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, and Staub. 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 3/4- to 4-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.

Related: 10 Best Gifts for Friends Who Adore France

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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13 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!

  • I have a 5 qt that I got for 170 dollars at Home good. I love it. We are a family of 2-4 depending but I love to cook more and have left overs. I had a good experience also with Cousinart (a 3 qt dutch oven, 30 dollars at TJMax). I don’t believe they make braisers…. If I will buy new I will definitely try a Lodge. The Home Goods in Madison-WI is now selling quite a bunch of LeCreuset (late august 2018)

  • OAP

    At what time of the year can you find Le Creuset on sale for really good discounts? Also, if you can only purpose one new piece, either a brasier or a dutch oven, which one is the better piece to buy?

    • Wini

      I don’t know the time of year to buy Le Creuset at a discount. I wish I could help on that question.

      As for Dutch oven versus braiser — honestly, I use my Le Creuset braiser the most by far. Ask yourself this: Do you make soups more often or braises more often? I make braises (such as beef stews, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, pot roasts, etc.) more often that I make a kettle of soup, so the braiser is for me.

      And, by the way, why not get both. Splurge on a Le Creuset braiser, and get a good-quality but less-expensive brand of Dutch oven. I have a Faberware Dutch oven that I got 20 years ago, and it’s great for soups, chilis, etc.

      You see, while it’s REALLY important to have a superior braiser (heavy, shallow pan for plenty of browning room; tight-fitting lid so that steam does not escape), in my view, it’s not essential to have the world’s best Dutch oven. Honestly, you can make soup in just about any lidded pot that will hold all the ingredients.

      So: Short answer: Go for the braiser!!

  • Lyn

    If you want to save on Le Creuset Cook ware don’t forget to look in thrift stores. I have stocked my kitchen with the most beautiful pieces for great prices. . I have all the frypans including a wok and I am sure I paid less than $9.99 each for them. I also have a beautiful collection of Le Creuset Saucepans again for maybe $9.99 each. The nicest find was a Le Creuset Duofeu roaster again for $9.99. All in my favourite colour flame.

    With saving so much and loving each piece I am no contemplating buying a Le Creuset Braiser. My only problem is it is hard to pay $300 for one after all my bargains. Sadly, I have never come across a braiser in my bargain hunting.

    I love to make a tomato sauce reduction and wonder if the 5qt would be best. I usually only cook for two to four.

    What other dished could you cook in it beside meats? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Wini

      Hi there! I also use my braised to make ratatouille, and sometimes as a roasting pan — a small rack can fit into it nicely to roast pork tenderloins, chicken, and small roasts. I use it to make this Mexican rice.

      I think once you get a braiser, you’ll find lots of uses for it.

      And, perhaps the reason you don’t see braisers at thrift stores is because no one gets rid of them — they’re just so handy.

      However, if you cook for two to four, you definitely do not want the 5-quart braiser! The 3 1/2 quart is a way to go.

      And here’s a tip: Go to TJ Maxx often and look for “seconds.” My sister got one there for half the regular retail price.

      Also — I love your tip about buying second hand Le Creuset. Even if they’re less-than-new looking, they’ll be terrific for years and years to come. A few dings and stains are simply evidence of a well-used, well-loved cooking vessel!

      Thanks for writing.

  • Monique Beutel

    no reference to the 2 1/4 Braiser?

    • Wini

      Hello Monique. I do not know that one. I think it would be too large for cooking for two, and too small for cooking for four to six. But I haven’t tried it out, so I can’t be 100% sure. Thanks for your question. If you do happen to give one a go, let me know what you think!

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