I've Found the Perfect Pan for Making Saucy Pasta Dinners, and It's on Sale

Thanks to enameled cast iron, Le Creuset's braiser is surprisingly great for tossing noodles in sauce.

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Le Creuset Braiser Tout
Photo: Courtesy of Le Creuset

Here's something all home cooks know: When it comes to spaghetti night, there's pasta and then there's pasta. The first is as easy as heating up a jar of sauce and pouring it over your noodle of choice. It's simple, it's quick, and sometimes it's exactly the weeknight dinner you need.

But when it comes to real-deal pasta, a little more care is required. After cooking the noodles, they get tossed with a homemade sauce until heated through and thoroughly coated. With this last step being the most important, the key to making restaurant-worthy pasta at home is all in the pan, and I've found the perfect one: Le Creuset's 5-Quart Braiser. (Psst — Le Creuset just marked down the Indigo model.)

Le Creuset Braiser
Courtesy of Le Creuset

To buy: Le Creuset 5-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser in Indigo, $332 (originally $415) at lecreuset.com

Le Creuset's extra-large braiser is my secret weapon for making pasta. It wasn't originally made for that purpose, but there are a handful of design features that give it pasta superpowers. Here's what I mean:

First, the shape and dimensions of this pan are ideal for finishing noodles in sauce. It's super wide and just a touch deeper than traditional skillets or frying pans. That means pasta won't gum up or stick together as you're tossing it in sauce. (If you've ever served a tangle of knotted noodles that were finished in a small saucepan, you'll surely agree this is a major upgrade.) I use silicone-tipped tongs or a spider strainer to transfer the pasta directly from the boiling water to my Le Creuset braiser, and that technique works great; a little bit of pasta cooking water helps thicken the sauce.

The second pasta-friendly feature of this pan is sneakily important: It's made from enameled cast iron, so it has excellent heat retention. Once cast iron gets hot, it stays hot — unlike stainless steel skillets, which experience a temperature drop as soon as you add ingredients to the pan. That can result in cold pasta (or overcooked pasta, by the time you heat it back up). Le Creuset's steady temperature ensures that your culinary masterpiece will still be piping hot by the time it's properly sauced.

Its enameled surface is also easy to clean. You can even soak it, which is a relief for dishwashing procrastinators. It comes in three different sizes: 2.25 quarts, 3.5 quarts, or 5 quarts. The 5-quart is a dinnertime hero, large enough to make six servings of whatever you're cooking up. It typically retails for $415, but Le Creuset just slashed the price to $332 before it retires its Indigo collection.

Despite the fact that Le Creuset designed this pan as an ideal vessel for braising meat like chicken thighs or short ribs, its usefulness goes way beyond Sunday supper. Yes, the brand gets a lot of love for its iconic Dutch oven, but this is the pan of my dreams — and I'm betting, yours too. Once you've mastered the pasta game, you can use your braiser for just about any saucy, baked, or roasted recipe… homemade cinnamon rolls, anyone?

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