Which casserole dish is best?
When making a casserole, the most crucial piece isn’t your recipe or ingredients; it’s the dish itself. It’s the act of baking your food in a casserole dish that makes it a casserole.
Whether you’re trying to recreate your mother’s famous tuna casserole or making your own lasagna for the first time, the Lodge Cast-Iron Casserole Pan is the best choice. It’s strong, and you can use it as more than just a baking dish.
What to know before you buy a casserole dish
Casserole dishes typically come in four shapes: square, rectangle, circle and oval.
- Square: Square shapes are good choices for baking brownies or whipping up small dishes to feed smaller groups.
- Rectangular: Rectangular shapes are the most common. Almost any dish you can think of can be made in a rectangular baking dish.
- Circular: Circular shapes are more specialized. They’re used for dishes such as tarts and quiches.
- Oval: Oval baking dish shapes are effectively rectangular dishes but more visually appealing. Use one to spice up your presentation.
Size and capacity
The size and capacity of your casserole dish determine what — and how much — you can make.
- Dimensions: Size is typically given in inches. Many recipes call for a specific size of baking dish. For example, a box of brownie mix may call for a particular size rectangular or square dish, so the brownies are the appropriate thickness.
- Total capacity: Capacity is typically given in ounces or quarts. Roughly speaking, one quart is enough to feed one person as an entree or more as a side or if you’re serving your dish with heavy sides. Most casserole pans don’t get larger than 5 quarts. A 2-quart casserole dish is a common and versatile size.
Many casserole dishes come with lids. It may have a glass lid used to protect the top of the food from burning and keep the food hot once it’s done. It also might have a plastic lid that tightly seals the dish for storing leftovers. The types of lids that seal dishes are also helpful for transporting a finished casserole to a potluck or picnic. Some casserole pans come with both types of lids.
Some casserole recipes call for the ingredients to be covered while you cook them. If you regularly make recipes that need to be covered, buying a casserole pan with an oven-safe lid makes sense.
What to look for in a quality casserole dish
Most casserole dishes are made of glass, ceramic, cast iron or porcelain enamel. Learning more about your options will help you find the best baking dish.
- Glass: Glass is one of the most common casserole dish materials thanks to its low cost and lack of reactivity to acidic ingredients. Glass also retains heat well and you can keep an eye on the outside of the dish while it’s cooking to make sure it isn’t burning.
- Ceramic: Ceramic casseroles can withstand higher temperatures than glass and are more likely to be broiler-safe. This material has some natural nonstick properties, although not to the same degree as pans with nonstick coatings. It’s heavy and generally durable, though it can chip or break if dropped.
- Cast iron: Cast iron is the most durable and versatile as it can also be used as a regular pan on your stovetop. However, it requires regular maintenance and is a little harder to clean than other materials, though the difficulty of this is often overstated. You can also find enameled cast iron options, which are easier to care for but slightly less durable as the enamel can chip.
- Porcelain enamel: Porcelain enamel comes in most colors, is easy to clean and relatively light. However, it’s prone to chipping and has poor heat retention.
Sure, the color of your casserole pan won’t make any difference to how your lasagna or famous green bean casserole turns out, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing stylish cookware. Some casserole dishes are available in a wide range of colors, so you can pick a hue that you love or one that looks good with your existing pieces.
The best casserole dishes have handles, though some are better than others. Basic handles are no more than a small lip on either side, while the best handles are silicone coated for grip, so they’re cooler to the touch. Decent handles will make your life easier when getting your hot casserole pan out of the oven.
How much you can expect to spend on a casserole dish
Casserole pans typically cost $10-$100, depending on the size and material. Most individual dishes shouldn’t cost more than $50, but casserole bakeware sets can cost several hundred dollars. There are also some designer options that cost more than average; for instance, Le Creuset casserole dishes can cost $100-$300.
Casserole dish FAQ
How many casserole dishes should I have?
A. That depends on how often you cook and what recipes you prefer. One dish should suffice if you only cook once or twice a week. Choose one of a mid-size if you’re unsure what to buy or something compact like a 2-quart casserole dish if you mostly cook for yourself.
Alternatively, if you cook regularly and like to make all kinds of food, you should have several dishes. You’ll probably want to choose a selection of casserole pans in different sizes and shapes.
Is a casserole dish the same as a baking dish?
A. A casserole dish is a type of baking dish. However, not all baking dishes are casserole dishes, so you can’t use the two terms interchangeably. A casserole dish is longer than it is deep and designed to hold all kinds of casseroles. It may or may not have a lid and can come in various shapes. “Baking dish” is an umbrella term that can be used to refer to all types of oven-safe dishes.
How do I clean a casserole dish?
A. You can clean most casserole pans safely in the dishwasher. Double-check that your dish explicitly states it’s safe before you toss it in. Even if your casserole dish is dishwasher-safe, washing it by hand with a soft sponge. Some hot water and dish soap can help improve its life span. If food is baked on, let it soak overnight, no matter if you wash it by hand or machine later, unless it’s made from non-enameled cast iron, in which case, soaking it could cause it to rust.
What’s the best casserole dish to buy?
Top casserole dish
What you need to know: It’s gorgeous, durable, spacious and effective.
What you’ll love: It comes in 3- or 3.6-quart sizes and eight colors. The porcelain coating is naturally nonstick and a breeze to clean. The lid tightly seals the pot, making it perfect for cooking and storing leftovers. You can use it on your cooktop as a regular pan. There’s also a 2-quart casserole dish without a lid.
What you should consider: It’s heavy at 14.6 pounds, so be careful moving it when it’s full. A few consumers reported receiving chipped, cracked or otherwise broken dishes.
Top casserole dish for the money
What you need to know: Two good-quality dishes of different sizes are paired for the price of one.
What you’ll love: The big dish can hold 3 quarts while the smaller one is a 2-quart casserole dish. Both come with plastic lids for storage. They’re BPA-free, plus freezer-safe, microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe.
What you should consider: The lids aren’t oven safe; they’re only for covering the dishes for transport to store leftovers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: It’s an excellent starter set for the budding chef.
What you’ll love: The set includes a 2.5-quart oval dish and a 1.5-quart round dish, both with matching glass and plastic lids. It also includes one 24- and 16-ounce round dish with matching plastic lids and two 4-ounce ramekins. Sets with more or fewer pieces are available.
What you should consider: The ramekins don’t have lids, but you should be able to purchase some from a third-party vendor. A few purchasers received broken pieces.
What you need to know: This 4-quart Le Creuset casserole dish is as attractive as it is practical.
What you’ll love: You can buy this Le Creuset casserole dish in 13 colors, including deep teal, flame, licorice and marine. It distributes heat properly for even results. The lid is heavy and tightly fitting. It has a naturally nonstick finish for easy cleaning.
What you should consider: As you might expect for a Le Creuset casserole dish, it isn’t cheap.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Made from enameled cast iron, these casserole dishes are durable and practical.
What you’ll love: You get three oval dishes in a set, one holding 1.5 quarts, one 1 quart and the other 0.75 quarts. There’s a choice of two color combinations: bright yellow, blue and red or a muted blue, green and pink.
What you should consider: They’re on the small side, so they aren’t all that practical when cooking substantial dishes or making food for a crowd.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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