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Baking a cake is a lot like building a house—it all starts with a solid foundation. In cake making, that means having the right cake pan is essential. The wrong pan can cause all sorts of problems, like burned edges or, worse, a crumbling, stuck-on mess. The good news: You don’t have to look far to find a great one. Whether you’re a novice baker experimenting with a bundt cake fit for a birthday or a budding professional making a special wedding cake, these highly-rated cake pans will get the job done.
Consider this bestselling set of three round cake pans (a 3 x 2-inch, a 5 x 2-inch, and a 7 x 2-inch) the ideal starter set. Though extremely budget-friendly, the quality is there.
The pans, which are made of aluminum, heat and cool quickly, allowing for a faster, more even rise. The material is also extremely durable and naturally resists rust and corrosion (great for anyone who regularly bakes with highly acidic ingredients, like citrus).
Anyone with concerns about nonstick coatings will love that these pans are anodized, not coated. This environmentally-friendly process yields similar results but contains no chemical additives, dyes, or potentially harmful compounds that can transfer peel, or flake into baked goods.
Need recipe inspiration? Check out our roundup of the best cake mixes and desserts.
Nordic Ware is known for its baking pans, and this one does not disappoint. It’s made from a highly durable commercial-grade natural aluminum that never rusts no matter how frequently you use the pan. It also has a reinforced encapsulated steel rim to prevent warping over time—a must to prevent cakes quality from declining over time.
The premium material helps yield premium results, too. This 9 x 13-inch rectangular baking pan has superior heat conductivity for even baking throughout, so you don’t have to worry about burned edges, but a gooey interior.
Customers love the bonus of the companion cover. It makes quick work of overnight storage, plus is extremely convenient for potlucks and other events like picnics or classroom birthday parties.
If you can only choose one cake pan to stock your kitchen with, let it be a round pan. It’s a solid choice for nearly any recipe and will see you through special events like birthdays and even weddings, should you want to make something more elaborate like a layer cake.
This one is a solid choice. The 9-inch pan has a nonstick, BPA-free coating and a fluted design that makes removing baked goods a breeze—even for beginners. (Bonus: This also makes cleanup a breeze—all you need is hot water, mild soap, and a sponge.)
The pan is also resistant to warping, which adds to the longevity of the cake pan. Even years later, you’ll be churning out even, attractive cakes. (And, if it doesn’t, the pan is backed by a lifetime warranty.)
Square baking pans are a nice, versatile option to have in your kitchen. With a square baking pan, you can make cakes, but you can also make an array of other goodies like brownies and bars.
These types of baking pans are a bit different, though, since they don’t distribute heat the same way that round pans do. If not constructed properly, square pans can cause your baked goods to droop in the middle—it’s a phenomenon called doming. It’s not something you have to worry about with this pan since it's made with a heavy-gauge steel core that works to evenly distribute—even up to 500 degrees.
When it comes to convenience, you can’t really beat this option, either. Unlike many baking pans, this one can be put into the dishwasher to make quick work of cleaning up.
If you want to impress a crowd, but are wary of bundt pans because of their intricacy, this is a great pick. The design is solid and intricate enough to please the eye, but it doesn’t have fanciful, deep grooves that can make baking a nightmare.
The pan is made by Nordic Ware—no surprise, as the brand's a real leader in the space—and is constructed with top-of-the-line materials. The durable cast-aluminum construction has a premium nonstick coating. Together these features ensure even baking and easy removal (something not all bundt pans offer), so you can confidently serve up a beautifully designed naked cake.
There’s little room for error when you’re making something as special as a wedding cake, but this three-layered set from Wilton will help you tackle the ambitious project with minimal fuss. It comes with three differently sized nonstick springform pans (4-inch, 7-inch, and 9-inch) that make it easy to remove each layer without damage. (Cleanup is a breeze, too.) As a bonus, you’ll also get an icing spatula to help spread the frosting evenly and an icing smoother for creating beautiful designs.
Because each pan is made with durable carbon steel that resists warping and can withstand temperatures up to 450 degrees, the set is built to last—no matter how many cakes you have in your future.
If you need a little guidance, learn how to bake and decorate a three-tier wedding cake.
If you really want to surprise the special birthday honoree, trade your typical round cake for a more highly personalized one. This affordable 10-piece set comes with a unique rectangular pan that features a grid and inserts that—almost magically—allow you to create any letter of the alphabet or number from zero to nine.
Despite the perceived intricacy, there’s little fuss for the baker to endure. The pan, which is made of steel and has a nonstick coating, allows for both easy release and quick cleanup—two things you’ll be grateful for when you have a lengthy to-do list to tackle in preparation for the party.
Just because you’re a novice baker doesn’t mean you have to stick to simple one-layer cakes—particularly if you have this four-piece set at your disposal. With a single box of cake mix, you’ll have enough batter to fill all four pans, creating four layers that don’t require any cutting to assemble. There’s minimal risk of sticking, too, since each pan is constructed of heavy-duty nonstick aluminum. For added effect, you can use food dye to color each layer differently—opt for a rainbow or varying shades of the same color for a cool ombre effect. Either way, you’ll be left with a truly impressive dessert—minimal skills required.
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This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of articles in the food space for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. Brigitt also attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC. Her kitchen is stocked with a mixture of Nordic Ware and Calphalon baking pans.