Review of Lodge's Color Enamel 3-Quart Cast Iron Casserole: A Braiser by Any Other Name...Is Still a Braiser

What’s the best braiser? My ultimate vote goes for the Le Creuset Braiser. However, if you don’t want to plunk down $250 for a braising pan, the Lodge Braiser is a terrific, less-expensive option. Here’s my review of the Lodge Braiser versus Le Creuset Braiser.

Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil, Seven-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander. Top right: The Le Creuset Braiser; bottom right: The Lodge Braiser.

Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil, Seven-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander. Top right: The Le Creuset Braiser; bottom right: The Lodge Braiser.

Review of the Lodge Braiser

As you may know, I’m a nut for my Le Creuset Braiser—I have both the 3 1/2-quart size and a 5-quart size, and I use them all the time. In fact, every recipe I tested for my my braiser cookbookwas tested in a 3 1/2 Le Creuset Braiser, with always-terrific end results.

But let’s face it. Not everyone can (or wants to) plunk down $250 or more on a pan. That’s why I’ve explored other options. To my mind, the best under-$100 braising pan is The Lodge 3-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Casserole. Although they call it a “casserole,” make no mistake: this baby is definitely a braiser. I cooked with this guy extensively for this review, and I found that the Lodge braiser looks and cooks like my Le Creuset Braiser.

Here’s my report:

Lodge's 3-Quart Enamel-Covered Cast Iron Casserole (i.e. a braiser).

Lodge’s 3-Quart Enamel-Covered Cast Iron Casserole (i.e. a braiser). The red braiser currently costs $55.99 on Amazon, compared to $250 for Le Creuset.

About the Company

Lodge is an American company that has been producing American-made cast-iron pans for years. Their enameled cast-iron pots, however, are made in China. They give pretty compelling reasons for this on their site.

The reviews on Amazon are mostly good, too—it seems the lowest ratings speak to the enamel’s chipping off—but that could happen with any enamel-coated braiser if you take a sharp utensil to it or if you heat it over too high of heat on the stovetop. So if you’re doing that to any enameled cookware, stop it!

Price:

Okay, friends, this is where Lodge is pulling out ahead. As of this update (11/12/2016), the blue Lodge Braiser is currently on Amazon for $83.12. At $55.99, the red Lodge braiser is even less expensive. Meanwhile, the similarly styled Le Creuset braiser costs around $250 to $284 (depending on the color).

Lodge versus Le Creuset Braisers

The Lodge and Le Creuset braisers truly cook the same: You can use them on the stovetop (for browning), then slide them into the oven. The braiser’s wide, shallow base lets you brown lots of meat at once. The wide base also lets the liquid spread out so that the meat truly braises (rather than stews). Yes—the Lodge looks and cooks like a braiser.

A few minor differences between the two:

Le Creuset (top) has a deeply domed lid.

Le Creuset (top) has a more deeply domed lid.

• Le Creuset’s top handle (on the lid) stays cooler than the rest of the pan, so I can generally take the lid off without using a hot pad. Lodge’s top (lid) handle is made of metal, which gets warm. But for $180 difference in the price, you might be just fine with using a hot pad.

• Le Creuset’s lid is more deeply domed. That can give the pan more height when you’re braising something tall like a whole chicken or a pork shoulder roast. But for most stews and braises, such as short ribs, beef pot roasts, chicken pieces, stew meat, cut-up pork and lamb shoulder, etc., the Lodge will be offer plenty of height.

Le Creuset comes in amazing array of colors. The Lodge braiser is available in blue and red. They’re very beautiful, deep, rich colors, mind you, but if you’re looking for colors like Caribbean, Cassis, or Palm, you’ll have to go the Le Creuset route.

Final Verdict?

Only you can decide if color selection, French pedigree, and the advantages of Le Creuset’s domed lid and cool top handle make enough difference to you to spend $250 versus $55.99. I can assure you that I’m very happy with the Lodge Braiser. While I adore my 3 1/2-quart Le Creuset braiser (a gift from my mother-in-law), I will say that if I had to spend my own money on one or the other, I’d definitely consider the Lodge Braiser—and spend the rest on a great pair of shoes.

Quick links to products mentioned in this review:

1. Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole, Caribbean Blue, 3-Quart

2. Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole, Island Spice Red

3. The Le Creuset 3 1/2-Quart Cast Iron Braiser

4. My Braiser Cookbook:

Other links on this website you might enjoy:

What is a Braiser? What is a French Oven? Should You Invest?
How to Cook Chicken in Your Le Creuset Braiser
Braises for the Fall and Winter.
A complete list of recipes in the Braiser Cookbook
Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil

* Disclosures: I requested and received a sample braiser for testing from the Lodge company. They have not compensated me in any other way. All opinions regarding this and any product on my site are strictly my own. Clicking on a link to an Amazon product helps support this site, without adding to your costs in any way.

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8 comments to Review of Lodge’s Color Enamel 3-Quart Cast Iron Casserole: A Braiser by Any Other Name…Is Still a Braiser

  • Rita

    Hooray for braising season! I have the Le Creuset dutch oven, which I use like a braiser when the quantity is right because I like the heavy feel and good lid. AND not ready to fork over the $$ for another Le Creuset at this point. So thanks for reviewing the less expensive option, which may just find its way to my kitchen.

  • tomD

    Braising is a guaranteed hit with the folks at the dinner table! I use a 12″ Lodge cast iron frying pan with a Lodge dimpled cast iron lid. It works absolutely perfectly as a Braiser for Beef short ribs or my recent success, a braised porkbelly. My word it was good, and melt in your mouth tender!
    so while you can go enamelled cast iron, plain seasoned cast iron works just as well.

    • Wini

      Indeed! There are many “work-arounds” for using a brainer, and cast iron skillet is definitely a great option. Thanks for weigh in!

  • […] 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 […]

  • MK

    I am in the market for a braiser and I happened upon your review (thanks!). Since it has been almost 2 yrs since your review, I wonder if you would mind giving me an update on how well the Lodge has held up over time? Le Creuset is wonderful but definitely more expensive than I will spend. I am considering Lodge and would love to know how durable you’ve found it to be. Thanks so much!

    • Wini

      I haven’t been using my Lodge braiser that much, to tell you the truth. Not because I don’t like it (I really do), but because I have FOUR braisers in my kitchen! The Le Creuset and the Staub are in colors that go best with my kitchen, so one or the other of them is on my counter-top pretty much all the time, and that’s the one that gets used the most. (And yes, they’re both holding up beautifully!)

      So, I can’t vouch for the Lodge’s durability myself, BUT, I just did a little research online and I’ve found that most people are really happy with the Lodge braiser. Complaints are from quite a few years back (one reader said that the enamel came off, but that was in 2009). I also read that they improved their production methods after those early complaints.

      So I still stand by the Lodge braiser, especially for the price. I say go for it! (PS: If you do buy one, I’d be really grateful if you’d click through one of the links I provide, as that way, I’ll get a small commission that helps support this blog–without adding to your costs. Thanks for your consideration!).

      Thanks for a great question! Let me know what you end up doing.

  • MK

    Thank you for your reply! I will click thru your links when ready to buy. I just ordered the Lodge 6-qt Dutch Oven last night and it is back ordered til early Sept, so once I start cooking w/that I plan to expand my enameled cast iron horizons if I love it. Honestly I see the Braiser/Covered Casserole size/shape as something I would use more frequently than the dutch oven, but I didn’t realize how different they were until I had already ordered. I may ask Santa for the covered casserole for Christmas, or I might “need” it by Nov for holiday cooking 🙂 Thank you again!

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