Buying Guide

Bakeware Buying Guide

Types of Bakeware and Their Uses

If you like to cook, at some point you will try your hand at baking. Who doesn't like to enjoy a delicious dessert after dinner or during special occasions? If you bake, you need bakeware and tools designed specifically for baking. Whether you are a new cook starting out or just want to add to your kitchen ware, we compiled a list of the most common bakeware and its uses to help you choose what pans, utensils, tools, and baking essentials you need to make a variety of tasty treats.

The art of baking requires specialized pans designed for specific foods.

The art of baking requires specialized pans designed for specific foods.

Baking Dish

Baking Dish

Made of metal, ceramic, enameled cast iron, or glass in oval, rectangular, square, or round shapes, these dishes are the most versatile bakeware pieces you can own. Baking dishes can be used for cooking a variety foods from casseroles, savory hot dish recipes, meats, thick solid masses of food, and desserts with runny batters. These dishes generally have straight sides and flat bottoms. Foods are placed in the pan and baked in the oven to cook.

Casserole Dish

Casserole Dish

Made of metal, ceramic, enameled cast iron, or glass in oval, rectangular, square, or round shapes, these dishes are the most versatile bakeware pieces you can own. Baking dishes can be used for cooking a variety foods from casseroles, savory hot dish recipes, meats, thick solid masses of food, and desserts with runny batters. These dishes generally have straight sides and flat bottoms. Foods are placed in the pan and baked in the oven to cook.

Cake Pan

Cake Pan

Designed for baking cakes, these pans have flat bottoms and straight side walls for easy release. Besides cakes, they are ideal for baking smaller deep dish pizzas, pull-apart cinnamon rolls, and some breads. Most are round which are designed for layer cakes. Others are square or rectangular for baking sheet cakes and brownies. Non-stick materials should be sprayed with cooking oil or wiped with shortening and dusted with flour before filling them with batter to prevent sticking and allow you to easily remove the baked cake to cool.

Bundt Pan

Bundt Pan

A bundt pan is a specialized cake pan that is round and deep with a tube in the center and straight sides. Many come with fluted, ornate shapes or decorative impressions in the metal. Made of tin, aluminum, or stainless steel, many come with a non-stick finish for easy removal of the food.

Angel Food Cake Pan

Angel Food Cake Pan

Another specialized style of cake pan, this round, tubular design has high, straight sides and a hollow core to allow even heating. The high sides help the light, fluffy angel food cake to rise. Those with non-stick surfaces will allow easy removal.

Cookie Sheet/Sheet Pans

Cookie Sheet/Sheet Pans

This thin, flat rectangular pan is the workhorse of any baker. It's designed for baking cookies, rolls, pastries, and other foods that don't produce a lot of liquids such as roasting sliced vegetables. Sheet pans have low sides with upturned lips to prevent food from sliding off and to allow easy handling when moving it to and from the oven. Cookies sheets come in aluminum, tin, and non-stick versions. Regular aluminum and tin versions can be lined with parchment paper or a baking mat for non-stick results. They can have smooth surfaces or have textured bottoms that allow more air to circulate under foods for better crisping and easier release. Every kitchen should have several of these in a variety of sizes.

Cupcake Pan/Muffin Pan

Cupcake Pan/Muffin Pan

Used to bake cupcakes and muffins, these pans feature "cup" shaped depressions that are filled with batter. They come in a variety of capacity sizes from 6-cups, 12-cup, 24-cup, and up to 48 cups per pan for high-volume bakeries. Cup sizes can be standard or mini. These pans can be made of tin, aluminum, or non-stick materials.

When baking cupcakes, a liner should always be used. Care should be taken to not overfill each compartment with batter so the cupcakes don't overflow the edge while cooking. Muffins don't require a liner, but non-stick pans are recommended for easy removal. The muffin batter should be filled right to the top so the muffin will overflow during baking to create the domed top with a crisp edge.

Loaf Pan

Loaf Pan

Loaf pans are rectangular, deep baking pans with straight or slightly flared sides that can be used to bake a variety of dishes including bread, cakes, meatloaves, and terrines. They come in metal, non-stick, and glass varieties. Narrow designs will cook more uniformly while non-stick styles allow easier removal of food, especially breads and cakes.

Pie Pan

Pie Pan

Round or oval with slightly flared sides, pie pans are designed for baking dessert pies and can be used for quiche. They are made from a variety of materials including ceramic, enameled cast iron, tin, and glass. Pies with top crusts will brown and crisp better in metal pans. Pies with pastry only on the bottom bake better in glass pans.

Tart Pan

Tart Pan

Round or oval with slightly flared sides, pie pans are designed for baking dessert pies and can be used for quiche. They are made from a variety of materials including ceramic, enameled cast iron, tin, and glass. Pies with top crusts will brown and crisp better in metal pans. Pies with pastry only on the bottom bake better in glass pans.

Ramekins

Ramekins

Ramekins are small, round dishes that serve many uses. Usually made of ceramic, stoneware, porcelain, or glass, these dishes can be used as prep containers to hold measured ingredients as you gather and mix ingredients in your recipe. They are also used to bake and serve individually sized custards, crème brulee, miniature souffles, individual pot pies, and smaller portions of other baked desserts. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, some with fluted or lipped sides. Besides being oven safe, many can also be used in the microwave, and put in the freezer with foods that are prepped in advance.

Springform Pans

Springform Pans

Round or oval with slightly flared sides, pie pans are designed for baking dessert pies and can be used for quiche. They are made from a variety of materials including ceramic, enameled cast iron, tin, and glass. Pies with top crusts will brown and crisp better in metal pans. Pies with pastry only on the bottom bake better in glass pans.

Other Baking Essentials

Along with bakeware, the art of baking requires its own unique set of tools and gadgets. If you love to bake, make sure your kitchen is stocked with some of these other essentials to help you create some culinary masterpieces.

Cooling Racks

Cooling Racks

Keep several racks handy to protect your counters from hot baking pans when they come out of the oven and give your cakes, pies, and cookies a place to cool down before serving. These wire racks have raised feet allow air to circulate underneath for faster cooling.

Mixing Bowls

Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls can be made of glass, ceramic, stoneware, stainless steel, or plastic. Have a set of at least three different sizes on hand for blending and mixing ingredients. The style and design you choose is a matter of personal preference. Some types even have handles and pour spouts to make it easier to transfer batter into pans for baking.

Measuring Cups

Measuring Cups

You can't bake anything without measuring ingredients, so a set of measuring cups is a must have. A full set includes 1/4-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/2-cup, 3/4-cup, and 1-cup sizes. Choose plastic for the lightweight design, copper for a classic look, or stainless steel for easy cleaning.

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Spoons

As with measuring cups, measuring spoons are an essential for measuring both dry and liquid ingredients when baking. Sets come with 1/4 teaspoon (tsp), 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 tablespoon (Tbsp), and 1 tablespoon sizes. Choice spoons made of plastic, copper, or stainless steel based on your personal preference.

Kitchen Timer

Kitchen Timer

Although ovens come with built-in timers that can be set along with the baking temperature, it's helpful to also have a separate kitchen timer on hand for multi-tasking. You can use it to set a second time for foods that need to come out of the oven sooner or to time foods that are cooking on the stovetop such as boiled eggs.

Cookie Cutters

Cookie Cutters

A basic round cookie cutter can be used for cutting cookies, biscuits, doughnuts, or coring cupcakes for fancy fillings. Add shaped cutters for seasonal, special occasion, and holiday baking.

Cake Stands

Cake Stands

If you frequently bake and serve cake to guests, a cake stand is a handy item to have for entertaining and special occasions. It gives you a great way to present your cake on a buffet, table, or counter while providing a stable base for cutting it. Covered models allow you to easily store and protect cakes that don't require refrigeration.

Tools & Utensils

Tools & Utensils

Every well-stocked kitchen will have a variety of tools in its inventory. You should have a selection that includes mixing spoons, spatulas, a pastry brush, a pastry cutter, a pastry blender, a scraper, a rolling pin, graters, sieves, and a flour sifter. More specialized tools and gadgets such as a pastry bag with piping tips, and a kitchen torch for browning and crisping crème brulee, or toasting and melting certain foods. Be sure to add a fire extinguisher to your kitchen to be safe.