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Large Braiser

Published October 2020
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.



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.

The Results


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.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.