Stock Your Kitchen with These 8 Baking Pans

Stock your kitchen with these 8 essential baking pans-- the most versatile and useful baking pans for your kitchen!

Welcome back to my baking basics series! As a sequel to my 14 kitchen tools every baker needs post, today I’m sharing the exact baking pans I use in my kitchen. These are baking pans that I find most useful, most versatile, and best quality for their price. I use these 8 baking pans more than anything else in the kitchen and highly recommend them to any and all bakers– both beginner and advanced.

Today’s list and last month’s kitchen tools post are two resources I wanted to share to help you stock your kitchen with personally tested and highly approved (and highly reviewed!) tools. My goal is to encourage you to bake with the most reliable tools that you can. Recipes can only be as successful as the tools you use to create them, so don’t overlook these lists! For some of these pans, I own a few different brands– so I can provide some options at different price points.

Overall, my favorite lines are Nordic Ware, Calphalon, and Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch. You can’t go wrong with any baking pans from these 3 lines. I own Wilton brand, too, and they’re fantastic but I find they scratch very easily. This obviously does not ruin the baked good, it really just roughs up the look. (Maybe you’re going for that?!) I bake in my glass Pyrex pans as well, but that is mostly for casseroles and savory dishes. Why? Glass takes longer to heat than metal, but when things do get hot– they get really hot. Recipes with lots of sugar brown quicker in glass pans which may not be ideal for the recipe– like a yellow cake, for example. So light-colored metal is usually my prime choice for bars and cakes that require longer bake times.

From one baker to another, my 8 recommended baking pans:

1. HALF SHEET PAN
What I own and love: Calphalon Classic Rimmed Baking Sheets and Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet (just got one and I LOVE it)
Quantity recommended: at least 2

Calphalon Classic Rimmed Baking Sheets

I touched on this briefly last month, but rimmed baking sheets (the half sheet size) are the best pan for your baking and cooking needs. I own 7 (yes, 7!) and I have NO IDEA what I would do without them. I use half sheet pans for baking cookies and scones, I also bake sheet cakes in them, breads and pastries on them, I use them for pouring out toffee or chocolate bark, roasting fish, vegetables, meat, you name it. The 12×17 inch size is perfection for holding a dozen cookies and the rimmed edges prevent any sauces/syrups from dripping off the sheet.

Traveling with a sheet cake or cookies? Or want to just keep things fresh? Get the half sheet pan with a lid! How convenient is that.

2. 9×13 PAN
What I own and love: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Quarter SheetPyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish, and Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch® Nonstick
Quantity recommended: 1

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Quarter Sheet

One of the most useful pans in a baker’s kitchen is the 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan, also known as a quarter sheet pan. This holds about 3 quarts and can be used for everything from brownies and lasagna to casseroles and rice krispie treats. This pan can be made of glass, metal, or ceramic– but metal seems to be the most basic option. I use my glass pan for casseroles, but when I’m baking brownies or cakes– it’s always metal. Why? Recipes with lots of sugar brown quicker in glass pans. So metal is usually my prime choice for sweets.

3. 9×9 SQUARE PAN
What I own and love: Wilton Recipe Right Square 9 by 9 Inch Covered Pan and Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Square Cake Pan with Lid
Quantity recommended: 2

Wilton Recipe Right and Nordic Ware Square

I use this size pan ALL the time for things like brownies, cookie bars, fudge, caramels, small cakes, etc. Since they’re so versatile, I recommend having 2. I like these pans to have lids because I mostly use them for dessert bars– and I travel a lot with bar treats. So it’s super convenient. The 8×8 square bake pan size also works for most recipes, but if swapping one size for the other– the bake time may change.

4. 9-INCH ROUND CAKE PAN
What I own and love: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum NonStick Commercial Round Layer Cake Pan and Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch® Nonstick
Quantity recommended: 3

WS Goldtouch

Why 3 of them? For layer cakes, of course! If you have less, you’re limited to how much batter you can bake at once. It’s best to bake cake batter all at once and if you only own 2 round cake pans– you’ll have to wait to bake that final layer. And that layer may not come out perfectly because of the long delay. The two brands I own are “deep dish” style, meaning that you are not limited to the height of cake. Some round pans are only 1.5 inches high and if your recipe calls for a 9×2 round cake pan (most of mine do!), you cannot use it.

5. STANDARD 12-COUNT MUFFIN PAN
What I own and love: Wilton Recipe Right Nonstick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan and Lucentee® Large Muffin Pan (just got this and I’m obsessed)
Quantity recommended: 2

12 Count Muffin Pans

I recommend owning two standard 12-count muffin pans because many muffin or cupcake recipes yield more than 12. And if you like baking muffins or cupcakes often (of course you do!) owning two of these is essential. I’ve had my Wilton muffin pan for over 8 years and it’s a favorite. If you get this one make sure you get the “standard” size– there are a lot of options in the Amazon listing. Another option I’m currently loving is this silicone muffin pan. SUPER non-stick– everything slides right out and it’s dishwasher safe. The listing says “jumbo” but it’s for standard size muffins and cupcakes. Bonus: it’s a gorgeous blue color.

6. 24-COUNT MUFFIN PAN
What I own and love: Wilton Recipe Right 24 Cup Mini Muffin Pan
Quantity recommended: 1

Wilton 24 Mini Muffin Pan

For all the mini muffins and cupcakes you make. Also for homemade mini peanut butter cups (I’ve got a recipe for those in Sally’s Candy Addiction!). I’ve had this Wilton mini muffin pan for years and besides a few scratches, it still gets the job done. Fantastic quality for its price. If you get this one make sure you get the “mini” size– there are a lot of options in the Amazon listing. I don’t own one yet, but the Lucentee® silicone muffin pan linked above comes in mini muffin size too!

7. 9-INCH PIE PLATE
What I own and love: too many to list! I collect them. A great place to start is this clear glass deep dish pie plate or the Pyrex version.
Quantity recommended: 1

pie dishes

Though I own ceramic, metal, and glass, I’d say my preferred choice is glassware for pie, quiche, & pot pie baking. Glass heats slowly and this gradual heat is perfect to evenly cook your pies– from the bottom of the crust, the filling, and the edges. You can also SEE the bottom of the crust browning which helps with dishes with long bake times. Both inexpensive options I listed have fluted rims, allowing you to crimp the edges of your crust with ease. They each have thick glass and through all of my pie-baking, they do not warp. I also love my Emile Henry ceramic ruffled pie dish because the pies are consistently gorgeous– and so is the pie dish! Ceramic pie dishes are similar to glass in that they heat slowly and evenly. Again, this gradual heat is fantastic for pies.

8. 9×5 INCH LOAF PAN
What I own and love: super inexpensive Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch x 5-Inch Loaf Pan
Quantity recommended: 1

Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch x 5-Inch Loaf Pan

You can cook everything from banana bread and zucchini bread to pound cakes and yeast breads. My Farberware pan is incredible quality for its super low price. Durable, sturdy, and warp-resistant– which is what you always want to look for! 9×5 is the standard size, so that is the size I highly recommend.

5 Useful Extras

If you’d like to extend your bakeware collection beyond the basics, I highly suggest these pans as well:

– 9-inch springform pan for cheesecakes and tarts. I love my Calphalon springform pan, but also heavy-duty and leakproof variety is perfect.

– 12-cup bundt pan for beautiful bundt cakes. I only own ONE and it’s this Anolon fluted pan. It’s top quality, has lasted through all my bundt cake baking, and its design makes the prettiest cakes.

– 6-count donut pan for donuts. Baked donuts are my obsession and I always recommend you get the same pan that I use– inexpensive and top quality Wilton Nonstick. Obviously you need the heart-shaped one for pink party donuts too.

– 9-inch tart pan for tarts and such. Make sure you get one with a removable bottom for easy cutting and serving– I own this Wilton nonstick tart pan and it’s great quality for the price.

– 6-count jumbo muffin pan for giant bakery-style muffins. I own the Wilton brand (make sure you click “jumbo”). I love extra large muffins– and you can take any regular muffin recipe and bake them larger size in about 25-28 minutes.

What are your favorite baking pans? Share your favorites with the rest of us!

More Baking Basics Posts

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I am not working with any of these brands, though some of these links are affiliate links. These baking pans are brands I trust and encourage you to use in the kitchen as well!

69 comments

  1. I absolutely love this site, and all the awesome recipes, science info, and just great stuff to know! Wondering if you have an opinion on aluminum vs steel cookie sheets (since you recommend both – Nordic Ware and Calphalon)… have you seen a difference between the two? Thanks!

    • I actually haven’t noticed a difference. At all. I love both. Both produce fantastic cookies and other items– baked evenly.

  2. Hi sally!! I love this site so much but I am wondering can i use a 10inch round pan instead of 9? I had read other comments about needing a longer time to bake but does it apply to all the cakes? 

  3. Hi Sally! I love the Emile Henry ceramic dish but they are bigger than the standard 9 inch pie dish. Can I use a recipe made for a 9 inch dish and adjust the baking time or should I look for recipes that are specifically for 10 inch dishes? Thank you!

    • Hi Vicky! No need to search for certain recipes. Simply use pie recipes formulated for 9-inch pie dishes (the standard) and reduce the time slightly because the pie will be thinner in a very slightly larger pan 🙂

  4. Hi Sally,

    Have you tried USA Pan? They make some of the best bakeware I have ever used. I am slowly dumping all my previous bakeware and replacing it with the USA Pan equivalent. I know you can buy them from Amazon and I think Bed Bath and & Beyond has them. I encourage to buy one half sheet pan to try it out and see what you think. I believe King Arthur Flour’s KAF line of bakeware is manufactured for them by USA Pan.

    • I believe I have, but don’t have any USA Pan products in my current collection. I appreciate your glowing review and feel like I should probably check it out!

  5. Hi Sally! I’m a longtime reader and longtime fan of your blog! You have taught us all so much, and for that I will always be grateful.

    I was wondering if you could consider a Baking Basics post regarding storage of all the different baking ingredients! What is the best way to store butter, sugar, etc. – in the freezer or in the pantry, what kind of containers do you use, and more. I’m very curious as to what is the right way of storing all my baking ingredients to keep them fresh and to keep pantry pests out!

    Any advice you could give on that would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

  6. Could you tell me which pan to buy for a pretty pound cake. I’ve tried everything. Mine all stick. Thanks!

  7. Hi Sally!
    I was re-reading this post today to get some new baking supplies. I noticed that some of the links to amazon have expired or the product is no longer posted. I wasn’t sure if you were aware/wanted to update the links for easy shopping.

  8. Hi Sally! 

    I am just starting to get into baking, so I searched online for what supplies I need to get started and I came across your blog and I am in love!!!

     I can’t wait to start trying all of your recipes and I’m getting your cookbook too! So, I put everything on my shoppping list from your post on the top 14 things you need and your list on baking pans.

    What other supplies will I need to get started? I’ve added a few others just by looking at some of your recipes and what supplies you used (love that you do that by the way !). I was just wanting to get everything together that I need so I can get started on this new hobby that I’m really interested in and excited about! 

    And what kind of cookie cutters do you recommend? Plastic or metal? And which shapes will I for sure need? 

    18 months ago, after we had our second daughter, my husband got a second job so I could stay at home full time and not work anymore. I just had our 3rd daughter the end of December and so now I’m a busy/crazy stay at home Mommy, and I’d really love to start doing something fun for me and something that I could share with our girls.

    So that’s why I’m starting this journey of baking and I’m so excited that I found your blog so that I could follow along and learn from you and your love of baking! So thank you for sharing your passion with us all!

    • Hi Megan, I love that you are starting this baking journey and have found your way here! Congrats on your 3rd daughter! Most of my cookie cutters are metal and I’d suggest a few basic shapes likes a circle, star, heart and whatever else you think you will use. The most important thing is to HAVE FUN!

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