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Large Braiser

We tested a larger version of our favorite 3.5-quart braiser to see how well it performed, how easy it was to use, and how durable it was. 

More on The Best Braisers
Check out our reviews of small braisers and 3.5-quart braisers.

How We Tested

When we tested braisers, we named the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3.5-Quart Round Braiser our top pick. It excelled in each of our tests, thanks to its top-notch browning capabilities, broad cooking surface and walls high enough to accommodate every recipe we made with it, and generous looped handles that allowed us to easily pick up the pan and move it into and out of the oven. 

The 3.5-quart braiser is perfectly suitable for recipes that serve four, but if you’re cooking for six people or making a double batch of our favorite ragu, there is a larger version—the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-Quart Round Braiser—priced at about $360. Curious to know if this larger pan offered the same heat retention, durability, versatility, and ease of use as its smaller sibling, we used it to brown meatballs and make Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Mint and Feta Cheese and Braised Beef Short Ribs, washing the pan and its lid by hand after every test. We also whacked the pan around the rim with a metal spoon 50 times and slammed the lid down on it 25 times to see if its enamel coating chipped or cracked. 

Like the 3.5-quart model, the 5-quart braiser aced every one of our tests. It produced thoroughly browned meatballs and short ribs, and its nearly 3-inch-high walls allowed us to stir saucy green beans without worrying about any spillage. Its large, looped handles allowed us to pick up the braiser with oven mitts or dish towels and securely move it into and out of the oven. And the lid’s stainless-steel knob was sizable and easy to grasp. The braiser was easy to clean and withstood our durability tests without a single chip. 

So which of these two braisers is the right model for you? If you cook mostly for four people or fewer, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3.5-Quart Round Braiser is an excellent option. However, if you often cook for a crowd or just want the option to make recipes that serve more than four, we highly recommend the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-Quart Round Braiser. Of note: At about 15 pounds, it is 3 pounds heavier than the 3.5-quart braiser. But like the 3.5-quart braiser, we thought that this attractive pan also made an excellent serving dish.


Methodology


RATING CRITERIA: 

Cooking: We evaluated the finished food, noting if the braiser was able to brown food thoroughly, cook food evenly, and evaporate moisture adequately. 

 

Capacity: We looked at whether the pan was able to accommodate the recipes we made in it without overcrowding or, by contrast, seeming too big. 

 

Ease of Use: We evaluated how easy it was to monitor browning, pick up and move the pan, and lift its lid.

 

Cleanup: We looked at how easy the pan and its lid were to clean.

 

Durability: We evaluated whether the pan was able to withstand being whacked with a metal spoon and having its lid slammed down repeatedly without chipping.


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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.