How to Buy the Best Baking Dish for Your Kitchen

Published on 12/21/2023 · 8 min readFind your perfect match in the kitchen! Our guide helps you choose the best baking dish, blending style and functionality for culinary success.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Pixel-Shot

TL;DR: A baking dish is a useful and versatile piece of bakeware. They can be used to make casseroles, baked goods, and roast veggies.

Baking dishes are highly useful pieces of baking equipment. Made out of glass, stoneware, or porcelain, these dishes heat slowly but continue to hold heat for a long time, keeping your food hot for a while after being taken out of the oven.

I have a motley collection of baking dishes—some, I got from my parents, and others I picked up along the way. Some of my baking dishes work better than others, but much of their effectiveness is dependent on what you use them for. Since many of us use kitchen equipment as tools on a daily basis, it makes a huge difference when you pick the ones that are well-made and suited to your specific task.

What Is a Baking Dish?

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In short, a baking dish is a heavy ceramic or glass container that is meant to be used in the oven. They’re most useful for casseroles, lasagna, baked pastas, and roasted vegetables.

If you’re wondering what the difference between a baking dish and a baking pan is, it’s simply the material it’s made out of. If it’s made of metal, it’s a baking pan. If it’s made of glass or ceramic, it’s a baking dish. Baking pans are generally better for baked goods like cakes and brownies, but that doesn’t mean that baking dishes can’t be substituted.

Casserole dishes fit into the baking dish category as well, but there are also metal pans that are called casserole dishes. So, essentially, they overlap.

What To Consider When Buying a Baking Dish

Baking dishes are extremely varied, as it’s a sort of catch-all term. That means that you need to consider what features are important to you and what you plan to make in the dish to ensure that you’ll end up making the best choice.

What Size Do I Want?

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Baking dishes aren’t standardized, which means that there isn’t a set number of sizes that exist as an industry standard. Sometimes they’re measured by dimension, and sometimes by quarts, making the whole situation even more complicated. Here are some of the more common sizes you’ll see:

  • 8x8 in or 2-quart: This is a standard baking dish and pan size. 8x8 is equivalent to two quarts, and this is commonly called for in both cake and brownie recipes, as well as casseroles.
  • 9x9 in: This typically isn’t measured in quarts (probably because it’s 2.8 quarts for a 2-inch deep pan), but it’s a common size in baking pans.
  • 9x13 in or 3-quart: This size is fairly standard for a casserole dish. It’s also a common size for brownie recipes, cakes, and lasagna.
  • 4-quart: This is a common size for large casserole dishes. Usually these pans will measure 9x13 in, and just have more depth than a standard 9x13 baking dish, giving them an extra quart of volume.

Do I Want Glass or Ceramic?

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Glass and ceramic function similarly in the oven, are both dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe, and can go in the microwave, meaning that the differences come down to other smaller factors.

  • Glass: Glass dishes are see-through, which can be lovely when making a layered dish like lasagna. However, it shows scratches more easily, and they tend to look plain.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic dishes are most often either stoneware or porcelain, both of which are fully food-safe and oven-safe. Ceramic dishes tend to be prettier than glass dishes, and they’re less likely to show scratches due to the fact that they’re opaque.

What Shape Do I Want?

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Baking dishes come in a few common shapes, though this is primarily an aesthetic consideration.

  • Square: This is going to be the shape of an 8x8 dish, so it’s much more common for smaller baking dishes.
  • Rectangle: The majority of baking dishes are rectangular, either because they’re 9x13 in or another similar size.
  • Oval: Oval shaped dishes are fairly uncommon, and the shape is usually meant to make the dish more attractive. So long as it’s roughly the same dimensions as a 9x13 in, they’re easy enough to substitute for a regular dish.
  • Circle: Although this is less common, there are circular baking dishes. Usually these are going to be smaller dishes, like for a soufflé.

Features to Look Out For When Buying a Baking Dish

When picking out a baking dish, there are a few additions that will make them stand out as better quality than other options:

Lid

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Not every baking dish has a lid, but they’re often a useful addition.

Benefits:

  • A plastic, glass, or ceramic lid can all be used for storage
  • An oven-safe lid can be used instead of aluminum foil to prevent browning

Be Aware:

  • Plastic lids aren’t going to be oven safe

Handles

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Larger baking dishes are more likely to have handles than smaller ones, but isn’t an uncommon feature.

Benefits:

  • Makes it easier to get the dish out of the oven, even with oven mitts on
  • Allows for a secure grip, so you’re less likely to drop it
  • Comfort

Be Aware:

  • Because they stick out, handles are where baking dishes are most likely to break

Weight

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The weight of the empty dish can make a big difference in how easy it is to transport. Usually you don’t want it to weigh more than a pound or two when empty, or it can get unwieldy.

Benefits:

  • A weightier dish is going to be made of thicker material, making it more durable.
  • Heavier material holds heat better

Be Aware:

  • A heavy casserole dish can get unwieldy when full

How to Choose the Right Baking Dish

Baking dishes are extremely varied in size and design, which can make it difficult to know where to start looking. In order to narrow down the options, I’ll describe three different people with different “chef personas,” and what I’d recommend to each of them.

Hannah: Graduate Student Who Primarily Cooks for Herself

Hannah lives in an apartment. She will have a friend or her boyfriend over for dinner sometimes, but she mostly cooks for herself, so she doesn't want to make too much at once.

Features to look for:

  • Smaller baking dishes, like 8x8
  • More budget-friendly options

Recommended products:

  • Pyrex 8-inch Square Glass Baking Dish: Pyrex makes good-quality glassware for a bargain. This 8x8 baking dish is the perfect size for smaller casseroles like macaroni and cheese, is durable, and completely oven safe.
  • Le Creuset Heritage Covered 2.5-quart Square Casserole: While Le Creuset is a bit more expensive, this casserole dish is handsome. It’s made out of stoneware, comes in a variety of pretty colors, and has a lid. It’s a bit bigger than 2-quarts, meaning that you don’t have to worry about overfilling it.

Ivan: Dad Who Works Full Time and Prioritizes Home-Cooked Meals

Ivan works full time, parents, and does his best to squeeze in his hobbies. He’s looking for simple baking dishes that can be used for one-dish dinners and have easy care and cleanup routines to leave time for his other obligations.

Features to look for:

  • Simple baking dishes for one-dish dinners
  • Easy cleanup and care
  • Durability

Recommended Products:

  • 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.
  • Emile Henry Large Rectangular Baker: This baking dish is made in France from Burgundian clay, which has an even heat distribution for ceramic. It was mentioned as one of the top choices on Good Housekeeping, comes in several colors, and is dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.

Naomi: Social Home Cook Who Loves Dinner Parties

Naomi and her friends rotate who hosts dinner parties. She wants baking dishes that are well-made and that can double as beautiful serving dishes so she can put them directly on the table. Ideally, she’d also like to be able to transport dishes for potlucks.

Features to look for:

  • Attractive dishes that can go on the table as serving dishes
  • Well-made, durable bakeware that will last

Recommended products:

Find the Best Baking Dish for You

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Every piece of baking and cooking equipment you own is an important part of getting a great result when you cook. That means it’s essential to take time to make sure you’re getting the right products for your needs. If you need help choosing that perfect piece of bakeware or cookware, chat with one of our Curated Kitchen Experts for free, personalized advice. Any of our Experts would be delighted to help you find the baking dish that’s just right for you.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Kitchen on Curated

Le Creuset Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid
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Le Creuset Heritage Square Casserole · 2.5 QT
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Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole
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