Dutch Oven vs. Braiser: Which Do You Need?

| | ,

For your information: When you buy through links on Clan Kitchen, we may earn a commission.

Once upon a time, I found myself agonizing over whether to get a Dutch oven vs braiser model. I couldn’t decide if I needed one or the other, or both. The fact that they looked so similar and appeared to accomplish the same task didn’t help matters. 

However, what I know now that I didn’t know then is that there is quite a big difference between a braiser and a Dutch oven and that one cannot be used interchangeably with the other. So if you take only one piece of information away from this article, let it be this. The main differences between a Dutch oven and a braiser are the overall size and what you can cook in it. 

Keep reading to determine which cooking method is best for you!

Things To Consider Before Buying a Dutch Oven vs Braiser 

Let’s take a quick look at some key points between a Dutch oven vs. a braiser to help you determine the best fit for your cooking needs. 

I know I do not want to waste money purchasing an item that will not do what I want it to. Some elements to consider before buying a braiser vs Dutch oven include: 

  • What is the definition of each?
  • Type of meals you want to cook
  • Your preferred cooking methods
  • Budget 

Define Braiser

A braiser is usually made of cast iron, whether it’s enameled cast iron or plain cast iron. The overall shape is quite similar to a saute pan – higher side walls than a fry pan but less than a pot.

The capacity is also similar: larger than a frying pan but less than a pot.

Unlike a saute pan, a braiser will often come without a single long handle but may instead have two smaller “carry” handles.

Braisers will normally come with a lid.

Define Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens are also usually made of cast iron (including enameled cast iron) and have high side walls and a large capacity.

A Dutch oven is similar to a large stockpot but made of cast iron and it comes with a lid.

The handles are also smaller “carry” handles, just like a braiser.

What Do You Cook in a Braiser Pan vs. Dutch Oven? 

Dutch oven vs Braiser

I frequently use my Dutch oven for virtually everything! It is versatile enough for cooking delicious stews and chunky vegetable soups in the wintertime to baking macaroni and cheese and one-pot casseroles. It is also the perfect pot to cook a nice crusty loaf of homemade bread, which I was regularly doing during the initial COVID-19 lockdown. See my favorite Dutch ovens for baking bread.

Alternatively, the braiser pan is slightly less versatile. Its large, wide diameter and shallow bowl are ideal for browning and searing meat without crowding it and forcing it to steam cook. This function is crucial for the braiser and a mistake that new cooks without one often make. 

You can also make rich, flavorful sauces with a braiser. Other outstanding meals for a braiser include grilled sandwiches, meatballs, roasting vegetables like potatoes or carrots, and beans or legumes. Their shallow bowl prohibits them from holding large volumes of liquid or whole birds, so you can’t make soup or roast an entire chicken with one. 

It is important to note that while you can get by with using a Dutch oven for all of the same cooking tasks you would use a braiser for, you can’t use a braiser interchangeably with a Dutch oven. 

Purchasing a Dutch oven or a braiser is an investment. Each carries a significant price tag, but the braiser is slightly less expensive. If budget is a concern, choosing a braiser can provide several exceptional cooking options at a lower cost. 

Product Highlights: Braiser vs Dutch Oven 

At first glance, a braiser looks similar to a Dutch oven. Both are enameled cast iron pans with a matching lid and two handles that can be used on the stove or in the oven.

Two popular choices that I breakdown here include: 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser, 3.5 qt., Caribbean

These products use cast iron materials with a long-lasting exterior enamel resistant to chips and cracks. Similarly, they have extra-large handles to ensure safe handling in the kitchen, even when wearing oven mitts. They also use a heat-resistant composite knob to withstand 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit). 

If you’ve been shopping for a while, you may have noticed the name “Le Creuset” being tossed around when comparing braiser vs. Dutch oven. What exactly does this mean, and does it have any bearing on the quality or functionality of the braiser? 

Le Creuset is a highly regarded French cookware brand that has been making beautifully colored, enameled cast iron pots and pans since 1925. They were the first to introduce colorful cookware to the public.

A Le Creuset braiser will be an investment, just like any good quality piece of cookware; however, it retains heat well and has a lot of space to work with. It also has a slightly domed lid, which is extremely heavy, which means that you might be able to get away with cooking a whole small bird in it.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt., Caribbean

Le Creuset also makes Dutch ovens in various round or oval shapes. Ultimately, whether you end up deciding to go with a braiser or a Dutch oven, Le Creuset is an excellent brand that will provide you with a forever-piece of cookware. 

Best For One-Pot Meals 

If you are busy like me, finding cookware that can prepare an entire meal in one pot is ideal. It saves me time preparing a dish and the hassle of cleaning up when there is just one pot to worry about. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser

This model has a 3.75-quart (3.5 liters) capacity and measures 13.6 by 14.6 by 4.6 inches (34.5  x 37 x 11.7 cm). So what is a braiser good for? While this may be ample space to brown a cut of meat, it is exceptionally shallow at only 4.6 inches. 

This braiser has enough room for a significant meal item, but there is no room for much else. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven 

This product offers a 7.25-quart (8.2 liters) capacity and measures 14.1 by 11.6 by 7 inches (35.8 x 29.5 x 17.8 cm). Having a deeper dish can provide more versatility when creating one-pot meals. 

From roasting a chicken to a hearty soup, there is enough space for several tasty one-pot dishes. 

The Verdict 

If you like the convenience of preparing one-pot meals, a Dutch oven is the better choice. 

Best For Steaming 

There are some differences when looking at the Le Creuset Braiser vs Dutch oven for steaming cuts of meat. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser

This braiser is ideal for holding your main course with a small amount of liquid. You have enough space for the meat, and the shallow walls along with the tight-fitting lid ensure that the steam keeps all the juices inside. 

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven 

Although this Dutch oven also sports the same tight-fitting lid, there is more capacity inside, making it less effective for steaming. If you try to achieve the same result as a braiser, the pot will need more water and cook longer due to escaping steam. 

The Verdict 

If you want to create tender meal choices by steaming their natural juices, choosing a Brasier is the best decision. 

Dutch Oven vs Braiser: Which Is Best For You?

Braiser vs dutch oven

Hopefully, everything is a little more clear when comparing the Dutch oven vs braiser for your cooking needs. 

If you are new to cooking or don’t have a large amount to spend on cookware, a Dutch oven is a more versatile choice. A braiser can perform some of the same tasks and recipes as a Dutch oven; however, it is more of a luxury piece of cookware than an essential item. 

A Dutch Oven Is Best for…

The Dutch oven is best for people who want to do it all with one piece of high-quality cookware. It is excellent for busy moms and young people who are new to cooking. With a Dutch oven, almost no recipe is off-limits. 

Who Should Buy a Dutch Oven? 

Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or brand new to the kitchen, you will find a Dutch oven elevates your cooking and expands the types of meals that you serve. The Dutch oven is really an essential piece of cookware for anyone who enjoys cooking or wants to learn how. 

They are also excellent at retaining heat and keeping food warm for long periods. The versatility of this quality product makes it well worth the up-front expense.

A Braiser Is Best for…

A braiser is best for kitchen newbies who don’t have access to a skillet or a Dutch oven but still want to cook delicious sauces and braise meat like brisket or short ribs. It could also be a welcome addition to the seasoned cook’s kitchen tools as it can expertly brown and caramelize meat without crowding it, thanks to its large surface area. 

Who Should Buy a Braiser?

A braiser has limited uses compared to a Dutch oven, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth buying. This solid piece of cookware is excellent if you don’t have a skillet or other higher-walled pan to cook in, so beginner cooks might find it helpful. 

People who enjoy meals that require the use of both the stovetop and the oven, such as a roasted branzino or shakshuka, will enjoy the braiser pan vs. Dutch oven as well. 

The weight of a Dutch oven, which weighs an average of 15 pounds (7 kilograms) on its own, can be a prohibiting factor for some. If that’s the case for you, a braiser can accomplish some of the same tasks a Dutch oven can but is a little bit lighter and easier to transport. 

Other choices

I’ve focused here on enameled cast iron, but there are other types of material, here are a couple of examples: