This Le Creuset grill pan is nice and compact, and the rectangular shape makes it perfect for skewers or a long cut of meat like pork tenderloin. Since it’s enameled cast iron it has great heat retention, plus it's perfect for stove-to-oven cooking.
The grill ridges are really shallow. Cook even a moderately fatty cut of meat (chuck burgers, we’re looking at you!), and it'll stew in its own juices instead of riding high and dry above the base of the pan.
The $100 we paid for this pan just kills it for us. If it cost half that much, we'd think about recommending it. But with so-so success in our testing, this pan looks like a clunker.
Le Creuset is one of a handful of top-tier cookware makers, period, with a faithful and passionate fan base. The most famous maker of enameled cast iron has a reputation for quality, with new color releases that are generally on trend. Many home cooks treasure their Le Creuset French ovens and braisers, thanks to all those coq au vins and boeuf bourguignonnes they've produced for special occasions. The question we considered for this review: Can Le Creuset make a compact grill pan that functions as flawlessly as one of its French ovens?
It’s made in France, which gives it the aura of quality, and the enameled cast iron makes it feel solid, like a pan you'll use forever. It measures 13 by 8.5 inches, with a relatively small cooking surface of 10.5 by 7 inches. That means if your household is larger than three people, this probably isn't the pan for you. It has a nonreactive enameled black interior, and the grill ridges are a shallow .25 centimeter high (by contrast, a Staub grill pan in the CHOW Test Kitchen has ridges twice as high). The rippled handle has visual flair, plus it means you can be wearing bulky oven mitts and still get a good grip. The pan we tested here is a color Le Creuset calls Ocean, a chic gray-blue (other options: Quince, Marseille, Red, and Flame). And you can jam it in the dishwasher, though depending on your dishwasher and what you’ve grilled, you’re probably going to need to scrub off the crud first.
The crucial tests of a grill pan are whether it can produce strong sear marks, it resists sticking, and it has ridges high enough to keep moist foods from stewing as they cook. We put this pan through the paces by grilling pineapple slices, flaky halibut fillets, and chuck burgers.
Pineapple slices: We heated the pan over a medium flame, oiled the surface, and arranged fresh pineapple slices on the ridges. We got three large slices on at a time, waited a few minutes, and flipped them. We like how the ridges are on a diagonal, so if you want to produce crosshatch marks you can put the food on in a straightforward side-to-side arrangement, no guesswork about ideal angles. The pan did a moderately good job with grill marks: It got hotter around the edges than it did in the center, resulting in uneven marks. Score: B.
Halibut fillets: We brushed the fish with a little vegetable oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. We rubbed the grill pan with a paper towel saturated with veggie oil, too, and let it get nice and hot over a medium-high flame. The pan’s small cooking surface makes doing individual portions of proteins tricky—cooking one large piece might be better with a pan like this. That said, our fish fillets did release pretty easily: There was minimal sticking when we flipped them, though oiling both the pan and the fish was crucial. Score: B+.
Burgers: Three patties of full-fat, 80/20 beef chuck fit in the pan at one time. We heated the pan over medium-high heat, then adjusted the flame down after a couple of minutes on the first side, once the juices started running into the pan and sizzling. Grill marks on the first side weren’t that dark—before we even flipped, the bottoms of the patties were in contact with the juices, so instead of grilled burgers with pronounced char marks, we were essentially cooking on a flat-top griddle. And when the burgers were done, we were looking at a pretty crusty pan. You’ll definitely want to clean this pan immediately, while it’s still hot and before the fatty juices have cooked onto it from the residual heat. Score: D.
Photos by Chris Rochelle