A robust casserole dish is a must for lovers of one-pot recipes. We put cast iron and ceramic pans to the test to bring you the best hob and oven pots.
A casserole that is suitable for hob and oven and is attractive enough for serving at the table maximises practicality and minimises washing-up.
Cast iron may seem like an expensive option, but a dish that’ll last for decades is an investment worth making. As for other materials, we found non-stick metal or ceramic casseroles offered unique points and were more budget-friendly.
What size casserole dish do you need?
To help you choose the right dish for your household, BBC Good Food recipe expert Anna Glover suggests which casserole dishes to buy for couples and families.
Best casserole dish size for a couple: 20cm/2.4 litre round casserole dish
Best casserole dish size for a family of four: 24cm/4.2 litre round casserole dish
Larger casserole dishes are also available and will allow you to feed upwards of four people or have leftovers for popping in the fridge.
The best casserole dishes for hob and oven
Best lightweight casserole dish
Pros: super lightweight, large capacity
Cons: oven-safe up to 200C
At a glance the MasterClass dish looks like a cast-iron casserole pot. Pick it up and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how lightweight it actually is.
It’s a deep one, so we recommend trying it between your oven shelves in a cold oven, just in case you need to rearrange them for cooking.
There was no sticking when it came to browning chicken legs on its non-stick base, which heated quickly and evenly. It’s also PFOA- and BOA-free; a good option for chemical-free cooking.
The dish has a self-basting lid which successfully kept moisture circulating within a casserole, which came out tender and thick.
It’s safe for oven use up to 200C, so there are limitations to the functionality of this dish when it comes to using in very hot ovens; it’s one for low and slow cooking.
However, being so lightweight and dishwasher-safe, it gets points for overall convenience. It also comes with a 25 year guarantee.
Staub 2.2-litre cast-iron Cocotte
Best casserole pot for aesthetic
Pros: lovely design
Cons: small capacity for the price tag
The Staub Cocotte is a statement, showpiece casserole dish, almost as delicious to stare at as the meals you can make within it. If you have money to spend on a classic casserole pot, the Staub is a small but perfectly formed option designed to last.
At 24cm across, the dish is roughly the same width as any generic pan and compact enough to stack in the average cupboard.
We fitted four chicken thighs in against its matte black cooking surface and found there to be some initial sticking whilst we seared the skin, even with a layer of oil. However, over time the dish is designed to build up a natural non-stick patina and has a legacy of long-term performance.
Cast iron holds and distributes heat evenly across its surface. With such high sides we found our casserole simmered well.
Small picots beneath its lid guide all condensed moisture back into the casserole itself. Plus although its little handles are not heatproof, they are a practical shape for gripping, and come in handy for lifting it in and out the oven.
Samuel Groves 27cm oval cast-iron casserole dish
Best large casserole dish
Pros: would feed eight from one pot
Cons: heavy when empty, very heavy when full
This Samuel Groves cast-iron casserole dish is vast – allowing you to cook for up to eight people at a time.
Not only is the oval design conducive to cooking whole joints of meat on the bone or an extra large chicken, you could also make loaves of bread inside it.
Being 27cm across at its widest point, it will still fit in a standard oven. The lid is tight fitting thanks to its sheer weight, so bread like sourdough, which initially needs steam trapped inside to stop a crust forming too early, would fare well being cooked inside here.
With a small amount of oil we didn’t see any sticking when browning meat or frying garlic. With the right care, you can prevent the marking which sometimes builds on light coloured casserole dishes.
Enamelled cast iron gives you longevity and would likely stand the test of time. We’d recommend making space for storing this dish in the bottom of a floor cupboard, as it’s very heavy.
Le Creuset signature 26cm shallow casserole dish
Best cast-iron casserole dish
Pros: attractive, good heat distribution and good range of shapes and sizes
Cons: you pay premium for the Le Creuset brand
For range of colours, shapes and sizes, Le Creuset’s cast-iron pans and dishes can’t be beaten. This dish is expensive, but we can say from experience that the brand’s products stand the test of time and the cooking results are excellent.
With efficient heat distribution, these pans don’t need much oil compared to other cast-iron brands and build up a natural patina with prolonged use that helps with non-stick.
We chose this shallow pan for occasions when a deep pan just won’t do – think creamy risottos, meatballs in tomato sauce or fish curries. It’s about surface area, not depth, and would also be a great option for pilaf rice, gratins and roasting whole chickens.
Big enough to cook for six, this is the kind of casserole dish you get excited about bringing to the table, plus it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
M&S 5-litre cast-aluminium casserole dish
Best casserole dish for easy batch cooking
Pros: practical handles for easy lifting
Cons: loose fitting lid
If, like us, you love batch cooking or catering for a full table, this 5-litre cast-aluminium casserole dish by M&S is a functional option.
We particularly love the price. For under £50, this is a lightweight alternative to the traditional cast-iron options which can become overwhelmingly heavy when full. Its two broad handles are a practical size and easy to grip for lifting in and out of the oven. Safe up to 240C, it copes well in hot ovens.
It has a large, practical base which heated quickly on an induction hob. Eight chicken breasts can be browned evenly across its non-stick surface at one time – we didn’t see any evidence of sticking.
The lid to this dish sits flat, so once on, it doesn’t add to the pan’s overall height – good for smaller ovens. The seal is relatively loose, so we’d recommend filling only two thirds full to avoid any liquid bubbling over.
When it came to cleaning, we were able to wipe all residue away with a damp cloth before giving it a quick wash with hot soapy water. It can also go in the dishwasher.
GreenPan 5.3-litre Featherweight
Best chemical-free casserole dish
Pros: PFA, PFOA, lead and cadmium free casserole dish
If chemical-free cooking is a deciding factor for you, the GreenPan Featherweight is a high performing, non-toxic alternative to a traditional non-stick casserole pot.
It’s big. The 5.3-litre capacity can comfortably feed eight hungry mouths in one go. You can sear 12 chicken breasts at a time without fear of them sticking.
As the name suggests, it’s lightweight. Despite its size and traditional dark cast-iron design, it weighs less than a normal frying pan when empty – so, no problems lifting when it’s full.
Two custom silicone covers slip snugly onto the dish’s handles, although if you’re sliding the pan between two oven trays, we’d recommend using oven gloves for added hand and wrist protection from any hot metal.
We were also impressed with the snug fit of the casserole dish’s lid, which would’t slide off even if knocked or jolted in busy kitchens.
A drawback could be the dish’s price. At over £100, you don’t get the ‘lifetime durability’ of a cast-iron pot. But taking into account its non-toxic properties, the GreenPan is a great performing casserole dish.
VonShef 3.8-litre cast-iron casserole dish
Best budget casserole dish
Pros: durable cast-iron construction
Cons: small size limits how much you can cook at one time
Similar to the Staub, this is a small and weighty addition to the pan cupboard – but with a more contemporary design and feel. Both share cast-iron construction that holds and spreads heat notoriously efficiently.
High sides give this dish good depth and counteracts its small footprint, being just 25cm in width. Arguably, one of the main differences between these dishes is the price. The VonShef is under £40 and for that, you’re getting a durable dish for life.
It’s not the largest casserole dish but you would get four meals out of its capacity – a great option for individuals or couples wanting a cost-efficient casserole dish for hob and oven.
Best casserole dish recipes for couples and families
BBC Good Food cookery expert, Anna Glover shares her top tips and favourite casserole dish recipes for making at home.
Casserole recipes for two
Top tip: You can make a batch of something in a casserole dish and portion it out for the freezer. Slow cooks and braises are often sometimes a little more time-consuming, so making 4-6 portions can future-proof your freezer. Sometimes you just want something for two – here are some of our favourite recipes for two that you can make in a casserole.
This is a great dinner for two. Browned sausages are nestled in a tomato and bean sauce. A casserole pan is perfect for this recipe – it needs to be covered for part of the cooking time, making the tomatoes to break down into a rich sauce that coats the sausages.
Simple fish stew
A simple fish stew is always best served fresh – here everything cooks together in a casserole so the fish gets an even heat throughout cooking to turn deliciously flaky and tender.
The thick base of a casserole dish means you can caramelise onions evenly without burning, perfect for this easy caponata stew, where aubergine and onions are cooked until golden, then simmered in a tomato sauce with plenty of basil and punchy capers.
Lamb and apricot stew
This lamb stew is fragrant with Middle Eastern spices, studded with sweet apricots, and packed with tender lamb that’s been browned before being added back to the pan. A casserole is great for caramelising and searing chunks of meat. All that meaty flavour isn’t lost in the pan, too, as it get picked up in the sauce without burning onto the bottom of the pan which gives the sauce a distinct bitterness.
Lemongrass beef stew with noodles
Slow-cooked beef is perfect for a casserole dish – this recipe uses lemongrass, chillies, five spice and soy to flavour the beef, which is cooked with the lid on for over an hour on a low heat until fall-apart-tender.
Casserole recipes for families of four
Tomato and harissa stew with dumplings
Stew and dumplings are great in a casserole dish as you can transfer them from hob to oven without having to swap dishes. Try this spiced veggie stew with cheesy dumplings.
One-pot chicken casserole
One-pot dinners are made so easy with a casserole, as you can fry, then slow-cook, or simmer. Try this spring chicken stew with carrots, mustard and plenty of herbs.
Mexican chicken stew
‘Pulled’ chicken in a rich, spiced sauce will become a family favourite. The chicken thighs are simmered in the sauce before being shredded. A casserole dish is great for this as there’s even heat through the base, which helps the chicken cooks evenly.
Chicken & chorizo jambalaya
Rice dishes are great in casseroles as the even heat and sturdy lid help the rice cooks perfectly, and evenly, with no risk of the grains on the bottom of the pan burning or catching. Try this Cajun-inspired recipe or a pilaf, instead.
Simple seafood chowder
A simple seafood chowder is made a little more special in a casserole as onions and bacon are cooked until crisp, then the fish and creamy sauce is cooked gently so the seafood lightly poaches, and the cream doesn’t split.
How we tested casserole dishes
We reviewed a representative range of casserole pots and scored them against the following critera:
Durability: a casserole that could stand a certain amount of wear and tear.
Versatility: we wanted a pan that ticked at least three of the following boxes – suitable for all hob types, the oven, serving, the dishwasher and/or the microwave.
Depth: having a pot that’s deep enough to submerge chunky ingredients in like whole chickens gives you flexibility over what you can cook.
Surface area: when it comes to browning ingredients like chicken thighs, a large surface area enables you to do so evenly.
Good heat distribution: the key to teasing out a richness of flavour from ingredients.
Looks: casseroles are for sharing so get a dish you’re proud to bring to the table.
Well-sealed: we wanted all the flavours and moisture to remain firmly intact.
Heat: the hotter the dish can handle, the better.
This review was last updated in June 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
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