Casserole dishes are great for a number of different dishes but can be a little limiting when cooking certain foods or even for cooking meals faster.
If for some reason you are looking to make a meal quicker, faster or even more efficiently you might be looking for casserole dish alternatives. These range from a number of appliances that are either similar or even have very similar settings and can be easily adaptable for casserole style cooking.
In this article, I am going to look at what a casserole dish does, what you can use a casserole dish for, and the best casserole dish alternatives.
What Is A Casserole Dish?
Casseroles are always a great option for a dish to have for family dinner, bring to an event, or even give a friend or family member in need of a home-cooked meal. Not everyone has a ton of storage space for all kinds of dishes and cooking containers, though. So, should you buy a new casserole dish or use something that you already have at home?
A casserole dish is a type of dish in which a casserole is cooked and served. Casserole dishes come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different types of casseroles and portion sizes. Generally, though, casserole dishes have the following characteristics:
- They are either glass, stoneware, or ceramic
- They are safe to put in the oven
- They are at least an inch or two deep, sometimes even deeper
These common characteristics of casserole dishes allow for the person making the meal to assemble and fit all of the ingredients in layers in the dish and then place it in the oven for cooking.
They also allow for multiple layers of different ingredients to be assembled on top of each other for great flavor and texture combinations.
Casserole dishes are a great addition to any kitchen. They allow you to cook a simple meal with minimal effort and cleanup. Casseroles are also a great dish to make ahead of time and freeze for later. Casseroles are perfect dinners for busy families or people who need a simple meal every once in a while.
What Can You Use a Casserole Dish For?
Generally speaking, casserole dishes are used for making casseroles, and these types of meals are usually an all-in-one option for dinner.
The beauty of a casserole is that they are so easy to throw in the oven and have a perfect dinner a little while later. Casseroles are more passive, instead of active, to cook. Because of this, you usually do not have side dishes because all of the nutrients for the meal can be found in the casserole.
If you don’t want to make casseroles, you could use your casserole dishes for other purposes too. Since they are safe to go in the oven, casserole dishes can double as baking dishes. Throw some brownie or cake mix in a casserole dish, and no one would know the difference.
Deeper, bowl-sized casserole dishes could also be used to serve other types of food like salad or a vegetable side. These dishes generally look nice, and some even have beautiful patterns on them. Use casserole dishes to level up your dining table by serving side dishes in them.
7 Casserole Dish Alternatives
If you are looking for something a little bit more versatile than a casserole dish, then there are several kitchen dishes that have another use but can easily double as a casserole dish.
Each of these casserole dish alternatives can be used either in the oven to cook the casserole in the traditional way or have another option for how to cook your casserole.
If you already have any of these in your kitchen, then there is no need to go out and buy a new casserole dish.
1. Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is one of the best pieces of cookware that you can have in your kitchen because of its versatility. It can be used as a:
- Regular skillet to make eggs or sauté vegetables
- Baking dish for desserts
- Makeshift grill to cook a perfect steak by searing the outside and baking it in the oven to cook it all the way through
Since the cast iron can be used on the stovetop and the oven, it is a great alternative to a casserole dish. This is a great option, especially for people who lack space in their kitchen for new dishes. You can easily get away with using one cast iron skillet for all of your:
- Casserole dishes
- Baking needs
Lastly, cast iron skillets are great because of their “seasoning.” The “seasoning” on a cast iron skillet is the layer of oil that is left on the skillet after each use. Once you are done cleaning the skillet, you are supposed to coat it with a thin layer of oil to protect it and maintain the non-stick attribute of the pan.
The longer you have your cast iron, and the more you cook with it, the more seasoned it will become, and your food will turn out better with each use.
These days, many brands make cast iron skillets. Here are some of the best ones on the market:
- Lodge is a great brand for cast iron cookware that has been around for a while. This cast iron skillet is affordable and even comes with a silicone holder for when the handle gets hot in the oven.
- Utopia Kitchen is another affordable brand with great reviews. This set of pans is perfect for making casseroles or other dishes of different sizes.
2. Dutch Oven
A dutch oven is another great alternative to a casserole dish because of its versatility. Like the cast iron skillet, a dutch oven can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. The dutch oven’s major difference from a cast iron skillet is that it is the size of a large pot rather than a skillet.
Dutch ovens are mainly used for making soups and stews and can also be used for braising and frying meat. They are also popular for making bread like sourdough loaves.
Because of their depth, you can fit a lot of food in a dutch oven. You have the ability, with this dish, to make a huge casserole. If you are worried about everything cooking through properly, though, you could just fill it partially.
If you are in the market for a dutch oven, here are some great options to check out:
- Like cast iron skillets, Lodge makes dutch ovens as well. This dutch oven from Lodge is enameled cast iron and comes in a variety of colors.
- A more expensive option for a dutch oven would be this one from Le Creuset. While this option has a higher price tag, many people swear by the brand.
3. Baking Dish or Pan
Another alternative to a casserole dish could be a baking dish or baking pan. These range in material from metal to glass, and they are definitely safe to be used in the oven. While these types of dishes are traditionally used to make baked goods, they can easily be used to make casseroles.
One thing to watch out for when using a baking dish for casseroles is that oftentimes a baking dish will be shallower than a traditional casserole dish. You might not be able to fit as much food in a baking dish as you would a regular casserole dish.
If you are in a pinch, though, a baking dish will work perfectly.
Some great options for baking pans include:
- These are rectangular ceramic baking dishes and are versatile and great for casseroles or desserts.
- These round aluminum cake pans can also be used for casseroles. Their versatility and affordability make these a great option!
4. Instant Pot
Instant pots are quickly becoming a favorite kitchen appliance for many people. These machines are usually used for cooking food very quickly. The instant pot is a versatile pressure cooker that can make perfect beans or rice, or other food in minutes with minimal hassle.
You might not have realized this, but the instant pot can be used to cook casseroles as well as other foods. You can simply layer the ingredients and seasonings in the pot and set them to cook.
In fact, some online recipes will tell you the exact temperature and time to cook a specific casserole in the instant pot.
If you use an instant pot to make casseroles, you don’t need to buy a special casserole dish, as you will just cook the meal in the pot that comes with the instant pot.
You can check out this link to buy an instant pot. There are a few options to consider for size and cooking modes, but any device by this brand will get the job done.
5. Slow Cooker
Another kitchen appliance that you might not have thought of for casseroles is the slow cooker or crockpot. These appliances, unlike the instant pot, are used for cooking things slowly over several hours. Many recipes require you to put the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning to let them cook all day.
To make casseroles in the slow cooker, you can simply layer the ingredients in the appliance several hours before you want to eat and then let it slowly cook. Like with the instant pot, many recipes will give you the details of how to cook their casserole in a slow cooker.
With this option, you do not need to purchase a separate casserole dish. You can simply use the container that comes with the crockpot. This is a great option if you already have a slow cooker and don’t have space for additional dishes.
The Crock Pot is the original slow cooker, is an affordable option, and is a reputable brand. Compare it to this slow cooker by Hamilton Beach to find out which is best for you.
6. Air Fryer
An air fryer is another great alternative to a casserole dish. These appliances have become widely popular because of how easy it is to use them for a variety of types of dishes and how quickly you can use them to make a delicious meal.
It might not be the most intuitive way to use an air fryer, but making a casserole using one is possible. Many air fryers have some kind of basket inside where you place the food that you will be cooking. This basket typically has holes in it so that the hot air can surround the food and cook it evenly on all sides.
Casseroles usually have a fair amount of liquid in them to keep all of the ingredients together. This means that you won’t be able to make a casserole in an air fryer unless you take care of the holes in the basket. Thankfully, you can easily turn your air fryer into a casserole-maker by lining the air frying basket with aluminum foil.
Once you have a sealed basket, you can layer your ingredients in, then cook the casserole in the air fryer. This technique does require some workarounds and might not be the easiest alternative to a casserole dish. However, it is possible and will work in a pinch.
Air fryers are the latest craze in kitchen appliances, and there are a lot of options out there if you are shopping for one. Here are some of the best air fryers on the market right now:
- This simple air fryer from Amazon Basics is affordable and easy to use. Simply set the temperature and the timer to make a great casserole or another dish.
- This COSORI air fryer is a bit more expensive than the Amazon Basics one, but it has many more settings to cook different dishes.
- This Cuisinart Air Fryer is also a toaster oven, with settings for toasting, baking, and air frying. This option is the most expensive of the three but is also the most versatile.
7. Disposable Aluminum Containers
Our last alternative to a casserole dish is a disposable aluminum container. You can find these at any grocery store. They are usually cheap and easy to find. These containers are safe to go in the oven, so you would make a casserole in this type of container as you would with a regular casserole dish.
This option is not great for the environment, so we don’t recommend using this type of dish for your casseroles if you plan to make casseroles at home frequently. These are perfect in certain situations, especially if you don’t expect to have your dish returned.
These disposable dishes are great if you take a dish to an outdoor gathering, where it would be safer to bring a non-breakable container.
They are also perfect for if you are making a meal for a family member or friend going through a hard time. The person you are making the meal for won’t have to worry about cleaning up after the meal or returning the dish to you.
If you are looking to make casseroles for family and friends and don’t want to worry about getting your dishes back, try these disposable pans.
What Are The Best Casserole Brands On The Market?
Now that you have learned about the variety and possibilities of casserole dish alternatives, you might have decided that you prefer to stick with the original and are in the market for a new casserole dish.
Casserole dishes come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and depths. Consider how you plan to use the casserole dish before you decide which one or ones to purchase.
- Will you be making casseroles often as the main dish? You might want a large size dish to feed the whole family.
- Will you be making casseroles as side dishes, like green bean or corn casserole? You might want a smaller casserole dish.
- Will you be serving a mix of both? You might want to purchase a set of casserole dishes that comes in multiple sizes.
CorningWare is the original casserole dish brand. CorningWare casserole dishes come in a variety of colors and patterns, but their classic dishes are white with clear glass lids. This dish is a classic CorningWare casserole dish. It is deep so that it can hold many layers of casserole. It is also large enough to hold a dinner dish for the entire family.
If you decide that you want a few different sizes of casserole dishes, then maybe this CorningWare set will work for you. This comes with six dishes of varying sizes and multiple lids. Having multiple size options to choose from is great in case you want to make one casserole as the main entree one night, but another time you want to make a casserole as a side dish on a holiday.
CorningWare casserole dishes were first made in 1958 and are quality casserole dishes. Be on the lookout for this brand at thrift stores because it is likely you will be able to find a high-quality casserole dish from this brand for just a few dollars.
Le Creuset is a French dish-making company. While they make a variety of types of dishes, one of their specialties is casserole dishes. Le Creuset dishes are made of stoneware instead of glass or ceramic, so they stay warm for a very long time, even once they are out of the oven.
Le Creuset has casserole dishes in multiple sizes and shapes. This one is more rectangular, while this one is more square and deep. Each can be used to make the same casserole with different dimensions. They can also easily be used to bake bread or dessert.
Pyrex dishes are probably the most versatile on this list of casserole dish brands. Pyrex makes glass baking dishes that can be used for a variety of dishes, including casseroles. This is a basic Pyrex dish and has the look of most of their casserole dishes.
Like some of the other brands we have discussed, Pyrex also offers a multipack of dishes that comes with two different sizes of baking dishes in addition to two glass storage containers. All of these dishes are safe to go in the oven, so they can all be used to make casseroles or to bake any type of dish.