What Size of Braiser Should I Buy?

Choosing a braiser can be a challenge; sure, there are many great ones out there, and you can’t go wrong with Lodge, Le Creuset, Staub, and All-Clad. But how, for instance, do you select from all those fabulous Le Creuset colors? And is the French pedigree of Le Creuset and Staub worth three times the price of a Lodge? What is the best braiser to buy?

Which size of braiser to buy? I own and use all three, but I get the most out of the 3 1/2-quart size. That's the green one.

Which size of braiser to buy? I own and use all three, but I get the most out of the 3 1/2-quart size. That’s the green one.

I’ve written on those topics elsewhere (see links, below), and indeed, choosing a brand and a color takes a little thought. But a much, much simpler question to answer is: What is the best size of braiser to buy?

The answer only depends on how many people you usually cook for. Seriously—it’s as simple as that. Here are my guidelines.

• Buy a 3 1/2-quart braiser if you generally cook for four to six people.

My 3 1/2-quart braiser. An old friend, and the one I use the most.

My 3 1/2-quart braiser. An old friend, and the one I use the most.

• Buy a 5-quart braiser if you generally cook for six to eight people.

The 5-quart Le Creuset braiser in what is quite possibly my favorite color: Marseille.

The 5-quart Le Creuset braiser in what is quite possibly my favorite color: Marseille. I use this size mostly for entertaining.

• Buy a 1 1/2-quart braiser just for the heck of it. Seriously. While this braiser is great for recipes that serve two people, how often are you really going to make a pot roast or a braise that just serves two? Even if you generally only cook for two, aren’t leftovers a major bonus of braising recipes? If you pare down the recipe to make it just for two, you won’t have leftovers. And that’s a crying shame!

The 1 1/2-quart Le Creuset braiser, which is gets a lot of use in my kitchen.

This 1 1/2-quart Le Creuset braiser gets a lot of use in my kitchen.

However….I do own a 1 1/2 quart braiser that I use all the time! It’s so handy for cooking vegetables and sides, and also for reheating those two-portion sizes of leftovers. I love the thing. But I would definitely only buy one after I had the 3 1/2-quart and the 5-quart braiser already in hand, which I do.

So–there you have it: Easy question. Short answer.

PS: Here are links to my reviews of braisers:
Review of Lodge/Le Creuset Braisers.
Review of All-Clad Stainless Steel Braising Pan.
What is a braiser? What is a French Oven? Should you invest?

 


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6 comments to What Size of Braiser Should I Buy?

  • Nancy Lobalbo

    I have a 3 1/2 qt and a 5 qt Lodge and use both of them frequently, esp. for recipes from The Bonne Femme Cookbook (-: Never had enough money socked away for Le Creuset. Both my daughters are getting married this year and I advised them to put Le Creuset braziers on their registry (something I should have done!).

    • Wini

      If you had signed up for Le Creuset for your wedding registry, you’d still be using those pans. They’re so durable–they’ll last forever!

      I don’t see why the Lodge braisers would be any less durable, though! They’re just an excellent value.

  • DeeDee

    I wish your Braiser cookbook was in “true” book form. I don’t like taking my iPad into the kitchen. Have you thought of doing a book-book–not an ebook?

    • Wini

      I’d love to do a real-paper version of the book, I just haven’t had time to shop it around to a publisher. I’d like to have a lot more recipes, of course!

  • Joanna

    I am considering purchasing the 3 1/2-quart size as right now I am just cooking for 2 but it will still give me extra room for future children. I have 2 Le Creuset dutch ovens (7 1/4 and 3 1/2-quart wide) in matte navy which I love, and wish Williams-Sonoma would come out with the braiser in that color. The only current option I think will look good with the matte navy is the mineral blue (also matte), but I haven’t seen it in person and don’t know if I will like the color. Thanks for your braiser reviews – they have been helpful!

  • Wini

    The Matte colors really are beautiful! I wonder why they aren’t making the braisers in that color.

    I’m wondering if the “Dune” or “Stone” colors might work. To me, they look like they’d go with anything. It’s a big investment, but you can always return it if it doesn’t quite work out, color-wise.

    I agree that the 3 1/2-quart is the best option–even if you’re still just cooking for two. Leftovers!

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