So you've just cooked your creme caramels in a water bath/bain marie/double boiler with only about a quarter of the ramekin appearing above water level.

I've tried the follow methods in the past and feel there must be a more efficient, more secure or less dangerous way:

  1. tea towel/oven mitt: not enough ramekin to grab onto without dipping the towel/mitt and your hands into boiling water.
  2. Tongs: very unstable grip, ramekin can easily slip.
  3. Lifting out with an egg flip: flips bends due to weight of ramekin.
  4. Scooping water out: too much manual labor, often awkward as little room to scoop from.

8 Answers 8


A true bain-marie actually has a fitted rack or platform that allows water through, which you can lift out with handles. It's very convenient.

If you're just using a baking dish filled with water, I'd suggest getting yourself a mesh roasting pan with handles, like this one:

Mesh roasting pan

Then you can put all your ramekins on top and just lift out the whole rack when you're done.

If I don't have one of these on hand, I usually use a wide shallow bowl to scoop water out; you don't need to scoop it all out, just enough to firmly grip the top of the ramekins.

Some silicone oven mitts might also help; they don't get "wet" like regular oven mitts and so they'll protect your hands from the hot/boiling water just fine.


Yet another alternative: canning tongs. These are designed to grip wet, round things. They're what we use to lift ramekins out of hot water -- as well as for canning!

canning tongs


You could siphon the water out (fill the siphon with cold water before inserting it to the hot water, of course).

Not sure how good your tongs are—better ones may help.

Lastly, if ramekins are the right size, jar lifters (as used in home caning, with mason jars) would certainly work well.


I will add two other suggestions for completeness, although they are not as good as the ones already mentioned.

  • Adjust the baking time so that you can let them cool gently in the bain marie, then remove them.
  • Get silicone oven mitts and plunge into the boiling water.
  • 1
    Be Very, Very careful with the silicone mitts!!! I did this and the hot water went in from the top of one mitt and the hot water was trapped inside with my hand in. I got a horrible burn. I immediately wet my hand in cold water and coated the entire burnt area with Iodized salt. The iodized salt prevents from blistering.
    – user50643
    Sep 18, 2016 at 19:31

You might look into Indian-style tongs, sometimes called pakkad or sharashi enter image description here

This kind of pincer-style tong is primarily used for grabbing and lifting pots off the fire (for the kind of pots that have no attached handle). There's a gap or space, which can hold the lip of your pot (or in this case, ramekin), while the gripping power is where the metal flattens and braces against itself - so you hold it like a vertical handle over one side of the pot, grab the edge (it won't slip because the side of the pot is gripped securely between the metal pincers, with the strength of your fist), and lift the ramekin up and out.

You might also look into pot grippers or pan grippers, there seem to be a variety of tools (with different designs, handles, and so on) under that name for securely bracing, holding, or lifting hot pans even when they have no suitable handle. You should be able to find one suited to gripping the edge of your ramekin firmly enough to lift it out of the water-bath.

one possible sample

Depending on how full the ramekins are, and how you need to set the grip, you should be aware that they may puncture a small hole in one edge of your creme caramel or whatever, since the gripping surface runs down into the pot - so if you're going for photo-presentability, that may be an issue, if you're going for how to safely lift the ramekins out, that may be an acceptable trade-off.


One more trick that might keep you from needing to buy new equipment:

Take a couple of wide rubber bands, and twist them around each side of the tongs. (no idea what they're called ... arm? tong?). I save the really wide ones from when I buy broccoli in the grocery store.

This will give your tongs more grip and make the ramekins less likely to slip.


I just used a metal spatula, pushed it under it, then lifted it up onto a hot pad, for safety, and then slid it into the wire rack to cool. Might take a couple gentle pushes to get under it, but it worked out for me, having five ramekins in a 9x13 dish.


Twist a wire cage (from some food safe wire - iron should be fine, electrical wire IS NOT) around your ramekin, eg a few loops of wire twisted together. let top wires stick out far enough to safely hold them.

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