The Best Baking Pans For Every Baked Good Under the Sun


Fewer things in cooking elicit more frustration than trying to diagnose baking snafus. While the best baking pans won’t automatically guarantee picture-perfect cookies, cakes, and brownies, they will ensure consistent bakes every time. So, as much as we can ruminate on the too-much-or-not-enough dilemma (flour, eggs, baking powder, butter…) the quickest fix to your baking woes might be investing in a new set of high-quality bakeware.

The best bakeware conducts heat evenly, a function of metal type and thickness. Ease of unmolding, finish (i.e. nonstick coating), quality construction, and aesthetics are also key factors when selecting your baking vessels. Read on for the pans BA editors swear by for superior cakes, muffins, loaves, and more.

This baking sheet is made with high-quality, pure, uncoated aluminum, which lends itself to even heat distribution more efficiently and uniformly than aluminized steel (aluminum-coated steel) or stainless steel. This results in food that bakes evenly, rises predictably, and browns perfectly—so when you put chocolate-chip cookies in the oven on an aluminum sheet pan, they start baking immediately and stop baking as soon as you pull them out. Something called a “reinforced encapsulated steel rim” makes Nordic Ware’s baking trays virtually warp-resistant. Cleaning your aluminum pan is easy, especially when you line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat prior to cooking. Before the initial use and after every use following, hand-wash it with warm, soapy water.

Fat Daddio’s round cake pans are made of light-colored anodized aluminum. Since dark pans heat more quickly than light pans, using Fat Daddio’s ensures that the outside of your cake doesn’t cook too quickly, which can result in a burnt-crust-underbaked-middle situation. And their non-reactive coating means you can bake a citrusy upside-down cake in it without fear of it tasting metallic.

A loaf that’s baked in the Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan emerges like a butterfly from a cocoon, intricately designed and absolutely stunning. With its undulating curves and star-like design, this Nordic Ware pan molds even the plainest pound cake or banana bread into a beauty queen—no glaze or dusting of powdered sugar necessary, though it sure is nice. If you’ve been done dirty by a pan with an elaborate design in the past, don’t fret: This piece of nonstick bakeware will unmold beautifully with just the lightest coating of butter or baking spray.

Nordicware Fluted Loaf Pan

A 9×13″ pan is a staple piece of cookware for all treats sliceable, and a metal one gets the job done more effectively and more efficiently than the glass variety. Metal conducts heat well and in turn produces even bakes. Glass bakeware (which is heavier and more expensive) insulates rather than conducts; in other words, it’s slow to heat but, once hot, retains that heat for longer. Save the Pyrex baking dishes for casseroles like lasagna.

The right metal pan, unlike glass pans, can also elicit sharp 90-degree corners. For squared-off slices with superlative crispy corners every time, reach for a straight-sided baking pan. This type of pan is perfect for brownies, focaccia, sheet-pan pizzas, sheet cakes, and so much more. This particular piece of aluminized-steel cookware looks like a piece of industrial equipment and cooks with that same level of exactness.

9×13 inch Non-Stick Baking Pan

The Oxo Good Grips 12-cup muffin pan is made of heavy-gauge aluminized steel, which conducts heat more evenly than stainless steel and therefore bakes whatever’s inside more evenly too. No more cupcakes with burnt bottoms and gooey centers. The other nice thing about this one? The ends of this dishwasher-safe tin (points for easy cleaning) extend well beyond the baking cups to make it easy to grasp with oven mitts—no thumbprints on the sides of your fluffy, perfectly baked muffins.

Unmolding a cheesecake couldn’t be easier with Fat Daddio’s nonstick springform pan—particularly compared to many of its competitors that feature a raised lip around the base that will often leave a visible divot on the side of your crust. The heavy-duty, stainless-steel, spring-lock buckle on the outer ring is the sturdiest we’ve tried. Plus, it’s made of restaurant-grade anodized aluminum, which means no warping.

Fat Daddio’s Springform Cake Pan

At around $35, this high-quality pan with a nonstick finish is a worthy, affordable addition to any baker’s cupboard and is made to last. The fluting makes it easy to evenly portion slices, and it turns out beautiful cakes that look great plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or glazed. The Anniversary Bundt pan has straighter sides and a taller height (4½”) than most other pans, which works well with a variety of batter quantities—anywhere from 10 to 15 cups. Since the hardest part about baking a Bundt is the unmolding process, this pan also boasts handles and a PFOA-free, silicone-based nonstick coating to make the “big flip” a smooth one.

Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan

This pan is a long and skinny rectangle measuring 4.25×13.75″, which means anything you bake in it can be served as one giant bar or sliced into elegant mini-bars for serving. Like many round tart pans, it comes with a removable bottom that makes it a cinch to unmold and transfer to a plate. It’s especially good for any tart that has a roughly equal ratio of filling to crust. At just 1″ tall, the walls of the pan aren’t particularly high, making it ideal for desserts with very rich or sweet fillings that you want just a taste of.

Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Rectangular Tart Pan

If you’re someone who cares deeply about the ratio of cake to frosting, please consider the Swiss roll. And to achieve this rolled delight, you need a proper jelly roll pan, usually smaller than a half-sheet pan at 15×10″ with 1″ sides (for containing the batter as it rises in the oven). If you’re a casual home baker, you probably don’t need a half-sheet pan and a jelly roll pan, but if you’re attempting a recipe that calls for the latter, you won’t get the right results with the former. Nordic Ware’s jelly roll pan features fortified sides to prevent warping, and it’s made from high quality aluminum for ideal heat conductivity and even bakes every time.

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