A gratin is a baked dish with a slightly carmelized top. There are a wide variety of Gratin recipes such as scalloped potato or even berry cobbler. All of which needs a Au Gratin Dish or Pan that is compatible with the broiler. Using plate that are incompatible can cause it to crack. There are a wide variety of choices you can make, the most popular French models are the Oval Design. You can find it in ceramic, cast iron and even stainless steel. The Best Gratin Dish should be able to go from oven to table. At the same time, it should keep food hot through service.
What is a Gratin Dish?
A Gratin Dish is any pan that can be used in a Oven and Broiler to bake and caramelize food. The most important feature is to be able withstand the heat of a Salamander/Broiler. One of the most popular Gratin Dish or Pan is made with Copper or Cast Iron. However, thanks to Le Creuset, ceramic variety are incredibly popular.
As stated before, Gratin Pans are usually oval. However, a lot of people use roasting pans as substitute. They can be come in either large family style pan or as individual portion pan.
Copper Au Gratin Pans are considered to be the best performing models. They usually use a thinner gauge so that heat can permeate quickly throughout the dish. In the past, Copper with Tin was a popular choice. However today, you will most often find it with Copper and Stainless Steel. These models are usually made in either Italy or France. The downside to these pan is that they are incredibly expensive.
Cast Iron and Enamel Cast Iron is another popular choice. Both Le Creuset and Staub makes very good version of these pans. I would say that they are the next best choice after copper. They are great for baking and the heavy construction will keep it hot. They are the best if you intend to bake then serve in the same pan. You will usually find them in a wide range of colors.
Ceramic and Glass Variety are slightly cheaper than cast iron. They retain heat well and usually comes in a good selection of color. However, these version of the Au Gratin Dish tend to be fragile. They can and will break upon impact. If you are not careful and subject to wide temperature shift, you can shatter it. For example, when you just take out of the oven and place it on the cool table. Don’t be suprised if it suddenly crack. This phenomenon is known as thermal shock.
Best Au Gratin Dish and Pan List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Au Gratin Pan on the market. They come in a wide variety of configuration, choose one that best suits you.
Mauviel M’Heritage M’150B Copper Oval Pan, 17.7″ Bronze Handle (Best Performing Model)
For fast and even heat, nothing beats a simple copper and stainless steel construction. They brown food with ease and will bake it uniformly. This gratin pan by Mauviel is your classic french gratin pan. It uses brass handle with a simple oval shape. However, there are issues with this design. Since it conducts heat so well, it also cools fast. For this reason, its best if you only want to get the most even baking experience.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Baker (Best Overall)
For a perfect oven to table Au Gratin Dish, nothing beat Le Creuset. This model uses a Enamel Cast Iron construction for durability and performance. It will keep food hot long after it gets removed from the oven. It also boast the beautiful range that Le Creuset has. Best of all, its quite affordable for Le Creuset.
Le Creuset Stoneware Heritage Oval Au Gratin, 24 oz. (8″), Marseille (Best Individual Au Gratin Dish)
If your goal is to just serve individual dishes, this ceramic model is a good choice. It uses stoneware construction so its great for retaining heat. However, I caution that you place a towel or mat on the table. It can suddenly crack due to thermal shock. Other than that, its cute and great to serve food in.
All-Clad 59900 Stainless Steel 7-Inch Oval-Shaped Baker Specialty Cookware Set (Best Stainless Steel for Single Serve)
If you dont want to deal with the fragility of ceramic. Then Stainless Steel is a good choice. While it doesnt have the warm look of Ceramic, it wont crack on you. Another thing to consider is that it will cool down faster as well. If you plan on serving, I recommend you do so right after it comes out of the oven.
There are a wide variety of Au Gratin Dish. They range from Copper to Stainless Steel. All have their properties. For straight performance, you cant beat copper. They conduct heat fast and brown food like no other. However, they also cool fast. This means that its bad for serving. However, if you want to both brown and serve, then the color option by Le Creuset cant be beaten. The Heavy Cast Iron construction will keep it cool as well. For individual serving gratin dish, you have your choice of stainless steel or ceramic. There are some cast iron model by Le Creuset, but those are getting harder to find.
Want to know more about our winning Au Gratin Dish. Check out our review on Le Creuset Au Gratin Pan.