There are many good reasons to make a casserole. This classic dish combines ingredients such as meat, cheese and vegetables for a hearty meal, from Italian lasagna to tuna noodle casserole or macaroni and cheese. Casserole recipes are easy to bake, serve, save as leftovers and reheat. However, to make a casserole, you need a quality casserole dish.
To find the top casserole dish, we consulted our baking expert Andrea Boudewijn. A Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef and owner of Superfine Bakery in Los Angeles, Boudewijn shared information on the best casserole dishes and baking tools.
Chances are there is a casserole recipe you'll enjoy regardless of the type of food you like.
"I love casseroles because they seem to be universal in any culture or any family," Boudewijn said. "Everybody has some sort of recipe that is baked within one dish and then taken from that dish and served directly on the table."
Because a casserole is made and served in one dish, it's important to have a casserole dish that simplifies these steps. Boudewijn notes that buying a set of two dishes adds versatility when choosing the size of the casserole you want to prepare. "The small one would serve two to four people, and a larger one would serve six to eight-plus," said Boudewijn.
Casserole dishes with lids are helpful because some recipes need to be covered in the oven, saving you from messing around with foil. When choosing a casserole dish with a lid, make sure the lid is heavy and well-fitting.
If you haven't purchased a casserole dish yet but can't wait to indulge in a casserole, there are other cookware pieces you can use. A loaf pan, brownie pan or deep baking dish will do in a pinch, and a lasagna pan is ideal for large recipes, Boudewijn said. She added that she likes glass pans for casseroles because you can easily watch the ingredients bubble as they bake. This helps you determine when to add toppings such as french-fried onions.
Depending on the recipe, if you need a casserole dish with a lid, you could use a Dutch oven instead.
A casserole dish may be the most important item for preparing a casserole, but other cooking gadgets will come in handy throughout the baking process. Our cooking expert recommends several practical kitchen items that will also serve numerous other purposes beyond casserole making.
An oven mitt is a must-have, Boudewijn said. "It protects your hand from the heat when you're pulling the casserole dish out of the oven and placing it somewhere to cool. It also can serve as a trivet. If you need to set it down and then put the baking pan on top of it, it will protect whatever surface or countertop from the heat."
Other kitchen essentials Boudewijn recommends for casserole baking include a can opener, trivet and chef's knife. Some casseroles use canned ingredients, and not all cans have flip-top lids, she explained. That's where a can opener is useful. A trivet can be used as a barrier between a hot casserole dish and countertop or table. And home cooks will find a durable chef's knife useful for preparing some casserole ingredients as well as many other cooking needs.
"A chef's knife is a great all-around basic tool for any cook to have in their kitchen for anything," she said.
Boudewijn noted that a toaster oven is especially useful for preparing casseroles. Not only are toaster ovens compact, but they come in handy in warm weather when using a full-size range can make the house hot.
"If you don't want to heat up your big oven and you have a countertop, you have a need for a countertop oven," she said.
Whether you are eager to try out a new casserole dish or need an easy meal for tonight's dinner, asparagus casserole is a delicious and easy dish to try. Boudewijn provided steps and tips for her asparagus casserole recipe, which she said is creamy and satisfying.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Open the three cans of asparagus, and drain out the water.
3. In a 6-inch-by-8-inch casserole dish that's about 2 inches deep, gently slide out the asparagus in three orderly clumps. Gently shake the pan to make a solid layer of asparagus. The asparagus spears should be parallel with the short side of the casserole dish.
4. Empty the two cans of cream of celery soup on top of the asparagus, and spread it to form the next solid layer. Completely cover the asparagus.
5. Place the casserole in the preheated oven, and bake until the cream of celery soup starts bubbling up the sides (about 30 to 40 minutes).
6. Pull the casserole briefly out of the oven, and make a very generous layer of the french-fried onions over the whole casserole.
7. Bake for another 10 minutes or so to crisp up the onions, and you're done.
Boudewijn advised that following a few tips will make an asparagus casserole turn out perfectly.
"You may want to gently run a knife across the spears to cut them into bite-size pieces before adding the soup for easier scooping. Whole spears are nice but can be messy when lifting out a portion for service," she said.
A square or rectangle pan is best for preparing her asparagus recipe. A round dish will likely result in the vegetable having bends or odd shapes after baking.
Boudewijn also recommends keeping a close watch on the casserole when baking the topping to prevent burning. This tip applies to any casserole. "It really is supposed to only be baked for a short time, just until it's warmed through, crisp or slightly caramelized."
Boudewijn added that preventing messes in the oven simplifies cleanup after the casserole is baked and served. "You may want to have a sheet pan either directly under the casserole dish or on the next rack below to catch anything that may fall or drip."
This 2-quart Pyrex casserole dish is versatile and comes with large handles that make it easy to remove from the oven. If you're looking for a casserole dish with a lid, this is an excellent choice. The lid is oven-safe, but can also be used for covering leftovers.
Available in white or dark blue, this ceramic casserole dish with a lid looks great and performs brilliantly. It measures 9 by 13 inches and has handles to make it easier to remove from the oven.
If you're looking for a high-end casserole dish with a lid that you'd be proud to display and cook from, this one from Le Creuset is ideal. It comes in four colors: cerise, Marseille, marine and white.
This large spatula is Boudewijn's choice for casseroles since it features a durable square top that makes it easy to scoop out individual servings. It is also practical for scraping the sides of a casserole dish and can be used for other cooking tasks, such as flipping pancakes.
Not only is an oven mitt necessary for taking a casserole out of the oven, but it can double as a trivet. Boudewijn said this silicone mitt is ideal for both purposes. The OXO oven mitt is available in several colors to match different styles of kitchen décor.
These natural beechwood trivets offer two benefits, which is why Boudewijn chose them. Not only will they protect a table or countertop when placed under a casserole dish fresh from the oven, they also sport an attractive design.
Boudewijn said that everyone needs a can opener in their collection of kitchen gadgets. This one is simple yet solid. It's made by a trusted brand and comes in several fun colors.
A chef's knife, like this one Boudewijn recommends, comes in handy when preparing ingredients for a casserole and a multitude of other dishes as well. This knife boasts a sturdy high-carbon steel blade that stays sharp even after repeated use.
Boudewijn recommends this Breville toaster oven not only for its stellar performance but also because it's so much more than a traditional oven. The convection toaster oven features 10 presets including toast, bake, roast, broil, reheat, warm and slow cook, as well as programs for making perfectly cooked bagels, pizza and cookies. The Element iQ system gives you precise results via sensors and algorithms to prevent overcooking or undercooking meals. It can accommodate six slices of bread, a 13-inch pizza, roast chicken or a 4-quart casserole dish.
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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money