A cake pan is an essential component of a complete bakeware collection, yet it’s often one of those kitchen commodities that folks forget to purchase. What’s more, with so many different varieties of cakes, there are all kinds of pans to suit them. So whether you’re a newbie baker or already a whiz at whipping up cakes, you may be on the hunt for a superior pan. Let this guide help you find it.
The best cake pans offer even heat distribution, nonstick properties, and durable construction to help turn out scrumptious layer cakes, sheet cakes, cheesecakes, and more. Continue reading to learn what factors and features to look for and why the following products are among the best cake pans on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: USA Pan Bakeware Round Cake Pan, 9 inch, Nonstick
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wilton Aluminum Round Set, 8 x 2-Inch, 2-Pack
- BEST RECTANGULAR: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Cake Pan 9 x 13 Inch
- BEST SQUARE: CHEFMADE Square Cake Pan, 8-Inch Deep Dish
- BEST BUNDT: Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan
- BEST SPRINGFORM: Hiware Springform Pan for Baking Set of 3 Non-stick
- BEST FOR BIRTHDAYS: Wilton Countless Celebrations Set, 10-Piece
- ALSO CONSIDER: Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Round Cake Pan Set
- HONORABLE MENTION: SAVEUR SELECTS 9-Inch Round Cake Pan
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cake Pan
When you choose a cake pan that has all the features you want, it will likely become one of your true kitchen favorites. Use the criteria below to help you determine what’s most important.
There are different options when it comes to baking pans in general, and cake pans in particular:
- Traditional cake pans feature straight sides with a flat bottom, yet may be round, square, or rectangular in shape. Bake multiple cakes in traditional cake pans to create a layer cake.
- Cake rings are round, bottomless, tall-sided pans with a clasp used to release the ring and remove it from a baked cake without the need to invert it. This design makes cake rings suited for such “wet” recipes as pudding cakes or custard cakes that tend to be sticky and wouldn’t survive being flipped out of a traditional cake pan. When baking with a cake ring, place it on a sheet pan and fill it slowly with the batter to ensure it all stays within the ring.
- Spring form cake pans also feature a clasp along the edge to release the sides and avoid inverting the cake. However, unlike ring pans, they have a bottom. Once the sides are lifted off, the freestanding cake sits neatly on the base. Users may choose to leave the cake on the base to decorate and serve, which is handy for such recipes as cheesecake.
- Bundt cake pans have a distinctive shape that allows for baking a cake with a fluted or decorative top around a center ring.
- Sheet cake pans are longer and wider than traditional cake pans. They are rectangular in shape and have very low sides, making them best suited for making thinner cakes. They’re a good choice for recipes that require rolling the finished cake, such as a Swiss roll, as well as preparing a large, single-layer cake to feed a crowd
- Cupcake pans, similar to muffin pans, typically feature 12 individual wells to create cupcakes or other personal-size baked goods.
- Novelty cake pans feature unique designs for baking cakes in the shape of a heart, star, letter, number, or other items.
Cake pans come in a variety of sizes. When you’re making a cake from scratch, the recipe will often include what size (and shape) pan is required. Boxed cake mixes typically call for a 9 inch by 13 inch rectangular pan or two 8- or 9-inch round pans.
In addition to the length and width or diameter of each cake pan, consider the pan’s height. If a cake pan is too shallow for the recipe you are making, batter could spill over the edges or the cake may not rise properly. Most cake pans are between 2 and 3 inches high, but if you require something taller—for a layer cake with thicker layers, for instance—you should be able to find the height you need.
Cake pans are available in a variety of materials, most commonly aluminum, anodized aluminum, aluminized steel, and carbon steel.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, but standard aluminum isn’t as durable as some other options. Cakes may also stick to an untreated aluminum pan.
- Anodized aluminum: Anodization is an electrochemical treatment that makes aluminum thicker, nonreactive, and scratch resistant. The process keeps pans from corroding, like a standard aluminum pan would, and provides a nonstick finish without adding chemicals or coatings that could potentially flake off or transfer into baked goods. Anodized aluminum pans are also excellent at conducting heat to ensure that cakes rise evenly.
- Aluminized steel: Heavy-duty and durable, steel doesn’t dent or scratch easily. To improve on the poor heat-conducting abilities of steel, aluminized steel pans are coated with an aluminum alloy. In addition, many aluminized steel pans also feature a ceramic or silicone coating for nonstick capabilities. Aluminized steel pans are often among the most expensive options.
- Carbon steel pans: Relatively inexpensive, carbon steel pans are made from thinner metal sheets and given a nonstick coating. These pans are often stackable to maximize storage space, but they typically yield cakes with slightly slanted sides. This can make cakes baked in carbon steel pans challenging to layer or decorate.
Even heat conductivity is crucial; without it, cakes may not rise evenly, leaving you with a slanted or sunken top poorly suited for decorating or layering. Aluminum is one of the best conductors of heat, making it an optimal choice for a cake pan. Choosing an anodized aluminum or aluminized steel pan will offer even heat distribution for optimally shaped cakes.
Carbon steel pans, which typically have a dark nonstick coating, can’t match the heat conduction of aluminum. Rather than reflecting heat like aluminum, these pans absorb the heat, which leads to the edges of the cake baking more quickly than the center. Cakes baked in carbon steel pans often have a bit of a domed top.
If you think you might wish to use the pan for other baking or cooking needs, consider the potential cake pan’s versatility. For example, some rectangular cake pans could be used for cookies, while cupcake pans could be great for miniature meat loaves or quiches.
Our Top Picks
Below you’ll find a variety of quality cake pans in a variety of shapes and styles, selected according to the criteria detailed above.
USA Pan’s round cake pan has a 9-inch diameter and a height of 2.25 inches. The pan is crafted from a heavy-duty, commercial-grade aluminized steel for durability. USA Pan’s patented Americoat covers the interior so cakes won’t stick and cleanup will be quick and easy. Americoat is a silicone coating that is BPA-, PTFE-, and PFOA-free, so you can bake with peace of mind knowing the pan is not releasing harmful substances into your cakes.
In addition, this cake pan features a corrugated base to further enhance nonstick capabilities and also make it less likely to warp. This design increases the overall durability and performance of the pan while ensuring sufficient airflow and even heat distribution.
Baking great cakes needn’t cost big bucks! This budget-friendly set of two round cake pans doesn’t sacrifice quality, thanks to solid aluminum construction that offers uniform heat distribution.
Each pan has an 8-inch diameter and a 2-inch depth, a popular choice for layer cakes. These pans don’t have a nonstick coating, so be sure to grease and flour before baking (see FAQs, below). Properly treated, they should be easy to clean, though hand-washing is recommended.
The OXO Good Grips Pro Cake Pan measures 9 inches by 13 inches, an ideal size and shape for rectangular cakes and other dishes. It’s made of heavy-gauge aluminized steel, a durable material that helps ensure uniform heat distribution for even cooking and baking. A ceramic-reinforced, double-layer nonstick coating resists scratches, stains, abrasions, and corrosion.
The base of the pan has a micro-textured square pattern that helps allow airflow for better baking or cooking. Rolled edges offer a convenient place to grip the pan when putting it in and taking it out of the oven. Dimensions are stamped on the surface for quick identification to ensure using the right size pan for each recipe.
ChefMade’s square cake pan features a removable bottom to make it easy to loosen and gently push out delicate cakes, breads, and other baked goods while keeping them intact. The pan is made from a .8-millimeter-thick carbon steel that offers quick and even heating to reduce cooking times and deliver consistent results. The highly durable carbon steel is oven safe to 428 degrees Fahrenheit.
A nonstick coating made from a food-grade silicone covers this cake pan. This PTFE- and PFOA-free coating is resistant against higher temperatures and will not release any harmful substances into foods. This cake pan also boasts an enhanced edge to provide stability, resist warping, and offer a convenient spot to hold the pan when putting it in or removing it from the oven.
Put a spin on a traditional bundt cake with this Nordic Ware Heritage model. It features a stylish swirl design to create eye-catching bundts, whether glazed, frosted, or dusted with powdered sugar.
Available in both attractive gold and silver options, this 10-cup-capacity bundt pan is made from a cast-aluminum material with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. This material is heat safe to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and offers even heat distribution for consistent results.
The Hiware springform pan set includes three round pans—9-inch, 7-inch, and 4-inch—making it a good choice for baking tempting tiered delights like wedding cakes. An angled 11-inch spreader with an ergonomic handle and an icing smoother comes with the set to assist in beautiful decorating results.
The pans are constructed from warp-resistant carbon steel with a nonstick coating. The springform design also aids in no-fuss removal: Simply release the clasp to open the pans and ease out the cake.
Make memorable birthday cakes with the Wilton Countless Celebrations Set. This set includes a 14.5-inch by 9-inch cake pan and eight inserts that can be used to shape any number (0 to 9) or letter. A how-to guide is included to show proper placement of the inserts.
The carbon steel cake pan features a grid pattern on the base that holds each insert in place as the cake bakes, while a nonstick coating allows for easy release. After removing the cake from the pan, simply clean up the lines using the included cutting tool, and decorate the letter or number to make someone’s day a little more special.
This three-piece cake pan set from Fat Daddio’s is made from durable commercial grade aluminum with an anodized finish. The nonreactive anodized coating reduces stuck-on messes to make cleanup simpler, without sprayed-on chemicals or coatings that could flake off and transfer to cakes.
These cake pans employ reflective heat to heat up more quickly and evenly than pans that absorb heat. With even heating, cakes will rise evenly and will also cool more quickly once removed from the oven. The round, 2-inch-high cake pans in this “Celebration Set” include one 7-inch diameter, one 5-inch diameter, and one 3-inch diameter—sizes that allow for a three-tiered cake.
The SAVEUR Selects Round Cake Pan is made of solid carbon steel for fast, even heat distribution. This pan can be used to make cakes for small gatherings, birthdays, or other celebratory occasions. Its durable, heavy-gauge metal is designed to resist twisting and warming and can maintain its shape for years. A Whitford Eclipse nonstick coating ensures an easy release and a quick cleanup. The pan has broad rolled rims and SAVEUR’s signature non-slip milled texture for a secure grip. It’s dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 450 degrees.
FAQs About Cake Pans
If you want more info about selecting and using the best cake pan, consider the answers to these common questions.
Q. What cake pans do professionals use?
While professional bakers may have different preferences, most pro pastry chefs prefer aluminized steel cake pans, as this material is durable and offers even heat distribution for consistent results.
Q. Can you bake a cake without a cake pan?
Yes, if you don’t own a cake pan, you can use a casserole dish or an oven-safe glass mixing bowl; you can even make a mug cake in the microwave. In a pinch, you can also try to create a cake pan out of heavy-duty aluminum foil. If you have a bread maker, you can use it to bake a cake as well.
Q. How deep should cake pans be?
Cake pans should be between 2 and 3 inches deep.
Q. How do you grease a cake pan?
All cake pans, even nonstick cake pans, should be greased before baking a cake. If a pan isn’t properly greased, cakes may stick to the sides or base, resulting in broken cakes unsuitable for decorating. There are a few different ways to grease a cake pan. You can use a baking spray or spread oil, vegetable shortening, or butter in a thin layer over the pan and then sprinkle flour over the surface. You can also make a special paste using equal parts flour, shortening, and vegetable oil. Use a pastry brush to spread the paste over the entire interior of the pan.
Q. How do you remove cake from a cake pan?
Before removing a cake from the pan, let it cool for the amount of time indicated by the recipe. Removing it when it is too hot could cause it to crack, and removing when it has cooled completely could cause it to stick to the pan. Once the cake has cooled for the recommended time, run a releasing tool or a dull knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it. Put a wire cooling rack on top of the cake pan. Use both hands to pick up the pan with the wire rack, and flip them both over to release the cake onto the rack. Place the rack down, and slowly lift the cake pan up straight.