Whether you’re purchasing bakeware for the first time or looking to upgrade your collection, here are our recommendations for the baking pans we love and use.

First: What are baking pans typically made from?

Baking pans are frequently made from aluminum (an excellent heat conductor), or an aluminum-steel combination. Less common are stainless steel pans; while easy to clean and non-reactive, they don’t conduct heat as well as aluminum.

We’ve found silicone pans to be best for sweet baked goods, whose sugar helps them brown; baked goods low in sugar or fat (e.g., hearth breads) baked in a silicone pan don’t brown well.

Other common materials for baking pans include glass, ceramic, or stoneware. On the plus side, these pans are attractive, and a clear glass pan allows you to monitor the color of the crust as it bakes. But ceramic or stoneware doesn’t conduct heat as quickly as metal pans. If you’re baking something where precise temperature isn’t critical (such as bread pudding or pie), they’re a perfectly acceptable choice. 

Glass pans are slower to transfer heat, but retain that heat for longer than metal, which can cause edges and bottoms of baked goods to become hard and overdone by the time the center cooks through. We recommend you reduce your oven’s temperature by 25°F when using a glass pan.

Read more about how your choice of pan material affects your bake: Glass or metal or stoneware

What qualities should I look for in my bakeware? 

Overall, look for pans that are sturdy, but not so heavy that they’re hard to handle. 

Baking pans are often coated with a non-stick surface. This is usually helpful, but also means you shouldn’t cut baked goods in the pan, which can scratch that coating. One exception is angel food pans, which should not have a non-stick surface, as the baking batter actually needs to “climb” up the wall of the pan in order for the cake to rise.

The baking pans you need to know

Baker placing shaped sandwich loaf dough into bread pan, next to already filled bread pan Photography by Mark Weinberg; food styling by Liz Neily
A classic loaf pan is indispensable for bread baking.

Loaf pans

To make a yeasted sandwich loaf using a recipe calling for 3 to 3 1/2 cups (360g to 420g) flour, use a pan that measures 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 5/8". For a recipe calling for 4 cups (480g) of flour, use a 9" x 5" x 2 1/2" pan. Using the proper size pan will give you a nicely domed loaf; using a pan that’s too big will yield a loaf that’s flat across the top. 

When making sweet breads, use a light-colored pan to keep the bread’s crust from burning. When making bread without a significant amount of sugar (e.g., 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar or less per cup of flour), use a dark-colored pan, to promote good browning.

Most quick bread recipes (such as banana bread) are written for 9" x 5" x 2 3/4" pans, which is slightly larger than a yeast bread loaf pan. These pans, though similar in size and shape, are not interchangeable. Using a yeast loaf pan for a quick bread recipe may result in batter overflowing the pan. Likewise, using a quick bread pan for a yeast loaf recipe may result in a loaf that doesn’t dome.  

Since quick loaves bake for a long time (close to an hour or more), feel free to use a stoneware, glass, or ceramic pan, as the quick transfer of heat a metal pan gives isn’t as essential as it is with other baked goods.

Get the pans: Standard Bread Loaf Pan and Quick Bread Pan

Pullman pan 

A pain de mie or Pullman pan is a straight-sided loaf pan with a lid that slides onto the pan. It usually comes in two sizes: 9" x 4" x 4" and 13" x 4" x 4". Use it for flat-topped perfectly square loaves of bread, such as pain de mie.

Get the pan: Pullman Loaf Pan

Bread baked in long covered baker John Sherman
A covered baker promotes better crust.

Covered stone bakers

For extra-crisp hearth-type loaves of bread, choose a covered stone baker. Shaped to hold round, elongated, or baguette-type loaves, a covered stone baker will collect moisture that is drawn off during the initial part of baking and turn it to steam inside the covered pan, keeping the bread’s upper crust soft so that it can rise to its fullest. Once the lid is removed and the steam dissipates into the oven, the upper crust becomes crisp as well.

Get the pan: Glazed Long Covered Baker

Pizza pans

Pizza pans are usually made of dark metal, either anodized aluminum or, less commonly, blue steel (but they can also be made of light-colored aluminum and steel). Both of these darker materials transfer heat quickly and thoroughly, and if there’s one thing every pizza needs, it’s high heat, delivered quickly. Another alternative is to cook pizza directly on a preheated baking stone.

Pizza pans are available in 12" and 14" round sizes, both deep-dish and thin-crust versions; in individual deep-dish pans (about 6 1/2" wide, usually sold in a set of four); and in 13" x 18" rectangular. Unless you’re making a Chicago-style deep-dish or Detroit-style pizza, which are thicker, your pizza pan doesn’t need to be very deep. Round pizza pans are sold with perforated or solid bottoms; we prefer a perforated pan, which we set directly on a preheated baking stone.

Get the pan: Pizza Pan

Half sheet pan with baked scones on it Photography by Danielle Sykes; food styling by Liz Neily
Don't forget the parchment paper to go with your half-sheet pan.

Sheet pans and cookie sheets

Sheet pans come in a variety of sizes and finishes — perhaps most common is a half-sheet pan, which measures 13" x 18" x 3/4". Purchase a sheet pan that optimizes the size of your oven. For best heat circulation, it should have a 2" clearance on all sides when set on the oven rack. Make sure the sheet is substantial enough that it won’t warp or buckle at high heat or develop hot spots. These pans are tremendously versatile, used for everything from baking cookies and cake to roasting fruits and vegetables.

Similar to sheet pans (the names are sometimes used interchangeably), cookie sheets are flat metal pans designed to hold rows of baking cookies and include a rim on only three sides, so that cookies can slide effortlessly off the rimless edge. (This also makes them a helpful replacement for a pizza or bread peel in a pinch.) You may find cookie sheets with a corrugated surface, which provides air circulation all around for better browning and even baking.

Light-colored, shiny cookie sheets will help prevent your cookies from browning too much. Non-stick sheets are often black, and for this reason we don’t recommend non-stick cookie sheets, unless their coating is no darker than light gray to gray. (If you already have a dark-colored, non-stick cookie sheet and it tends to burn the bottoms of your cookies, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.) If you have trouble with cookies sticking, we recommend using parchment or a pan liner

Insulated cookie pans make it very hard to burn the bottom of your cookies. However, since they are very poor heat conductors, they also make it hard to bake your cookies at all; cookies baked on insulated pans tend to bake so long before browning that they dry out.

Get the pans: King Arthur Sheet Pans and Cookie Sheet

Scone pans

While scones are often made freeform by cutting a circular round of dough into wedges or cutting with a biscuit cutter, the scone pan, with its eight wedge-shaped wells, forms beautifully shaped scones. A dark pan will give them a lovely brown crust during the very short time they spend in the oven.

Get the pan: Standard Scone Pan

Baked popovers in pan Photography by Danielle Sykes; food styling by Liz Neily
Popover pans have a straightforward (but delicious) purpose.

Popover pans 

Popovers require a pan with specially shaped cups, in order to attain their full height. Sized in regular (to make six large popovers) or mini (to make 12 smaller ones), popover pans feature deep, narrow wells, which force the baking batter to rise up and then out (rather than flatten), producing the typical popover shape. Popover pans made of dark metal will produce the best crust.

Get the pan: Popover Pan

Muffin pans

Muffins range from mini to maxi, with assorted shapes spanning the range, and pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A standard muffin pan has 12 wells, each measuring about 2 1/2" wide at the top, and 1 1/2" deep. A pan with wells significantly smaller than that won’t hold a standard-size muffin recipe. A mini-muffin pan includes 24 wells, each about 1 3/4" wide and 1" deep; it will hold a standard muffin recipe, as will a jumbo muffin pan, with six wells about 3 3/4" x 2" deep each.

Muffin pans are traditionally made of metal, most commonly aluminum, but can also be found in stoneware and flexible silicone. We’ve found the stoneware pans don’t brown muffins as well as metal as they’re too slow to absorb heat. Silicone pans are naturally non-stick (but we still recommend greasing them), and their flexibility allows you to gently “pop” muffins out of the pan without damaging them. This type of flexible pan must be set on a cookie or baking sheet before being put into the oven.

Get the pan: Standard Muffin Pan

Crêpe pans 

A shallow, flat-sided sauté pan is helpful in making crêpes. Most crêpe pans are made of cast iron, heavy aluminum, or carbon steel, as these metals heat evenly and quickly, without hot spots. Crêpe pans can be non-stick, but it isn’t crucial; crêpes cook in a film of butter and slide out of whatever pan you choose. Sizes range from about 4" to about 10", with the smaller crêpes suitable for dessert and the larger ones perfect for entrées. 

Get the pan: Crêpe Pan

Baker pouring cake batter into round cake pan John Sherman
A round cake pan is a classic.

Cake pans

Nearly all cake pans are made from light-colored aluminum, as cakes need quick, steady heat to rise correctly.

A set of two round layer-cake pans is essential; our material of choice is light-colored aluminum. Layer cake recipes nearly always call for 8" or 9" inch pans; to assure batter won’t overflow, choose pans that are at least 2" deep, and fill them with no more than about 5 to 6 cups of batter.

In addition to round cake pans, you should also have 8" and 9" inch square metal pans.

Get the pans: Round Cake Pan and Square Pan

Sheet cake pans

When you choose to bake a single-layer sheet cake, you’ll nearly always use a 9" x 13" pan. Some smaller cake recipes call for a 9" x 9" square pan. Again, either one should be at least 2" deep. A 9" x 13" x 2" pan shouldn't be filled with any more than 12 cups of batter; 10 cups is safer, though you can go to 12 with dense cakes that don’t rise much. These can also be used for cakes, brownies, and other bar cookies.

Get the pan: Cake and Brownie Pan

Springform pans 

For delicate tortes and cheesecakes, streusel-topped cakes, or any cake you want to remove from its pan to serve (but not upend it in the process), the springform pan is your best solution. They are usually round and available in lots of sizes, from about 4 1/2" in diameter to 12". The flat bottom is surrounded by a 2 1/2" to 3" tall removable locking sidewall. When purchasing one, examine how tightly the walls lock onto the base when fastened into position; less expensive springform pans are prone to leaks.

Get the pan: Springform Pan

Bundt-style, tube, and angel food pans

Generally 8 1/2" to 10" in diameter, and featuring an 8- to 12-cup capacity, Bundt-style pans are usually non-stick aluminum or aluminum-steel, with the occasional glass or tinned steel pan available as well. For single-serving cakes, plaques featuring four or six small Bundt-style wells are available. The similarly sized tube pan has plain (rather than embossed), slightly flaring sides.

An angel food pan is a tube pan with some special features: It should not be non-stick; and it should include either "feet" (small posts attached to the top rim; be sure they’re at least 2" long), or a tube wide enough to fit comfortably over the top of a glass bottle, such as a wine bottle. Angel food cakes attain their maximum height by cooling upside down, either on the shoulders of a bottle or resting on the pan’s feet. While not as intricately shaped as Bundt pans, these pans come in various shapes, including round, square, and flower. Choose one that's at least 4" deep, 9" to 10" wide, and has a minimum 10-cup capacity. 

Get the pans: Original Classic Bundt Pan and Angel Food Cake Pan

Mile-High Meringue Pie with slice cut out Photography by Kristin Teig; food styling by Liz Neily
For lemon meringue pie anytime, make sure you have a pie pan.

Pie pans

Most pie recipes are written to fit a 9" or 10" wide, 1 1/2" deep pie. Beware pie pans that are much shallower than 1 1/2"; anything shallower will not hold a typical-size pie filling. For deep-dish pies, choose a pan that’s 2" deep.

Smaller-diameter pie pans (4 3/4" to 5") are ideal for individual pies. Pot pie pans, usually ceramic, have more gently sloped walls than individual pie pans (usually made of aluminum and sold in sets of four), which flare from bottom to top quite dramatically. The straighter walls of the pan give pot pies a greater ratio of filling to crust.

Dark-colored metal pie pans tend to become hotter, and transfer heat better, than ceramic or glass pans, and for that reason brown crust more quickly, a plus in pie-baking (where a pale, soggy bottom crust is the baker’s nemesis).

When a recipe calls for a 9" round cake or pie pan, it means the top inside measurement should be 9". Many manufacturers cut corners and make their pans 9" from edge to edge, but only 8 3/4" (or less) inside. This makes a difference in whether the pan can hold a recipe comfortably.

However, most pie pans will brown a crust thoroughly, given enough time; and, in the case of many pies (e.g., fruit pies), extending baking time beyond what the recipe says isn’t a problem, so long as you cover the pie’s exposed edges with a crust shield to prevent burning. (Read more here: From metal to glass to ceramic, how does your pie pan affect your crust?

The advantage of stoneware or ceramic pie pans is their beauty. Thanksgiving, a dinner party, or anytime you’re seeking a fancier touch, choose a handsome colored or painted ceramic pie dish instead of utilitarian metal. Clear glass dishes, the ones so many of us grew up with, allow you to see when the bottom crust is sufficiently browned.

Get the pan: Pie Pan

Tart pans and quiche dishes

Tart pans, usually fluted, shiny tinplate, shaped round, square, or rectangular, often feature a removable bottom, very handy for removing the tart from the pan without harming the appearance of the crust. Because they’re usually only 1" deep, tarts will have a greater ratio of crust to filling, an appropriate balance considering tart fillings often include pastry cream or some other very rich confection. 

The classic French quiche dish is usually round, ceramic, and about 10" to 11" in diameter, 1" to 1 1/2" deep. Most quiche dishes have fluted sides, and unlike pie pans, the sides are straight, not slanted.

Get the pan: Fluted Tart Pan

Feeling overwhelmed? We haven’t even covered everything! Find all of our favorite pans in our Pans Shop.

Cover photo by Kristin Teig; styling by Liz Neily.

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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.&nbsp...
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