Braising Pan Review: The All-Clad Braiser Makes the Cut!

Enamel cast iron versus stainless steel? In my ongoing quest to review the top braisers on the market, here’s my unbiased review of the All-Clad Braiser, and how it compares to enameled cast-iron braisers, such as the Le Creuset Braiser and the Lodge Color Covered Casserole.

The Le Creuset, Lodge, and All-Clad Braisers.

The Le Creuset, Lodge, and All-Clad Braisers.

I love my enameled cast-iron braiser so much that I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want any other braiser. But the minute I took the stainless-steel All-Clad Braiser from its packaging, I seized upon a major advantage: You can actually lift this pan easily without feeling like you’re in the weight room at the gym.

The minute I took this out of its box, I seized on a major advantage.

The minute I took this out of its box, I seized on a major advantage.

Don’t get me wrong—I love enamel cast-iron, and I’ll continue to faithfully use my Lodge and Le Creuset Braisers. But make no mistake: These babies are heavy. With their lids, the 3 1/2-quart Le Creuset Braiser weighs 11 pounds, while the 5-quart Le Creuset Braiser weighs 15 pounds. The Lodge 3-quart braiser weighs 14 pounds. And that’s empty. Still, if you’re a fan of enamel cast iron, you’ll gladly carry that weight.

The All-Clad Braiser, however, weighs just shy of 5 pounds.

Let’s review the advantages of the enameled cast iron braiser:
Cast iron absorbs, conducts, and retains heat well and distributes heat evenly.
Enamel cast iron doesn’t react with (cause an off-flavor from) acidic ingredients, like tomatoes and lemon juice.
Enamel cast iron is beautiful! Who can resist all those amazing colors, especially in the Le Creuset line?

Now, some potential disadvantages to enameled cast iron braisers:
They’re heavy (as mentioned above).
They’re somewhat hard to clean and over time, their light-colored interiors may discolor (frankly, that’s never bothered me in the least. A stained enamel pan is my badge of honor that I’ve cooked often and well for my friends and family).

The light-color enamel interior may discolor. Does this bother me? No. It's a badge of honor that I've used this pan to the fullest.

In enamel cast-iron braisers, the light-color enamel interior may discolor. Does this bother me? No. It’s a badge of honor that I’ve used this pan to the fullest.

• The enamel may chip. But frankly, if it does, it might be your fault (using too high of heat or sharp utensils). The exterior of my 10-year-old Le Creuset braiser has a few nicks, but that’s because I’ve manhandled it a bit over the years; the interior (where it counts) has no nicks whatsoever.

After ten-plus years, there are a few chips in the outer enamel. Doesn't bother me a bit.

After ten-plus years, there are a few chips in the outer enamel. Probably more my fault than the pan’s, with all the rough-housing I’m prone to do in the kitchen.

Which brings me to…

The advantages of the All-Clad Stainless Steel Braiser:
In my inaugural test of this braiser yesterday, I cooked a marvelous pork roast (recipe to come!). Here’s what I found:
It conducts heat well and distributes heat evenly. All-Clad sandwiches a core of aluminum (a great heat conductor) between outer layers of stainless steel. The pan isn’t heavy, but it does have a nice, authoritative weightiness to it.
• It browns foods beautifully. Indeed, I reluctantly admit that it browns better than enameled cast iron with light-color interior—though the latter does well enough for most uses.

I was delighted with how well and quickly last night's pork roast browned in the All Clad Braiser.

I was delighted with how well and quickly last night’s pork roast browned in the All Clad Braiser. Yes. You’ll get the recipe. Wednesday.

• It cleans up nicely.
• It’s not so freaking heavy. As I mention above.
• It won’t react with acidic food.
• It’s made in America. The importance of this is up to you. Le Creuset is made in France, and the Lodge Enamel Cast-Iron Braiser is made in China, though by an American company.

Disadvantages of the All-Clad Stainless Steel Braiser:
• It’s not cast iron. And if you love cast iron, you’ll want an enamel cast-iron braiser.
• It doesn’t come in all those amazing colors! This might matter to you, from not at all, to a little, to a lot.

Auditioning for the show "too cute."

Le Creuset: Auditioning for the show “too cute”?

• It’s relatively expensive. Right now on Amazon, it’s $239.95. While that’s comparable to the Le Creuset Braiser (at $249.95), you can get the Lodge braiser for $61.60 (a current sale price for the blue braiser) or $90 (the current price for the red braiser).

Bottom Line: I recommend the All-Clad Staineless Steel Braiser without reservation. The braiser you choose will simply depend on whether or not you prefer enamel cast iron or stainless steel.

Other links you might enjoy:
What is a Braiser? What is a Dutch Oven? Should I invest?
Review of the Lodge Braiser
A list of all recipes in my Braiser Cookbook

Links to Amazon products and customer reviews:

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3-1/2-Quart Round Braiser, Cherry

All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Braiser Pan

Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole (3-Quart)(i.e., a braiser)

Also note that the Lodge Caribbean Blue colored braiseris currently on sale for $61.83. A bargain, in my book.

 

 
PS: If you’ve found this post helpful, please consider supporting my work on this site. It’s so easy–and costs you nothing: Next time you want to buy something from Amazon, simply go to Amazon.com through one of my links or banner ads (such as the one, below). No matter what you buy, I’ll get a small commission from your purchase–even if it’s not the item I’m advertising. Thank you so much for your consideration.

 

Note: I requested and received the All-Clad Braiser from the company for the purposes of this review, with the understanding that I would return it after testing. My opinions are strictly my own. Also, any purchases you make through the links provided will help support this site–without adding to your costs whatsoever. Thank you for your consideration. 

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6 comments to Braising Pan Review: The All-Clad Braiser Makes the Cut!

  • Wini

    Incidentally, a reader just informed me that she often buys All-Clad “seconds” from this site. The All-Clad Braiser is on sale for $163.20. It’s an “irregular,” but my reader says she’s buys All-Clad from this site often and is never disappointed.

    http://stores.cookwarenmore.com/all-clad-stainless-irregular-4-qt-braiser-with-lid/

  • Tricia

    I got lucky. When Target was clearing out the Giada DeLaurentis cookware last spring, I picked up two enamel cast iron 4 quart brasier. $24.99 each. I gave one to my son and kept the other. I love the pan and am so happy cool weather is hear and I can fire up the oven again. It performs magnificently but is a beast, weight-wise. I use it for everything except roasting chicken. That I still do in the cast iron skillet my grandmother received as a wedding gift in 1908. Nothing beats good cast iron.

  • That All Clad is sure a gorgeous piece !!! Definitely on my Christmas List! Of course the Lodge is a heck of a good price too. I want them ALL !!!!

  • Francesca Shultz

    I’ve used my All-Clad braiser for years and love it. I also use it when I have need of a large skillet, instead of buying yet another pan that I have to store.I’m considering purchasing an enamelled braiser, but I’m not sure that there would be enough difference in function to warrant the expense. Your thoughts?

    • Wini

      Francesca–thanks for your query. I’d say there’s no reason to buy an enameled cast-iron braiser if you already have the All-Clad. Honestly–the All-Clad braises beautifully, and I can’t see why you’d need two braisers (unless you wanted one in the larger 5-quart size, which is nice if you sometimes cook for 8 or more). I have five braisers at this point! Way too many!

      Hope that helps!

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