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Types of Baking Pans: A Buyer’s Guide

Types of Baking Pans:
A Buyer’s Guide

There are countless recipes for delicious things you can bake at home, from sweet treats like cookies and cakes to more savory items like breads and casseroles. And with all these possibilities comes a huge range of baking pans designed to create the different sizes, shapes and techniques needed for each dish.

The sheer variety of pans can be a bit perplexing. So, to make things a bit clearer, here’s an overview of the most commonly used types of baking pans and their purposes:

Cake Pans Example Image

Cake Pans

Distinctive Features: Relatively broad pans with vertical sides, usually around an inch-and-a-half deep

Ideal for: Baking cakes, brownies or bars

Other notes: Cake pans come in a range of shapes and sizes to help you create whatever cake you dream up. Round, rectangular and square are the most common variations, but heart-shaped and oval are also easy to come by.

Baking Sheets Example Image

Baking Sheets

Distinctive Features: Wide and flat, and may have a small lip along the edges

Ideal for: Baking cookies, oven-roasting vegetables

Other notes:There are two types of baking sheets: sheet pans and cookie sheets. Typically sheet pans have a short edge so they can be used for baking sheet cakes, while cookie sheets will have a flat edge. Keep an eye out for cookie sheets that feature “dropzone” markings to help you get uniformly sized and spaced cookies.

Bread & Loaf Pans Example Image

Bread & Loaf Pans

Distinctive Features: Rounded rectangular pan at least a couple inches deep

Ideal for: Baking bread or Fruitcake or cooking meatloaf

Other notes: Loaf pans feature taller edges to help give support or add form to baked items. Because of their taller edges, some loaf pans will also come with separate inserts that help lift the loaf out of the pan for easy removal and cleanup.

Cupcake & Muffin Pans

Cupcake & Muffin Pans

Distinctive Features: Baking tray that features individual round wells for baking a set of smaller items at the same time

Ideal for: Baking muffins, cupcakes or mini quiches

Other notes: This one type of pan goes by two different names: cupcake pan and muffin pan. These will generally hold a dozen cupcakes or muffins at once; however, pans for making mini versions of these treats can usually accommodate up to two dozen baked goods.

Pie Pans Example Image

Pie Pans

Distinctive Features: A round pan 8 to 10 inches wide with slightly outward slanted sides

Ideal for: Baking pies or quiches

Other notes: Pie pans come in a variety of depths suited for different types of pies, from deep-dish apple to traditional pumpkin pie. To get the most even bake, look for pie pans made of ceramic or glass, as these retain heat better than metal pans.

Springform Pans Example Image

Springform Pans

Distinctive Features: Round two-piece pan with removable sides

Ideal for: Baking cheesecakes or tortes

Other notes: A springform pan gets its name from the way its sides are able to spring away from whatever is baked in it. This type of pan is particularly useful for making delicate dishes that would be ruined when removed from a pan with traditional edges.

Bundt Pans Example Image

Bundt Pans

Distinctive Features: Deep ring-shaped pan with fluted edges

Ideal for: Baking Bundt cakes, monkey bread or angel food cake

Other notes: A Bundt cake pan allows heat to flow on both the inner and outer sides of the ring, making the cake bake more evenly and more quickly than in a solid pan. This shape also produces cakes and other baked goods that are perfectly structured for easy slicing and serving.

Casserole Dishes & Dutch Ovens Example Image

Casserole Dishes & Dutch Ovens

Distinctive Features: Broad rectangular or oval pan generally 2 to 3 inches deep – may come with a lid

Ideal for: Baking and serving cobblers, crisps or casseroles, or oven-roasting vegetables

Other notes: A casserole dish, also referred to as a Dutch oven, is a noteworthy multitasker that can perfectly bake dinner and dessert alike. These are typically made of cast iron with an enamel coating, which bakes very evenly and is relatively easy to clean. When shopping for casserole dishes, keep an eye out for dishes that come with their own serving cradle that allows them to go directly from oven to table.

Ramekins Example Image


Distinctive Features: Small, round baking dishes in single serving sizes

Ideal for: Baking and serving individual portions of desserts like mini soufflés, crème brulees or cobblers

Other notes: Ramekins are a great way to prepare and serve delicate or messy desserts with a beautiful presentation. These are generally made of stoneware or ceramic for even baking, and are also useful for preparing baked goods that need to be cooked in a water bath.

Specialty & Novelty Baking Pans Example Image

Specialty & Novelty Baking Pans

Distinctive Features: Pans, trays and molds used to create fun baked treats in unique designs

Ideal for: Birthday cakes, themed cookies, pastries and cupcakes

Other notes: There is enormous variety among the many specialty and novelty baking pans available. These help you create anything from Christmas cookies or heart-shaped mini cakes, to themed baked treats for any holiday. There are also designs such as Madeline pans that create signature shapes for traditional recipes.

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