If you find yourself in a position where you need a ramekin but don’t have one available, there are a number of items you could consider substituting it with, including jam jars, shot glasses, and mugs.
What are Ramekins Used For?
Ramekins are incredibly versatile, and in fact, they don’t have one specific use. They are commonly used for making individual dessert portions, for example, mini cheesecakes, soufflé, or individual trifles. Egg custards are widely served in ramekins, as well as individual portions of mousse. Since ramekins are oven safe, they can be used for baking individual brownie portions, or savory starters.
They are also great for serving dips and sauces in, or small portions of nibbles such as olives or nuts. Ramekins can be used for portioning out snacks such as trail mix, and they can be used to serve butter or preserves at breakfast.
Ramekins are also really useful for a range of uses outside of the kitchen. Repurpose old ramekins as office storage for paperclips, or use them as tealight holders in the bathroom.
What are Ramekins Made of?
Ramekins are generally made from glass, ceramic, or less commonly, metal. The material a ramekin is made from can affect not only how it looks, but also how it performs. Glass ramekins are made from tempered glass which means they can be baked in the oven, just like ceramic ramekins.
However, ceramic ramekins, especially those with thick walls, tend to offer a more even level of cooking. If you are baking eggs, soufflé, or crème brûlée, then a ceramic ramekin will produce the best results. If you are making a cold pudding such as a no-bake cheesecake, or layered jello, then a glass ramekin is a nice choice because it allows the layers of the food to be visually appreciated.
As it’s important to consider the material of a ramekin alongside what you intend to use it for, this should also be a consideration when choosing ramekin substitutes.
What to Use Instead of a Ramekin
If you don’t have any ramekins, yet you are making a recipe that calls for a ramekin, there are other kitchen items you can use instead. Here we look at ramekin alternatives.
A mug can be used as an alternative to a ramekin in some scenarios. Individual microwave cakes are a trend that has gained traction over the last few years, as a quick and easy dessert. In lieu of a ramekin to make your microwave cake or brownie in, you can use a mug. Always check that your mug is microwave-safe before using it in a microwave.
If you are looking for an alternative to a ramekin for use in a baking recipe, then a mug should not be used. The vast majority of mugs will not be suitable for baking at high temperatures, and this can cause them to crack. Avoid using mugs in the oven unless they are advertised as being oven safe.
Ramekins are great for serving sauces and dips in, along with preserves and paté. If you don’t have any ramekins to hand, you can instead use small jam jars without their lids. This can look very kitsch on a dining table, adding a retro look to your meal. Jam jars can also be used to serve individual portions of pudding, for example, chocolate mousse or custard.
You should not use jam jars for baking unless they are made from tempered glass. Most standard jam jars are not suitable for use in the oven and should be utilized as a serving dish rather than a baking dish.
Dessert bowls are smaller than standard bowls, and therefore they are a great alternative to ramekins for certain uses. Dessert bowls are brilliant for serving tapas in or offering nibbles to guests such as peanuts or potato chips.
Since dessert bowls were obviously designed to serve desserts, they of course are great for individual dessert portions in the same way that ramekins are. You could make individual trifles or jello in dessert bowls, or for larger dessert bowls make a romantic dessert for two to share.
If you are making individual cheesecakes or trifles for pudding, and you don’t have any ramekins, then shot glasses will be a perfect replacement. Layered desserts in particular work best in glass ramekins so that you can appreciate the different layers from the outside.
If your ramekins are ceramic, consider using shot glasses instead so that the layers of the pudding can be seen. Just remember when using shot glasses for individual puddings that they can not be baked in the oven since this can cause the glass to shatter. Only use shot glasses for cold no-bake desserts such as refrigerator cheesecake, mousse, trifle, and jello.
If you don’t have enough shot glasses to replace ramekins with, or you feel that the shot glass portions will be too small, then whisky glasses or small glass tumblers can be substituted. It’s a common misconception that beverage glasses can be used in the oven, because plenty of bakeware is made of glass, including ramekins.
However, glass ramekins and glass baking dishes are made from a special type of tempered glass, which means they can withstand high levels of heat safely. Beverage glasses were not designed to be heated and therefore are not made with tempered glass. These will not be able to cope under high heat, and therefore should only be used as a substitute for ramekins in cold dishes.
If you want a ramekin to serve sauces or dips in, then egg cups can be a possible substitute. Egg cups are small enough to be used for individual portions of sauce, for example, you could give each guest an egg cup of mayonnaise to accompany their meal.
If you need a ramekin for a recipe that involves baking, then your best substitute equipment will be a baking dish. This is because, unlike the other items we have mentioned, a baking dish is intended to be used at high temperatures. Baking dishes are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from individual dishes right through to large family-size dishes.
If your recipe calls for a ramekin then an individually sized baking dish will be your best alternative. If you don’t have an individual baking dish, use the smallest baking dish you have, and adjust the amount of your ingredients accordingly.
How to Choose a Ramekin Substitute
If you need a ramekin substitute then the best option for you is going to depend on what you are using it for. The two main issues you’ll want to think about before making a decision concern the size and material of the ramekin substitute.
Ramekins are made from strong materials that are designed to withstand high levels of heat. If you need a ramekin to use in the oven, then your ramekin substitute is going to need to be suitable for coping with high temperatures.
The best substitute in this case, will be a baking dish. Never use a piece of equipment in the oven that is not specifically made for dealing with intense heat, since this can cause it to crack.
If you need a substitute ramekin for individual cold puddings, or for serving sauces or tapas in, then there will be a number of suitable options, since the material doesn’t need to be oven-proof. In this case, consider using jam jars, dessert bowls, or shot glasses.
For microwave dishes, both mugs and dessert bowls can be good substitutes for ramekins because they are typically suitable for use in the microwave, though it’s always best to check to be sure.
The size of your ramekin substitute needs to be appropriate for what you are using it for. A shot glass might be ideal for serving individual dessert portions when a ramekin isn’t available, however, it will likely be far too small to serve tapas in.
Small jam jars are very similar to ramekin sizes, so these represent a good option if you want them for serving olives, or for providing a small dish of dip and salsa. When making baked dishes without a ramekin, it may be necessary to alter the number of ingredients you use so that the recipe works with your substitute baking dish.
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