Designed for function as well as looks, this brand provides an effective set that appeals to creative cooks. Set of four dishes. Made from fine-quality porcelain. We love the traditional design at a friendly price point.
Can be easy to chip.
An instant classic that not only adds to your culinary ambition, but to your kitchen design as well. 1-quart capacity. Made of durable, high-fired stoneware with glossy enamel glazing. Safe to use in the oven, microwave, or freezer.
We wish food would stick less to the bottom.
Made from stainless steel with a mirror finish on the inside and outside. Thick, heavy-duty pan conducts heat evenly. Can also be used on the stove and for roasting and baking.
It costs more than some other options.
Heats up favorites quickly and evenly. 3-quart capacity. Features stylish handles and tapered walls. Microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe.
Great for basic dishes, but not ideal for time-consuming ones.
Set of two pans. Made from stainless steel. Great for all food from cooked fish to small appetizers. Easy to stack, serve, wash, and do all over again. Oven and dishwasher safe.
A little too small for some.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Potatoes au gratin is one of those dishes that transcends typical home cooking. From the creamy cheese sauce to the brown, crispy breadcrumb topping, this dish is both delicious and, let’s face it, pretty awe-inspiring when you bring it steaming hot to the table. It’s also easy to pull together if you have the right equipment. One item you definitely need to create this iconic French dish is an au gratin pan.
These shallow oval pans are perfectly designed to cook any au gratin dish to perfection. More than that, they can also be used for casseroles, cobblers, roast meats, and as elegant serving dishes.
While there aren’t a lot of features associated with an au gratin pan, you still have a number of considerations when shopping for one. This buying guide examines everything from pan size and temperature tolerance to materials and price. We also offer up a variety of our own top picks, those au gratin pans we feel are some of the highest quality or best bargains currently on the market.
Au gratin pans come in a range of sizes. Before purchasing one, you should have an idea of what size you need. Are you cooking for just yourself or a few people? Will you be using the pan frequently to cook for larger groups?
While you can find pans that indicate their capacity in ounces, au gratin pans usually indicate what they hold in quarts (a quart equals 32 ounces). Au gratin pans range from 1 quart to 3 quarts and more.
You won’t find many choices in terms of depth, however. These pans are typically no more than 1.5 to 2 inches deep. A shallower pan helps produce a crisper crust.
Regardless of the type of au gratin pan you purchase, it should be able to handle some pretty high temperatures. These pans are usually rated for up to 500°F or even 600°F, depending on the pan. If you need to cook something at 600°F, be sure your pan is up to the task.
It’s a given that au gratin pans can be used in the oven, but you can use some of them in other ways too. They can be used under a broiler because that’s an integral part of the au gratin cooking process. Some are also safe for use in the microwave, on the stovetop, and even in the freezer. The more ways you can use your au gratin pan, the more you’ll be able to do with it in your kitchen. However, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before using your au gratin pan in anything other than an oven.
Most au gratin pans are sold individually; however, some come in sets of two, four, or even more pans. While sets are more expensive, having several au gratin pans provides you with more options in terms of cooking more dishes at once as well as choosing the proper size pan for the group you’re serving.
While all au gratin pans are intended to go from oven to table, some are more elegant than others, making them great serving dishes when you’re entertaining guests. The material an au gratin pan is made of usually determines how it will look sitting on your dining room table. Materials range from the elegant silvery finish of stainless steel to the earthier stoneware pan. Some glazed ceramic au gratin pans come in a choice of colors so you can match it to your dining room’s color or the pattern of your dinnerware or other serving pieces.
Au gratin pans are made of a variety of materials, but three, in particular, are the most common: stainless steel, ceramic, and cast iron.
Stainless steel: As mentioned above, the shine of stainless steel is attractive in a formal setting. Stainless steel is also extremely durable and long-lasting. If you opt for a stainless steel au gratin pan, consider choosing one with three-ply construction. These pans include a layer of another metal, such as aluminum, sandwiched between layers of stainless steel, which improves heat conduction and promotes more even cooking.
Ceramic: Ceramic pans, including stoneware and porcelain, are all made from kiln-fired clay. While these are a more traditional option for au gratin pans, they’re also less durable than stainless steel and can chip or even break.
Cast iron: If you’re searching for a nearly indestructible au gratin pan, consider choosing a cast-iron one. While cast-iron pans both conduct and retain heat effectively, they’re much heavier than stainless steel or ceramic pans and can rust if not cared for properly.
Handles are standard on au gratin pans, usually located on each end to easily carry the pan from kitchen to table. Some are made as part of the pan (ceramic), while others are riveted to it (stainless steel). Some are loops, while others are scalloped tabs with a grippy texture. A few au gratin pans don’t have handles at all. Whatever their shape, the handles should be large enough to comfortably hold and rugged enough to hold up through frequent use.
An attractive au gratin pan can also be used as an eye-catching serving dish for all kinds of food.
Inexpensive: Au gratin pans start at around $10 to $20. In this price range, you can find smaller pans of usually a quart or less. These are largely ceramic pans, although some less durable and smaller stainless steel pans are also in this range. These au gratin pans tend to be more utilitarian than elegant.
Mid-range: In the $20 to $30 range, au gratin pans are larger, many with a capacity of up to 2 quarts. Both ceramic and stainless steel are common here. Some au gratin pans in this range come in a set of two or three pans, which can be used to cook several foods or as a group of matching serving dishes.
Expensive: If you’re cooking for a crowd or searching for a more elegant au gratin pan, you’ll spend $30 to $50 and more. Many of these pans have a capacity of 3 quarts or more. They tend to be more stylish and more durable: cast iron au gratin pans are in this price range. You can also find sets of four or more pans here.
A. That depends on the pan. Some ceramic pans are glazed, which helps keep food from sticking. Some stainless steel pans are also designed with a stick-resistant surface. And while uncommon, some au gratin pans have a nonstick interior like that found in other types of nonstick cookware. Regardless of the surface, your best strategy to limit sticking is to prep the interior of the pan by greasing it with butter or oil.
A. Most of these pans can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher, but definitely check the manufacturer’s care instructions before you clean the pan for the first time. If the manufacturer recommends that you clean the pan by hand, you’ll have a much easier time of it if you first soak the pan in warm water to loosen any cooked-on food.
A. Au gratin pans traditionally do not include a lid, but you might be able to find one that does. For foods that are cooked au gratin style, you want the liquids to evaporate, which helps to create that classic crust that distinguishes these foods. Covering the pan would keep the liquids from cooking off.