The humble loaf pan, also commonly called a bread pan, is an unsung kitchen hero. This versatile piece of bakeware is the ideal vessel for baking your grandmother’s nut bread recipe or creating a delicious brioche for Sunday brunch.
While choosing the best loaf pan may sound simple, shoppers actually must consider a number of different factors. This guide explores several important features to look for as you shop and provides choices by category for some of the top products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wilton Recipe Right Medium Bread Loaf Baking Pan
- BEST ALUMINIZED STEEL: Chicago Metallic Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Loaf Pan
- BEST GLASS: Pyrex Easy Grab 1.5-Quart Glass Loaf Dish
- BEST SILICONE: SILIVO Silicone Bread and Loaf Pan
- BEST FOR MEATLOAF: Rachael Ray Bakeware Nonstick Baking Loaf Pan
- BEST WITH HANDLES: Cuisinart Easy Grip Bakeware 9-Inch Loaf Pan
- BEST DECORATIVE DESIGN: Nordic Ware Wildflower Loaf Pan
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Loaf Pan
Prior to shopping, many cooks assume that every loaf pan offers similar performance; however, a number of factors affect the pan’s functionality, including its material, capacity, ease of cleaning, and more. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important factors and features to keep in mind when choosing the best loaf pan.
Loaf pans are available in a variety of materials, including:
- Aluminized steel, made by coating steel with an aluminum-silicon alloy, is a popular choice for bakeware because it resists corrosion and provides even heat distribution. Aluminized steel is ideal for baked goods that require moderate heat.
- Stainless steel, which is both durable and rust resistant, doesn’t react to acidic ingredients and can be used to cook food at high heat and create a crispy browned crust.
- Glass heats up slowly but offers excellent heat retention. Glass baking dishes allow cooks to visually monitor their food’s progress as it cooks.
- Stoneware is nonreactive and conducts heat evenly. Its attractive appearance allows it to perform double duty as a serving dish.
- Silicone baking molds don’t stick and can be used at high temperatures.
Pans with a nonstick coating require less fat, release food easily, and allow for fast cleanup. The two primary types of nonstick coatings in loaf pans include:
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known by the trade name Teflon, has long been used to create nonstick coatings for cookware and bakeware. While it performs well at first, over time the coating is susceptible to scratching and damage. Pans coated with PTFE cannot be used at temperatures higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, some experts question the safety of using PTFE. However, modern versions no longer use perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the ingredient that caused the most concern.
- Ceramic nonstick coatings aren’t actually ceramic; instead, they’re a combination of sand and silicone. While these coatings are somewhat brittle, they can withstand high temperatures.
A loaf pan typically measures 8.5 inches by 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches and is also referred to as a standard 1-pound loaf pan. The measurements refer to the cooking area rather than the pan’s total dimensions. Another popular size, 9 inches by 5 inches by 3 inches, is only slightly larger. While the difference sounds negligible, size can impact results. A too-large pan may prevent bread from rising properly, while a too-small pan can cause batter to overflow. Use the size indicated in the recipe to ensure optimal results. If a recipe doesn’t specify which size loaf pan to use, default to the standard 8.5-inch pan.
Mini loaf pans also are available. They measure approximately 4 inches by 2.5 inches and create individual portions of loaves, breads, and cakes.
The loaf pan’s shape can significantly impact results. Some are wider and shallower, while others have taller edges, resulting in a deeper pan. A Pullman loaf pan has 4-inch edges to create square loaves.
Some pans have textured edges to provide additional air circulation and increase browning. Some have sharp corners, while others are rounded. Some pans feature ornamental embossed designs that create decorative floral or leaf patterns on the finished loaf.
Some loaf pans have handles to make it easier to insert and remove the pan from the oven. Others have slip-resistant silicone grips that make it even easier to grasp the pan.
Loaf pans are versatile kitchen tools to use for both cooking and baking. A loaf pan can bake sandwich bread, brioche, banana bread, challah, raisin bread, meatloaf, lasagna, chicken pot pie, and more. Some loaf pans have perforated racks that are designed specifically for draining fat and other liquids from meatloaf. These racks are completely removable to make the pan more versatile.
Ease of Cleaning
Ease of cleaning is a primary concern for many home cooks. Some materials, such as glass, stainless steel, and silicone, are dishwasher safe, making cleanup easier. Loaf pans with nonstick coatings are also easy to clean because their slick surfaces ensure no food particles are left behind after cooking. These pans shouldn’t, however, be cleaned with abrasive scrubbers or brushes. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning to ensure the pan’s longevity.
Our Top Picks
These top picks consider all these factors as well as overall quality and value. Keep reading to discover some of the best loaf pan options in a variety of categories for your next baking project.
This standard-size 1-pound loaf pan has slightly taller straight edges to prevent overflowing. Its corrugated surface design facilitates air circulation and helps promote browning.
Made of aluminized steel, the USA Pan loaf pan offers excellent heat conductivity. The heavy-gauge steel prevents warping, and the durable material also resists rust. The interior is finished with Americoat, a silicone easy-release coating that’s PTFE-, PFOA-, and BPA-free. It’s recommended for baking quick loaves, yeast bread, cornbread, and meatloaf.
For a quality standard loaf pan at an affordable price, this Wilton pan is a good choice for bread, cakes, and meatloaf. Made of heavy-gauge stainless steel for even heat distribution, it resists rust and corrosion.
The nonstick coating ensures loaves remove easily without requiring a lot of oil. Cleanup is easy, too, since food particles won’t be left behind. Though dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand-washing with warm soapy water for the best results.
Many experts recommend aluminized steel as an ideal material for a loaf pan because it combines the advantages of both steel and aluminum. This standard-size Chicago Metallic loaf pan is made from heavy-weight aluminized stainless steel. The silicone aluminum finish on the rust-resistant stainless steel provides excellent heat conduction. Sharp folded corners and wire rod reinforcement in the rim help prevent warping.
The pan should be greased before use. While the pan is dishwasher safe, Chicago Metallic recommends hand-washing to preserve its longevity.
Well-known for glass cookware and bakeware, Pyrex makes a quality loaf pan that’s safe to use in a preheated oven, microwave, fridge, freezer, and dishwasher. It has a 1.5-quart capacity. Its BPA-free plastic lid makes it convenient for storing leftovers or bringing a dish to a potluck. Ergonomically designed handles make the pan easy to remove from the oven.
When baking with a glass loaf pan, some cooking professionals recommend lowering the oven’s temperature by 25 degrees to prevent the edges from browning too much. Both the pan and lid are dishwasher safe.
SILIVO’s loaf pan is made of flexible, nonstick silicone, and it has handles for easy maneuverability. At 8.9 inches by 3.7 inches by 2.5 inches, its cooking surface is slightly longer and narrower than average. Because it’s made with silicone, it’s oven, microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe and 100 percent food safe.
Use it to prepare jello, ice cream, cheesecake, and caramels in addition to standard bread and loaves. When using a silicone baking mold, allow a hot loaf to cool completely before unmolding to ensure it maintains its shape. Food is easy to remove from the pan.
Making meatloaf in a pan specifically designed to drain fat and drippings can result in a healthier dish. This pan from Rachael Ray Bakeware has a removable perforated insert that works well for meatloaf and other roasted dishes.
The steel pan, which measures 9 inches by 5 inches, has a nonstick coating. Wide handles make it easy to transfer the pan from oven to countertop. Both pieces are dishwasher safe, though hand-washing is recommended for best results.
While a number of loaf pans have handles, this 9-inch model from Cuisinart has handles with silicone grips. The pan is constructed of heavy-gauge steel that provides even heating. The nonstick finish ensures easy release and simple cleanup. Thick-rolled edges provide structural integrity and prevent warping.
The easy-grip silicone handles are designed with the shape of standard oven mitts in mind. The silicone is heat resistant. This pan can be washed in the dishwasher.
This wildflower embossed pan from Nordic Ware has a wildflower pattern that delivers a wow factor to even a simple recipe. The pan also has curved edges.
The pan is made from durable cast aluminum that’s oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. With its 6-cup capacity, it can be used with a variety of different recipes. Always grease the pan before use, and wash it by hand with soap and warm water.
FAQs About Loaf Pans
Not quite ready to start baking? Keep reading to find some answers to some of the most common inquiries about loaf pans.
Q. Which baking pans do not rust?
To avoid rust, choose a stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or silicone pan.
Q. How do you make a large baking pan smaller?
To decrease the size of a pan, create a divider from aluminum foil. Measure the size required for the recipe and fold the foil to the correct size.
Q. Is it better to bake bread in a glass or metal pan?
Choose a metal pan for bread because it’s more likely to produce even browning.
Q. Can I use a glass loaf pan for banana bread?
Yes. When using a glass loaf pan for banana bread, many experts recommend lowering the cooking temperature by 25 degrees to prevent excessive browning.