Our Food Editors' All-Time Favorite Braising Recipes
Braising is a surefire way to create deep flavor and fall-off-the-fork tenderness. Simmer down with these delicious recipes for meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables including chile-braised beef, salmon braised with wine and cream, and buttery braised leeks.
It's not a diva like broiling. Instead, braising is a low-key and low-temp method of cooking, one that wins the race for deep cooking every time. Raise your culinary IQ by mastering this simple technique which begins with a quick browning and pan deglazing. You can also skip right to the simple mode of food preparation with a few of our rule-bending yet mouthwatering recipes. Easy does it with our delicious collection of braising recipes, which starts with the incredibly delicious Spanish-Style Braised Chicken shown here.
Just what is braising? In its truest form, braising is a beautiful marriage of opposites: A quick, high-heat sear meets a low and gentle simmer in liquid, so your star ingredient always finishes tender and steeped in flavor. It's also a marriage of convenience, since the whole affair happens in a single pot or pan. Now, let's dive into the finer points of this union. Braising starts with a sear: The main protein or vegetables are browned in a hot pan with a little fat, such as olive oil. Meat develops a deep, golden crust; the sugars in vegetables caramelize. After the seared ingredients are removed from the pan, the next step is a sauté. Aromatics like herbs, spices, and vegetables are added to the pan and cook in the drippings. Next, you'll deglaze the pan by adding liquid such as stock or wine to loosen and dissolve the rich, savory bits, known as "fond" in French cuisine. The fourth step is a simmer: The seared hero returns to the pan and enough liquid is added to partly submerge it. The dish continues to cook, partially covered, in the oven or on the stove. Finally, the main element is removed, and the liquid is cooked down into a rich, concentrated sauce. Cream, tempered eggs, or flour can be used to thicken the gravy. Then, the elements are combined for serving.
The process is fairly simple, but it yields flavorful, complex results without requiring a ton of effort on the part of the chef. Plus, this cooking method is a fantastic way to transform even tougher cuts of meat into the most tender bites you could possibly want, but it's also a great way to cook vegetables. Simply put, it's a win-win technique. If you're ready to embark on your own braising journey, these recipe, selected by our food editors as their all-time favorites, should do the trick.
This sumptuous salmon-fillet dinner has "the warming comfort of a wintery braise but with a decidedly springtime flavor profile and sunshiny look," says deputy food editor Greg Lofts.
Chile-Braised Beef, Two Ways
The inspiration for this smoky braised chuck-roast is birria, a popular dish from the Jalisco region of Mexico. "It's so flavorful, with just the right amount of heat," says assistant food editor Riley Wofford. "You have a big piece of meat that you can do so many things with."
Buttery Leeks with Parmesan and Thyme
Rather than sizzling on the stove in typical French fashion (where you need to watch them carefully), these melt-in-your-mouth leeks are the result of braising in the oven with white wine, vegetable broth, a few sprigs of thyme, and a scattering of cubed butter. Nutty-salty Parmesan is added just before they're broiled for a last burnishing blast. "They emerge buttery soft and with such incredible flavor," says Greg.
Rosemary Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
"A soulful, satisfying main that's inexpensive, relies on basic pantry staples, and is mostly hands off," senior digital food editor Victoria Spencer says when describing this recipe.
Turkey Meatballs in Apricot Sauce with Mint and Almonds
"These spiced turkey meatballs have a soft, almost fluffy consistency, since they're braised, not seared," explains Greg.
Braised Red Cabbage with Apple and Onion
"This is about as easy as a braise gets," says Riley. It's a hearty side dish that goes well with holiday roasts or a roast pork tenderloin. "A little brown sugar and apple help bring out the natural sweetness of the cabbage while it braises."
Vinegar-and-Garlic Braised Chicken
"I love the umami rich intensity of this dish that was inspired by the flavors of chicken adobo," says Lauryn Tyrell, senior food editor. "The soy-vinegar marinade does double duty as the chicken's braising liquid, which is nice because nothing goes to waste." She suggests serving the braise with a lightly steamed green and lots of rice "to soak up all that flavorful broth."
Braised Fish with Fennel and Tomato
"This quick braise uses the classic combination of fennel with tomato and fish, which is something I love," says food director Sarah Carey.
Braised Broccoli Rabe
"Broccoli rabe is naturally bitter, which I don't mind at all, but braising it in a bit of stock mellows that bitter edge and reveals its inner sweetness," says Lauryn. "I do like a crisp tender vegetable, but a softer slow-cooked version is pretty inviting in these cozy winter months."
Miso-Tomato Braised Short Ribs
"Marinating short ribs in miso paste before braising results in the most tender and umami-rich meat," says Greg. "The acidity of the tomatoes balances the flavors of the fatty beef and fermented soy beans and also cooks down into a luscious, velvety gravy." Greg suggests serving this braise with any kind of mash or soft cooked polenta for a restaurant-worthy meal at home. Just be sure to plan ahead: The ribs should marinate with the miso for at least a full day.
Pork Shoulder Braised in Hard Cider
" I love the sweet, tangy flavor of the hard cider in this recipe," says Sarah. Parsnips, leek, and celery root add just the right amount of earthiness to this meat, which was simply made to be braised. "Pork shoulder is the perfect braising meat. It's full of connective tissue that dissolves during the long cooking resulting in meltingly tender succulent meat."
"Brisket is the OG braise," says Riley. And this recipe is "the perfect balance of sweet, vinegary, and just a little bit spicy. The sauce that coats each bite of carrot and potato is just perfect, and I love that it is a special family recipe from Sarah."
Quick-Braised Red Snapper
"It's so flavorful and so quick," Riley says of this tasty fish dish. "While I love the flavor that braises impart, sometimes I don't have the time patience it takes." That's where this recipe comes in: "It combines braising techniques with the quick-cook high heat technique of wok cooking. And the sauce that seeps into the rice is so delicious."
Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes
"Braised vegetables are way underrated in my opinion," says Greg. "I love this simple, one-skillet recipe that nods to Italian cooking." While green beans that are briefly cooked and retain their bright green color and snap are great for salads and crudités platters, Greg says nothing compares to braised green beans, which are simmered until very tender and take on all the flavors of the dish. "The result is an alchemy and harmony of flavors that you just can't get with squeaky crisp beans," he adds.
Lamb-and-Rice Stuffed Cabbage
"While these lamb and rice stuffed cabbage rolls take a bit of work up front, the oven-braised cooking method is appreciatively hands off," says Lauryn. "Packed tightly in a baking dish then covered about halfway up with a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce, the low and slow braise tenderizes the rolls and makes them super juicy, while the herby lamb filling adds flavor to the sauce. It's synergy at its best!"
The Versatile Braise
"This classic braise builds flavors the old-fashioned way," explains Sarah. "Brown your meat, sauté some aromatics, and simmer until falling off the bone tender. The sauce is strained and reduced at the end for any extra silky result." We suggest lamb or veal shanks or short ribs, but bone-in lamb or pork shoulder would be equally great.
Braised Baby Artichokes with Fava Beans and Spring Onions
"The flavors and ingredients of this dish are a true celebration of spring," says Greg. Braising is a great way to tease out their subtle flavor of fresh artichokes. Here, they're paired with fava beans which are in season at the same time. Feel free to use frozen, blanched, and peeled fava beans—you can find them in the freezer section of Italian specialty markets and some grocery stores.