Cardboard Upcycle: How to Make an Insulated Casserole Carrier

Raid your recycling bin for a cardboard box to construct an insulated carrier for transporting hot menu items to friends, neighbors or family.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Related To:

Materials Needed

  • covered casserole dish
  • leftover cardboard
  • ruler or tape measure
  • pencil
  • utility knife
  • aluminum foil
  • glue stick
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • cloth-backed tape
  • thick rope or braided rope

Create the Base

Measure the length and width of your food dish and add 1 inch to both measurements. Using that measurement, cut five pieces of double-thick corrugated cardboard with a utility knife and a straight edge such as a metal ruler or yardstick (Image 1). Set two of the pieces aside for later. Apply glue stick liberally to one side of one of the remaining cardboard pieces. Press aluminum foil to the sticky surface and trim away excess (Image 2). Repeat for the other side. Add hot glue to one side of two other cardboard pieces, taking care to cover the corners and edges (Image 3). Press the three pieces together with the aluminum-foil-covered piece in the middle.

Create the Sides

Place the food dish, with the lid on, on the base with a scrap piece of cardboard on top. Measure from the bottom of the base to the bottom of the scrap cardboard (Image 1). Add 1/2 inch to that measurement to determine the necessary height of the sides. Cut two pieces of cardboard, with the corrugation channels running vertically, to the length of the base by the height of the sides (Image 2). Cut two more pieces that are the length of the base by the height of the sides minus 1/2 inch. Cover one side of the shorter pieces with glue and aluminum foil. Glue each of the shorter pieces to the taller pieces with the aluminum foil in the center to create the end panels. Use hot glue to attach the panels to the base with the taller sides facing inward (Image 3). Measure the length of the base with the newly attached end panels. Use this measurement and the height of the sides to create two longer side panels in the same way the end panels were created with the outside piece 1/2 inch shorter than the inside piece. Apply hot glue to the edges of the end panels and the base (Image 4). Press the long side panels into place and cut away the notch created at corners (Image 5).

Create the Lid

Create the top of the lid with the remaining two pieces that match the base. Apply glue and aluminum foil to one side of the pieces, then attach the two pieces together with hot glue, ensuring that the aluminum foil is in the middle. Create the end panels first, then the side panels in the same manner as the bottom of the carrier. However, the height will be 1-1/2 inches for the tall side and 1 inch for the shorter side. Use hot glue to attach the panels to the carrier top with the shorter pieces facing inward (Image 1). Cover all exposed corrugation on the edges with cloth-backed tape (Image 2). Cut notches at corners and fold over excess for a clean finish (Image 3).

Create the Handle

Use thick rope or braided thinner rope to create handles. Draw light pencil lines on the sides of the carrier (bottom only, not the lid) to divide the sides into three equal parts. On the outside of the lines, liberally apply hot glue. Press the rope into the hot glue and hold in place (Image 1). Leave enough rope at the top to create a handle that reaches just past the center of the top of the carrier. Cut the end of the rope at the bottom of the carrier. Use hot glue to seal the ends of the rope to prevent fraying (Image 2).

Take Dinner To Go

This handy insulated carrier makes it easy to keep food hot when taking a dish to a potluck or dropping off a casserole for family, friends or neighbors.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Next Up

Upcycle Plastic Grocery Bags Into a Colorful Tote

Don't toss those plastic bags, reimagine them into a handy tote bag that's cute and waterproof, to boot.

Easy Upcycle: How to Create Custom Napkin Rings

Upcycle an empty paper towel tube and a bit of leftover fabric into a fashion-forward accessory for your dining table.

Upcycle Cardboard Into a Custom Desk Drawer Organizer

With a little creativity, you can turn leftover shipping boxes and vinyl shelf liner into a custom organizer to tame desk drawer clutter once and for all.

Turn a Wooden Stool Into a Party Beverage Station

This easy, DIY beverage station is not only cute and functional, it's upcycling genius.

Free-Play Activity for Kids: Build a Cardboard City From Upcycled Boxes

Looking for an easy, budget-friendly activity to keep the kids busy? Put boxes and other recyclables to use by encouraging kids to build a cardboard kingdom. Simply set out the materials and let your little ones unleash their creativity.

How to Craft a Trendy Fabric-Covered Tray

Give an old wooden tray a trendy new lease on life by covering it with upholstery fabric, then add a high-end finishing touch with a decorative pattern created with nail-head trim.

3 Ways to Make Creepy Doll Head Planters for Halloween

Forget the expensive store-bought stuff, upcycle thrift-store toys to create spooky Halloween decor.

3 Ways to Turn Buffalo Plaid Scarves Into DIY Holiday Decor

Give new life to your old buffalo plaid scarves by upcycling them into budget-friendly holiday decorations.

Flea Market Flip: Thrift Store Chair Gets a Fresh Upholstery Update

Once you flip one piece of furniture, you'll want to thrift and flip it all. 

Upcycle Dollar Store Tins Into Trendy Gift Containers

Get multiple uses from budget tin boxes with this easy decorating hack.

What's New in Handmade

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.