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Insulated Food Carriers

Insulated carriers used to be for pizza delivery workers or caterers only, but we found five models designed to keep your famous lasagna piping hot all the way to the potluck or picnic.

Published Nov. 1, 2014. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 9: The Devil Made Me Do It

UpdateSeptember 2020
Recently, our favorite insulated food carrier underwent a change; the carrier's interior is now made from different materials than when we originally tested. After testing the new Rachael Ray Expandable Lasagna Lugger, we were pleased to find that it was just as good as the old one--it still does a great job of keeping casseroles hot, holds one or two dishes snugly, and is comfortable to carry as well.
See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

Insulated food carriers are designed to keep casseroles hot en route to a potluck, picnic, or holiday dinner. Since our previously winning carrier was redesigned, we tested its replacement, plus four others (priced from roughly $25 to about $40) designed to carry 13 by 9-inch baking dishes. We evaluated their heat retention and stain resistance. We also tested their design and sturdiness by walking around the block and driving over 5 miles of bumpy roads with them.

One carrier was too big—our lasagna dish shifted inside—but two contenders, including our winner, offered a snug fit; plus, they expanded to include extra dishes.

But heat retention was the biggest factor. We want food ready to serve on arrival—no reheating necessary. Additionally, the longer food stays piping hot, the safer it is (the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends not holding food at temperatures below 140 degrees for more than 2 hours). In four of the five carriers, macaroni and cheese dipped from 180 degrees (fresh out of the oven) to 140 degrees in less than an hour. The new model from the manufacturer of our old favorite (which has insulation half as thick as its predecessor’s) dropped below the minimum in just 12 minutes. Compare that with our new favorite, which kept macaroni and cheese above 140 degrees for more than 3 hours. Our only quibble—that it wasn’t as easy to clean as the others—is a small trade-off given that no other carrier matched its heat retention.

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.