The 3 Different Kinds of Cake Pans Every Home Baker Should Own

updated Aug 9, 2021
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Good cake pans aren’t nearly as expensive as a stand mixer, and they last virtually forever, yet many of our kitchens are packed with thin, cheap cake pans that we picked up at the grocery store or had handed down to us. Get yourself something better!

A quality cake pan will give you cakes that bake up more evenly — no more wildly humped tops or burned bottoms — and come out of the pan better without any extra effort on your part.

Professional bakers use two-inch-deep aluminum cake pans for just about everything from wedding cakes to biscuits. The aluminum heats quickly and evenly, while the high sides give cake batter plenty of room to rise while keeping the cake from overbaking.

As for what shapes and sizes to keep on hand, there are three you’ll use over and over again: a 9-inch round (two of these, ideally, if you’ve got the room), a 13×9-inch rectangle pan, and an 8-inch square.

So, are you ready to become a better cake baker in one easy step? Here’s more on the three types of cake pans everyone should own.

1. 9-Inch Round Cake Pans

Again, it’s really best if you have two of these. Most layer cakes call for either an 8- or 9-inch pan and require the batter to be split into two pans for baking. I prefer to skip a nonstick finish on these pans so I can also use them to bake biscuits and dinner rolls (the nonstick surface inhibits rise during bread proofing). Luckily, these are usually sold in sets!

2. 13×9-Inch Rectangular Pan

A ceramic casserole dish is not a cake pan, so you cannot use the two interchangeably for cakes, but you can use this metal baking pan for casseroles and egg bakes. I have tried a lot of rectangular pans and this one is by far my favorite — especially for baking sheet cakes and icebox cakes to feed a crowd.

3. 8-Inch Square Cake Pan

This quintessential brownie pan is also awesome for Rice Krispies treats or making caramels at Christmas. A very square — rather than slightly rounded corner — will give you more professional-looking results.

What type of baking pan do you use most? Let us know in the comments!