Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Ah, the ramekin—the perfect baking dish for an individual soufflé or crème brûlée. Only, you know, how often are you making personalized French desserts? In my kitchen, the answer is never. Instead, I use my 14-year-old ramekin set on a daily basis for weighing out my coffee and a drip catcher for my pourover brewer. If you’ve ever had to run to the trashcan while your dripper keeps, well, dripping coffee on the floor, take heed.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

But, obviously, ramekins aren’t just useful for coffee. As a work-from-homer, I spend most of my writing time resisting wandering to the kitchen for snacks. When I finally acquiesced (and of course I always do, who are we kidding?), I quickly learned that a fistful of cheese crackers is a great way to get crumbs all over your keyboard. A 4-ounce ramekin is the perfect snack holder, letting me wet my whistle and keeping my workspace clean. Plus, it’s a great vessel for making your own snack mix (salted pecans and chocolate chips, anyone?).

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A classic ramekin is usually made from white, glazed ceramic with ridges on the outside to give you a better grip. They usually feature a slightly fluted lip for easy stacking. But if you’re not baking traditional desserts in your ramekins, there are plenty of other dishwasher- and oven-safe options available. 

A Few Ramekin Options

A Classic Ramekin Set: Dowan 4-Ounce RamekinsA Rustic Stoneware Set: Mora Ceramic 4-Ounce RamekinsA High-End Handmade Ramekin Set: Convivial Handmade Minimal 4-Ounce RamekinsA Colorful Ramekin From a Heritage Brand: Le Creuset Stoneware Stackable Ramekin

Decorative options are great for the table, too. Nothing makes green bean casserole more exciting than a bonus sidecar of fried onions. And if you spent time making the perfect fries, the last thing you want is wandering aioli on the plate sogging up the edges. A handsome set of ramekins can keep your dining table tidy and your guests satisfied while blending in with your dinnerware.

But the reason why you might want a whole fleet of ramekins is for prep work—each ramekin holding a separate component of your mise en place, like, say, minced garlic. I personally love using mine for separating scallions for stir-fries, measuring out spices, and having liquids at the ready for crucial moments. They’re also great as mini-waste bowls for things like ginger peels or garlic skin. And since most are dishwasher-safe, clean-up is a breeze. If you’re a panic cook like me who flails their way through every recipe step, your best chance at success is having everything laid out in easily washable dishes. 

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I don’t think ramekins have ever improved the actual food I’m cooking, but relying on my trusty set has certainly made me a better cook. They’re small, easy to store, straightforward to clean, and generally inexpensive—but most of all, they keep me organized and my counters clutter-free. And if I’m truly being honest? I never would have made it through writing this piece without a snack-filled ramekin at the ready. Or an extra coffee.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

FAQs

What is the purpose of a ramekin?

A ramekin is a small ceramic dish that’s designed for baking traditional French desserts like soufflé or crème brûlée. They have many other uses as well—they can be filled with condiments for dipping, hold snacks, and be used to measure out ingredients for a recipe before cooking. 

What’s the difference between a ramekin and a small cup or bowl?

Technically speaking, there isn’t much difference between a ramekin and a small cup or bowl. Traditionally, however, a ramekin was used as a baking dish, so the circular shape and ridged exterior were designed to assist in baking individual desserts. While most of the time a ramekin and a small cup are interchangeable, it’s highly recommended to use a ramekin for baking small soufflés or crème brûlée.

Can all ramekins go in the oven?

Traditionally, ramekins were used as a baking dish, but there isn’t a strict definition for what is and what isn’t a ramekin these days. If you’re looking for a set, be sure to double-check if it’s oven-safe before buying, though most traditional ramekins are made out of oven- and dishwasher-safe ceramic.

Why We’re the Experts

Jesse Raub is the commerce writer at Serious Eats. He’s worked for the site since 2022. Previously, Jesse worked for 15-plus years in the specialty coffee industry.

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