We love our winning rectangular glass and metal baking dishes, but they’re not broiler-safe. We set out to find a table-worthy baking dish that could handle the broiler’s heat and was easy to use.
Published May 15, 2019. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 13: Italian Comfort Food
A 13 by 9-inch baking dish is the tote bag of kitchenware. It’s inexpensive, functional, and great for transporting goods, and most people have at least one (if not a couple). In the test kitchen, we put 13 by 9-inch baking dishes under the broiler when we want to crisp bread crumbs atop dishes such as macaroni and cheese and when making recipes such as Savory Noodle Kugel, Candied Sweet Potatoes, New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding, Oven-Barbecued Beef Brisket, and more. But broiling is a direct-heat cooking method that can subject these dishes to temperatures of up to 550 degrees, which is too hot for our favorite glass baking dish as well as our winning 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Rather than give up broiling foods, we needed to find an alternative that could withstand the heat as well as look nice when brought to the table for serving. We purchased seven widely available broiler-safe baking dishes that measured roughly 13 inches by 9 inches and were priced from about $37 to about $110. All were made of ceramic or porcelain; these materials can withstand extreme heat because they are hardened by being fired in a kiln at temperatures well over 1,000 degrees. We made three recipes in each one: yellow xake, Classic Macaroni and Cheese, and One-Pan Salmon with Rice, Broccoli, and Shiitake Mushrooms.
During testing, we learned a lot about the dishes, and we learned something about our coworkers: Sharing seven baking dishes’ worth of macaroni and cheese can do wonders for your popularity. In each case, the dishes’ performance was roundly satisfactory—we were happy with all foods baked in these dishes, and all were fairly easy to clean. (Caked-on cheese and residual cake were a cinch to remove, but we had to scrub a bit more to remove the salmon glaze from each dish.) But two key factors separated the winner from the rest: handle design and capacity.
Looped Handles Were Far Superior to Tabs
The dishes offered two types of handle design: loops or tabs. The looped handles were shaped like a squared-off C with space for your fingers in the middle. The tabs resembled the tabs you’d see on top of a manila folder.
The advantages and disadvantages of the two handle designs became clear once we were faced with lifting the hot dishes and removing them from the oven. The dishes with tab handles were problematic. We didn’t struggle much when putting these dishes into the oven, but the handles made it challenging to rotate the dishes midbake and to remove them from the oven. We couldn’t easily or securely grab the tabs, especially while wearing thick oven mitts or while ...
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