Recently we discussed the Cuisinart Chef’s Pan in our saucepan and saucier buying guide as a budget pick if you’re looking for a saucier. Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at this pan and how it’s been working for us in the kitchen.
What is a Chef’s Pan?
A chef’s pan is also known as a saucier (though I recognize there may be some quibble about that) and is different from a saucepan due to the shape of the sides. Chef’s pans have sloped (rather than straight) sides, making it easier to stir and whisk the contents of the pan.
This style of cookware is immensely useful for dishes that require constant stirring and for stuff that tends to get stuck in the sides. I bought mine specifically for polenta, rice porridge, and cheese sauces — things I make often and that greatly benefit from the sloped sides.
Cuisinart Chef’s Pan Design & Construction
Sauciers, in general, are pretty spendy. There aren’t nearly as many options as saucepans, and many of the best pans out there are from high-end brands and start in price around $100. I went with the Cuisinart because I wasn’t ready to spend that much on a single piece just yet, so I knew going in that the quality wouldn’t be equal to a 3- or 5-ply premium saucier. With that in mind, here’s an overview of the pan itself:
Disk Bottom: The Cuisinart Chef’s Classic is a budget line, so the chef’s pan features an aluminum disk bottom rather than full cladding. This makes the pot lightweight and it means that it does not retain heat as well as a fully-clad pan.
Mirror Finish Stainless: This pan is constructed with 18/10 stainless steel. The disk bottom is encapsulated aluminum. The exterior has a mirror finish, which looks lovely but, in my experience, is much harder to keep clean than brushed.
3 Quart: The Chef’s Pan in question is 3-quarts, which I find to be the best size for polenta, porridge, mac and cheese, and so forth. It’s a bit larger than I need for some things (like cheese sauce or other sauces) but not too big so as to be inconvenient. I don’t love it for heating up marinara as the larger surface space seems to allow for more splattering.
Handle: Cuisinart’s line features Cool Grip handles — cast stainless that doesn’t get overly hot while the pot is on the stove. Like all cast stainless handles, it will stay relatively cool but you should still be careful when you grasp it.
Features of the Chef’s Pan
As I mentioned above, this is a slope-sided pan meant for easy whisking and stirring. It includes a stainless lid and has a lifetime warranty. It is oven safe to 500 degrees and is also dishwasher safe (but, of course, we recommend hand washing!)
So far I’ve made polenta several times in this pot, as well as Norwegian rice porridge, rice, cheese sauces, and for reducing sauces. I love the ease of stirring in this and will definitely continue to use it. A few things to note:
- The disk bottom heats differently than I am used to with my 5-ply saucepans. It does, however, heat quickly.
- The disk bottom gets very hot and keeps that heat localized, so I have to stir constantly in order to keep things from burning.
- Keeping the heat lower helps some with the sticking/burning issues.
I’ve had no issues with cleaning. I primarily hand wash but have thrown it into the dishwasher for review purposes and it held up fine. As I mentioned earlier, the mirror finish gets smudged easily, but that’s not a big deal to me. I prefer brushed stainless but still have to admit that this pot looks really nice.
I haven’t yet had to use Barkeepers Friend on the interior, but I imagine it will polish easily.
Overall, this is a pan I’m glad I bought. I still plan to one day get a higher-quality saucier, but this one will do just fine for the time being. Though the disk bottom isn’t ideal in cookware, it’s not as big of an issue in a pan like this. The key to success, though, is ensuring that constant stirring to avoid scorching or burning on the bottom.
Best of all, the Cuisinart Chef’s Pan is priced very well, particularly when compared to those $100+ sauciers. It’s generally under $30, but I got mine on sale for under $25, so watch for deals!
Other options available include a stainless 1-quart with a pour spout and a 3-quart hard anodized aluminum pot.
I definitely recommend this if you’re after a budget-friendly saucier/chef’s pan, but do be sure to use and care for it carefully so it lasts a long time.