Ramekins are small serving bowls 3 to 4 inches wide, used to prepare dishes such as souffles, French onion soup and creme brulee. One of the ramekin's main benefits is that it is made to handle high oven temperatures. Ramekins are inexpensive and are available at a variety of locations. However, in a pinch, other containers can be used in ramekin recipes.
Large Muffin Tins
Large muffin tins are a good option, especially if baking something such as a terrine or lava cake. Grease the tin well before pouring the batter inside. Burning or sticking can occur if the pan is not greased well. Do not fill the tins to the top because it might spill out over during the baking process. Place a plate or large cutting board over the top of the tin when done. Invert the tin and tap lightly on the bottom to remove the item. Because ramekins are the serving vessel for many recipes, the negative to using a muffin tin is that it does not allow for individual servings.
Custard cups are the most similar to ramekins because they hold about the same amount of food. Custard cups are used to make and serve custard or for desserts such as pudding. The cups are deeper than ramekins and typically come in six or 295ml sizes. Made out of glass or porcelain, custard cups can be used in the oven, freezer and microwave. Some cups even come ribbed as a ramekin and can be used in most any recipe that calls for a ramekin.
Coffee Mugs and Glasses
Coffee mugs are a less than traditional substitute for a ramekin, but do work well. Using a mug can be tricky because it needs to be small and be able to go inside an oven. Mugs such as those made out of stoneware are good options because the material can withstand high temperatures. Stay away from the traditional coffee mug because it can break and contaminate the food. Because the idea of most ramekin recipes is to be small, individual servings, coffee mugs need to be as small and short as possible. Short high ball or low-volume drinking glasses are another option. As with the coffee mugs, make sure the glasses are oven-safe. Place the mug in a pan to avoid scalding or burning. Pour 1 to 2 inches of water in the pan, creating a water bath.
For recipes that can be made in one large serving, instead of several smaller ones, large ovenproof baking dishes can be used. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan well and place the batter inside. As with the smaller substitutes, do not fill the dish to the top with the batter because it could overflow as it rises. Watch the baking time carefully as using a bigger dish could affect the length of time it takes to bake.