How to Buy a Casserole Dish with a Lid

Published on 11/20/2023 · 11 min readChoose the perfect casserole dish with a lid with the tips in this comprehensive guide, covering materials, sizes, and features for your ideal kitchen addition!
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Elena Shashkina

tl;dr: A casserole dish is a must-have for the majority of kitchens. It’s a piece of bakeware with many different uses, including making lasagna, roasting vegetables, baking cakes, and, of course, making casseroles. Choosing the perfect casserole dish is an investment in your kitchen and yourself.

I’ve been cooking and baking for most of my life, and I’ve always been a fan of one-pan dishes like casseroles. I’m sure it’s partly because the first success I had with trying a new recipe was a casserole. I found the recipe on a blog — it was sort of a burrito in casserole form. I made a few minor changes, and it came out scrumptious. It’s been a part of my recipe repertoire ever since. I also love to make rolls, cornmeal muffins, or biscuits from scratch to go with casseroles (cornmeal muffins are wonderful with the burrito casserole).

I now have a motley collection of casserole dishes — I got some from my parents and picked up others along the way. I’ve tried many types of casserole dishes in all shapes and sizes. Some of them work better than others, but a lot is dependent on what you use them for. Since we use kitchen equipment as tools on a daily basis, it makes a huge difference when you use ones that are well-made and suited to the task.

What Is a Casserole Dish?

While this seems like a simple question, a casserole dish isn’t the easiest thing to define. Casseroles and casserole dishes both are sort of catch-all terms, which means that a lot of different things are referred to as “casserole dishes.”

When something is referred to as a casserole dish, it’s likely a large, heavy pan that holds heat well. Most casserole dishes are around 9 inches by 13 inches, but there’s no set size for them. There also isn’t a set shape or material. If it’s a dish with sides that are oven-safe and hold heat well, it’s probably a casserole dish!

Things to Consider When Buying a Casserole Dish With a Lid

To help narrow down the myriad casserole dishes with lids in varying shapes, sizes, and brands available to you, here are a few questions to ask yourself to help narrow down the possibilities.

What Material Should It Be Made Out of?

As expected from being so varied, casserole dishes can be made out of any number of materials. Wondering which one is best for you? Here are the pros and cons of each material, so you can make an informed buying decision based on what’s most important to you.

  • Ceramic: If you type “casserole dish” into a search engine, the majority of the results will be ceramic. Stoneware and porcelain are the two most common materials because of how well they hold heat and how durable they are. They’re also freezer and dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy.
  • Glass: This is likely the second most common casserole dish material. With layered dishes like lasagna, you can see its layers through the sides of a clear glass container. It also goes in the dishwasher and can handle the freezer. However, unless it’s specialty glass, you can't take it directly from the freezer to the oven, or it’ll shatter.
  • Stainless Steel: In terms of versatility, stainless steel is difficult to beat. A stainless steel casserole dish will be oven and broiler safe, and some are even constructed to double as a pot. When it comes to cleanup, it’s better not to put stainless steel in the dishwasher. Also, as a downside, most stainless steel casserole dishes aren’t attractive.
  • Aluminum: This is an uncommon material for casserole dishes as aluminum requires some extra care. It has excellent heat conductivity, making it great for baked goods. However, it loses heat faster than most materials in this list, is prone to scratches, and is hand-wash only.
  • Cast Iron: Cast iron casserole dishes are something of a specialty item. The main issue with cast iron is that it’s very heavy, and with a casserole weighing it down even more, moving it around will be a workout. It also needs to be handwashed. However, nothing distributes or holds heat quite like cast iron, meaning that your creations will come out heated evenly with browned edges every time.

Can It Be Used on the Stovetop?

Photo by joleaprian

In general, a casserole dish is expected to be oven only. That being said, there’s no reason it can’t have multiple uses. You can have a casserole dish shaped like a shorter pot that can serve the purpose of a braiser or small stockpot in addition to being a casserole dish. Or you can have a baking pan that’s oven and stovetop-safe so that you can make gravy in it.

Can I Serve Directly Out of It?

Photo by from my point of view

While of course, you can serve out of any casserole dish, it’s preferable to use one that’s attractive enough that you don’t feel self-conscious about having it on the table. I’m generally unconcerned about the appearance of the serving vessel — I figure the food speaks for itself — but if this is important to you, consider the eye appeal of your casserole dish.

Types of Casserole Dishes

While the majority of casserole dishes measure about 9 x 13, that’s far from the only option. A lot of this will be a matter of whether you like to entertain or love leftovers. Casserole dish size is usually measured in quarts, though sometimes they’ll be referred to by their dimensions.

  • 4 Quart: This is the largest of the standard casserole sizes. A lot of casserole recipes will be designed for a 4-quart dish. Most dishes of this size will measure 9 x 13 but will have deep sides.

A vintage 4-quart ceramic casserole dish with a glass lid. Photo by Di Doherty

  • 3 Quart: A standard 9 x 13 baking pan holds 3 quarts, so most casserole dishes of this size will be the same dimensions as an average 9 x 13 pan. However, it’s also possible to get round or oval dishes that hold 3 quarts. This is a good size for bakers, as it can double as a baking pan for cakes and brownies.
  • 2 Quart: An 8 x 8 pan holds 2 quarts, meaning that most casserole dishes that hold this much will be 8 x 8. However, it’s possible to get rectangular or round 2-quart dishes. This is a good size for halving most casserole recipes and is likely the second most common size. It’s also commonly used for baked goods such as blondies, cakes, and macaroni and cheese.

Two different 2-quart casserole dishes, showcasing different shapes. Photo by Di Doherty

Features to Look For

A good piece of bakeware is going to possess certain features that a subpar one won’t. Some of this is a matter of personal preference, of course, but here are some features to keep an eye out for.

  • Large handles: Make sure that the casserole dish has prominent, comfortable handles. Especially if it’s a bigger dish, you’re going to want to be sure of your grip — and keep in mind you’ll be wearing oven mitts. They also need to be sturdy, as that’s where ceramic and glass casserole dishes are most prone to breakage.
  • Lid material: If you can, find a casserole dish that has an oven-safe lid. That ups its versatility in terms of dishes you can make and prevents you from having to use foil to cover your dishes as often. It’s also a great way to hold heat in if your casserole is done early or you want to transport a warm meal to someone.
  • Weight: A heavy casserole dish isn't a dealbreaker, but remember that most of the time you’ll be using it when it’s full. That’ll up the weight considerably. That being said, unless your dish is made out of aluminum, you want it to have a bit of heft to it. A cheaply made casserole dish will be very light, as the material will be thin and a lot easier to dent or break.
  • Construction: Check the construction of your casserole dish before buying. It shouldn’t have any sharp edges, chips, flaws, or an ill-fitting lid. All of these are signs of it being poorly made or the company having poor quality control.
  • Shape: While there isn’t one best shape for a casserole dish to be, most recipes expect a rectangular baking dish. Oval is the next best choice, as most oval dishes can be fudged for a rectangular one.

How to Choose the Right Casserole Dish With a Lid for You

Cooking for one? This little round casserole dish is only 1.5 quarts. Photo by Di Doherty

Everyone will want different features in their casserole dish. The number of options out there can be overwhelming, so I’m going to present three different personas and what my top picks would be for them to help narrow down what the best casserole dish for you will be.

Sven: Space-Conscious Cook Who’s Still Learning

Sven lives in a tiny apartment, so he wants something that can serve multiple purposes. He’s willing to spend some money on well-made cookware, but he doesn’t want to break the bank.

Features to Look For:

  • Versatility — it’s important to have a casserole dish that can be used for something else
  • A reasonable price point

Recommended Products:

Marietta: Busy Mom Looking for Something Durable and Simple

Marietta has to juggle her job, taking care of her kids, and her other responsibilities. She makes time to cook nutritious meals for everyone but wants bakeware that’s easy to care for and straightforward.

Features to Look For:

  • Dishes that are dishwasher safe for ease of cleaning
  • Heavy-duty materials that can handle being jostled or not washed right away

Recommended Products:

  • KitchenAid 3-Ply Base Stainless Steel Induction Casserole with Lid, 4qt. KitchenAid’s casserole dish can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. While I don’t recommend putting stainless in the dishwasher, the manufacturer says it's dishwasher safe, so it’ll hold up. The heavy-gauge stainless steel is dent and warp resistant.
  • OXO Good Grips 3-Quart Baking Dish. Glass is an excellent choice because of its durability and the fact that it’s unruffled by the dishwasher. It has a plastic lid to easily store leftovers in the refrigerator or to transport what you’ve made.

Olivia: Hostess Who Loves to Wow Her Guests

Olivia loves to host and wants to have attractive bakeware that she can put on the table. She’s willing to spend the money to get the best — its appearance is important to her, and it’ll get a lot of use. Because she often has large dinner parties, she also wants the dish to be substantial.

Features to Look For:

  • Eye-catching colors or interesting shapes
  • Casserole dishes designed to double as a serving dish

Recommended Products:

Let Us Help Find the Right Casserole Dish With a Lid for You

Photo by Joe Gough

It can be overwhelming to try to find the right choice for your needs, particularly with the variety of casserole dishes and manufacturers. Some of it also boils down to personal preferences regarding what it’s made out of, the type of lid, and whether or not it has any sort of nonstick coating.

Because a casserole dish is something that you’ll use a lot over its lifetime, don’t be afraid to take your time. If you feel you need more information, recommendations, or advice, reach out to one of our Kitchen Experts here on Curated! Any of our Kitchen Experts would be more than happy to help you find the casserole dish that’s just right for you.

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