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Anybody who bakes a lot has learned at least two important things: It takes a lot of different pans to make a lot of different pasties, and the quality of the pans really matters. It’s easy to create numerous varieties of pastries as a professional pastry chef because generally, the restaurant manager has already done the job of ordering huge toppling piles of pans of all kinds, but it’s not as easy for the home baker/pastry chef because the work of getting all those pans and making sure they’re good quality is all up to you!
It can be quite an investment and should be approached with careful thought. What do you most like to bake? What do the people you feed most like in terms of desserts, pies, cakes, breads, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, muffins? Specialty baking can also be quite addictive, with so many possibilities of unique and personal expressions of love all baked into something delicious to eat!
Great quality at an affordable price
Comprehensive assortment of bakeware
Lightweight baking sheet might warp
Prone to scratches
Everybody’s heard of Calphalon, but what, exactly, is it? It’s actually both a brand name and an invention. In 1963, Ronald M. Kasperzak started a company called Commercial Aluminum Cookware in Perrysburg, Ohio, and by 1968, had developed a process to create hard-anodized aluminum cookware using techniques borrowed from the aerospace industry, which make cookware more durable and resistant to corrosion and warping.
The name has represented a quality product ever since, from first being sold in specialty stores and in cooking schools to now being widely available. This set is composed of two 8-inch round cake pans, one medium loaf pan, one 9 x 13-inch cake pan, one 12-cup muffin pan, and one 10 x 15-inch baking sheet. These are nonstick, dishwasher safe, and supremely practical.
Well-made, trusted brand
Easy to release cakes from pan
On the expensive side
Hand wash only
Round cake pans are a requirement in any baker’s collection because of their flexibility. They can be used to create birthday layer cakes, Italian ricotta cheesecakes, clafoutis, and more. This set is exceptionally well-made of commercial grade heavy gauge steel with a light nonstick BPA-free coating that helps with the removal of cakes and makes cleanup easier. This classic set features two pans with a 9-inch diameter and height of 2.25 inches so you are ready-to-go for any cake-making occasion. One unique characteristic of these pans is the corrugated base, designed to increase overall performance and durability. These are not dishwasher safe, but nonetheless easy to clean.
Beautiful rustic style
Lead and cadmium-free
Can be difficult to move from oven because it doesn't have handles
This rustic covered loaf pan is crafted in Burgundy, France by the Emile Henry company, founded in 1850. The design of the pan offers even heat distribution with immaculate crust formation for any sandwich-style loaf. Emile Henry is known for developing the “ceradon” process and no lead or cadmium is used in the products. This is a luxurious bread pan for serious bread makers or for anyone who aspires to produce the highest-quality loaf possible in a home oven.
Specs: 9 x 5 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches high (including lid) with a 2-quart capacity, weighing 4 pounds 12 ounces, sized for a loaf up to 1 pound 12 ounces.
Reinforced rims prevent warping
Backed by lifetime warranty
Lower heat maximum than uncoated version
Nonstick surface is prone to damage
This hardworking pan works for both cookies and jelly rolls, which makes it a great investment—as well as a space-saver in the kitchen! Made by Chicago Metallic Bakeware, it’s part of the brand's “Professional” line of bakeware, which offers a lifetime warranty. The outside measures a generous 17.5 x 12.5 x 1 inch; the inside measures 16.5 x 11.5 inches. The heavy-weight aluminized steel supports excellent heat conduction for even baking, and for ease of removal, the interior surface has a diamond-quality, nonstick dual-coating. The preferred way to clean is by hand, but the pan is also dishwasher safe.
Durable heavyweight construction
Removable bottom makes it easy to pop baked tart out of mold
Easy to clean
Nonstick surface is prone to scratches
Made of heavy carbon steel with a nonstick silicone coating, this tart pan with a removable bottom in a champagne-gold tone has the additional benefit of looking great enough for serving! It’s strong enough to not buckle, and the heat distributes evenly throughout. Dimensions are for a traditionally sized tart: 9.5 x 9.5 x 0.94 inches. The pan should be washed by hand and thoroughly dried for long-life performance.
Can be used for sweet or savory dishes
Fits perfectly inside the 6-qt and 8-qt Instant Pot
Also can be used in a regular oven
Nonstick coating degrades over time
Not only are the immensely popular Instant Pots the newest hit product for making savory food for busy people, but believe it or not, you can also make desserts in them! This nonstick springform pan with removable bottom is perfect for cheesecakes, chocolate lava cakes, and more. At a size of 7.5 x 2.75 inches, it fits 6 quart and larger Instant Pots and can also be used in a traditional oven. It's BPA-free, made of aluminized steel, and should be hand washed. It also features a lifetime warranty.
Turns out beautifully baked cakes
Large, 10-cup capacity
Backed by lifetime warranty
Design makes it more difficult to clean
Hand wash only
All Bundt pans make beautiful Bundt cakes, but this one is particularly exquisite. The 70th Anniversary Special Edition pan was designed to celebrate Nordic Ware’s history as the creators of the original Bundt pan. In 1950, the owner of Nordic Ware, a Minneapolis-based company, designed the pan now known as the Bundt specifically for the Hadassah Society, a group of women who were looking for a way to replicate the kugelhopfs known in Europe.
The graduated wave-shaped sections of this pan offer a new take on an old tradition, offering the quality represented by the Nordic Ware brand. This made-in-the-USA pan features cast aluminum, a nonstick finish, a 10-cup capacity, and a lifetime warranty. It measures 3.875 x 10 inches and should be hand washed. This is truly a gorgeous and collectible piece of bakeware!
Nice assortment of pieces included
Easy to clean
Baking sheet may warp at 450 degrees or higher
If you’re looking for a high-quality set that covers most of your bakeware needs, this fits the bill. The added bonus is that all seven pieces have a great-looking, slightly glossy navy blue finish. The set is composed of a 12-cup muffin pan; large, medium, and small rectangular baking pans; a loaf pan; and two round baking pans. All feature a diamond-infused nonstick coating and large, curved handles that make handling the pans easier. They are dishwasher safe, sturdy, and safe to use with most metal tools.
Dimensions: large sheet: 11.5 x 17.2 x 1 inches; round pans: 9 x 1.5 inches; oblong pan: 13 x 9 x 2 inches; medium sheet: 15.2 x 10.2 x 0.75 inches; loaf pan 9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 inches.
If you’re a newly-hatched baker/pastry chef, try the Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set for a good selection at a great price point. If you’ve been baking for a while and are looking for something unique and special to add to your collection, consider adding the Nordic Ware 70th Anniversary Crown Bundt® Pan to your other tried and true pans.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Karen Resta is a writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, and restaurants. She's also a former pastry chef and has traveled to Budapest, Kyiv, and Paris during their Fashion Weeks as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic pastries along the way. She now spends a lot of her free time baking at home and recommends quality within your given budget. Having the right tools available and knowing how to use them well (it can take practice, like anything else) makes all the difference, and she curated this list with that in mind.