Best Cast Iron Braisers

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
382 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cast iron braisers

Last Updated December 2019

Traditionally used to slow cook large cuts of meat, a braiser is a multifaceted piece of cookware useful for creating a slew of different dishes. Cook stew, simmer vegetables, pop a pot roast in the oven, sear steaks, and more. You can cook a hearty meal during the cold weather months with a sturdy cast iron braiser. In the summer, you can use your braiser on the stovetop to sauté or simmer a variety of seasonal produce from the local farmer’s market.

While braisers are available in other materials, cast iron is a top choice for those wishing to invest in durable cookware. The tight-fitting lid of a braiser locks in moisture and allows food to baste in its own juices, heightening the flavor.

If you only have room for one or two sizeable cookware items or have a limited budget, a cast iron braiser should be at the top of your list. Read this buying guide to find the cast iron braiser that best suits your needs.

Braisers are often available in a wide variety of colors. Choose a hue that matches your kitchen accent color or complements your appliances.

Key considerations

What is a braiser used for?

Braisers are a type of flat-bottomed cookware with a shallow design. They often feature handles to enable easy transfer from cooktop to oven. A lid helps retain moisture and prevents slow-cooked foods from drying out. Braisers are commonly used for cooking meats. The closest cookware relative to a braiser is a Dutch oven. The main difference between the two is the shape. Braisers are shallower and slightly wider than Dutch ovens.

Braising is ideal for cooking tough cuts of meat and is a cooking method often used for making stews. A braiser may also be used to roast, bake, simmer, or fry a variety of foods. Braisers are perfect for cooking one-pot meals. Sear meat on the stovetop, add liquid, put on the tight-fitting lid, and transfer to the oven to braise your meal.

Benefits of cooking with cast iron

While it’s possible to purchase a braiser in materials other than cast iron, there are several reasons why cast iron is the top choice of many cooks. Here are a few compelling advantages of using cast iron cookware:

  • Versatile: Cast iron cookware is capable of withstanding very high heat. It’s oven-safe and induction-ready so it can be used with all kinds of stovetops and ovens.
  • Adds iron to food: Cooking with uncoated cast iron cookware transfers small amounts of iron into your food. If you’re anemic or iron deficient, it may be beneficial to cook with cast iron.
  • Retains heat well: Once cast iron heats up, it stays hot. This property allows for easy searing and crisping of foods.
  • Nonstick: Foods won’t stick to an adequately seasoned cast iron braiser’s surface. While it’s not as slippery as Teflon, it’s a fairly decent non-stick surface. You can choose an enameled cast iron braiser if you’re not interested in putting in the effort to season or maintain the seasoned surface of your braiser.
  • Durable: Cast iron is an incredibly durable material. In many families, this type of cookware is passed down from generation to generation.
  • Inexpensive: Compared to cookware made of copper or tri-ply stainless steel, cast iron is quite affordable.

Drawbacks of cooking with cast iron

Cast iron has a variety of benefits, but it’s not a miracle cookware material. Here are a few downsides of using this type of cookware:

  • Gets extremely hot: Once it heats up, cast iron retains heat fairly well and takes a while to cool down. Expect even the handles on your cast iron braiser to become quite hot, so having thick oven mitts or kitchen gloves on hand is essential to protect against burns.
  • Cumbersome: Cast iron is a heavy material and may not be easy for all cooks to haul out of storage. Also, dropping your multipound cast iron braiser may cause damage to your floors, counters, or sink.
  • Not dishwasher safe: Cast iron should be hand-washed to keep it in tip-top shape. It must be dried thoroughly after washing to prevent rusting.
  • Needs to be seasoned: Unless your cast iron braiser is enameled, it must be seasoned with cooking oil to maintain its nonstick surface.
  • Reactive surface: Acidic foods, like tomato sauce, react with the iron coating on this type of cookware and may change the taste of some foods.
EXPERT TIP

The knob of your braiser’s lid should be easy to grip even if you’re wearing an oven mitt.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Enameled cast iron: Avoid the need to regularly season the cast iron surface by picking an enameled braiser. Choose a braiser with high-quality enamel to prevent the coating from chipping away. High-end enameled braisers typically feature multiple layers of coating. The coating should cover the entire cooking surface.

Heat-proof handles: Some brands offer braisers with heat-proof handles that are covered in a protective covering. These types of handles help prevent accidental burns, but they are not always oven safe, which reduces the versatility of the cooking vessel. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your braiser is oven-safe.

Lid design: A braiser should feature a tight-fitting lid to prevent moisture from escaping. Choose between a lid with a knob or a standard handle.

Pre-seasoned: If you prefer to opt for a non-enameled braiser, pick one that is pre-seasoned. Over time, you’ll need to re-season the cast iron, but a pre-seasoned model is ready to use right out of the box.

Size: Cast iron braisers range in size from compact to large. They are available in capacities from three to six quarts. If you need to feed a family of four, opt for a braiser with at least a five-quart capacity.

EXPERT TIP

A good-quality braiser should feature a thick, heavy base.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Wooden spoon: OXO Good Grips Wooden Spoon Set
Avoid scratching your cast iron cookware by using a wooden spoon instead of a metal one. We like this set of three spoons from OXO. The spoons come in three sizes so you can choose the best one for the volume of your dish, and they are comfortable to grip (though not rubberized like some other Good Grips utensils).

Oven gloves: Ove Glove
Your cast iron braiser will become very hot, especially if placed in the oven. Purchase one or two high-quality Ove Gloves, and you will never have to worry about protecting your hands. Notably, there is only one glove per package; some oven gloves as a pair. However, we’re thrilled with this glove’s ability to resist heat.

Trivet: ME.FAN Set of Three Silicone Flower Trivets
Protect your countertops and kitchen table with heat-proof trivets like these pretty flower-shaped ones from ME.FAN. They come in a variety of colors to match your kitchen or dining area.

Cast iron oils: Lodge A-SPRAY
It’s a good idea to season your cast iron cookware with a quality oil designed expressly for this purpose. Lodge’s A-SPRAY is a non-aerosol spray consisting of canola oil that will help protect the finish of your cast iron.

Cast iron braiser prices

While cast iron is a relatively inexpensive material, the cost of a braiser depends mainly on the size of the vessel and the brand. Brands like LeCreuset, for instance, offer high-quality multi-layered enameled cookware with impressive lifetime warranties. Expect to pay from $30 to $400 for a cast iron braiser. Models under $100 aren’t typically as durable as pricier units and often feature low-quality enamel that chips easily. You’ll pay the least for an unseasoned, non-enameled cast iron braiser. Lower-cost braisers are typically not as heat resistant as pricier.

EXPERT TIP

Move your braiser from the oven straight to the table and serve foods right from your cookware. But remember to protect your table with a trivet.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

If you purchased an unseasoned braiser or simply feel like it’s time to re-season the surface, here’s a breakdown of how to complete the task.

  • Before seasoning, be sure that your braiser is clean and dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  • Wipe vegetable oil all over the surface of your cast iron cookware using a paper towel.
  • Don’t add too much oil. Using too much may leave behind a sticky film.
  • Remove any excess oil with a paper towel.
  • Transfer the coated braiser into the oven, upside down. Layer the bottom of your oven with tin foil or use a baking sheet to catch any excess oil.
  • Set your oven timer for 30 minutes.
  • When the timer sounds, remove the braiser and set aside to let cool.
  • Do this at least three more times to complete the seasoning process.

Other products we considered

If our top picks don’t suit your needs, consider these two additional cast-iron braisers. The VonShef Cast Iron Shallow Braiser is the ideal choice for the cook on a shoestring budget. The three-quart capacity is perfect for cooking for two and features a nonstick enameled surface. This braiser is oven-safe up to 480ºF.

We also like the Landhaus Professional Enameled Cast Iron Covered Braiser, which is available in multiple sizes and features an attractive stainless steel knob. The multi-layered coating is BPA-free, and the vessel is oven safe up to 450ºF.

Feel free to store your braiser within view. Most are designed to function as showpieces in the kitchen or dining room.

FAQ

Q. Is my cast iron braiser oven and dishwasher safe?
A.
Yes, and no. The majority of cast iron cookware is oven-safe, as long as there are no plastic parts. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to be sure. Cast iron should not be put into the dishwasher, however.

Q. Is braising food the only way to cook with a braiser?
A
. No. While braising is the intended purpose for this type of cooking vessel, it’s possible to sauté, fry, bake, and roast foods in a cast iron braiser. You may also use your cast iron braiser to cook casseroles.

Q. Which size braiser is best for cooking for two?
A.
Choose a braiser between two to three quarts to cook for two. A braiser that holds four to five quarts will leave you with some leftovers.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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