Difference Between Stew vs. Casserole

Main Difference

The main difference between stew and casserole are that stew is cooked in a stove by applying heat/fire to the bottom of the cooking vessel whereas casserole is cooked in an oven where the heat is evenly circulated.

Stew vs. Casserole

Stew is a combination of many ingredients specifically meat and vegetables that are placed in stock and cooked in a pot on an open fire. The casserole is a dish that contains pieces of vegetables, meat, a starchy binder, and a crunchy topping. Stew is cooked on the top of a stove with heat only from the bottom. The casserole is baked or cooked with the heat on all sides. The stew contains pieces of red meat like beef, lamb and other such meat to be placed in stock, water or gravy with added vegetables, which is then slowly cooked over a stove. A casserole is an also large deep dish that can be used for baking and serving. The food which is made in a casserole is also widely called a casserole. Stew is a mixture of solid food and liquid. It is a dish of vegetables and meat cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan. The casserole can be layered (lasagna, shepherd’s pie) but can also be just a combination which is put into a baking dish and tossed in the oven. Stew also refers to the procedure of slow cooking a thing in liquid. Tough meat such as mutton and beef are generally cooked as stews. The elements of the casserole dish are sometimes required to be precooked such as the pasta which may not be baked if it is not already cooked a little. The meat and vegetable mix is later added with some juices such as stock, beer, tomato sauce, wine or the product could be baked as it is.

Comparison Chart

StewCasserole
It is cooked in a stove by applying heat to the bottom of the cooking vesselIt is cooked in an oven where the heat is circulated evenly.
Cooked
On the stoveIn the oven
Heat Distribution
Applied to the bottom of the vesselCirculates all around the vessel
Covered
Usually coveredMay or may not be covered
Gravy
MoreLess
Ingredients
Contains precooked ingredientsContains cooked and semi-cooked ingredients

What is Stew?

Stew is a mixture of some or many ingredients mainly meat and vegetables which are placed in stock and cooked in a pot on an open fire. It is cooked on the top of a stove with heat from the bottom. It contains pieces of red meat like beef, lamb and other such meat to be placed in stock, water or gravy with added vegetables. All of these ingredients are added in a liquid and then cooked. It is a dish of vegetables and meat which is cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan. Stew also refers to the procedure of slow cooking anything in liquid. Stewing makes the food soft and makes tough meat juicy and tender. That is why tough meat such as mutton and beef are generally cooked as stews. The meat is cut first into small pieces and then fully immersed in a liquid. This liquid can be stock, water, beer, wine, etc. When the food is fully dipped in liquid, it is closed tightly to prevent evaporation and cooked at a very low temperature. Since a lot of liquid is added to immerse food fully, the stews have a lot of gravy. Different seasonings and flavorings are also added to their mixture. Each of the stew differs depending on the cultures and traditions.

Types

  • Cassoulet
  • Bouillabaisse
  • Chicken Stew
  • Bo Kho
  • Cream Stew
  • Irish Stew
  • Daal
  • Goulash
  • Haleem

What is Casserole?

The casserole is a dish which contains small and uniform pieces of vegetables, meat, a starchy binder, and a crunchy cheesy topping. The term ‘casserole’ derives from the French word meaning “saucepan.” Casseroles have been in existence since the discovery of earthenware containers, which were used for cooking the meat in its juices rather than just cooking the meat over a fire. The casserole is usually made in an oven to distribute the heat more evenly. It is generally cooked slowly in the oven, and in most cases, the dish is not covered. Some examples of casseroles are cottage pie, gratin, lasagna, and moussaka. Casseroles are almost always baked and untouched during the baking process. The purpose of slow cooking is for the meat or seafood to cook in its juice or the stock for a long period until it can absorb the flavor. A casserole is baked with the heat on all sides, while a stew is cooked on a stove top with heat only from the bottom. Casserole usually has little to no gravy.

Types

  • Cassoulet
  • Ragout
  • Hotpot
  • Tajine
  • Lasagna
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Gratin
  • Rice or macaroni timballo
  • Carbonnade
  • Moussaka

Key Differences

  1. Stew is usually cooked in a stove conversely casserole is usually cooked in the oven.
  2. In the case of stew, heat is applied to the bottom of the vessel while in case of casserole, heat circulates all around the vessel.
  3. Stews are usually covered on the other hand casseroles may or may not be covered.
  4. Stew mainly contains precooked ingredients whereas casserole can contain cooked ingredients.
  5. Stew is a type of food, as well as a cooking method on the flip side casserole,is both a cooking vessel and a food type.
  6. Stews generally have more gravy and casseroles generally have less gravy.

Conclusion

Casserole and stew are two interchangeable dishes which are passed down in generations and their taste and flavor of differs depending on how it is prepared and what ingredients are added.

Author:

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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