So, what is a ramekin, exactly? Ubiquitous in almost every commercial kitchen, ramekins come in all shapes and many different sizes. Although most well-known as the baking dish for crème brûlée, this handy little tool is perfect for individual desserts, portioning sauces and remoulades, and so many other food preparation and presentation uses.
Here’s a quick look at what a ramekin is, its history, and its uses.
What Is a Ramekin?
Ramekins, also called soufflé dishes, are a type of small bakeware, usually 3” or 4” inches in diameter, and can hold anywhere from 2 oz to 6 oz, depending on size. The traditional shape is round, and the traditional color is white, but these days you can find them in a variety of shapes and colors. They are heat resistant and go directly into the oven.
These small dishes are perfect for classic desserts such as mousses, custards, and mini cheesecakes, as well as baked fruit desserts such as cobblers and crisps. They can also be used for individual portions of mac and cheese, side garnishes, and condiments that accompany an entrée.
History of the Ramekin
Why is it called a ramekin? The dish is the dish, so to speak. The name ramekin has its roots in the French word ramequin, which is a meat- or cheese-based meal baked in a small dish. This dish was baked and served in individual portions at large feasts, much as it is today.
What Can You Make in a Ramekin?
Now that we know a little more about the history of ramekins, it’s time for the fun part: what can you make in a ramekin?
The diameter and height of the ramekin depend on what the mold is being used for. Fish and cheese dishes or baking eggs and meat require a wider, lower ramekin, while soufflés, muffins, and popovers need ones with high sides so the contents can rise.
For example, the high vertical sides of a ramekin make them ideal for baking single-servings of soufflé. The airy, light egg whites expand as they bake and rise up along the high sides, creating their iconic puffed-up height and soufflé shape. But the versatility of these multipurpose dishes doesn’t stop there.
Main Advantages of Ramekins for Restaurants
- Gives each diner their own individual portion
- Keeps food cost in check with pre-portioned meals
- Makes it easy to serve with no need to cut and plate
Ramekins can also be used to organize ingredients for prep, saving both cooking and cleanup time. They can also help avoid cross-contamination, especially when working with raw animal products. From breakfast to dessert, there are so many things you can serve in a ramekin, such as:
Breakfast or Brunch
- Savory soufflés
- Sandwich egg patties
- Oven-baked eggs/li>
- Baked French toast
- Oatmeal for one
Lunch or Dinner Entrées
- Single-serving soups
- Mini pot pies
- Mini meatloaf
- Twice-baked potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Crème brûlée (of course)
- Molten lava cakes
- Sweet soufflés
- Custard or flan
- Mini dessert pies or cobblers
In addition to baked dishes, ramekins are attractive serving dishes for hummus, nuts, pesto, guacamole, salsa, mayonnaise, mushroom pate, olive tapenade, and other condiments and dips with chips, vegetable or meat platters.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ramekins
What is the best size for ramekins?
A 6-ounce ramekin gives you the most flexibility. If you are only going to stock one size, this is your best bet.
What are most ramekins made of?
Although the classic ramekin is ceramic, there are now numerous novelty designs to choose from, including bright colors, interesting textures, new shapes, and different sizes. You can select the shape, color, or size that suits your restaurant concept. Because a ramekin must withstand high temperatures, ceramic or glazed stoneware are preferred materials when ramekins will be used for baking or under the broiler.
Are all ramekins heatproof?
No, not all ramekins are heatproof. For example, melamine ramekins are heat resistant and great for serving but not heatproof, so they would not be appropriate for baked dishes.
Who invented ramekins?
The ramekin is one of those dishes that have been in use for centuries. The first person to think of baking a meat or cheese pie, crème brulée, or soufflé in an individual dish may never be known. However, we do know that these dishes were commonly used to serve minced meat and other baked foods at big feasts back in the day. And we thank them for it.
Ramekins have evolved in materials, shape, size, and usage over time. This versatility has made ramekins a basic must-have for commercial kitchens of all sizes.