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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 pastries, and the quality of the pans really matters. It’s easy to create an endless variety of baked goods as a pastry chef because of the pans and tools at their disposal in a well-curated professional kitchen. For home bakers, picking out the right pans means selecting and sourcing the right types and making sure they are of adequate quality all on your own.
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!
Here, our list of the best baking pans for whatever your baking needs.
Best Basic Set: Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set
Great quality at an affordable price
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. Customers highlight how well-built and sturdy these pans are, as well as their stackability.
Material: Heavy-gauge steel, nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Pieces Included: (2) 8-inch round cake pans, (1) medium loaf pan, (1) 9 x 13-inch cake pan, (1) 12-cup muffin pan, (1) 10 x 15-inch baking sheet
Best Cake Pan: USA Pan Nonstick Round Cake Pan 9 Inch, Set of 2
Well-made, trusted brand
Easy to release cakes from pan
On the expensive side
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 are nonetheless easy to clean, according to several users.
Material: Commercial-grade aluminized steel, nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but recommended to hand wash | Pieces Included: (2) 9-inch round cake pans
Best for Instant Pot Baking: Instant Pot 7.5-Inch Nonstick Springform Pan
Can be used for sweet or savory dishes
Fits perfectly inside the 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. Several users say they like the volume they were able to achieve with their cheesecakes with this pan. 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.
Material: Aluminized steel, nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: No | Pieces Included: (1) 7.5 x 2.75-inch springform pan
Best High-End Set: Wilton Diamond-Infused Non-Stick Navy Blue Baking Set, 7-Piece
Nice assortment of pieces included
Easy to clean
Baking sheets may warp at 450+ degrees
If you’re looking for a high-quality set that covers most of your bakeware needs—and one that also looks good—several customers recommend this one by Wilton. 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.
Material: Heavy-gauge steel, nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Pieces Included: (2) 9-inch round cake pans, (1) 9.25 x 5.25-inch loaf pan, (1) 9 x 13-inch cake pan, (1) 12-cup muffin pan, (1) 11.5 x 17.2-inch baking sheet, (1) 13 x 9-inch baking sheet
Best Loaf Pan: Emile Henry Bread Loaf Baker
Beautiful rustic style
Lead- and cadmium-free
Handles are very small
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 loaf pan measures 9 x 5.5 x 4.75 inches high (including lid) with a 2-quart capacity and weighs 4 pounds 12 ounces. It is sized for a loaf up to 1 pound 12 ounces. 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. Customers like that the bread this produces comes out with a thin, crispy crust and a soft interior.
Material: High-fired Burgundian clay | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Pieces Included: 2-quart loaf pan with lid
Best Tart Pan: CHEFMADE 9.5-Inch Round Tart Pan with Removable Loose Bottom
Durable, heavyweight construction
Removable bottom makes for easy release
Easy to clean
Nonstick surface is prone to scratches
Hand wash on;y
Made of heavy carbon steel with a nonstick silicone coating, many reviewers were pleasantly surprised with how heavy-duty this tart pan is. It comes 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.
Material: Nonstick coated carbon steel | Oven Max Temperature: 428 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: No | Pieces Included: 9.5-inch tart mold with removable bottom (2 pieces)
Best Cookie-Jelly Roll Pan: Chicago Metallic Professional Commercial II Jelly Roll Pan
Reinforced rims prevent warping
Backed by lifetime warranty
Lower heat max 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. Plus, "the edges are hefty enough to prevent warping," says one pleased customer, echoed by several others.
Material: Aluminized steel, nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but hand washing is recommended | Pieces Included: (1) 17.5 x 12.5-inch rimmed pan
Best Bundt Pan: Nordic Ware 70th Anniversary Crown Bundt® Pan
Turns out beautifully baked cakes
Large, 10-cup capacity
Backed by lifetime warranty
Design makes it more difficult to clean
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.
Material: Cast aluminum with nonstick coating | Oven Max Temperature: 400 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: No | Pieces Included: 10-cup capacity Bundt pan
If you’re a newly-hatched baker/pastry chef, try the Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set (found on Amazon) 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 (available at Sur La Table) to your other tried and true pans.
What to Look for in a Baking Pan
Type of Baking Pan
Depending on the baked goods you're planning to make, you'll likely need a specific type of baking pan. Some of these pans, of course, are multi-purpose. Besides the standard square and rectangular roasting pans and baking dishes, there are also cake pans, bundt pans, loaf pans, muffin tins, jelly roll pans, doughnut pans, pie pans, springform pans, tart pans, and more.
Equally important to the type of baking pan is the material it's made of. You'll commonly find glass, metal, silicone, and ceramic—each with its pros and cons. For instance, glass pans conduct heat well, while silicone ones often don't; however, the latter are great for cupcakes and muffins because they're nonstick. Ceramic pans also conduct heat evenly, but unglazed ones need to be seasoned; metal pans are the most common and most versatile. Furthermore, within these categories there are variations. For instance, under metal alone there are several different types: aluminum, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, insulated, nonstick, and more.
Similar to looking at the type of baking pan, your recipe will dictate the size of pan you need. The standard baking pan size is 9 by 13 inches, and any basic cupcake or cake recipe can be converted to be baked using this versatile pan, with very few adjustments. If a recipe calls for a baking pan you don't have, you can typically use a similarly sized pan—mainly, just make sure it is as close to the same volume capacity as the original pan the recipe called for.
Is there a big difference between using parchment paper versus greasing a pan?
While many recipes—especially more traditional ones—call for greasing your baking pan, many professionals prefer parchment paper. According to Clemence Gossett, owner of the Gourmandise School in Santa Monica, greasing pans might leave an unsavory coating around your baked goods, and create a slippery surface that prevents most of your cake batters from climbing up their cake pans. Parchment paper makes for easier clean-up and foolproof release.
How do you line a baking pan with parchment paper?
To line a square or rectangular baking pan, cut a length of parchment paper long enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a little extra hanging over the sides. Make a crease in the parchment along the edges so that it fits snugly on the bottom. A completely optional step: use a little nonstick spray in the pan first to help tack down the parchment paper so it doesn't move. Some people also prefer to make cuts in the corners for a neater presentation. For round cake pans, you can trace the pan onto a sheet of parchment and cut just inside your tracing—the lining for a cake pan doesn't necessarily need to come all the way up the sides as you can easily loosen the cake with a spatula once it's finished baking.
How do you grease a baking pan?
If you must grease a baking mold, the easiest way is to use a nonstick cooking spray to lightly coat the inside of your pan. You can also use a paper towel with a bit of oil, shortening, or butter on top, dragging the fat along the insides of your baking pan until it's coated in a sheer layer.
Do silicone and other nonstick baking pans need to be greased?
Silicone is naturally nonstick and tends to release without any issue. Most nonstick pans do not need any additional greasing either, but for easier cleanup, you can always opt to line a rigid cake or sheet pan with parchment paper.
What's the best way to remove finished baked goods from their 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.
This piece was edited by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. After a 2-year stint at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.