These Casserole Dishes Have Lasted Three Generations in My Family

published Jul 26, 2023
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Slight overhead photo of Overnight Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole in a white casserole dish with a blue napkin
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

The recent announcement of the Instant Brands bankruptcy came as a shock to me less for their flagship Instant Pots and more for the older brands they’ve pulled under their umbrella. Glass Pyrex measuring cups and baking dishes feature in many of my childhood memories, and still handle daily tasks in my kitchen. And when I first started sailing, avid yachties introduced me to stylish, nearly indestructible Corelle tableware. But of all the brands on the potential chopping block, CorningWare will hit me hardest.

Quick Overview

What’s to Love About CorningWare’s Iconic Casserole Dishes?

CorningWare casserole dishes are truly the most versatile cookware, going from a conventional, convection, or toaster oven and into the microwave, fridge, freezer, or dishwasher, and of course, onto the table. You can scour vintage stores for the original dishes, or shop the limited-edition 60th anniversary dishes online.

What’s So Great About CorningWare’s Casserole Dishes? 

I know CorningWare by the distinctive blue cornflower etched on its white casserole dishes. My mom used her set at least once a week when I was a child, and I inherited my grandmother’s set when I moved into my first apartment. Beyond all the meals my grandmother prepared in them, these original CorningWare dishes have held up to college cooking experiments, numerous moves, and piping-hot electric and gas ovens.

Credit: Julie Laing

It’s still possible to track down sturdy vintage CorningWare, but the company made it easy to get your hands on the core set when it released a limited-edition version for its 60th anniversary back in 2018. The glass-ceramic base and glass knob-top lid is a classic, timeless design that works as well in modern kitchens as it did with my grandmother’s 1960-era appliances. Both parts are safe to put in a preheated conventional, convection, or toaster oven and in the microwave, fridge, freezer, and dishwasher. The casseroles can even slide safely under a broiler. The glass lid lets you steam food and keep it warm without resorting to single-use plastic film or a quick-to-crack plastic cover.

Even as my grandmother aged and continued cooking daily for one, she regularly set CorningWare casserole dishes in her toaster oven. But they also appeared at small family dinners, filled with steamed Brussels sprouts or snap beans, and at Thanksgiving, serving as catchalls for turkey drippings and the extra bit of stuffing that wouldn’t fit in the feed-the-clan pan. She then used the pan-and-lid pairs like food storage containers to refrigerate leftovers.

My mom became an avid microwave cook in the 1980s and favored her CorningWare casseroles when steaming asparagus and reheating baked beans. Yet she also regularly slid the dishes into our wall oven to bake casseroles and brownies. A standard weeknight meal from my childhood — summer sausage and spoon bread — was always served from the blue cornflower dishes.

Now, in my own kitchen, the set fills a size gap between small, round ramekins and large, long baking dishes; it’s ideal for feeding two to four people. I love the deeper dish’s tall sides when cooking Dutch babies, giving them support to climb above the rim. I choose the shorter one when baking homemade mac and cheese so that I can maximize the amount of broiled cheese atop each serving. Hot crab dip can bubble away and then be lifted by the dish’s sturdy handles straight onto the table. 

Credit: Julie Laing

And like my grandmother, I always pull out one of these casserole dishes when making old-fashioned rice pudding; I simply set the lid on it when it’s time to slide leftovers into the fridge.