The ultimate comfort food creator, a robust casserole dish is a must for every kitchen. We put pots through their paces to bring you a review of the most durable, hard-working, heart-warming five on the market.
Best…for longevity and choice
Best bits: Attractive aesthetic, good heat distribution and good range of shapes and sizes.
Comments: For range of colour, shape and size, Le Creuset can’t be beaten. They’re expensive but we can say from experience that their products stand the test of time and cooking results are excellent. With fantastic heat distribution, these pans don’t need much oil compared to some cast iron brands and ingredients rarely stick. We chose this shallow pan, for the occasions when a deep pan just won’t do – think creamy risottos, meatballs in rich tomato sauce, fish curry…
Buy from Le Creuset
Staub 24cm round cocotte
Best bits: Statement design and sleek cast iron finish.
Comments: When this pan landed with the BBC Good Food test team we were blown away by its appearance. If it didn’t cook so well, we’d put it in a display cabinet and gawp at it all day! Leaving onions to sweat for a stew, we were pleasantly surprised by the aroma of caramelisation - the slow, even heat coaxing them into such a state of voluptuousness that we were instantly sold. It may be a lot of money but Staub does offer exceptional results.
Buy from Zwilling
Best… budget cast iron
Best bits: Value for money
Comments: If you’re after cast iron but Staub and Le Creuset are out of your price range then this is a good alternative. It offers all the key features of cast iron: durability, even cooking, and is suitable for all types of hob and oven too. It didn’t feel quite as responsive as the other two but for the price it's an absolute winner.
Buy from Very
Best for…safe and easy handling
Circulon Symmetry 26cm hard anodised casserole
Best bits: Easy maneuverability, handy grips and good cooking environment.
Comments: Cast iron can be extremely heavy, making it unmanageable for some. We loved the practicality of the Circulon pan. Not only is it lightweight, even when filled with a hearty casserole, it also has grips on the top and side handles, reducing the chance of slippage or burning. You don’t get the same richness as you do from a cast iron cook but it still produces good results, has a generous capacity and seals in moisture well.
Buy from Circulon
Mason Cash Cane 2 litre casserole dish
Best bits: A reasonably priced pot for occasional casserole-makers.
Comments: Although we tend to prefer hob-to-table casseroles, we appreciate the old-fashioned virtues of a ceramic serving dish. This diminutive casserole is not suitable for the stove-top so you’ll need to do onions, garlic and meat-browning separately before assembling your casserole for the oven. Big enough for 2-3 people, we made a French-style sausage stew with flavours and liquid remaining beautifully locked in to create truly moreish results. It goes in the microwave too, unlike cast iron or metal.
Buy from Very
What should I buy?
A casserole that is suitable for hob, oven and attractive enough for the table maximises on practicality and minimises on washing up. Cast iron may seem like an expensive option but a dish that’ll last for decades is an investment worth making. From the other materials, we found non-stick metal or ceramic casseroles both offered unique plus points and were more budget-friendly.
What we looked for
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 hobs types, oven, serving, dishwasher, microwave.
Good heat distribution: The key to teasing out a richness of flavour from ingredients.
Well sealed: We wanted all the flavours and moisture to remain firmly intact.
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This review was last updated in October 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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