Difference Between Stew and Casserole

Main Difference – Stew vs Casserole

Stew and casserole are two of the most popular food preparations in Western cooking. The main difference between stew and casserole is that stew is cooked in a stove where the heat is directly applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel whereas casserole is cooked in an oven where the heat is circulated more evenly.

What is a Stew

Stew is a combination of solid food and liquid. It is a dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan. Stew also refers to the process of slow cooking using a liquid. Tough meat such as beef and poultry are generally cooked as stews. This is because stewing has the ability to soften the food and make tough meat juicy and tender.  

The meat is cut first into small and uniform pieces and then fully immersed in a liquid. This liquid can be water, stock, beer, wine, etc. When the food is fully covered with liquid, the dish is tightly closed to prevent evaporation and left to cook at a very low temperature. Stews are usually cooked on a stove so that the heat is directly applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel.

Since the food is completely immersed in a liquid, stews have a lot of gravy. Stews are usually made from uncooked ingredients. Different seasonings and flavorings can also be added to the mixture.

Main Difference - Stew vs Casserole

What is a Casserole

A casserole is a large deep dish that can be used for baking as well as serving. The food made in a casserole is also typically called a casserole. The main difference between stew and casserole is that casserole is usually done in an oven whereas stew is usually cooked by applying heat to the bottom of the vessel. Since casserole is made in an oven, the heat is distributed more evenly. They are generally cooked slowly in the oven, and in most cases, the dish is left uncovered.

Casseroles in America and the Continent usually consist of pieces of meat or fish, various vegetables, a starchy binder such as flour, potato or pasta. It often contains a crunchy or cheesy topping as well. Cottage pie, gratin, lasagna, and moussaka are some examples of casseroles.

Difference Between Stew and Casserole

Difference Between Stew and Casserole 


Stew is usually cooked in a stove.

Casserole is usually cooked in the oven.

Heat Distribution

In a stew, heat is applied to the bottom of the vessel.

In a casserole, heat circulates all around the vessel.


Stews are typically covered.

Casseroles may or may not be covered.


Stew usually contains precooked ingredients.

Casserole can contain cooked ingredients.


Stew is a food type as well as a cooking method.

Casserole is a cooking vessel as well as a food type.


Stews generally have more gravy than casseroles.

Casseroles generally have less gravy than stews.Difference Between Stew and Casserole - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Sausage and Egg Casserole — Father’s Day Food 6-21-09 4” by Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Mmm… beef stew” by jeffreyw (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

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