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.
- We tested the 5-quart version of our favorite 3.5-quart braiser, priced at about $360 and made of enameled cast iron
- Brown meatballs all over
- Make Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Mint and Feta Cheese
- Make Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Wash the pan by hand after every test
- Whack each pan around the rim with a metal spoon 50 times
- Slam the lid down onto each pan 25 times
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.