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Every home baker who's felt the urge to whip up a loaf of banana bread knows that a loaf pan (or two) is an essential piece of a well-rounded bakeware collection.
The Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 1-Pound Loaf Pan is our top choice because of its professional-grade and heavy-duty design, consistent even cooking in testing, and versatility. For a splurge-worthy option that stood up in testing, go with the Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Loaf Pan.
Loaf pans are incredibly versatile, not just for quick breads and yeasted loaves, but also for babkas, pound cakes, coffee cakes, and freezing ice cream. For cooks who spend more of their time whipping up savory recipes, a sturdy loaf pan is a perfect vessel for meatloaf, gratins, and even terrines for more adventurous chefs. Loaf pans are constructed in every type of baking material, including metal, tempered glass, ceramic, and silicone.
To help you figure out which loaf pan is right for your needs, we got expert input and then we tested them out side by side in a home kitchen and evaluated each on its design, quality, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Many batches of banana bread and pound cake were made to make sure these loaf pans are truly the best.
Here are the best loaf pans, according to our tests.
Best Overall: Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 1-Pound Loaf Pan
Heavy-duty design prevents warping
Lift-off can be problematic if not greased or lined properly
If you're looking for a professional-grade metal loaf pan, the Chicago Metallic Commercial II earned our best overall placement based on both expert recommendations and user testing. The size of this loaf pan is perfect for baking babka, banana bread, or a sandwich-worthy sourdough loaf. Made of aluminized steel, this pan features a reinforced rim and folded corners that help to prevent the warping that may happen with lighter pans.
"Chicago Metallic's uncoated loaf pans are workhorses for us," says Clémence Gossett, owner of The Gourmandise cooking school in Santa Monica, California. "The narrow base allows for more vertical expansion, allowing for a taller loaf. I prefer metal to ceramic for a more golden, even crust on our yeasted and quick breads."
During testing, banana bread and vanilla pound cake both came out evenly cooked and browned. Since the loaf pan is made of steel, it did need a generous amount of baking spray on the bottom and sides, but when properly greased, both cakes slid out of the pan with no issues. The pan was a little cumbersome to put into and take out of the oven, though, because it doesn't have handles. It was difficult to grip, especially with bulky oven mitts, and it was a bit of a challenge to invert the pan to remove the cake unless it was completely cooled.
Gossett's pro tip: Lining your pan with a quarter sheet of parchment paper rather than greasing the pan makes for easy lift-off and cleanup after baking. Aside from making the pan easier to clean, the parchment paper also made little handles that made it easier for our tester to remove the cake from the pan.
Baking Dimensions: 7 3/4 x 3 3/4 x 2 3/4 inches | Material: Alloy steel | Pieces Included: 1
"This pan delivered the most even cooking and browning of all the pans."
Best High-End: Le Creuset Heritage Loaf Pan
Stoneware retains heat evenly
Safe for oven, broiler, freezer, and microwave
Easy to grip and transport to and from the oven
Easy to clean
Bulky to store
Heavy, especially with denser batter
Can chip if dropped or banged
The brand Le Creuset might be best known for its vibrant enameled Dutch ovens, but its stoneware collection also performs exceptionally well. "Ceramic heats evenly and can be very sturdy," says Los Angeles-based chef Leslie Durso, who likes to use her Le Creuset loaf pan for baking bread. "Bonus points for the beautiful pop of color it can give your kitchen."
The Heritage Loaf Pan, made of high-fired stoneware, is a solid addition to your bakeware collection, and it comes in multiple colors and is gorgeous to boot. Thanks to a durable enamel-glaze finish, it will resist stains, odors, and scratches and is also easy to clean. It is safe for use in the oven, freezer, and microwave, and can withstand up to 500 degrees.
During testing, the Heritage Loaf Pan lived up to the high standards of the Le Creuset name. Cakes rose evenly, had beautiful browning on the tops and sides, and didn't crack as much on the top during baking. With a little baking spray, cooled cakes slid right out of the pan without any sticking, so cleanup was a breeze, too.
The downside of the stoneware pan is that it's significantly heavier than the steel and nonstick pans, especially when the pan was filled with a denser batter, like that of banana bread, but the vintage-inspired design has stylish scalloped handles that made it easy to grip for convenient transport to and from the oven.
Baking Dimensions: 7 1/2 x 3 3/8 x 3 1/8 inches | Material: Stoneware | Pieces Included: 1
"This was my favorite pan of the bunch. It made beautiful loaf breads and cakes, was easy to handle and clean, and it looks pretty, too."
Best Looking: Great Jones Breadwinner
Ceramic nonstick coating
Doesn't have handles
Corner seams make it difficult to clean
If you haven't been introduced to Great Jones' line of brightly colored and thoughtfully designed kitchenware, it's time to change that. The brand offers a boldly colored loaf pan made of aluminized steel and finished with a colorful ceramic nonstick coating that performed well in testing.
Besides looking phenomenal in your kitchen, the pan is scratch-resistant for when it takes a little extra effort to get an especially sticky loaf out of the pan. Our tester made banana bread and vanilla pound cake in the Breadwinner pan, and both turned out beautifully. They were evenly cooked and browned, and perfectly moist. The cakes were a bit more domed than the cakes baked in the other loaf pans, giving them a rustic, loaf cake charm.
The pan is nice and lightweight, but the lack of handles made it a bit difficult to grip when setting it in the oven and taking it out. This also presented some trouble when inverting it, but the nonstick ceramic coating, combined with a little baking spray, helped the cakes slide right out after cooling.
The biggest con of the Breadwinner pan is the open seam in each inner corner. When it came time to wash the pan, it took significantly more effort to clean the crumbs out of the corners compared to other pans. Swapping parchment paper for the cleaning spray solved this issue, but it's worth noting.
The Breadwinner is on the more expensive end of the loaf pan spectrum, but for those looking for an incredibly attractive pan that can also stand up to serious use for the long haul, you won't be disappointed.
Baking Dimensions: 7 1/2 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 inches | Material: Ceramic nonstick aluminized steel | Pieces Included: 1
"The banana bread was evenly cooked, evenly browned, and wonderfully moist. Because this pan is a little more shallow than some of the others, it did come out a little more domed and cracked than the rest but it looked rustic and appealing."
Best Silicone: Trudeau Structure Silicone Pro Loaf Pan
Cools quickly and releases food easily
Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
Oven-safe only to 430 degrees
Can potentially be damaged by sharp utensils
Can buckle on wired oven shelves
Silicone bakeware is a favorite in Europe and has been used for years, particularly for specialty pans and molds, as traditional metal counterparts require greasing and flouring. Made of food-grade silicone, this Trudeau loaf pan is perfect for those who want a lightweight, easy-to-clean pan that requires no extra steps to prepare the surface for use.
During testing, this pan stood up to its steel and ceramic counterparts. It produced beautifully baked cakes with a slightly domed top and minimal cracking. The pan was cool to the touch within minutes after removing it from the oven, and after just 10 minutes, we were able to invert the pan and remove the cake successfully. Silicone is also resistant to thermal shock, making it possible for you to go from oven to freezer and back if you need to.
While the Trudeau pan is thicker and sturdier than other silicone pans we've used, it did buckle a bit when placed on the wire rack in the oven. You don't need a baking sheet if you position it properly, but it does require a little extra care and attention when placing it in the oven. The handles are generously sized, though, which made moving it and properly positioning it easy.
Cleaning the pan is super simple, but our tester did note that the silicone attracted little bits of dust and debris that seemed to stick to it so it never looked completely clean.
Baking Dimensions: 7 1/2 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 inches | Material: Alloy steel and silicone | Pieces Included: 1
"The banana bread was evenly cooked, beautifully domed and browned, and had just the right amount of cracking. It came right out of the pan, even without greasing."
Best Nonstick: Wilton Perfect Results Large Nonstick Loaf Pan
Has handles for easier transport
Affordable price point
Nonstick coating can scratch or peel
Wilton is a well-recognized brand when it comes to bakeware, and this popular pan is a great example of why: It performs well at an unbeatable price. Durso calls the Wilton Perfect Results pan her go-to. This sturdy loaf pan is made from carbon steel, giving it enough heft and structure to prevent warping and offering even heat conduction that resulted in evenly baked and beautifully browned cakes during testing.
This pan has a reinforced nonstick surface that provided a good foundation and, with a little baking spray, the cakes released quickly and seamlessly once the pan cooled down. The nonstick surface made the effort required during cleaning minimal, too. There were no crumbs left behind, so a little soap and hot water were all that was needed to get the pan clean.
Furthermore, the design is thoughtful. This pan was one of the only classic nonstick pans in the testing pool that had handles. Because of that, it was one of the easiest to grip and transfer to and from the oven, even with oven mitts on. Plus, this model is slightly larger than your traditional loaf pan, allowing for a 25 percent larger loaf (around 2 pounds). It's ideal for making family-sized sandwich loaves or quick bread for a crowd.
Baking Dimensions: 8 1/8 x 4 1/8 x 3 inches | Material: Chromium steel | Pieces Included: 1
"I thought this was a good pan. It was your standard nonstick that's in a good price range and gets the job done."
Best Mini Loaf Pan: Wilton Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan
Great for gift baking
Similar baking performance to larger Wilton pans
Bakes evenly and browns beautifully
Difficult to manage with oven mitts
Must purchase multiple for entire cake recipe
Another winning Wilton product, the Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan is a wonderful choice for those who prefer working with smaller quantities or want to give away their baked goods. With a heavy feel and sturdy construction, this smaller pan still performed like the bigger Wilton pan during testing, cooking evenly, providing excellent heat conduction and browning, and offering a nice domed shape to the finished cake. (These mini-sized loaf pans can also fit into a countertop oven or air fryer.)
Because the pan is smaller, it was a little difficult to maneuver, even with the handles and especially with bulky oven mitts, but as a trade-off, the nonstick coating offered an easy release and cleanup. While the pan is dishwasher safe, we stuck to Wilton's hand-washing recommendation. Because the pan is nonstick, cleanup was easy. There were no crumbs left behind, and a quick wash and dry made it as good as new.
Because the pans are so small, you need three or four to cook all the batter from our vanilla pound cake recipe, so if you can purchase as a set, it's a good idea to do so. There is also a slight learning curve to perfect the browning and doming in a mini pan, so plan on some practice runs.
Baking Dimensions: 4 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/8 inches | Material: Alloy steel | Pieces Included: 1 (but can be found in a 3-piece set)
"Cleaning was simple. The pan is nonstick so the cakes slid right out and it just needed a quick wash with soap and water."
Best for Sandwich Loaves: USA Pan Bakeware Pullman Loaf Pan with Cover, 13 x 4-Inch
Professional baking results
Produces perfectly square bread slices
Nonstick coating for easy release
Cover can be difficult to remove
Grooved design traps crumbs
If you've ever wondered how to make a perfect loaf of sandwich bread, baking your bread in a pullman loaf pan is half the battle. A pullman loaf pan is a long loaf pan with squared height and width dimensions, straight sides, and most importantly, a lid. With the lid on, the bread inside can only rise to the top of the pan, making for a more delicate crumb and tender, moist bread since less moisture is released in the baking process.
To see how the pan fared, our tester used a basic white pullman loaf recipe. The bread came out beautifully golden brown on all four sides and was a perfect square, thanks to the secure lid. (If you want a domed loaf, you can bake without the lid instead). The pan is advertised as nonstick, and while the loaf slid out without any sticking, it did need a generous amount of baking spray.
There were two downsides with this pan. The top was difficult to take off and put back on. This was a less significant issue when the pan was empty, but it made getting the loaf out after baking pretty inconvenient. The pan also required a little extra effort when cleaning. Because it has a grooved design, crumbs occasionally stuck on the sides and bottom, even with adequate greasing.
Baking Dimensions: 13 5/8 x 3 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches | Material: Alloy steel | Pieces Included: 2 (pan and cover)
"This pan did its job well and made a pullman loaf that was perfectly square, moist, and beautifully browned on all four sides."
Best for Meatloaf: Chicago Metallic Professional Non-Stick 2-Piece Healthy Meatloaf Set
Allows for a lighter version of meatloaf
Can be used as regular loaf pan
Handles on the insert allow for easy lifting
Perforations make it harder to clean
Pan base doesn't have handles
The Chicago Metallic Non-Stick Healthy Meatloaf Set is a game-changer for making meatloaf. Made of aluminized steel, it combines a pan and perforated insert that keeps the loaf elevated and allows for excess fat to drain away while baking. This makes it a breeze to remove and serve your favorite meat (or meatless) loaf without making a mess. Simply pull the loaf out of the pan and slide it onto a serving plate for slicing.
During testing, we made a turkey meatloaf and a vanilla pound cake, partly to test the pan's versatility and partly so we could give an apples-to-apples comparison of the pan's performance. The pan got high marks across the board.
The meatloaf and the pound cake cooked evenly, and the insert made it easy to remove both with no effort and minimal mess. The insert has handles, so our tester could grab them and lift it out, but when baking the cake, they had to use extra care to make sure the sides were adequately greased so the cake would release enough to remove without cracking or falling apart. Granted, this isn't what the pan is designed for, but you can use it with or without the insert if you want to switch between making meatloaf and loaf cakes.
Because the insert is perforated, cleanup does require a little extra effort. A small scrubbing brush came in handy to remove stuck-on meatloaf and crumbs from inside the holes, but a good soak did the job, too. As for the main pan, the nonstick finish made cleanup effortless—no scouring required.
Baking Dimensions: 8 x 4 3/8 x 2 3/4 inches | Material: Nonstick silicone-coated steel | Pieces Included: 2 (pan and draining lifter insert)
"The lifting mechanism is an absolute game-changer for pulling meatloaf out of its juices and serving and slicing it."
The sturdy Chicago Metallic 1-Pound Loaf Pan is ideal for a wide variety of baking projects, from sandwich loaves to cinnamon buns and babka, and comes in at a reasonable price. The Wilton Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan will easily relieve you of the burden of eating all of that banana bread by yourself and thrill your friends and neighbors with mini baked goods.
How We Tested
After thorough research and interviewing two culinary experts, we sent eight top-rated loaf pans to our experienced home chef and product tester, who used each to bake banana bread and pound cake and determine how they actually stacked up. She also baked pullman bread and meatloaf to test those specific categories. Each loaf pan was rated on design, quality, performance, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Our tester then offered additional insights on each loaf pan's strengths and weaknesses.
What to Look for When Buying a Loaf Pan
Most professional loaf pans and pans for home use are made of metal, typically aluminum, stainless steel, or aluminized steel. While you’re most likely to find exclusively metal loaf pans in professional kitchens, there are a few more options available. Other than metal, you’ll see loaf pans made of both glass and ceramic regularly. These loaf pans cook a fine loaf of bread, but due to their insulation properties can also double as small casserole and lasagna pans. There are also silicone loaf pans, which are newcomers to the market, and provide different features than traditional metal, glass, and ceramic pans. Silicone pans are nonstick, and provide more insulation than a metal pan, but do not hold on to heat for as long as glass and ceramic pans do. Given the less rigid material, silicone pans may also buckle or bend under the weight of their contents, particularly on wire racks.
Most home baking recipes call for pans that are between 8 x 4 inches and 9 x 5 inches. If you bake a lot you’ll probably have a variety of loaf pans in various sizes on hand, but if not, you should pick up the size pan that is called for in your recipe or scale the recipe to fit the pan you have.
While most loaf pans are essentially rectangular pans made for baking loaves of bread and loaf-style cakes and quick breads, not all loaf pans have exactly the same features. A basic loaf pan is simply a rectangular pan, usually with a narrow rolled edge. For easier handling, many loaf pans have been designed with wider rims, or handles on the shorter sides of the pan. Some loaf pans have textured sides or bases which help conduct heat to the bread by providing more surface area. Additionally, there are loaf pans designed for specific baking needs, including pans with removable bases for baking things like meatloaf, and pans with lids for baking perfectly square loaves of bread.
Many loaf pans are sold individually, but smaller loaf pans are occasionally sold in sets of two or more. This can be especially useful for recipes that make several loaves and is convenient for freezing or gifting instead of cutting into a larger loaf. If your favorite loaf pan is only available individually, it might be useful to keep two on hand for larger baking projects.
How do you measure a loaf pan?
For the most accurate loaf pan measurements, you’ll want to measure the dimensions of the pan from one inside edge to the other. Any handles or extended rims do not contribute to the overall dimensions of the loaf pan.
What is the standard size for a loaf pan?
The two most common loaf pan sizes are a 9 by 5-inch pan and an 8½ by 4½-inch pan. Both pans are generally about 2½ inches high. Even though the measurements might seem similar enough, that can equal up to a two-cup difference in volume, which will affect the shape of your final loaf. It’s best to use the recommended pan based on your recipe.
Is it better to bake bread in a glass or metal pan?
Most bakers prefer to bake loaves of bread in metal pans. Metal loaf pans conduct heat quickly and easily, which helps bake loaves evenly by allowing the heat to pass through the pan and into your dough. Glass loaf pans act as insulators, and take longer to heat up than metal pans which may prolong the time it takes to bake the loaf. The glass pan also holds onto heat longer, cooking the edges of the loaf longer than the center of the loaf. Metal loaf pans typically have sharper corners and often straighter sides, whereas glass loaf pans usually have rounded corners and edges, which is a personal preference.
How do you line a loaf pan with parchment paper?
If you’re baking a loaf of bread in your loaf pan, you’ll start by buttering or oiling the inside of the loaf pan on all four inside walls and the bottom. Then, you’ll trim a sheet of parchment paper the width of the pan, and long enough to line the two long sides of the pans. So if you’re baking with a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, you’ll want to measure a sheet of parchment 9 inches wide, and at least 11 inches long. Lay the parchment into the pan, making sure it covers the bottom and two long sides of the pan.
If you’re baking a looser batter in your loaf pan, you may want all four sides to be covered with parchment. In this case, you’ll want a piece of parchment about double the size of your loaf pan. Lay the parchment paper on top of the loaf pan, and cut slits at each corner of the paper towards the corners of the loaf pan. Lay the parchment paper flat on the bottom of the pan, then fold the sides of the paper into the pan, where they will overlap to cover the sides and make crisp corners.
Can you bake brownies in a loaf pan?
You can bake brownies in a loaf pan, but you’ll need to scale the amount of batter to fit the pan size so you don’t have overly thick brownies. For example, if your original recipe calls for an 8 or 9-inch square pan, about half of the batter will fit into an 8½ by 4½-inch pan. The bake time may be shorter than the original recipe calls for, and you’ll end up with a brownie that has more "edge" pieces than a standard brownie, which might be just what you're looking for.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The original author of this piece, Bernadette Machard de Gramont, specializes in global food and wine content. She interviewed two culinary experts for this piece and grew up baking banana bread in Pyrex loaf pans. She has personally used the Wilton loaf pans (large and mini) and also loves her Le Creuset Heritage Loaf Pan for making quatre quarts.
Lindsay Boyers, a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and cooking experience, tested the eight loaf pans for this roundup and updated it with her insights. She's developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the best cooking gadgets at the best prices to help make life in the kitchen more streamlined and efficient.