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Ramekins

Published December 2017

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

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*