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Braiser with Grill Pan Lid

Published October 2020
More on The Best Braisers
Check out our reviews of 3.5-quart, large, and small braisers.

How we tested

When we tested braisers, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3.5-Quart Round Braiser aced all our tests. The pan’s spacious handles allowed us to securely pick it up and move it into and out of the oven, and the sizable stainless-steel knob on its lid was easy to grasp. This pan browned food beautifully and evenly and had a roomy cooking surface that accommodated every recipe we tried in it. 

Recently, we noticed a related pan, the Le Creuset Braiser with Grill Pan Lid—a 3.5-quart braiser that replaces the traditional domed lid and stainless-steel knob with a multifunctional flat lid with a looped handle on either side and raised ridges on the underside. To use the lid as a grill pan, you flip it over and place it right on the burner.

We were curious: Was this pan just as good as our favorite braiser but with the added bonus of a built-in grill pan? To test the pan’s braising capabilities, we browned meatballs and made Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Mint and Feta Cheese and Braised Beef Short Ribs. To test the grill pan, we used it to make burgers and Salami, Capicola, and Provolone Panini (pressing the sandwiches with the pan’s base). We washed the pan and its lid by hand after every test. To assess durability, we whacked the pan around the rim with a metal spoon 50 times and slammed the lid down onto the pan 25 times, checking for cracks or chips after each test. 

The good news? The pan was the same size and had the same browning capabilities as our top-rated braiser. The lid performed admirably as a grill pan, too. It produced crisp, distinct char marks on both the burgers and the panini, and its 10-inch cooking surface accommodated four burgers or two large sandwiches. It was also heavy enough that it didn’t scoot around when we cooked on it or flipped burgers or sandwiches, and it was easy to clean, though it did require some extra attention due to its ridges. Neither the base nor the lid dented or chipped during our durability tests.

The bad news? The braiser/grill pan combo wasn’t as easy to use as our favorite braiser or our winning grill pan. The pan’s looped handles were smaller than our top-rated braiser’s by more than an inch, so it was harder to securely pick up, especially when we were wearing bulky oven mitts. The grill pan lid proved to be challenging, too. Instead of an easy-to-grab central knob, the lid had two handles on either side of it. The two sets of handles (the pan's and the lid's) got in the way of one another. And when we were using the pan as a braiser and the lid was hot—such as after a stint in the oven–the lid’s handles were harder to hold than a knob. Even when cool, the lid, which weighed more than 7 pounds, was cumbersome to flip over and use as a grill pan.

This braiser/grill pan combo isn’t a bad option if you like multiuse cookware that saves storage space—it produced well-cooked food and had a generous capacity. But overall, we think our favorite braiser and grill pan are better picks since they have roomier handles and you won’t have a lid you need to flip over to use. And while the combo pan costs about $325, our top-rated braiser and grill pan go for about $300 and $19, so it isn’t ultimately saving you any money.



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. We also noted if the lid was able to produce food with crisp, distinct grill marks. 

 

Capacity: We looked at whether the pan was able to accommodate the recipes we made in it without overcrowding. 

 

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

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.

$248.64*
Recommended

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.

$141.90*

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.

$67.99*
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.

$49.93*
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.

$129.95*

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.

$99.95*

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.

$24.99*

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.

$35.88*