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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) are essential pieces of a well-rounded bakeware collection. 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 the more adventurous chefs.
Loaf pans are constructed in every type of baking material, including metal, tempered glass, ceramic, and silicone. Pans of all varieties are easy to find in stores and online, with most grocery stores stocking both disposable and basic pans for quick projects.
For sturdier pans that will last you for many years and many bakes to come—consider one of these loaf pans for your next baking project.
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/lined properly
If you’re looking for a professional-grade metal loaf pan, you’ll love the sturdy feel of this one. 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. “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.”
The size of the Chicago Metallic pan is perfect for baking babka, banana bread, or a sandwich-worthy sourdough loaf. Gossett’s pro tip: lining your pan with a single quarter sheet of parchment paper rather than greasing the pan makes for easy lift-off and clean-up after baking.
Best Ceramic: Le Creuset Heritage Loaf Pan
Beautiful design and color variety
Stoneware retains heat evenly
Safe for oven, broiler, freezer, and microwave
Easy to clean
Bulky to store
Can chip if dropped or banged on a hard surface
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 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 is gorgeous to boot. This vintage-inspired design features stylish scalloped handles for easy transport from the oven to the table, and it comes in a number of colors. 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.
Best Glass: Pyrex Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan
Retains and distributes heat well
Non-reactive with acidic foods
Resistant to odors, staining, and rust
Requires adjusting cooking temperatures
Needs to be well-greased
Can shatter with drastic temperature changes
The transparency of glass loaf dishes makes it easy to gauge the doneness of your baked goods—one reason the Pyrex Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan is a perennial favorite. “Glass takes longer to heat in the oven but stays very hot when it does,” according to LA-based chef Leslie Durso. Because the glass distributes heat evenly, the outside and inside of your loaf will cook fairly evenly as well. Glass is also non-reactive, making it great for baking recipes with tomatoes and citrus.
But cooking in a glass vessel requires some adaptation, as most recipes are written for metal pans. Durso notes that when you use glass, you’ll have to adjust the temperature your recipe calls for. “You’ll want to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees and bake a little bit longer,” she says. She also cautions against exposing the pan to drastic temperature changes, as it could shatter from “thermal shock” by going immediately going from hot to cold—never put a warm glass pan into your refrigerator or freezer!
Best Set: Great Jones Breadwinner
Attractive colorful set
Ceramic nonstick coating
If you haven’t been introduced to Great Jones’ line of brightly colored and thoughtfully designed kitchenware, it’s time to change that. As part of the bakeware collection, the up-and-comer brand offers a set of two boldly-colored loaf pans, made of aluminized steel and finished with a colorful ceramic nonstick coating.
Besides looking phenomenal in your kitchen, these loaf pans are scratch-resistant for when it takes a little extra effort to get an especially sticky loaf out of the pan. Measuring 8 ½-inches long, by 4 ½-inches wide, and 2 ¾-inches tall, these loaf pans are sized to tackle most commonly-scaled baking projects. The pans are on the more expensive end of the loaf pan spectrum. But for those looking for an incredibly attractive pan set that can also stand up to serious use for the long haul—these pans may be exactly what you’re looking for.
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
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.
This innovative design combines the stability of traditional bakeware with the nonstick, easy-to-clean material—no utensils required to remove your loaf from its baking pan. This material cools quickly and is resistant to thermal shock, making it possible for you to go from oven to freezer and back. The only drawbacks: This pan is only oven-safe up to 430 degrees, and sharp tools may damage the pan.
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. This sturdy loaf pan is made from carbon steel, giving it enough heft and structure to prevent warping. Its reinforced nonstick surface ensures that your baked goods will release easily and cleaning up will require very little effort.
Durso calls the Wilton Perfect Results pan her “go-to”, thanks to its excellent heat conduction for even baking. 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 quickbread for a crowd!
Best Mini Loaf Pan: Wilton Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan Set
Great for gift baking
Similar baking performance to larger Wilton pans
Difficult to manage with oven mitts
Another winning Wilton product, the Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan, is a perfect choice for those who prefer working with smaller quantities or want to give away their baked goods. With a similarly heavy feel and sturdy construction, these smaller pans still perform like the bigger pans, cooking evenly and providing excellent heat conduction and browning.
This set’s capacity equals one full-sized loaf, so no need to recalculate your original recipe—just distribute it among all three pans. These mini-sized loaf pans can also fit right into a countertop oven or air fryer. The nonstick coating will give you an easy release and cleanup (it's dishwasher-safe, but it is hand-washing is highly recommended to preserve the nonstick capability).
Best for Sandwich Loaves: USA Pan Bakeware Pullman Loaf Pan with Cover, 13 x 4-Inch
Professional baking results
Heavy-duty aluminized steel for years of reliable use
Non-stick coating for easy release baked goods
Cover can be difficult to remove
Should be hand-washed to preserve finish
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 typically a long loaf pan, with squared height and width dimensions, straight sides, and most importantly, a lid.
Whether it's classic white bread, whole wheat multi-grain, or brioche, a pullman loaf pan can handle almost any type of dough you want to bake. With the lid on, the bread inside can only rise to the top of the pan, making for a more delicate crumb and a tender, moist bread since less moisture is released in the baking process.
Best Meatloaf: Chicago Metallic Professional Non-Stick 2-Piece Healthy Meatloaf Set
Allows for a healthier version of meatloaf
Lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
Not very versatile
While one could argue that any loaf pan is suitable for meatloaf, the Chicago Metallic Non-Stick Healthy Meatloaf Set will level-up your meatloaf-making. Made of aluminized steel, it is comprised of a pan and perforated insert that keeps the loaf elevated and allows for excess fat to drain away while baking.
Thanks to a nonstick coating and the lifting tray, it’s 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. The nonstick finish also makes cleanup quite effortless—no scouring required.
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 at a reasonable price (view at Amazon). The Wilton Recipe Right Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pans will easily relieve you of the burden of eating all of that banana bread by yourself, and thrill your friends and neighbors with the mini baked goods you bake in them to share (view at Amazon).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The 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, the French version of pound cake.
This piece was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a professional pastry chef and freelance food & beverage writer, based in New York City. She has a wide range of experience with both home and professional-grade equipment and only enough cabinet space for the most reliable tools.