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Sep 26, 2012 01:02 PM

Souffle vs Gratin Dish

When do you use a Gratin Dish instead of a Souffle Dish?

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  1. Gratin dishes do not have high sides and usually don't have straight sides, either. For a souffle, you need a dish with high straight sides. The souffle has to rise and the tall straight sides contain the souffle as it rises. So you couldn't use a gratin dish for a souffle.

    Could you use a souffle dish for a gratin? Probably. It would be an odd preparation, though, because gratins are usually served in the grain dish. You wouldn't usually dish a gratin out into a serving dish. And so if you served it in a souffle dish, people would have to reach far down into the souffle dish to reach the grain. Also cooking in a dish with high sides could trap a lot of moisture so your gratin might be too soggy and if you wanted to brown or crisp the top (which is why gratins are usually finished under the broiler), well that couldn't happen in a souffle dish.

    1. A souffle uses egg whites for leavening (what makes it raise) and they cling to the sides of the tall souffle dish as they rise. In fact, you often have to add an aluminum foil "collar" around to makethe sides of the dish taller or the souffle will overflow.

      Just Visiting makes a good point about the gratin, it might well retain moisture & the top won't brown properly if you use a dish with real tall sides. Now, you don't have to have an official gratin dish, any sort of casserole with 1 1/2" to 2" sides will work just fine.

      In other words, souffle and gratin dishes really shouldn't be interchanged.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ivysmom

        Although Julia Child used a platter for her soufflé over lobster. It didn't rise to the height of one in a soufflé dish, but it was still puffy.

      2. when I am going to make a souffle, I use a souffle dish. If I am making something that needs a large surface area that will help make a nice crusty gratin . . . . I reach for the gratin dish.

        I hope this helps.

        7 Replies
        1. re: drewpbalzac

          I use a gratin dish (low sided, wide dish) for roasted veggies, fruit cobbler or fruit crisps and of course, au gratin potatoes and other gratins. Mac n' cheese with a brown bubbly top is good too.

          1. re: Cam14

            Thanks for all the advice. I'm a caterer and the confusion comes from Pepin's Maman Souffle recipe where he says to use a gratin dish. I'm not sure why. Interesting Julia didn't use a souffle
            dish for souffle over lobster but it was still puffy.

            Maybe because this recipe doesn't call for egg separation. I tested it in a small glass pyrex
            and it did rise. But am making it for 15 guests. Will post with result.

            1. re: tapmj

              also just read that CA Waters also used gratin dishes for souffles to get the crispyness.
              any one else?

              1. re: tapmj

                Soufflé and gratins are methods and you can pretty much do them in any kind of pan or dish you want.

                I used to do a soufflé-ed folded omelet (whipped the egg whites – folded in the yolks – poured into hot pan and added filling) in a big cast iron skillet. I don’t even bother with gratin pans, any more, I just use a 8 or twelve inch heavy non-stick skillet. (They are much easier to clean)

                I just depend on what you are trying to achieve. If you want height with you soufflé - you should use a straight sided dish that will force the egg mixture upwards as it expands. If you want a delicious browned and caramelized layer of goo on top of you preparation opt for more surface area.

                1. re: drewpbalzac

                  drewp, thanks, that helps. So, I'm feeding 15 with other offerings.
                  I'm concerned about taste, then appearance. and am using Pepin's Maman Souffle/gratin recipe

                  Would you recommend I use a 3 qt oblong stoneware dish or a Dansk 5" deep x 10" wide pot. I'd like to use the pot if you think it's ok. Many thanks

              2. re: tapmj

                Pepin actually explained why. His mother (Maman) made it this way when she was a young bride and didn't know how to cook:


                You will see that she didn't even separate the eggs, much less beat the whites.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Thank you for posting the recipe link Just Visiting! Great story to go with it as well. Good luck tapmj with your dish for 15! Let us know how it worked out.

          2. Charlotte molds are also great for soufflés.