking a pan sauce, which requires the development of a brown crust known as fond. As one Amazon.com user notes, "You just cannot get the kind of sear on a nonstick pan as you can with this." For delicate foods like eggs or fish, however, sticking can be a problem. A couple of owners at Amazon.com say the best way to avoid this problem is to use the right combination of oil and heat. The trick, one user explains, "is to let it heat up first, then add the oil, then your food." Most owners say that this heavy pan distributes heat evenly, but professional chefs who tested it had minor concerns. Although onions cooked evenly at first, they say, minor hot spots formed later on, causing the onions to brown unevenly.
Features to make cooking easy. Its large surface, according to professional testers, can accommodate eight pieces of chicken with no crowding. Both professionals and users love the skillet's "helper" handle, which makes it easier to maneuver the heavy pan into the oven or pour off liquids. Another nice feature is that both the main handle, made of stainless steel, stays cool. However, we did see one or two user complaints that the handle is a bit small, especially for such a large pan. A couple of users also wish that this skillet came with a lid.
Users are divided over the issue of cleanup. (Although this skillet is dishwasher-safe, the manufacturer recommends washing by hand to prevent scratching.) Some owners complain that stuck-on food is very hard to remove. However, other users say they have no trouble keeping the pan clean with the help of a suitable cleanser (as discussed below). Another possible problem is that the "oversized" pan may not fit into smaller sinks, making soaking difficult.
Users describe this skillet as "beautiful." One owner says that the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro has both the weight and looks of the much pricier All-Clad pan. Most owners also find that keeping the finish shiny is no problem. One owner says, "I use Bar Keepers Friend and it is high-gloss shiny each time!" Two other users who had problems with burned-on food say their pans cleaned up "as good as new" after they were soaked and scrubbed with cleanser. Users caution that it's wise to avoid using metal tools with this skillet to prevent surface scratches.
Holds up reasonably well in tests. It's not quite as durable as the All-Clad, which survives abuse with barely noticeable dents, but it does better than some cheaper pans. One problem noted by some users is that the skillet's bottom tends to develop a bulge over time, preventing it from sitting flat on the stove burner. (A few users say the skillet bottom was warped upon purchase.) Professional testers did not observe this problem, so it may be a matter of uneven quality control. In theory, damage of this kind should be covered under Cuisinart's lifetime warranty. However, we read a couple of Amazon.com reviews saying that getting Cuisinart to replace the skillet under warranty is a major hassle, and claims may be denied.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors test seven 12-inch stainless-steel skillets priced at $100 or less. Most of the pans, including the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Inch Skillet, are fully clad, with an aluminum core extending all the way up the sides of the pan. They run the pans through weeks of testing: searing steaks, pan-roasting chicken parts, sautéing onions and making pan sauces. They also test durability by putting hot pans into ice-cold water and banging them on the sidewalk. None of the bargain-priced pans can match the performance of the editors' favorite, pricey stainless skillet, but some come close.
Review: Moderately Priced 12-Inch Skillets, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Dec. 1, 2012
Review Credibility: Good We found more than 110 reviews for the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Inch Skillet at Amazon.com, with an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Owners say this pan is solidly built and distributes heat well. Most agree that it cleans up easily with the right cleanser. We did see quite a few complaints that food sticks to the pan (a common problem with stainless cookware), though some say the right technique fixes this problem. Another common complaint is that the pan bottom bulges, so it will not sit level on the burner.
Review: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Open Skillet, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013