What is a cast iron braiser? Do you need one to braise?

Do I need a braiser?

Braisers are wonderful cooking companions in your kitchen. They’re fun to use, look great, and have many of the benefits of cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens. The braiser is an essential everyday cooking pot in many European households. However, they are less common in American homes, and many are unfamiliar with the benefits of using a braiser. So what is a braiser, and should you start using one?

This article will cover the following questions:

  1. What is a braiser?
  2. Do you need a braiser to braise?
  3. Why use a braiser?

Table of contents 

  • What is a braiser pan?
  • How a braiser is different from a skillet and a Dutch oven
  • Do you need a brasier?
  • Why you should get a braiser and the benefits over a skillet, Dutch oven, roasting pan, and baking pan.
  • Reasons not to get a braiser
  • Why use a cast iron braiser?
  • Conclusion
What is a braiser
The cast iron braiser is the perfect combination between a skillet and a Dutch Oven. The pan has plenty of depth to stew and casserole. And the double handles make it user friendly.

What is a braiser?

Modern braisers are a cross between a cast iron skillet and a Dutch oven. Therefore you can use a cast-iron braiser to fry and brown food on the stovetop as you would a skillet. And you can slow cook meals in the oven like you would use a Dutch oven.

Traditionally you would use a dedicated braising pan to braise cheaper cuts of meat that are often chewy. Braising semi submerges meat or food in liquid to simmer the meal. And food above the liquid line receives steam. This cooking process softens and tenderizes the meat. 

What separates a braiser from a skillet or Dutch oven?

Skillets and Dutch ovens come in all shapes and sizes. And this is no different when it comes to braisers. I could say braisers have a wider cooking surface compared to Dutch ovens. But this wouldn’t be an accurate statement if you buy a smaller braiser suitable for one or two people.

But here are some characteristics of a typical cast iron braiser:

  1. Braisers have shallower walls compared to Dutch Ovens. But high enough to safely hold liquid. 
  2. Braisers have two wide handles to make moving the pot easier and safer. 
  3. Unlike a skillet, braisers come with a heavy tight-fitting lid.

If you are considering a skillet, Dutch Oven, or braiser, they are all great options. But here is an in-house article to learn the differences between braisers and Dutch Ovens. If you are deciding between a braiser or a skillet, this article is for you. 

Do you need a brasier to braise food?

If you are deciding to purchase a braiser, I recommend taking your time. After all, you can braise meat without a dedicated braiser. And that way you can choose one that best suits your needs. If you already have a Dutch oven, you may decide on a smaller braiser that is easier to lift. 

But in the meantime, you can braise just as well using the following:

  • Roasting pan
  • Dutch Oven 
  • Cast Iron Skillet

All you need is a pan that is deep enough to hold liquid and is oven safe.

Why you should get a braiser (Benefits)

If you can use other pans to braise food so why use a braising pan?

If you already have a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, this is a good question. And you can use either to braise your meals. 

Braisers weight less than Dutch Ovens

One benefit of using a brasier over a Dutch oven is most likely going to be weight saving. For a lot of people, Dutch ovens are too heavy to use. And a lighter pan is simply more practical. 

Does your cast iron skillet have a tight-fitting lid?

If you are lucky to have purchased a cast-iron skillet from Lodge Manufacturing, you can buy a cover that matches your skillet. Unfortunately, most skillets come without an accompanying lid. Yes, you can braise in a skillet by use kitchen wrap or foil. However, it isn’t the safest way to handle cast-iron cookware with boiling liquid. 

A braiser has two handles for safer balancing in and out of the oven

The benefit of using a braiser instead of a skillet is two handles and a tight-fitting lid. 

You’ll have a lot better grip using a braiser instead of a skillet. You can lift the pot while putting downward pressure on the lid to ensure the steam doesn’t escape onto your hands. 

You’ll waste money using a large roasting pan instead of a braiser

You can braise in a roasting dish. And if your own a restaurant, this is the pan I’d recommend. But for most of us, a large roasting dish is unfeasible to use. After all, to braise you, cover your food with liquid that uses seasoning and spices. And this would lead to an unnecessarily expensive meal. 

However, in saying this, it’s also important to choose the correct size braiser for your needs. Here’s an in-house article with information on which size braising pan you need.

You can braise in a baking dish, but it’s not ideal

A baking dish is a cheap alternative to a braiser. And I would say moving liquid without two wide handles is more dangerous. But from my experience, steam finds a way to escape, and the liquid evaporates while cooking. So you end up baking and not braising your food. 

Yes, that heavy tight-fitting lid on braisers stops moisture from evaporating and your food from drying out. 

Why you shouldn’t get a brasier (Cons)

A braiser is a good all-rounder. And if it’s your first piece of cast-iron cookware, then it’s a good option. However, if you’re already the proud owner of a trusty cast-iron skillet or a Dutch Oven, then a braiser could be unnecessary.

Here are a few reasons not to get a braiser:

  1. You have or can buy a lid for your skillet. 
  2. You rarely braise, stew or casserole your food. 
  3. Using a Dutch oven holds higher cuts of meat. Or you require a larger capacity pot.
  4. You cook using a campfire or use hot coals as the heat source.

If you’re still not sure if you should buy a braiser, click the link to find out if you need one.

Why use a braiser?

Using a braiser as your first piece of cast iron cookware makes a lot of sense. And this is probably why Le Creuset and Staub market a version of a braiser as an everyday pan. Braisers are truly dual-purpose pans and are suitable for both stovetop and oven cooking. 

Why use a braiser: The modern cast iron brasier is suitable for many cooking methods. And the lid makes the pan ideal for moving hot liquid in and out of the oven.

If you already own a skillet or Dutch oven, your initial thoughts might have been a braiser is unnecessary. However, there are handling and safety benefits to cooking in a dedicated braiser. Especially if your dish has a lot of boiling liquid inside the pot, you need a pan easy to lift and without the danger of steam escaping. And of course, you get all the benefits even cooking using cast-iron over other alternatives. 

Better still, you’re not limited to using your braiser for braising. You can use a braiser to fry, sear, steam, roast, and even bake your favorite dessert. For some people, a braiser may seem unnecessary. But for others, it’s the most versatile pot in the kitchen. 



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