The 7 Most Essential Baking Pans Every Home Cook Needs

updated Jul 9, 2020
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Sprinkling sugar over unbaked pie crust.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Even if you’re not much of a baker, there are a few baking pans that are still must-haves for every kitchen. And if you ARE a baker, well then, this list will be especially useful. Because we know so many of you have been baking a lot more and because the holidays will be here before we know, we thought it was pie time (get it? instead of high time?!) to take a look at all the essential baking pans — and all the key baking pan sizes.

Here’s a list of what every home cook needs — and some specific shopping suggestions.

Note: We’ve suggested our favorite products for each below, but a terrific and cost-effective resource for basic kitchen tools is a restaurant supply store. Just buy the best quality you can afford!

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Chicago Metallic Bakeware

1. A 9×13-Inch Baking Pan

The standard pan size, this versatile pan typically holds about three quarts. You can also convert almost any basic cake or cupcake recipe into a 9×13 pan with no major adjustments. Glass and ceramic are more presentable, particularly for things like casseroles and sheet cakes, but metal is more versatile.

Credit: Product: Courtesy of OXO
Nonstick 9x9 Pan

2. An 8×8-Inch or 9×9-Inch Square Baking Pan

This is what you’ll need for brownies and bars. And this pan, specifically, is, in our opinion, the ultimate brownie pan. It gets edges perfectly crisp and chewy (the corners are the best!) and the rest cooks super evenly, thanks to the micro-texture on the bottom that promotes air flow and easy release when it’s time to slice.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

3. Two Commercial-Quality Half Sheet Pans

We recommend commercial quality half sheet pans and you’ll want at least two. Baking sheets are not a place to cut corners: look for heavy ones, and avoid nonstick and dark coated pans. (Why? Nonstick isn’t that helpful and darker pans brown baked goods too fast.)

Credit: Product: Courtesy of USA Pan
9-inch Round Pan

4. Two 9- or 10-Inch Round Cake Pans

This is a standard size for traditional layer cakes, but it’s helpful for other dishes, too, like biscuits, sweet rolls, even meatballs. If you’re struggling to make flat cakes like the ones you see all over Instagram, it might be your pans. These will release your cakes time and time again, and give you uniformly flat cakes that you won’t have to trim or shave.

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Wilton
Cupcake Pan

5. A Muffin Pan OR Paper Soufflé Cups

If you like baking muffins and cupcakes often, then a muffin pan is essential. This pan will stand up to batch after batch, but the thing we love the most is so simple: The pan’s edges have a slightly rounded shape, making room for you to grab the pan — even while wearing the bulkiest oven mitts.

Our pickWilton Perfect Results Cupcake Pan, $11

If muffins are an occasional treat for you, then you can probably get away with paper soufflé cups. Cheap and recyclable, just fill them with batter, line them up on a regular cookie sheet, and bake!

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Emile Henry
Pie Dish

6. A 9- or 10-Inch Pie Pan

A basic pie pan isn’t just for pies: it’s great for roasting a chicken or making a quiche, too! Look for extra deep pie dishes to accommodate lots of filling. Glass or ceramic is best here.

Our pickEmile Henry Artisan Deep Ruffled Pie Dish, $40 at Emile Henry

Credit: Product: Courtesy of USA Pan

7. A 9×5-Inch Loaf Pan

You can cook everything from pound cakes to banana bread, meatloaf, and yeast breads in a standard loaf pan. Heavy and plain is best.

Our pickUSA Pan Loaf Pan, $16

What other baking pans do you have and use? Add them to the comments below!