Beautiful enough to transition easily from oven to table. Good size—hold 5 quarts. Large handles. Comes in 9 bold color options. Can be used on all types of stovetops or ovens. Can also be used as a skillet. Cleans easily.
Very expensive. Needs careful handling when cleaning.
Cast iron to conduct heat evenly and effectively. Enameled interior and exterior is safe and nonstick. Body and lid are oven-safe to 500 degrees. Wide handles make handling easy, even with oven mitts.
Hand-wash and dry for best results.
Comes in red or blue. Enameled cookware. Nice, wide, and shallow shape. Light enameled interior is easy to clean. Very good looking. Appealing size. Retains heat well. Simple design. Does not need to be seasoned.
Enamel has been seen chipped on arrival.
Available in 4 highly saturated hues. Enameled nonstick surface and easy-grip handles. Cooks evenly and is easy to clean. Attractive design looks great on display.
Handles are narrower and enamel not as good as brand name units.
High-quality braiser in a convenient size for smaller dishes and meals. Fine enamel is naturally nonstick and stain-resistant. Domed lid captures cooking steam. Oven-safe, including lid knob. Dishwasher-safe.
Expensive. Hand-washing and gentle handling for best results.
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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. They allow you to cook stews, 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
A braiser should feature a tight-fitting lid to prevent moisture from escaping. Choose between a lid with a knob or a standard handle.
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.
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.
Wooden spoon: Avoid scratching your cast iron cookware by using a wooden spoon instead of a metal one.
Oven gloves: Your cast iron braiser will become very hot, especially if placed in the oven. Purchase one or two high-quality oven gloves to protect your hands from the heat.
Trivet: Protect your countertops and kitchen table with heat-proof trivets. You can choose from plain, utilitarian styles, or you can find decorative designs that complement your home decor in addition to protecting your surfaces.
Cast iron oils: It’s a good idea to season your cast iron cookware with a quality oil designed expressly for this purpose.
While cast iron is a relatively inexpensive material, the cost of a braiser depends mainly on the size of the vessel and the brand. Expect to pay from $30 to $400 for a cast iron braiser.
You’ll pay the least for an unseasoned, non-enameled cast iron braiser. Lower-cost braisers are typically not as heat resistant. Models under $100 aren’t typically as durable as pricier units and often feature low-quality enamel that chips easily.
High-end brands like Le Creuset, for instance, offer high-quality multi-layered enameled cookware with impressive lifetime warranties.
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 season your cast iron pan.
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.
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.
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.