What You Really Need to Know About Exploding Glass Bakeware

updated Oct 13, 2020
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Baked pasta in glass dish going into oven.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

We love glass baking dishes. After all, they’re inexpensive and easy to find, they look good and go with all kinds of dinnerware, and they put a beautiful crust on your casseroles and make it easy to check on how well they’re browning. But you may have heard stories of glass baking dishes “exploding” into a zillion tiny pieces in the oven, leaving cooks with no dinner, big messes to clean up, and, worst of all, potential injuries to deal with. Wondering how worried you should be? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What Make Glass Shatter?

When glass goes rapidly from something cold to hot (like a freezer to an oven) or vice versa, it can experience “thermal shock.” Different sections of a piece of bakeware can expand or contract differently and cause it to lose its structure, resulting in a shattering effect. 

How Worried Should I Be? 

If you read online forums or some product reviews, you may think you need be very worried. But let’s take a second to step back. First of all, it’s a relatively rare phenomenon. It’s more likely to happen with glassware that isn’t specifically designed to be used for cooking. Don’t decide to bake in just any old pretty glass bowl. If you don’t have the use and care instructions, err on the side of safety and don’t heat it. Most often, we hear about it happening with Pyrex glassware but that may be because it’s, by far, the most widely used brand. (Since 1998, Pyrex has been manufactured of tempered glass which is susceptible to thermal shock. If you want to do everything you possibly can to minimize the risk, you can use OXO’s glass bakeware which is made of borosilicate glass, a material specifically designed to be thermal shock-resistant. However there’s no absolute guarantee that even borosilicate glassware won’t shatter.) Second, there are things you can do (see the safe practices listed below!) to minimize the already slight risk. 

7 Things You Can Do to Prevent Glassware from Shattering

  1. Don’t use glass bakeware on the stovetop or under the broiler, where it will immediately be subjected to high heat. 
  2. Preheat the oven before you put your full glass baking dish in the oven. Some ovens will start heating up at a high heat before dropping to the set temp and that could shock the glass.
  3. Defrost dishes and let hot things cool. Don’t put a frozen lasagna directly into a hot oven, without defrosting it. (And don’t put a just-baked one into the freezer.) 
  4. If you’re using a glass baking dish to cook something like a chicken or a roast beef, that doesn’t cover the entire surface, add a little liquid to the dish before you place it in the oven to help keep the dish temperature even. 
  5. As your chicken roasts, don’t baste it with cold water or broth.  
  6. When you take your mac and cheese out of the oven, don’t place it on a cold surface or a wet towel. Make sure you always put the hot dish on a dry cloth potholder.
  7. Try not to drop it or knock glassware around. Even if it doesn’t break, it can develop tiny chips or cracks inside that aren’t visible.

Do you use glass bakeware? Or have you been scared off? Tell us in the comments below.