Best Baking Pans of 2018
A baking pan gives you the opportunity to bake anything from luscious lasagna to a lively lemon torte. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best baking pan for your cooking enjoyment.
Shopping Guide for the Best Baking Pans
Whether you aim to create a delicious lasagna or a mouthwatering lemon torte, there's a baking pan to accommodate your goal. Some pans are round and ideal for making cakes or side dishes; others are rectangular with space to spare for your favorite entrees. There are also pans designed for specific uses, such as making muffins or cheesecakes.
At BestReviews, we delved into the world of baking pans in order to identify the very best. We stand behind the recommendations in the grid above because, frankly, we love them. Like you, we crave the satisfaction of a successful baking experience with tasty results. Silken cheesecakes, picturesque pastries, and tempting tortes—oh my. So, if you're ready to learn more about baking pans—what they offer, what you can do with them—you've come to the right place.
The Versatility of Baking Pans
When shopping for baking pans, you'll generally find these types of products.
- Cake pans, including round, sheet cake, Bundt, angel food, and springform pans
- Muffin pans with wells of various sizes, including mini and jumbo muffin sizes
- Tart dishes and pie plates
- Loaf pans
- Other unique pans, including shaped pans for cornbread and novelty cake molds
Most baking pans are versatile enough to use for preparing more than one type of food. For example, the same square pan on which you bake a sheet cake can also be used to make cornbread or bake fish.
A Necessity for Beautiful Desserts
Do you want to create a special dessert for a special occasion? While you could use your standard set of 8-inch round pans to create a gorgeous layer cake, you'll enjoy far more creativity if you invest in pans of varying sizes. For example, some basic three-piece cake pan sets include a 6-inch pan, an 8-inch pan, and a 10-inch pan.
For a streamlined experience, it's easier to have a pan designed for the task at hand. Springform pans are great for making hassle-free cheesecake. Fluted tart pans help you create the perfect crust on your favorite fruit tart.
Baking Pan Materials
- Metal: Metal is the most popular material for baking pans because it bakes evenly, withstands high temperatures, and easily endures repeated use.
- Aluminum: Natural aluminum is popular with cooks who prefer uncoated pans. Aluminum conducts heat very well, though it isn't ideal for browning foods. Hard- and silver-anodized aluminum pans have gone through processes to harden and coat the surfaces, and they resist scratching a bit better than natural aluminum pans. Cleaning these pans in the dishwasher is not recommended.
- Steel: Steel and aluminized steel baking pans with nonstick surfaces are popular and affordable. Food releases easily from this material, and in most cases, steel baking pans are dishwasher-safe.
- Cast Iron: Though durable, cast-iron baking pans are heavy and awkward to use. Food also tends to stick to these surfaces.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Whether you purchase your baking pans in a set or individually, aim to get a variety of shapes and sizes for the most versatility in your kitchen. We recommend owning two round cake pans, one square pan, and at least one rectangular pan. It's also handy to have several types of muffin pans, loaf pans, and at least one pie pan at your disposal.
Baking Pan Prices
Most baking pans are not highly expensive. You can find well-made baking pans in the neighborhood of $6 to $50 that will last through years of baking.
- Coated steel and aluminized steel baking pans typically fall on the lower end of the price range. Smaller pans, sold individually, can be purchased for as low as $6. Larger square or rectangular models cost $14 to $15.
- Expect to pay a bit more for both natural aluminum and anodized aluminum pans, which range from around $20 to $30. Similar to steel pans, the larger the pan, the higher the price.
- The price of cast-iron pans varies between $25 and $50, with the most versatile rectangular models costing the most.
Cleaning Your Bakeware
Some baking pans have a nonstick surface that easily releases food. Even if you don't buy nonstick bakeware, it's usually not too difficult to clean up after a baking session when your pans are fairly new. Over the course of years, however, your pans may develop some burnt-on residue or discoloration. There are several ways to address this.
- Clean pans as soon as possible after food preparation. This will help prevent stubborn stains and residue.
- Soak pans with stuck-on food in dish detergent and warm water to soften and remove debris.
- Baking soda is ideal for removing stains on all types of pans, especially uncoated aluminum. Allow pans to soak in a mixture of vinegar, dish soap, and hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- A mixture of coarse kosher salt and water will clean food that sticks to cast-iron pans without damaging surfaces.
Q. Can I roast vegetables in a cake or pie pan?
A. Yes. Although cake and pie pans are designed specifically for the shapes of these desserts, you can also use them to roast vegetables. For example, you could roast red potatoes with rosemary in a cake pan if you didn't have a roasting pan handy. For best results, roast the veggies on aluminum foil to preserve moisture and promote even cooking.
Q. How closely should I follow the baking pan size recommendations called for in a recipe?
A. Recipes indicate specific pan sizes for good reason: the ingredients, oven temperature, and baking times all depend on the pan size. If you choose a pan that is larger, smaller, or deeper than your recipe calls for, your results may disappoint you unless you also adjust the temperature and cooking time.
Q. Do I need to use oil or flour to prevent food from sticking to my baking pan?
A. While baking pans with nonstick surfaces are pretty reliable when it comes to releasing food, you can add a bit of oil or flour for extra reassurance. This is a particularly good idea if you're preparing ornate foods, such as cakes or bars, that must look perfect for the best results.