Nothing says home cooking quite like a casserole does. Whether you’re going with meat and pasta, veggies and cheese, or something else, the humble casserole is a staple of American cooking. But of course, you need the right casserole dish if you want to get it just right.It can be pretty hard to choose the right option – there are so many brands, styles, and types out there. Where do you even start? We’ve assembled a list of the top 10 best casserole dishes to help you find the perfect option for your needs.
Key Considerations to Make When Buying the Best Casserole Dishes
As you can see from our reviews above, there is something for everyone out there. Whether you’re feeding a large crowd or making a casserole on the weekend for lunches throughout the week, you’ll find an affordable, convenient choice that’s perfect for you.
However, you may still have questions about what makes one casserole dish better than another. You might be wondering about the difference in materials, sizes, usage types, and more. Our buying guide below will help ensure that you’re able to make an informed choice and get the right casserole for your needs.
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The shape of your casserole dish plays a role in many situations. Personal preference is certainly one of those. You may find one shape more appealing than another. For instance, you might like a deep, square-shaped casserole dish more than a long, shallow, rectangular one.
However, the shape also plays a role in factors like how well the casserole dish will fit in your dishwasher, in your cupboards, and more. If you cook frequently, you may find that two longer rectangular dishes are better, because they allow you to cook two casseroles at once, whereas only one round or square dish might fit in your oven.
Material is one of the more critical considerations here. You’ll note from the dishes we reviewed that there are several different options, and each brings something different to the table. Below, we’ll walk you through each one.
Cast Iron: Cast iron casserole dishes have many benefits to offer. They’re incredibly durable, and could even last you a lifetime with a little bit of TLC. They also absorb, distribute, and hold heat better than many other materials.
When coated in high-quality enamel, you also get a nonstick, non-reactive surface that is well-suited for cooking almost any type of dish. However, there are some tradeoffs to note, too.
The first of these tradeoffs is the sheer weight of it. It’s heavy. So if you have limited upper body strength, it may not be the right material for you. You also cannot use metal utensils with enamel-coated cast iron, as scratching the enamel could lead to rust.
Glass: Glass is probably the most commonly used material for casserole dishes, and for many different reasons. It is durable, affordable, light, and versatile.
Glass casserole dishes are dishwasher safe, oven safe, and can also be put in the microwave, the refrigerator, and the freezer. It offers a simple way to make and store food all in the same container, and then reheat it however you like.
With that being said, glass may still not be the right material for you. It can be broken, unlike metal dishes, and the shards can cause injuries. Glass is also not nonstick, and you may not like the dish being visible through the top and the sides.
Aluminum: We only reviewed one aluminum casserole dish, and there’s a good reason for that – it’s not used very often, even though it is lightweight, versatile, and durable. However, it can also be reactive with certain foods, such as tomatoes, and high-acid foods.
Stoneware: Stoneware is a form of thick, durable ceramic. It offers good heat dispersion and retention capabilities, and it can be very beautiful, as illustrated by the options in our reviews. Stoneware is also dishwasher safe in most instances, but the finish used will determine whether you can toss it in with the rest of the dishes or need to hand wash it.
Stoneware has a couple of drawbacks, though. It can be heavier than glass and aluminum dishes, for one. For another, it can still be broken, and the pieces will be sharp.
Size is a big consideration when buying a casserole dish. Do you want a standard 9x13-inch pan? Do you want something larger? Perhaps you need a smaller one? Would a round dish be a better fit?
Size affects several things – it’s not just about looks or how much room it takes up in your pantry. For instance, the same quantity of ingredients will change thicknesses in different sized dishes. A 9x13 pan allows ingredients to spread out more than a small, round dish.
What does that mean for your cooking? The thicker a casserole is, the longer it has to cook. So you will need to vary your cooking time depending on the dish size in question.
You may also need to take other measures, such as covering the dish at a certain point during a longer cook time to prevent it from burning while also making sure that it bakes all the way through.
Number of Dishes
When buying casserole dishes, it might be wise to consider a set. This gives you two to three dishes in different sizes that you can use, offering greater versatility, and helping you save both time and money. However, if you don’t anticipate needing more than one casserole dish at a time, or don’t anticipate ever needing more than one size, then buying a single dish is fine.
Lid or No Lid
You’ll note from our reviews that, while many dishes do have lids, some are also sold without. You need to decide for yourself if a lid is important to you. Here are a few questions to answer and things to think about:
- Will you be traveling with the dish? If so, a lid is important, particularly if you’ll be taking a hot dish and need to retain the heat.
- Do you need to retain heat or moisture in your dishes? If not, you can use plastic wrap to cover the dish, but if you do, a lid is necessary.
- Do you intend to use the dish outdoors? If so, a lid is important to help keep flies and other pests out.
If you decide that a lid is important, you also need to think about its construction. There are several factors to think about here, including the following:
- Fit – Make sure the lid fits tightly. A loose lid will slide back and forth during transport. It will also allow heat and moisture to escape.
- Edge – Make sure that the lid has an edge that fits into the dish to help keep it securely in place.
- Handle/Knob – The lid should have a way to raise and lower it. Some have handles on the side, but others have them attached to the top. Some, such as cast-iron casserole dishes, use stainless steel knobs attached to the top of the lid.
Note that the above information only applies to solid lids. Some casserole dishes come with soft lids that are designed primarily for use during travel and to prevent bugs from getting into the dish when used outdoors.
These lids are usually made from silicone or plastic and are not oven safe. In most cases, they are not microwave safe, either.
For some buyers, versatility is of paramount importance. If you want to be able to cook, serve, and store your food in a single dish, you’ll need the right material for the job. Generally speaking, glass and stoneware are the most versatile options.
Casserole dishes made from these two materials are usually oven safe up to a high temperature (usually 500 degrees), microwave safe (check the glaze on stoneware, though), refrigerator safe, and freezer safe.
With that being said, none of these will have an airtight seal. That means that while they may come with a lid, if you want to eliminate the potential for air to enter, you’ll need to use plastic wrap instead of or in addition to the lid.
Cleanup is a big part of cooking, although we all wish it weren’t. If you value a simple, easy cleanup process, make sure that the casserole dish you buy is dishwasher safe. As a general rule, you’ll find the following are true:
- Cast Iron: Plain cast iron is not dishwasher safe. In fact, you should not wash it with soap and water by hand, either. It should be scraped clean, oiled, and then put away.
- Enameled Cast Iron: Enameled cast iron is often dishwasher safe (but not always, so check your set first). However, many manufacturers, including Lodge, recommend handwashing to prevent discoloration.
- Glass: Glass casserole dishes are usually dishwasher safe, including all the ones we reviewed.
- Aluminum: Aluminum may be dishwasher safe, but this varies dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even from dish to dish, so check the paperwork for yours before putting it in the dishwasher.
- Stoneware: Some brands of stoneware are dishwasher safe, but others are not. It comes down to the finish used on the dish. Check the paperwork that came with your dish before putting it in the dishwasher.
Handle Shape and Size
Another consideration with casserole dishes is the ease of portability. Handles are the primary option here. You’ll find several different handle shapes and sizes used, and they are not all the same.
Angled: Some casserole dishes have angled handles. While these are stylish, they may not be the best option for everyone, as they can make it easier to drop the dish.
Flat: Flat handles are the best choice for a secure hold on your casserole dish. Ideally, the handles will extend from the side of the dish, wing-like, at either end.
Freeform: Freeform handles are rare these days, but you’ll find them on a few models, such as Rachael Ray’s stoneware dish in our reviews. These have handles, but they’re not obvious, as they blend in with the design of the dish and are part of an encircling flange or lip on the dish.
Disposable Casserole Dishes
While none were covered in our reviews, you will find disposable casserole dishes out there. These are one-time use options and are made from heavy-duty aluminum foil. Some come with plastic lids designed to help keep dust and bugs out of your food during transport, too.
Should you go with a disposable dish? It might be a worthwhile consideration if you and your family rarely or never eat casseroles and the only time you would need one would be for special events like a family holiday dinner or office party.
However, disposable dishes are not really the ideal option for a family that cooks them throughout the year. Over time, you’ll ultimately end up spending far more on disposable pans than you would on a single, high-quality, permanent option.
Top 10 Best Casserole Dishes
When it comes to cooking, nothing comes close to the capabilities of cast iron. But of course, being cast iron, it’s prone to rusting, and you have to spend some extra time and effort to season it and then maintain that seasoning. This enamel cast iron casserole dish from Lodge gets around all these problems.
It provides a 3.6-quart capacity casserole dish with a lid, both constructed from high-quality cast iron. The lid is topped with a stainless steel knob for ease of use. Versatile and beautiful, this is one casserole dish that will last a lifetime.
You can use this as a standard casserole dish, as it is oven safe up to 500 degrees (including the lid). However, it is also designed for stove-top use if necessary, allowing you to broil, braise, bake, roast, sauté, simmer or fry whatever you want. Note that this dish is dishwasher safe, but the manufacturer recommends hand washing, as the enamel may discolor in the dishwasher.
This handy cast-iron casserole dish offers a simple, versatile solution to your baking needs. It even includes a convenient lid with a stainless steel handle to make things easier. The side loop-style handles are another great feature that make moving the dish simpler.
This casserole dish offers even heat distribution for better cooking. It is oven safe up to 400 degrees (including the lid). The enamel finish is non-reactive, so it won’t interfere with the flavors of your food, either. You can use this cast iron casserole dish on all types of cooktops, including induction. However, it is handwash only and should not be put in the dishwasher. It does come with a one-year warranty, though.
3. Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Shallow Casserole Braiser Pan
If you’re looking for a cast-iron casserole dish with a larger capacity, this 3.8-quart option from Bruntmore may be the answer. It features high-quality cast iron, a non-reactive enamel coating, and delivers excellent performance.
This casserole dish is oven save up to 500 degrees, as is the lid. The lid also features a stainless steel knob to make moving it easier, as well as loop-style side handles on the dish. You can also use it on the stove-top, and it is usable with all types of cooktops, including induction.
4. Libbey Baker’s Basics Glass Oval Casserole Baking Dish
One of the most iconic casserole dish styles in existence, this option from Libbey offers a mid-range size that works for most kitchens. It provides 1.6-quarts of space, which is perfect for most side dishes, and the lid fits securely to help prevent spills when moving it.This casserole dish is made from high-quality, oven-safe glass. However, it should not be used on the stove-top. It is dishwasher safe and can also be placed in the microwave, refrigerator, and freezer, for a high level of versatility.
5. Libbey Baker’s Basics 3-Piece Glass Casserole Baking Dish Set
Glass might not seem like a revolutionary material, but it is. What other material can go in the dishwasher, the microwave, the oven, the freezer or the fridge? Plus, you’ll have the tools to suit any need or any occasion.
With this set, you get one 2-quart, one 2.7-quart, and one 3.4-quart dish. Note that none of these come with a lid, though. They are all oven-safe, dishwasher-safe, refrigerator-safe, and freezer-safe.
6. Rachael Ray Cucina Casserole Dish Set with Lid
For rustic charm with unparalleled performance, consider the Rachael Ray Casserole Dish Set with Lid. Made from genuine stoneware, it offers a good level of heat distribution and retention, and the included lid accents the set while providing protection.
With this set, you’ll get one 1.5-quart dish and one 2-quart round dish, each featuring delicate ceramic glazing for protection and beauty. The freeform handles are unobtrusive, but provide good handholds for moving the dishes, too. Each dish is oven safe up to 500 degrees. They can also be placed in the microwave, refrigerator, and freezer safely. Both dishes and the lid are dishwasher safe, too.
7. Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Dish/Casserole Pan with Lid
Those looking for a larger casserole dish will appreciate the Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Dish/Casserole Pan with Lid. It offers 4.5-quarts of interior space, along with a PFOA-free, nonstick surface to help ensure that your food never sticks.
The body of the casserole dish is made from high-quality cast aluminum and then coated to protect it from oxidation. The handles are permanently riveted in place for durability and a secure grip at all times. This casserole dish is oven safe up to 500 degrees. It can also be used on most stove-tops, but may not be compatible with induction-style cooktops. It is also backed with a limited lifetime warranty for your peace of mind.
8. Anchor Hocking 81932OBL11 Glass Casserole Dish
From one of the best-known brands in kitchen tools, Anchor Hocking, comes this two-quart glass casserole dish. The iconic round shape, extended handles, and lid with knob are instantly recognizable.
The glass is specially designed to help your food bake evenly while giving you the ability to visually track progress. It’s also made in the US. The body and lid are dishwasher, microwave, oven, and freezer/refrigerator safe, so you can cook and store in the same vessel.
9. Le Creuset PG07053A-3367 Heritage Stoneware Covered Rectangular Casserole
There are few brands with the reputation for quality, durability, and performance of Le Creuset. This rectangular casserole dish is no exception, either. It is as beautiful and versatile as it is durable and easy to use. This casserole dish has a four-quart capacity, which makes it one of the largest on our list and well-suited for large families or family gatherings. The lid fits securely on the body, helping to retain heat and moisture, as well.
You will also find that this stoneware casserole dish resists staining, chipping, and odors, and can be washed in the dishwasher. It’s oven safe up to 500 degrees, but the manufacturer does not recommend putting it in the microwave.
10. Rachael Ray Glaze Ceramics Dish/Casserole Pan with Lid
Eye-catching and different, this square-shaped casserole dish offers 2.5-quarts of space and a tight-fitting lid to help retain heat and moisture. The extended handles make it easy to lift and carry, as well.
The durable stoneware body and lid are resistant to cracking, staining, and odors. They are also dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer safe for versatility. Both are oven safe up to 500 degrees, too.
What You Need to Know about Thermal Shock
If you spend any amount of time shopping for casserole dishes, you’re going to come across the term “thermal shock”. What does it mean and how does it apply to your dish buying process? Let’s take a deeper look.
What Is It?
Thermal shock is a well-documented phenomenon that occurs when a material at a high temperature comes into contact with something at a much lower temperature (or vice versa). For instance, cool water coming into contact with a hot casserole dish.
What Does It Do?
Thermal shock can cause cracks in or completely destroy a casserole dish. When something cold comes into contact with a heated material, the heated material shrinks. That shrinkage can cause cracks or even cause the entire dish to break.
What Materials Are Affected?
Thermal shock affects all materials to some degree. However, it is more damaging to materials like glass, ceramic, and stoneware. These have a crystalline structure that can be damaged or even shattered by significant temperature fluctuations.
What about Metal?
Metal casserole dishes are affected by thermal shock, but to a much lesser degree. This is because metal does not have a crystalline structure, so it is able to better withstand thermal shock.
Whatever you make in a casserole dish will need to be served. While that sounds simple enough, it can actually be problematic. For instance, the utensil that you use for serving could be damaging to the nonstick surface of your dish.
What does that mean? Simply put, if you use a metal serving utensil, such as a spatula or ladle in a dish with a surface that can be easily damaged, you will scratch it. Once scratched, the surface begins to degrade.
Note that this applies to metal dishes with nonstick surfaces, but it also applies to enameled casserole dishes. Once a scratch forms, the surface is weakened. In an aluminum pan, this allows the nonstick coating to begin degrading and possibly peeling up. In an enameled dish, it means that the underlying cast iron might be exposed, which can result in the formation of rust and then degradation of the pan itself.
What Can You Make in a Casserole Dish?
Using a casserole dish might seem pretty straightforward. They’re for casseroles, right? But actually, there’s a lot more to it than that.
You can make almost anything in a casserole dish. Here are just a few examples of what you can cook in these dishes besides casseroles:
- Polenta dishes
- Chicken alfredo bake
- Biscuits and gravy bake
- Chicken and broccoli bake
- Chicken Frito pie
- Noodle bake
- Pot pies
- Au gratin potatoes
- Hash brown bakes
- Baked mac and cheese
- Ravioli bake
Again, these are just a few options. There are literally thousands of recipes that rely on the use of a casserole dish, from nutritious options to glorious junk food to soothe your soul.
Whether you want something utilitarian or stylish, prefer glass or metal, or want a large dish or a small one, there’s a casserole dish out there for you. We’ve covered 10 of the best casserole dishes, what makes them stand out, and even provided a convenient guide to help ensure that you’re able to make an informed choice. Now it’s time to get out there and get cooking – make something delicious!