The ultimate comfort food creator, a robust casserole dish is a must-buy for lovers of one-pot recipes. We put cast iron and ceramic pans through their paces to bring you a review of the most durable, hardworking buys.
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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.
Le Creuset Signature 26cm shallow casserole
Best casserole dish for longevity
Best bits: attractive, good heat distribution and good range of shapes and sizes
For range of colours, shapes and sizes, Le Creuset can’t be beaten. It is expensive, but we can say from experience that its products stand the test of time, and the 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 occasions when a deep pan just won’t do – think creamy risottos, meatballs in tomato sauce or fish curries.
Le Creuset (£210)
Staub 24cm round cocotte
Most stylish casserole dish
Best bits: statement design and sleek cast iron finish
When this pan came into the BBC Good Food test kitchen, 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! After leaving onions to cook for a stew, we were pleasantly surprised by the aroma of caramelisation – the slow, even heat softened them so nicely that we were instantly sold. It may be a lot of money, but Staub does offer exceptional results.
BergHOFF Ron 28 x 22cm covered oval casserole
Best budget cast iron pan
Best bits: value for money
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 such as durability and even cooking, and is suitable for all types of hob and oven too. It didn’t feel quite as responsive as the others, but for the price it's an absolute winner.
Mason Cash Cane 2-litre casserole dish
Best casserole for traditionalists
Best bits: a reasonably priced pot for occasional casserole-makers
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 hob, so you’ll need to do onions, garlic and braising separately before assembling your casserole for the oven. Big enough to serve two to three people, we made a French-style sausage stew, and the flavours and liquid remained beautifully locked in for a truly moreish result. It's safe for use in the microwave too, unlike cast iron or metal.
What we looked for when testing casserole dishes
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.
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.
This review was last updated in October 2019. 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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