How to Buy the Best Ramekin for Your Kitchen

Published on 12/23/2023 · 9 min readUpgrade your baking arsenal! Learn how to select the best ramekins for your kitchen, perfect for desserts and individual servings, with our guide.
Jane M., Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Jane M.

Photo by Jane M.

TL;DR: A ramekin is a small, heat-resistant bowl with high sides that’s designed for baking, but these versatile dishes have more uses beyond that. They’re great for serving appetizers, prepping ingredients, herbs, and spices, and portioning out snacks. You can bake, serve, and store food all in one dish. Plus, they’re visually appealing, providing an elegant presentation.

I have used ramekins for decades for baking individual molten chocolate cakes, lemon pots de crème, and custards both at home and when I was a host and cook at an inn. We also regularly used ramekins in the cooking school, where I assisted with classes. Mostly, these charming vessels grace my table for noshing. They’re the perfect size for serving olives, nuts, dips, fruits, and snacks. It’s also a benefit that these dishes help enforce portion control—they're the perfect size for oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, or you may like them for serving soups. Some people use ramekins for making classic French onion soup.

What is a ramekin?

Photo by Katerina Maksymenko

The word "ramekin" comes from the French term "ramequin,” although dictionaries also point to the Dutch origins of “rammeken,” derived from the German for “ram” and “cream.”

Recipes will specify ramekins for baking and serving individual portions, including soufflés, egg-based custards, quiches, crème brûlée, dips, and more. Restaurant kitchens may also have ramekins in stainless steel or plastic for use as cups for small portions of items such as sauces, condiments, or coleslaw.

What to Consider When Buying Ramekins

What is a ramekin used for?

You can bake a wide variety of dishes in a ramekin, including breakfast dishes, such as mini quiches, to mini mac and cheese cups for kids, to more elegant, savory dinners, such as individual pot pies topped with a sophisticated puff pastry. Traditional ramekin-based desserts include custards and crème brûlée, but I’ve also used ramekins for individual fruit crisps (apple or pears and cranberries are my favorites) and cobblers (lots will work here—I love peaches and blackberries). You’ll find ramekins useful for any meal, appetizers, or snacks, although people may consider them the most useful for desserts that can be presented individually.

What’s the best size?

Ramekins come in a range of sizes, and they’re generally designed to be a single portion. The size you choose will depend on the specific recipe. Common sizes range from a small ramekin of 4, 6, or 8 ounces to a large ramekin of 12 or 14 ounces.

Keep in mind that custard and other dessert recipes often call for the dishes to be placed in a baking dish with water halfway up to complete the baking process, so you’ll want to make sure you have a baking or roasting dish that can accommodate the ramekins. Be sure that the sides of the ramekin are high enough for the intended dish, too. Some ramekins may be shallower than others. The height and capacity of the dish will affect the cooking time, and of course, you don’t want the contents spilling over.

Are all ramekins oven-safe?

Not all ramekins are oven-safe. Check the manufacturer's recommendations and temperature guidelines. If your recipe calls for finishing a dish under the broiler, it’s important to check that your specific ramekin can withstand it. For example, Le Creuset ramekins can withstand up to 500°F and can go under the broiler.

How many ramekins should you have?

The number of ramekins needed will depend on the recipe and the number of individual servings you want to prepare. It's helpful to have at least four to six ramekins, and they’re often sold in sets.

What are the different types of ramekins?

Common types of ramekins include porcelain, glass, and ceramic. Each material offers its own aesthetic and functional qualities, so you can choose the best option based on your preferences and intended use. They’ll each work a bit differently in the oven, so keep that in mind and adjust cooking times as needed.

Porcelain

Photo by Jane M.

White porcelain is the traditional material for ramekins, conjuring up images of high-end culinary creations created by French pastry chefs. These dishes are inexpensive and can be found just about anywhere, from general stores like Target to higher-end kitchen stores, restaurant supply stores, and online. They usually have an outer surface of ridged edges and sometimes an upper outer band, which can help with picking them up.

Benefits:

  • Readily available individually or in sets from many brands
  • Inexpensive
  • Various sizes ranging from 4 to 12 ounces

Be aware:

  • Are susceptible to cracking and breaking
  • Are typically limited to a certain temperature

Ceramic/Stoneware

Photo by Jane M.

Ceramic ramekins may be considered sturdier than porcelain, and some may be more resistant to scratching and cracking. Emile Henry, for example, says its ramekins are made from an “extremely hard glaze that does not scratch and does not craze.”

Benefits:

  • Like porcelain, ceramic ramekin options abound and are readily available
  • Ceramic ramekins can be decorative and colorful
  • Inexpensive
  • A wide range of sizes
  • Higher-quality brands like Emily Henry and Le Creuset come with 10-year warranties

Be aware:

  • Ceramic ramekins are pricier than their porcelain counterparts
  • Are susceptible to cracking and breaking
  • Are typically limited to a certain temperature

Glass

Photo by Jane M.

As with glass baking and casserole dishes, the favorite feature of glass ramekins is the visibility. You can check to see how things are cooking, and the transparency also can be a big part of the presentation. You might find glass ramekins also referred to as “custard cups,” like this 6-ounce set from Pyrex.

Benefits:

  • Transparent
  • Readily available
  • Inexpensive
  • Non-reactive, so foods and odors don’t leach into the glass

Be aware:

  • Can crack or shatter if it’s not tempered glass
  • May not be as durable as porcelain or ceramic
  • May be limited in sizes and oven options compared to ceramic and porcelain, but brands such as Duralex say their ramekins are oven and microwave-safe.

Silicone

Photo by Massan

Silicone ramekins provide a flexible, nonstick surface for baking and molding food, and they work well equally in the oven and freezer. Because they’re nonstick, it’s easy to remove the food without damaging its shape. Also, silicone can be inexpensive. For example, Trudeau USA sells a set of four ramekins, and OXO sells a package of 12 silicone baking cups, both for about $12.

Benefits:

  • Flexible material
  • Easy to release molded food
  • Works well for both baking and freezing

Be aware:

  • May retain odors from foods
  • Not useful for browning or broiling
  • Don’t provide the same kind of presentation as other materials
  • May not be dishwasher safe

Shape & Design

Photo by Jane M.

The majority of ramekins are round, but you can also find them in other shapes, such as oval and square. Some may come with lids. Exteriors range from ridged edges to geometric patterns and floral or other decorative designs and more.

White dishes are classic, but you can also find ramekins in a wide variety of colors. Some brands, such as Le Creuset and Staub, also offer mini “cocottes,” which are similar in that they’re designed for baking individual portions and come with lids and handles.

Durability

Check the thickness of the material to get a sense of how the ramekin will hold up to different temperatures as well as the dishwasher. If you plan to move the ramekins between the oven, fridge, and freezer, ensure that the material is resistant to thermal shock.

Clean-Up

Most manufacturers say that their ramekins are dishwasher safe for easy clean-up. Be sure to carefully check the care and usage guidelines from the manufacturer. See how the material has been finished and treated to ensure that it’s easy to clean and nonporous so that food smells don’t leach into the dish.

Price

Ramekins are often sold in sets, and prices can vary widely, anywhere from around $15 ranging to more than $50 for a higher-end item, such as ramekins from Le Creuset, which are sold individually and range from $14 to $18.

Storage

If cabinet space is at a premium, look for ramekins that can be stacked. You may prefer one material over another precisely for this purpose.

How to Choose the Right Ramekin

Aidan

Aidan tried a pomegranate crème brûlée at a local high-end restaurant, and that was all he needed to decide he wanted to regularly tackle making crème brûlée at home. In addition to being excited about buying a kitchen torch (which he has proceeded to use for a variety of other desserts and dishes), Aidan wanted to get a classic ramekin set in white porcelain to have friends over for a crème brûlée and cocktails party after much practice in perfecting and refining his recipe.

Features Aidan should look for:

  • High-quality, brand-name, durable porcelain in traditional white
  • Ramekins sold in sets

Products to consider: Dowan set of 6 ramekins, Sweese set of 6 ramekins, MalaCasa set of 12 ramekins

Ann

Ann and her wife, Rachel, recently moved to a new area and have invited Rachel’s two colleagues and their partners to a sit-down dinner to celebrate Ann and Rachel’s new home. Ann loves the idea of preparing make-ahead casseroles so she can relax and enjoy the party with their guests. To boost the elegance factor, Ann is using individual ramekins to make the presentation feel special. She’s making individual chicken and mushroom pot pies, which she’ll prepare in advance, and then add puff pastry to the tops to brown before serving.

Features Ann should look for:

  • Ramekins that will work well to be stored in the fridge and then reheated.
  • Elegant design.
  • Excellent heat retention.

Products to consider: Dowan’s set of 4 ramekins with lids, Le Creuset mini cocottes, Staub mini round cocotte set

Lucy

Lucy loves high-quality, decorative dishware, especially plates and bowls for serving cheese, nuts, olives, and charcuterie. She has a small kitchen without a dishwasher. She’d like some colorful ramekins that can be used for baking and serving, are easy to clean, have a high-quality feel, and can be stacked in her cabinet.

Features Lucy should look for:

  • Durability and design.
  • Easy to store and clean by hand.

Products to consider: Le Creuset stackable ramekins, Dowan ramekin bowls

Find the Best Ramekins for You

Photo by iuliia N.

Since ramekins are relatively inexpensive, they don’t feel like as much of a high-stakes investment as other cookware and bakeware. But no one wants to buy something that ends up taking space, collecting dust, and being wasted.

Reach out to a Curated Kitchen Expert for advice on the best ramekins to get for your kitchen. You may find that these dishes will help you expand your cooking and baking repertoire, especially because they make it fun to prep ingredients and set up your mise en place. An added bonus is you can make yourself a single serving that’s just the right portion, eliminating the temptation to heap more food onto a plate.

Once you give it a try, you may also realize that custards and crème brûlée are not out of reach for your home kitchen skills, and you don’t have to rely on getting them only at restaurants. You might even make them better!

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