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For many newer home cooks, soufflés are the ultimate aspirational recipe. That’s because the versatile dish, which can be savory or sweet, hits on so many foundational techniques that it’s an ideal teaching tool. “Plus, it looks intimidating, but it’s easy,” says chef Kathy Gold, owner of In The Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield, NJ. But to make them, of course, you need the right cookware. To rise properly, soufflés need a heavy, straight-sided vessel with a fluted rim.
Uses for these small dishes, also sometimes called ramekins, go far beyond the eggy French classic. “They’re perfect for any time you want to construct a charcuterie board or cheese board,” says Gold. Use them for your olives, nuts, or honey. You’ll also probably need them if you are interested in molten chocolate cakes. And if you like to measure all your ingredients before you start cooking, these are the perfect little dishes for that mise en place action. Ahead, the best soufflé dishes and ramekins on the market.
Best Overall: Le Creuset Stackable Ramekin
These ramekins from French favorite Le Creuset (famous for its Dutch ovens) are plainly gorgeous, but their beauty is more than skin deep. They’re made from high-fired stoneware. The walls and bottoms are thicker and heavier than most. That means whatever you make in them will be much more evenly cooked.
Even baked eggs, which can be tricky to nail perfectly in other ramekins or soufflé dishes, will be just right, with set, tender whites and thick-but-still-runny yolks. Your soufflés will be uniformly baked with a symmetrical rise. The finish is completely nonporous enamel and resists any staining, chipping, cracking, or odors. These dishes stack neatly for easy storage, and they’re dishwasher and oven safe up to 500 degrees. Their only drawback is the cost--they’re much more expensive than the alternatives. But if you’re serious about soufflés, and eggs in particular, it may be worth investing in the highest possible quality.
Gold suggests buying six or eight ramekins to get you started–most recipes call for that many.
Best Budget: Prepworks by Progressive Porcelain Stacking Ramekins
These ramekins are not only the best budget pick, but they’re also among the most classic options out there. The straight, ridged sides and fluted rim are a staple in professional restaurants and catering kitchens for a reason: They get the job done. They come six to a set, and you're sure to find yourself reaching for them in all kinds of situations that show off how versatile this cookware can be.
They can easily double as a serving dish for olives or nuts. Want to set up a neat chef-style mise en place, where you prep everything you’ll need for a recipe before you start cooking? These are a great tool for that job, too. The bright white color is timeless and stylish. The dishes are glazed for a completely smooth surface, which eases the release of baked goods and makes cleaning a breeze. They’re also oven, dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe.
Best Design: Delling Geometric 8-Ounce Porcelain Ramekins
The eye-catching pattern on these dishes makes them perfect for going from the oven to the table. Made from thick, ultra-sturdy bone china, these ramekins do well in recipes where even heat is a must. The thickness also helps protect them and make them more durable than average. These are thermostable, which means they go beyond oven safe. The manufacturer says they’re safe up to 1,400 degrees. (Note: Most home ovens top out at 500 or 550 degrees, max.)
Because they are so pretty and large enough to work for many types of dishes, you’ll likely find yourself using them to serve soups, salads, and desserts at your dinner parties as well as reaching for them for more everyday meals like your morning bowl of cereal and bananas. Of course, they’re also dishwasher and microwave safe.
You’ll see silicone soufflé dishes and ramekins out there—Gold doesn’t recommend them. “Soufflés just don’t seem to rise as evenly or high in silicone,” says Gold.
Best Nesting: Judy Jackson Stoneware Oval Nesting Ramekins
Nesting ramekins are genius—you get a range of sizes to meet all your baking needs, and they fit snugly together for compact storage. These eye-catching dishes are the best of the bunch. Made by hand in Long Island City, New York, they are oxidation-fired, a process that makes them uncommonly durable. The finish is mostly smooth, but you will find a somewhat rustic edge that shows off the fact that it is a hand-crafted piece with individual character.
One caveat: You should know that these ramekins are only oven safe if you place them in a cold oven and let them slowly come to temperature, a process that isn’t compatible with recipes that call for you to place your dish in a preheated oven. For the style-conscious and space-limited person, though, this set of artisan dishes is perfect for all your soufflé, coddled egg, and crème brûlée needs.
Best Set: Emile Henry Ramekin
This set of two ramekins will make a special addition to your cookware collection. Made in France from high-fired Burgundy clay, the manufacturing process yields a ramekin that’s remarkably tough even against sharp changes in temperature. You’re safe moving these directly from the freezer into a hot oven. The high-gloss glaze is ultra-tough, resisting chips, scratches, and stains, so even though these ramekins are on the pricey side, they are a good bet for everyday use.
They are heavy with excellent heat retention, yielding soufflés as evenly baked and tall as the Le Creuset version. They’re also a good choice for those fussy and easy-to-overcook baked or coddled eggs. The heat retention also means dishes will stay hot on the table longer. A range of possible colors means you’ll be able to find something that matches your decor. These are dishwasher safe and come with a 10-year warranty.
Best Stacking: Sweese Porcelain Souffle Dishes
These classic souffle dishes stack neatly for convenient storage. At 8 ounces, they are a little bigger than most, but the extra capacity makes them more versatile, too. The precisely-designed fluted edge is what makes them securely stackable. Some similar designs aren’t manufactured with the same precision, which can leave you with a wobbly stack of dishes you hoped would be more secure.
You can use these for single-serving chicken pot pies or French onion soup, for example. (If you’re making a rich dessert, like crème brûlée, you can also simply fill the dish only one-third or halfway so it’s not too much.) The smooth glazed porcelain is durable, attractive, and easy to clean. It’s also extra sturdy and chip resistant. Like all ramekins, they work equally well as small serving or prep bowls. Note: They’re oven safe up to 400 degrees only.
Best Mini: DOWAN 4-Ounce Ramekins
Sometimes only a tiny ramekin will do, especially when it comes to the decadent desserts these little dishes are so ideal for. A portion of rich chocolate mousse can seem a bit scant in a bigger vessel, such as a 6- or 8-ounce ramekin, but in these right-sized dishes, they feel more abundant without bringing on bellyaches from too much dessert.
A crème brûlée served in a dish like this clocks in at a totally reasonable 145 calories. And if portion control is a concern, these little dishes can help you keep all your snacks smaller in size. You could use these to serve cheese, nuts, and olives. The classic style makes an elegant presentation on the table or cheese board. These aren’t an ideal choice for your first ramekins or soufflé dishes—you’ll want something with a bit more capacity for that—but if you find yourself getting frequent use out of a 6-ounce or 8-ounce ramekin, you’ll probably love having these around, too.
If you’re looking for the very best ramekin and are willing to invest, go with the Le Creuset Stackable Ramekin. On a budget? The Prepworks by Progressive Porcelain Stacking Ramekins won’t let you down.
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Joy Manning is a food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post. She’s the author of Almost Meatless and Stuff Every Cook Should Know.