Braising is a simple way to transform a tough cut of meat into a juicy and tender one. Easy to do, you brown the meat in a braising pan, add some liquid, cover it and let it simmer on a low heat on the stovetop or in the oven for a few hours.
Basting in its own steam and juices, the slow heat breaks down all the tough sinew into a softer, more delicious version of itself. Although you can use any pan to braise food, it’s best to use one specifically designed for braising. That’s because many are made of cast iron, a material that ensures durability, good heat conduction and retention for even cooking.
Other factors to consider are the lid – whether there is one and the material it is made of – as well as what the interior coating. These heavy pans look like a cross between a Dutch oven and a skillet should also be versatile enough to sear, simmer and roast.
We feature five braising pans you can purchase online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
Top Pick Best Small Capacity: Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Braiser
Braising is such a great cooking method that can turn even the toughest cut of meat into juicy tenderness, especially if it’s done in a pan specifically designed to do the job. If you usually cook for only four or five people, you may be looking for a right-sized pan to suit your needs.
This 3.8-quart braiser pan with a cover is the perfect size for braising meat, chicken and turkey to feed a small family, or for a couple who wants to enjoy leftovers the next day. But this cast-iron pan is not just for braising – it can also be used to marinate, sear, sauté broil, bake, and brown to cook anything you like, from a rich spaghetti sauce to a chicken casserole or pot roast.
Cast iron is an unparalleled material for heat retention and even heating, so you won’t have to worry about hot or cold spots affecting the results. The PFOA- and PTFE-free porcelain enamel cooking surface will make cleaning up easy, and the large loop handles give you an easy grip for transporting the pan from the oven or stovetop to the table.
The tight-fitting lid is just what you need to help food retain moisture so your dishes end up juicy and tender. And the sleek enamel finish won’t react to food, with the enamel interior resisting stains, dulling, and wear and tear.
This attractive red braiser pan is oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and will help you showcase your favorite dishes while looking great on your table, too.
- Contemporary styling
- Tight-fitting lid
- Cast iron for good heat retention
- Requires no additional seasoning
- Dishwasher safe
- The color might not be to everyone’s taste
Top Pick Best Large Capacity: Tramontina 80131/050DS Enameled Cast Iron Covered Braiser
If you love to cook enough food to have leftovers the next day, it sometimes pays to invest in a pan that is larger than your immediate needs. With a braiser pan, some people believe what they cook in the pan is a bit more flavorful on the next day.
This enameled cast-iron four-quart braiser pan from Tramontina is an ideal choice if you like to cook up a nice casserole or pot roast to serve hot from the oven and then again for a meal or two the next day. It is also a good investment if you have a large family or like to host dinners for friends and family.
This pan has a heavy-gauge cast-iron PFOA- and PTFE-free porcelain enamel interior that makes it non-stick and easy to clean. The lid is designed with super convenient self-basting condensation ridges that uniformly collect and direct steam onto the food. You don’t have to bother with opening the lid to manually baste any liquid onto cuts of meat for moist and savory results.
The pan comes with two sturdy handles, making it easy to transport from stove to counter or tabletop. Ideal for slow cooking recipes, braised meats, baked dishes, and even for frying, the braiser pan is compatible with all heating surfaces including gas, electric, ceramic glass and induction cooktops and is oven safe up to 450°F.
- Superior heat retention and distribution
- Solid cast-iron construction and oven safe
- Self-basting condensation lid
- Interior coated with easy-to-clean PFOA- and PTFE-free porcelain enamel
- Lifetime warranty
- Hand-wash only
Top Pick Best Basic: Rachael Ray 3.5-Qt Cast Iron Braiser
You may be just starting out and on a budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t equip your kitchen with a quality made braiser pan to cook to juicy, tender perfection all those economical cuts of meat you buy.
This affordably priced 3.5-quart cast iron braiser is ideal for any cook, but especially so for anyone who does not have a bundle to spend, but still wants to be able to prepare meals and eat like a queen or king.
The double cast-iron construction of this pan provides excellent heat distribution that is perfect for searing and browning. The interior and exterior enamel finish are easy to clean, with no pre-seasoning of the cooking surface required.
This braiser pan comes with a glass lid, which is so convenient because you can see the progress of your food without lifting the cover and letting precious steam escape. Ideal for slow cooking and one-pot meals, the sturdy handles on the pan make it easy to carry it from oven to tabletop.
Suitable for all stovetops, the pan is oven safe to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid, and 500 degrees Fahrenheit without the lid. Lightweight at only 5.5 pounds, it makes the perfect addition to any kitchen and a thoughtful gift for the home chef in your life.
- Glass lid
- Durable cast-iron construction
- Excellent heat distribution
- No pre-seasoning required
- Hand wash recommended
Top Pick Best Versatile: Staub Cast Iron 3.5-qt Braiser with Glass Lid
The capacity of a braising pan is measured in different ways so while they may have a 3.5-quart capacity, it doesn’t automatically make them the same, or ideal for the same purposes. This is because it depends what you will cook in the pan.
We included this braiser pan in the list because although it has a 3.5-quart capacity, it has deep 6.8-inch sides, which makes it easier for stirring liquid and solid ingredients without them spilling over. But that is not the sole reason to consider this pan.
Made from durable cast-iron construction, the pan has superior heat retention and distribution, and the textured black matte enamel interior provides an exceptional browning surface, the first step in many braising recipes.
The enamel finish will not chip, crack or rust, and the tight-fitting domed glass lid can accommodate large pieces of meat, enables the steam to circulate and locks in the moisture that’s so necessary for slow cooking to produce moist and tender results. The glass lid also allows you to easily monitor the cooking process.
- Domed glass lid for more space
- Deep sides for more space
- Durable cast-iron construction
- Vintage-look handles for easy handling
- More expensive than other models
Top Pick Best Overall: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser
If you are the kind of person who equips your kitchen with only the best in cookware and appliances, then a braiser pan from Le Creuset would be a welcome addition to your collection.
This top-quality signature braiser pan ticks off all the boxes when it comes to durability and long-lasting performance. The enameled cast-iron pan offers superb heat distribution and retention, with an advanced sand-colored interior enamel that promotes caramelization, prevents sticking and resists stains, plus a long-lasting exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking.
Two large integrated handles on each side provide a sure grip, even when you are wearing oven mitts, so you can feel secure lifting and carrying the filled pan from the oven or stove to the table.
The pan’s flat base allows for more than braising, including techniques like poaching, searing, roasting, stir-frying and browning. As well, the width of the base allows ingredients to be placed in a single layer for proper searing. Once liquid is added, the domed-shaped lid – with its composite knob that can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit – continuously circulates steam to lock in moisture and flavor.
With this braiser pan, you can happily prepare your favorite recipes, from a rich risotto and pot roast to spicy curry and Jasmine rice for stir-fry. Oh and did we mention that this pan is compatible with all heat sources including gas, electric solid plate or radiant ring, vitro-ceramic glass, induction, and ovens fired by gas, oil, coal or wood.
- Shock-resistant exterior enamel to prevent chipping and cracking
- Wide loop handles
- No seasoning required
- Made from enameled cast iron
- Tight-fitting domed lid
- Very expensive
- Cool pan before washing
What to look for:
Material: Most braiser pans are made from cast iron, and many have enameled exteriors and interiors. Cast iron is a good choice as it is durable and a great heat conductor. It also retains heat well for even cooking, with no hot or cold spots that can interfere with the quality of the meal.
Braiser pans that have a non-coated cast-iron interior need to be seasoned with oil so food won’t stick, and when it comes to washing, soap is not recommended but instead, just water and sometimes salt if there is some baked-on food. Some brands recommend soaking in warm water and baking soda for 10 or 15 minutes before washing with a soft cloth to remove any baked on residue.
To avoid this, you should look for a braiser pan that has an enamel coated cast-iron interior, which makes clean up easier.
Handles: Most braiser pans have a handle on each side. Look for large ones that can accommodate oven mitts since even if you don’t put the pan in the oven, the handles can get hot. Since braiser pans made from cast iron tend to be heavy (often 13 to 15 pounds without food in them), you want to make sure you can get a firm grasp on the handles when carrying it from the oven to the counter or table. Large wide handles are recommended.
The lid: Some braiser pans do not come with a lid but it pays to purchase one that does. This is because a good-fitting lid circulates the steam and juices in the pan, which helps in the braising process and prevents the evaporation of liquid. Some lids come with specialized ridges on the interior that create condensation to drip back onto the food, further increasing the tenderness of the food.
Most lids are solid and made of cast iron, but there are models that come with a glass lid. This can be convenient for monitoring the progress of the food, but some cannot withstand the high heat of the oven. A glass lid is not recommend if you wish to use the pan for other cooking methods like roasting in the oven.
Finally, you will want a large knob on the top of lid to easily remove it using oven mitts, as it will be hot right from the oven.
Size: Braiser pans come in a variety of sizes, from 2.5 and 3.5 quarts to 5 and 6-quart sizes. Which one you choose will depend on your needs but you may want to consider the overall shape. A braiser pan with walls two inches or less makes it more challenging to stir the contents, while walls three inches and higher allow you the freedom to add more ingredients and manage them more easily.