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Casseroles are a tried-and-true way to prep cozy meals in advance for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—but what about when you have to take them on the move? Odds are, if you’ve tried throwing some plastic wrap or aluminum foil on top of your casserole before hitting the road, its temperature and texture didn't meet your expectations upon arrival. Enter: casserole carriers!
Casserole carriers are typically insulated bags with an aluminized lining that keeps hot food hot or cold food cold, all while storing your food upright in a secure bag. Whether you’re bringing a breakfast bake out for brunch with your friends or need to transport a tasty dinner to feed a crowd, carriers will help get your food there safely.
To help you find your perfect match, I took home and tested some of the best casserole carriers available on the market, looking at factors such as capacity, material, shape, and durability. (I even took them up and down the stairs and on a drive!) Read on for my findings.
Best Overall: Rachael Ray Expandable Lasagna Lugger
What We Love: Available in multiple colors, exterior zipper pocket, handles have a flap cover
What We Don't Love: Dish should sit at room temperature before going into carrier
It should come as no surprise that this carrier from seasoned chef Rachel Ray tops my list! Available in a multitude of prints and colors to match your style, this dual-compartment lugger even comes with an exterior pocket for storing serving utensils, napkins, and more. Whether or not you’re planning to put one or two dishes inside, the comfortable handle cover makes it easy to carry.
During my tests, where I put a hot dish inside the carrier and took it for a five-minute walk (which included climbing up and down the stairs and walking down the street) and a five-minute drive, I found my dish to be very snug in the carrier (the dish had handles, which helped). There was no sliding or food spillage—not even stains. (There was some minor condensation, which was easy to clean up.)
The only downside is that the hot glass dish slightly warped the bottom of the carrier (which I did not experience with any of the other carriers). However, I love that it's expandable and has a minimal design.
Material: Polyester exterior, Temperfoil lining | Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.5 x 10.5 x 6.75 inches | Machine-Washable? No
Best Budget: Lakeside Insulated Casserole Carrier
What We Love: Long design could work for bigger pans, lightweight
What We Don't Love: Simple design, does not feel as supportive as the others tested
If your casserole and baking dishes just aren’t fitting right into other carriers, this Lakeside option could be for you! This budget-friendly option doesn’t have many bells and whistles, with one main compartment and no exterior pockets, but it gets the job done of carrying your food from point A to point B.
While the long design of the carrier (it's over 17 inches long) may work well for bigger pans, I found that my standard 9 x 13 pan with no handles slid around way too much. A pan with handles will likely fit more snugly. I also like that the handles have a velcro closer, but they're not padded, so it may feel very heavy if you're transporting several dishes.
Overall, this carrier worked fine. However, it doesn't retain its shape when storing (no solid bottom) and doesn't feel very high-quality. Make sure your pan is a bit longer than 13 inches, but not too tall because the height is small compared with some of the other carriers on this list that are taller or expandable.
Material: Polyester exterior, Aluminum lining | Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 12 x 3.5 inches | Machine-Washable? No
Best Round: Juvale Insulated Round Thermal Casserole Food Carrier
What We Love: Comfortable carrying handle, compact design, functions as a lunch box
What We Don't Love: Does not maintain temperature well
This multitasking carrier, which also functions as a lunch box, is perfect whether you need a way to carry your lunch to and from the office or something to transport a pie to a potluck. Plus, it collapses down to store easily when not in use. The reinforced cardboard bottom and sturdy handle create added peace of mind that your precious cargo will stay secure.
The round carrier offered a not-too-snug fit for my 9-inch round dish, and carrying it around (including up and down the stairs) was easy and extremely comfortable, thanks to the carrier's compactness—even if the handle isn't padded. Plus, it traveled very well, with no spilled food, and there was such minimal condensation that the texture of my food stayed pretty much the same.
My only qualm is the significant temperature drop after an hour: My food went from 170.7 degrees Fahrenheit to 105.7. Overall, I like this carrier, particularly the design, that it felt sturdy when in use, and that it can store better than some other options on this list. It would be interesting to see how it fares keeping other dishes like pies and single-layer cakes warm.
Material: Fabric exterior, aluminized lining, cardboard-reinforced bottom | Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.25 x 12.25 x 4.5 inches | Machine-Washable? No
Related: The Best Lasagna Pans
Best Set: Pyrex Portable Bag Insulated Set
What We Love: Two-year warranty on glass dish and lid
What We Don't Love: Very heavy, more heat felt on outside of bag, prep work required to use carrier
This four-piece set from Pyrex comes complete with an insulated bag, hot/cold pack, a three-quart glass dish and plastic lid. The bag itself is not insulated, so get started by heating up or cooling down the provided pack and placing it in the compartment on the bag’s bottom interior. Next, put your food inside with the lid and you’re good to go!
The provided dish with the lid fit perfectly inside the carrier, although I was nervous about whether the pack going underneath would leave the dish unsteady while I was carrying it around. But there surprisingly was no food spillage inside the carrier despite the dish not being on an entirely flat surface. The handle is padded and comfortable, but the bag is extremely heavy, especially if you are making something like lasagna, enchiladas, or other dishes that are dense. The bag also gives off more heat on the outside, particularly on the bottom (even after sitting for an hour), than the other carriers on this list.
In terms of temperature dropping, this set fell in the middle when compared with other carriers; I was impressed with how warm the bag felt, even after 2 hours. Overall, this set performed well, although it may work better as a gift—unless you have the space to store an extra dish and bag (I, however, live in an apartment). There is prep work involved (heating the pack, additional instruction-reading), so it's not as straightforward to use as the others.
“This is my pick for the gold standard of casserole carriers. Glass or ceramic baking dishes perform better in a casserole carrier than plastic or metal pans, and they're not as heavy as cast iron. If food needs to be heated in the oven or microwave at its destination, glass or ceramic is the most versatile.” - Karen Tedesco, Food Photographer and Recipe Developer, Familystyle Food
Material: Polyester exterior and lining, glass dish, plastic lid | Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 12.4 x 3.6 inches | Machine-Washable? No (lid is top-rack dishwasher-safe)
Best for Foil Pans: Fancy Panz 2-in-1 Portable Casserole Carrier
What We Love: Comes with spoon and steamer, fits full- or half-size foil pans, available in multiple colors
What We Don't Love: Not useful if you don’t use foil pans often, no handle for traveling
In my opinion, the Fancy Panz 2-in-1 carrier is the best option to bring to a potluck. Not only does it make it easy to transport and store your food, but you can also serve straight from the container (even using the provided spoon) and leave leftovers in the foil pan behind. (This is great if you're tired of trying to track down your favorite casserole dish after a potluck.) This option also comes equipped with a riser to easily use half-size pans, as well as a serving spoon, a removable clear lid for easy serving, and a foil pan to get started.
While these do not come with carrying handles, they stack easily on top of each other if you’re bringing more than one on the go. Because this carrier was built specifically for 9 x 13 foil pans, the fit is very snug; I only had to make sure to hold onto the sides securely while transporting it because it doesn't come with handles, much like a cake carrier. Just make sure what you're cooking or baking isn't too heavy.
While this plastic carrier isn't designed with insulation, it did pretty well in terms of keeping temperature: It immediately fogged up inside the foil pan after placing in the carrier, but ultimately there was minimal condensation. Overall, I think this carrier is less of an at-home item unless you need to store something cooked in a foil pan.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.5 x 11 x 3.5 inches | Machine-Washable? Yes (dishwasher)
Related: The Best Oven Mitts
Best Double Carrier: Mier Insulated Double Casserole Carrier
What We Love: Two-year warranty, sturdy design
What We Don't Love: Dish should sit at room temperature before going into carrier
Available in multiple vibrant colors, this expandable, double-layered carrier from MIER has a lot of nice added features, including two large compartments to fit your 9 x 13 dishes and an exterior pocket to carry any necessary accessories.
The BPA-free aluminized lining covers a layer of 8 millimeters of padded foam that’s easy to wipe clean while keeping your food fresh inside. And because there were no issues with sliding or spillage when I was carrying mine around for a walk and took it for a drive (and no staining on the outside either), there wasn't much to clean anyway. The lining and padding did a good job overall of insulating the food, and there was minimal condensation in the carrier.
Furthermore, the padded velcro cover over the handle kept my hands protected while carrying my dishes—and made it comfortable to carry. It also did not feel too heavy or difficult to carry while walking around.
Make sure to take into account that, like some of the other carriers, this one works best with your dish as close to 9 x 13 inches (no handles) as possible. Larger handles on the side will make the fit snugger when zipping up the bag. Also, in my testing, the bottom of the carrier got slightly warped in its bottom interior from the hot dish, just like the Rachael Ray carrier.
“If a casserole carrier states it can fit a 9 x 13 size pan, this generally does not include pans with handles. Always pick a bag that is bigger (like an 11 x 15 bag) to ensure the majority of your dishes will fit. You can always add a dish towel to the bag to prevent smaller dishes from sliding around and helps to insulate even more.” — Laura Ritterman, Recipe Developer, Recipe Fairy
Material: Polyester exterior, aluminized interior | Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.14 x 11.02 x 8.66 inches | Machine-Washable? No
The best overall casserole is the Rachael Ray Expandable Lasagna Lugger (view at Amazon), which can haul two of your cooked dishes. Need something budget-friendly that still gets the basics of the job done? Check out the Lakeside Insulated Casserole Carrier (view at Amazon).
How We Tested
We sent these products to be tested in the home kitchen of our expert food writer, Jacqueline Weiss. She spent several days using these six casserole carriers to see how well they were able to fit and insulate hot casserole dishes right out of the oven (after cooking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes). Jacqueline also looked at how comfortable each carrier was to carry, including when walking up and down her stairs, down a sidewalk, and in the passenger seat of a car. She was able to offer additional insights including food spills and stains, ease of cleaning, additional accessories, and more. After testing, our writer submitted feedback about what she liked, didn’t like, and rated each one on the following features: Performance, Capacity, Ease of Use, Durability, Cleaning, and Design. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for In a Casserole Carrier
Capacity and Handles
Transporting more than one casserole and don’t have a lot of free hands? Many carriers are expandable to accommodate particularly tall dishes and can even fit a second casserole in another section. Carriers that can fit larger or even two dishes will obviously be quite a bit heavier when filled with your yummy casseroles of choice, so a secure and comfortable handle is also an added bonus.
New York-based recipe developer and Latina chef Marisel Salazar says, "[Carriers] will save your arms the aches thanks to the ergonomic handles and make sure it won’t spill or slosh the contents of the casserole over (especially if you have a saucy dish). Totally beats the whole foil-flying-off-your-pan situation or an uneven plastic-wrap job.”
Most casserole carriers are rectangular to accommodate the classic 9- x 13-inch pan shape, but there are round options available that can fit pie dishes and other round dishes. Before making your purchase, take note of the length noted for the bag in comparison to how long your dish is, including handles, if applicable.
Most casserole carriers are insulated with food-grade aluminum foil over a layer of interior lining, which helps keep hot items hot and cold items cold when taking food on the go. There are other carriers on the market, such as Fancy Panz, that are not insulated but may still work for your needs.
How long do casserole carriers typically keep food warm or cold?
While your food will stay warm after going from the oven to your carrier, drops in temperature are to be expected. The amount it drops will vary based on factors including the initial temperature of the food and the quality of your carrier.
Can I transfer a hot casserole directly from the oven into the carrier?
Most carriers will note that it is not recommended to put your hot baking dish directly from the oven to your carrier; just let it rest for a few minutes before zipping it away. If you’re in a major time crunch, put a towel underneath the hot dish to prevent any damage to the interior lining.
How do I clean a casserole carrier?
It is generally not recommended to use your washing machine to clean the inside or outside of your casserole carrier, but spot cleaning on the exterior can usually get the job done. The interior of most carriers is usually foam that's coated in foil, which makes wiping up any spills a breeze.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Jacqueline Weiss is a freelance food writer who loves to experiment in her kitchen and is passionate about healthy cooking—and eating. She personally tested every carrier in her home kitchen, consulted third-party and consumer reviews, spoke with experts, and considered functionality, design, durability, and other factors.
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