People tend to have firm opinions when it comes to glass cookware. For every person who couldn’t do without their glass baking dish or cooking pot, another is worried that it might be too brittle and crack easily.
For me, glass cookware evokes happy memories of family lasagnas and good old-fashioned bread butter puddings being served straight from the dish in the middle of our kitchen table. Nowadays, I couldn’t do without my glass cookware, and in this article, I shall be having a look at the pros (and the odd con!) of what I consider to be one of the most versatile cooking materials in the kitchen.
Before getting to the myriad benefits that the best glass cookware provides, let’s address the concerns that may worry people when they consider cooking with glass.
About Glass Cookware
Isn’t it a bit flimsy?
Firstly, let’s deal with the idea that glass cookware can break too easily. Obviously, glass is not as robust a material as the steel, aluminum, and cast iron commonly found in the kitchen cupboard. However, today’s glass cookware is made from sterner stuff than the flimsier dishes I used growing up.
Some simple precautions will help your glass cookware last longer:
- Be careful with rapid temperature fluctuations (such as adding very hot liquid straight into the dish)
- Take care not to chip or crack the glass when manoeuvring the cookware in and out of the oven
- Don’t heat or cool the glass cookware too quickly
Doesn’t glass burn the food?
While this is a bit of an urban myth, it is based on the reality that glass possesses excellent heat retention. This means it takes a while to warm up, but it doesn’t lose its heat quickly once hot.
This same feature has me reaching for my glass dish whenever I want to cook a dish that requires significant ‘browning.’ I use glass for any savory casserole, macaroni cheese, or pie that would benefit from a little extra color.
Not to mention that any leftovers can be put straight back into the fridge in the dish as glass is great at storing and reheating food. Because it is non-reactive, you don’t need to worry about flavors leaching into the leftovers. Not that there are often many leftovers at our table, however!
The one thing that I would mention is that, because glass conducts heat so well, it is not always suited to sugar-heavy dishes. These can over-caramelize when cooked for too long, leading to slightly bitter, burnt sugar tastes. Bear this in mind when considering sugary desserts in a glass dish.
Surely it’s difficult to get clean?
A few people have told me that they don’t use glass in the kitchen as they worry that they wouldn’t be able to keep it looking clean. I assure them that, despite the many ‘browned’ dishes that I have made over the years in my glass baking dishes, with proper care and attention, you can keep them looking as pristine as the day they arrived.
Glass is naturally non-stick—the first thing to remember when washing up is to give the dish a good soak. Just make sure that it has cooled sufficiently in advance–don’t forget those temperature fluctuations!
Because glass is non-porous, the soaking method is particularly effective when it comes to gently releasing any residual food. I always clean my glass cookware with a non-abrasive self-polishing cleaner. Still, it is also good to check with the manufacturer if they recommend any specially formulated mildly abrasive cleansers for your particular brand of dish.
In addition, the best glass cookware is dishwasher safe–so it is more than happy in the dishwasher after a preparatory soak. Watch a little glass cleaning trick here:
That’s great – is there anything else I should know?
Hopefully, having learned a little about glass cookware, it might now be something that you are considering for your kitchen cupboard. But, let me outline one or two other benefits of this under-rated cooking material:
Glass is inert. While this might not sound like a positive, it very much is! One of the disadvantages of other cookware is that you can get a chemical transfer while cooking. Glass is non-toxic, non-reactive, and inert.
Another benefit of it being non-reactive is that it is well-suited for the microwave. As glass contains no water or metal, the energy of the microwave will heat the food rather than the dish.
It might seem obvious (and excuse the pun), but another ‘clear’ advantage of glass is that it is see-through. With no necessity to remove a lid while cooking, glass makes it easy to see what your food is doing in the oven–which is great fun when teaching your little chefs!
Borosilicate and Soda Lime
Without wanting to get too technical, if you are about to head out and look for the best glass cookware for you, it is certainly worth knowing a little about the difference between these two materials.
Soda-lime is the most common kind of glass and is used for everything from windows to champagne flutes. Around 90% of the glass manufactured in the world is soda-lime.
Borosilicate is a unique type of glass that is created using a particular chemical process, making it heat resistant. It is probably most famous for its use in Pyrex cookware who greatly value the ‘great thermal and mechanical shock resistance’ of borosilicate.
You might find that glass cookware made from borosilicate is a little more expensive, but, in my opinion, it is certainly worth the extra cost.
Glass Cookware Reviews
VISIONS 4-pc Cookware Set
This four-piece set is made up of a round 2.5 liter stewpot with a glass lid and a 1.5 liter saucepan with a glass cover. They are attractive pieces and have sturdy handles, so they can easily double up as serving dishes.
In addition to being safe in the microwave, broiler, oven, dishwasher, and freezer, they can also be used on a stovetop which I found very useful.
Don’t put them directly on the stovetop from the freezer, though!
The handles do not get too hot to the touch, and I was pleased to see how many other reviewers mentioned how light they found this glassware as it was one of the things I liked most about it.
- Stay-cool handles
- Stovetop compatible
- A little pricey
Luminarc Vitro Blooming Heat-resistant Glass Cooking Pot
This three-litre cooking pot is made from vitoceramic, which is a unique heat resistant and durable material. In addition to working wonderfully well in the kitchen, the material is so comfortable with temperature fluctuations that NASA even incorporated it into the design of their space shuttle!
I was particularly impressed with the heat retention, which allowed me to cook stews and casseroles at a very low temperature – sometimes I even turned off the heat before the cooking process had finished at the residual heat in the vitroceramic finished off the dish.
I was a little concerned with how hot the handles became while I was using the dish, but a good pair of oven gloves soon overcame that hurdle.
- Great with temperature fluctuations
- Stays hot after cooking
- Handles get hot when cooking
Leaves and Trees Glass Saucepan with Cover
This is a lovely little glass pot made from high-grade borosilicate glass and is compatible with gas, electric infrared, and oven cooking.
I found the handles very easy to grip, which came in very useful considering the number of times I took it straight from the stove and put it in the middle of the table. It looks great as a centerpiece!
I have done everything from noodles to cheese sauce in this dish, and they have all come out very well. Also, after a quick soak, you can put it straight in the dishwasher.
However, I was slightly concerned to read how many other people had found that their dishes had cracked after only a few uses.
- Look great as a serving dish
- Easy to clean
- Stovetop compatible
- A few reports of it breaking easily
- Quite small
Anchor Hocking Oven Basics Glass Baking Dishes
This is quite an extensive collection, so make sure you have room in your cupboards before taking the plunge. The 15 pieces comprise everything from the sizeable 2-quart baker and 1.5 casserole dish down to the smaller 8 oz. measuring cup and the 4 little 6oz custard cups with lids.
You can be confident when purchasing as the set is backed by a limited five-year warranty.
It is made from durable tempered soda-lime glass and is safe to use in the microwave, freezer, oven, and dishwasher.
I was impressed to see how many reviewers have owned their sets for years and that they were still going strong!
- 5-year warranty
- Lots of pieces – covers most cooking bases!
- Takes up a lot of room
Libbey Baker’s Basics 3-Piece Glass Casserole Baking Dish Set
This set comprises a 1 quart, a 2 quart, and a 3.2 quart round glass casseroles, all with fitted lids. A feature that I loved was that they are ‘nestable’ – meaning that they can sit one inside the other, which saves space in your cupboard.
They are robust dishes and also very easy to clean. I found the smallest one to be great when it came to steaming vegetables in the microwave.
I have seen that a few of the reviews have been concerned that these dishes are a little heavy, but I like the heft that these dishes have – it gives me confidence when maneuvering them around the kitchen!
- Fitted lids
- A bit heavy
Best Glass Cookware
I have very much enjoyed re-creating many of my childhood favorites in good old, traditional glass cookware. But now for the moment of truth–which did I think was the best glass cookware?
If you are making your first foray into the world of cooking with glass, then go for the Trees and Leaves glass saucepan. In my opinion, it was the most attractive looking of the cookware and is compatible with a variety of warming methods.
It is reasonably priced and quite compact so that it won’t take up too much space in your cupboard. The handles are easy to grip, and you can be confident in the product’s durability as it is made from borosilicate glass.
If you are more of an experienced glass cookware enthusiast (and are willing to dedicate a whole cupboard to these particular dishes), the 15-piece Anchor Hocking set also impressed me a great deal.
However, if you are a glass first-timer, see how you get on with the single Trees and Leaves saucepan first!
If you are looking at glass cookware because you want healthy, attractive cookware, then consider ceramic cookware. It’s often more versatile than glass cookware, and there are a lot more options out there.