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December/January 2018

Ramekins

Ramekins have had the same classic shape for centuries. But is traditional best?

How We Tested

Though they might not seem like essential kitchen equipment, ramekins—small round baking dishes—are surprisingly versatile. They’re perfect for individually portioned soups, desserts, pies, and soufflés; for serving nuts, dips, and small snacks; and even as a stand-in for a mini prep bowl or a salt cellar. Though the straight-sided fluted white dish is still de rigueur, ramekins now come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials.

We tested eight ramekins priced from $1.98 to $16.00 per ramekin. We bought enough to assemble a set of eight of each ramekin—the maximum number we usually call for in recipes. We focused on ramekins that could hold 6 ounces, which appeared to be the most widely available size and is the one we call for most often in recipes. We used them to make chilled summer berry puddings, sticky crème caramels that we baked in a low-temperature water bath, delicate chocolate soufflés, and quick-cooking baked eggs. We evaluated the food as it was meant to be served: unmolded for puddings and crème caramels and in the ramekins for soufflés and baked eggs.

Measuring Ramekin Capacity

Preliminary capacity tests revealed that each manufacturer was using a different benchmark for its advertised capacity—likely so that a little headroom remained after filling. To standardize, we measured and reported the capacity of each ramekin when it was filled to the brim, which we found was the most accurate way to compare how much they could hold.

Using this method, the ramekins’ true capacities ranged from 6 to 8 ounces—slightly larger than their advertised capacities. Surprisingly, ramekins that were a true 6 ounces struggled to hold all the filling for our recipes. Their smaller stature also turned out puddings and crème caramels that looked squashed and squat. Ramekins with a true capacity of 7.5 or 8 ounces, however, easily held all the fillings with room to spare, and they produced the best-looking food: tall and crisp, with clean lines and distinct layers.

The Best Ramekin Is a Modified Take on a Classic Shape

The ramekins’ outisde rim-to-rim measurements ranged from 3.3 to 4.3 inches. Ramekins with flared sides or wide openings rattled and rubbed when we loaded six or eight of them into a baking dish to transport to the oven, as our recipes often call for. One model was too wide to fit even six ramekins into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish for baked eggs, so we had to lug out a roasting pan. Even then, they bumped and eventually chipped, and the food they produced was unattractively wide, squat, and flared.

Narrow ramekins fit easily in a baking dish and made food that was tall and pristine, but their small openings made them hard to fill. We preferred ramekins with classic straight sides and a width of about 3.7 inches; six of them fit comfortably in a baking dish, they were easy to fill, and they produced the most attractive food.

Our favorite ramekins were classically shaped, but one model offered an innovation we really liked: an inner ridge that allowed for stable stacking and storing.

Ceramic Bakes Better Than Glass

To really put the ramekins to the test, we made baked eggs, a temperamental recipe that calls for cooking the eggs for a short time in an extremely hot oven. Our goal was creamy cooked whites and runny yolks.

Most of the ramekins turned out acceptable eggs, with two exceptions: The eggs baked in both of the glass products were overcooked, with rock-hard yolks. Experts told us that glass and ceramic usually perform similarly, but we found that the ceramic models we tested were preferable to glass, at least in our baked eggs recipe.

We also discovered that the thicker and heavier the ceramic, the better. All the ceramic ramekins produced decent baked eggs—at least four of the six baked eggs we made in each set had creamy, runny yolks—but the heaviest and thickest models provided more insulation and gave us six perfectly cooked yolks.

Heavy, Thick Ramekins Bake Best

Our winning ramekin, the Le Creuset Stackable Ramekin, was the heaviest and the thickest of the bunch, weighing in at 10 ounces, with 0.3-inch-thick walls. Everything we cooked in these ramekins emerged from the oven pristine, pretty, and evenly baked. There were also some bonuses: The ramekins come in a variety of colors and were the only model that was truly stackable.

Unfortunately, at $16.00 per ramekin, they’re also the most expensive in our lineup. If you don’t mind monitoring cooking times a bit more closely and aren’t bothered by ramekins that don’t stack, our Best Buy, the Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Souffle, also makes pristine soufflés, puddings, and crème caramels at just $3.75 per ramekin.

Methodology

We tested eight ramekin models, priced from $1.98 to $16.00 per ramekin and advertised with capacities of about 6 ounces. We purchased enough of each model to make a set of eight ramekins and used each set to make full batches of our Individual Summer Berry Puddings, Chocolate Soufflés, Classic Crème Caramel, and Baked Eggs Florentine. We also baked New England Pork Pies in our winning and Best Buy models. Capacity, dimensions, and thickness were all measured in the test kitchen. Prices shown were paid online, and products appear in order of preference.

EASE OF USE: We evaluated how easy the ramekins were to fill; load into an oven, refrigerator, baking dish, or water bath; maneuver in a hot oven; and unmold. We awarded points to straight-sided ramekins with large openings, which were the easiest to handle, fill, fit into cooking vessels, and maneuver. We also gave an edge to models that stacked securely for safe and convenient storage.

COOKING: We examined the appearance and doneness of food cooked in each ramekin, awarding points for soufflés that rose tall, crème caramels that cooked evenly, and eggs that had set whites and runny yolks within the recipe’s stated time range.

DURABILITY: Since food is often served in ramekins, appearance matters. We noted any scratches or chips after each use and docked points accordingly. Our favorite products were still pristine after testing.

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The Results

Note: Cook's Country continuously updates our equipment reviews and taste tests. The written content below is the most up-to-date information available and may not match what appears in the video segment.

Key:
Good
Fair
Poor
Winning
Highly Recommended

Le Creuset Stackable Ramekin

Buy For $16
Purchased for $16.00 for 1 ramekin at time of testing

Le Creuset Stackable Ramekin

The heaviest, thickest ramekins in our lineup, these sturdy ceramic dishes didn’t slide around in a slippery baking dish and stayed perfectly still while we layered delicate berry pudding. Straight sides meant soufflés and puddings emerged picture-perfect, and thick walls provided gentle insulation, producing baked eggs with creamy whites and runny yolks. A bonus: They stack securely for easy storage.

More Details
Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
Purchased for $16.00 for 1 ramekin at time of testing
Best Buy
Recommended

Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Souffle (also sold as HIC Souffle Ramekin)

$22.52 for set of 6 ($3.75 per ramekin)

Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Souffle (also sold as HIC Souffle Ramekin)

Moderate heft and thick edges meant these ramekins provided slow, gentle heat for great results from trickier recipes such as soufflés and baked eggs. All but one of the six eggs we made in these dishes were perfectly creamy, and we got equally attractive results from crème caramels, soufflés, and puddings. Their wider openings were easy to fill, and they all fit into a baking dish. Unlike our winner, however, they don’t stack.

More Details
Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
$22.52 for set of 6 ($3.75 per ramekin)
Recommended

Emile Henry Ramekin, Set of 4

$36.00 for set of 4 ($9.00 per ramekin)

Emile Henry Ramekin, Set of 4

Though a bit smaller than our favorite model, these ramekins were roomy and wide enough to fill cleanly and maneuver easily. A few eggs overbaked in these thinner, lighter cups, but most of the yolks emerged creamy and runny. Smooth, straight edges produced tall soufflés and pristine puddings and crème caramels. Like our winner, these ramekins come in a range of colors.

More Details
Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
$36.00 for set of 4 ($9.00 per ramekin)

Emile Henry Ramekin #8, Set of 2

$15.99 for set of 2 ($8.00 per ramekin)

Emile Henry Ramekin #8, Set of 2

Though testers were initially skeptical of these narrower, cup-shaped ramekins, we quickly warmed to their large capacity, which provided plenty of headroom to grab the lip when rotating or moving them. They were a little tricky to fill cleanly, but their skinnier footprint meant the ramekins didn’t touch when we loaded them into a baking dish. However, a few testers noted that these lighter ramekins slid around a bit when we carried the baking dish to the oven. Unmolding puddings and crème caramels was effortless, soufflés were cooked perfectly, and eggs were mostly creamy.

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Durability
Ease of Use
$15.99 for set of 2 ($8.00 per ramekin)
Recommended with Reservations

BIA Cordon Bleu - Set of 12 - 3.25” 6 Ounce Porcelain Ramekins

$23.88 for set of 12 ($1.99 per ramekin)

BIA Cordon Bleu - Set of 12 - 3.25” 6 Ounce Porcelain Ramekins

A true 6 ounces when measured to capacity, these classic white ramekins felt a little cramped when compared with larger options. Still, eggs were perfectly cooked, soufflés were pristine and tall, and even the puddings were attractive (albeit a little dense). Some testers struggled to get a good grasp on these smaller dishes when maneuvering and unmolding, and their slightly smaller openings made filling them a bit messy.

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Durability
Ease of Use
$23.88 for set of 12 ($1.99 per ramekin)

Anchor Hocking 6-Ounce Custard Cups, Set of 4

$7.92 for set of 4 ($1.98 per ramekin)

Anchor Hocking 6-Ounce Custard Cups, Set of 4

These ramekins, which we named as the Best Buy product in our review of mini prep bowls, were surprisingly adept at lower-temperature recipes such as soufflés, crème caramels, and chilled berry tarts. Though their tulip shape gave finished food an unusual domed appearance, we liked that the clear glass allowed us to see if we had evenly sprayed and sugared the cooking surface. The company specifies not to use these ramekins in ovens hotter than 425 degrees, but we baked eggs at 500 degrees and found that the glass was undamaged, though the eggs were overdone.

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Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
$7.92 for set of 4 ($1.98 per ramekin)

Pyrex Custard Cups 6-oz 4-pc Set

$11.18 for set of 4 ($2.80 per ramekin)

Pyrex Custard Cups 6-oz 4-pc Set

These glass ramekins cooked all the food evenly except for baked eggs, which were all overcooked and rock hard. Filling and unmolding were a cinch, though the final food had a conical shape and slight pleats from the ramekins’ flared, decorative design. The glass helped us monitor the food as it cooked, though serving a soufflé in a clear, tulip-shaped dish seemed a little atypical.

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Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
$11.18 for set of 4 ($2.80 per ramekin)
Not Recommended

CorningWare French White 7-oz Ramekins (Set of 2)

$9.99 for set of 2 ($5.00 per ramekin)

CorningWare French White 7-oz Ramekins (Set of 2)

Resembling ashtrays more than ramekins, these wider dishes had a large footprint and flared sides that made it impossible to fit six of them into the 13 by 9-inch baking dish called for in our baking recipes. We had to lug out a roasting pan to fit all the recipe’s ramekins into one vessel, and even then the ramekins jostled, clashed, and eventually chipped. Soufflés and baked eggs were decently cooked, but berry puddings had a squat, messy appearance due to the ramekins’ unusual shape.

More Details
Cooking
Durability
Ease of Use
$9.99 for set of 2 ($5.00 per ramekin)