If you love cakes or waffles and want to bake, then you probably already have an assortment of cake pans and waffle makers that you got from the grocery store. However, a poor quality pan does not make a good cake maker. Something you’ve probably learned by now.
Skimping on your bakeware will often result in dry, unevenly baked cakes (maybe a burned bottom too) even after all that careful measuring you did and the constant checking with the oven thermometer. Obviously, it all means is that a good cake pan and a mixer are essential tools for the success of your cake.
To help you find the best cake pans for your kitchen, we’ve assembled a list of tried and tested pans that have been deemed the best by cake experts everywhere.
Top 10 Cake Pans Of 2020 Reviewed
1. Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Round Cake PanBest Aluminum Cake Pan
Fat Daddio’s cake pan is made of non-reactive 16 gauge anodized aluminum which means it heats up fast, cooks evenly, and will not produce funky flavors when you have acidic ingredients in your batter. This cake pan is lightweight and sturdy. It has a 3-inch depth which ensures your crust remains smooth, light and delicate. The sides are as straight as can be so you layering or frosting the sides will never be a problem.
As an added benefit, you can use these pans for creating deep-dish cheesecakes instead of buying a separate springform pan. Just make sure to use parchment lining. However, it is not dishwasher-safe. Also, the inside label seems to have been stuck with very sticky, the hard-to-remove glue which can be very frustrating.
- Deep pan to prevent overbaking the top crust
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Non-reactive material
- Hard-to-remove glue from the label
- Not dishwasher-safe
2. USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan
For tall bread and cakes, the USA Pans Aluminized Steel 9×5 inch Loaf Pan takes the cake. The heavy-gauge aluminized steel is built to last which means you’ll be baking on this pan for years to come. This cake pan features a non-stick surface; it is coated with Americoat which is an environmentally friendly silicone coating.
It also has a corrugated texture to help ensure that your baked goods are easily released by the pan. However, your bread or cake will have faint lines due to this texture; not really visible until you’re up close but it could be a dealbreaker for some. Also, the corners where the metals meet are frustrating to clean because batter keeps getting trapped there.
- Easy to use
- Eco-friendly silicone coating
- Even cooking
- Corrugated surface leaves mark on the cake
- Corners trap batter and are hard to clean
3. USA Pan Bakeware Rectangular Cake PanBest Cake Pans For Layered Cakes
If you love square cakes, gingerbread, and brownies, you’ll need the USA Pan Rectangular Cake Pan in your kitchen. Like all USA Pan products, this pan is made of commercial grade, heavy gauge aluminized steel with Americoat for quick release of your goodies. The cake pan comes with a lifetime warranty.
The bake, as usual, is even and delicious looking. Sliding the cake/brownies out is smooth as silk. However, the corners are still a problem since they’re still hard to clean. Also, the corrugated surface does leave marks. One thing to take note is that you can easily scratch this if you use a metal knife to cut the baked goods while inside the pan.
- Eco-friendly Americoat
- Heavy duty pan
- Lifetime warranty
- Hard-to-clean corners
- Corrugated surface leaves faint indentations on your cake
- Easily scratched
4. USA Pan Bakeware Round Cake PanBest Professional Cake Pans
Yes, we actually have another USA Pan on our list which means you can actually have all your cake pans bought from one manufacturer. Like the other two pans, this round pan is also made of the heavy duty aluminized steel which is non-reactive and a great conductor of heat. It also features the Americoat to ensure that your baked goodies come right off, leaving a clean pan behind.
When it comes to baking cakes, you can consistently expect light, golden brown goodies. However, this cake pan features rolled edges that collect water so make sure to clean and wipe thoroughly. Otherwise, your pan will rust pretty quickly. Also, some consumers have reported that their pans started flaking after a couple of months.
- Even bake
- Quick release
- Rolled edge traps water
- The coating may start flaking after a couple of months
5. Norpro Stainless Steel Square Cake Pan
If rust is a dealbreaker with you, then the Norpro Stainless Steel Cake Pan may just be what you’re looking for. It’s made of heavy gauge stainless steel which is rust-resistant. It features a mirror finish which makes it look attractive. You can use this pan to bake square cakes, brownies, cornbread, sticky buns, and even cinnamon rolls. Because it has no nonstick coating, you don’t have to worry about scratching the surface of this pan. The pan does bake very well and evenly.
While you will need to grease the pan or line it with parchment, you’ll have no issues with anything sticking. And there’s a lip edge to help you hold the pan from table to oven and back. However, the sides are slightly slanted instead of straight. Also, it’s not exactly an 8×8 square pan; it’s half an inch less all around. Plus, the glue that is used to stick the label to the bottom of the pan is very hard to remove.
- Lip edge for easy handling
- Rust-resistant and scratch-resistant
- Baked goods don’t stick
- Sides are slightly slanted
- It’s smaller than a regular 8×8 pan
- Hard-to-remove sticker label
6. OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Cake Pan
The OXO Good Grips Non-stick Pro Cake Pan is made of commercial grade, heavy gauge aluminized steel, much like the USA Pans on our list. However, it doesn’t have the same corrugated surface or coating. Instead, it uses Swiss-engineered PTFE, ceramic-reinforced, two-layer, commercial grade coating and a micro-textured pattern. The non-stick coating ensures that your baked goodies will easily get released but it also is there to make the surface scratch-resistant, rust-resistant, and stain-resistant.
The textured bottom promotes airflow because of the minimized contact with the batter which means you get an even bake every time. Then there are the rolled edges for easy handling. However, you’ll need to handwash the pan to protect the coating. Also, avoid using metal utensils with this pan. More importantly, it’s a bit more expensive compared to others on our list that are of equal quality.
- Non-stick coating
- Heavy duty aluminized steel
- Rolled edges for easy handling
- Slightly more expensive
- Hand wash only
7. Cake Boss Round SetBest Baking Pan Sets
What better cake pan to use than one that was designed by a professional baker? The Cake Boss Professional Non-stick Bakeware is one of our top picks for several reasons. For a little over $20, you can get 3 round cake pans of different sizes – perfect if you plan to do a tiered cake at home. These pans are all made from durable, folded aluminized steel and feature wire-reinforced rolled rims.
The surfaces of the pan feature a quilted pattern for even heat distribution. Since they’re different sizes, you can stack them inside each other for easy storage. One flaw (but not a dealbreaker) is that the quilted surface and the logo will leave marks on whatever you bake. You can easily cover it with icing unless you weren’t planning on putting any. Also, the sides are not truly straight so stacking the same size layers will require you to do some “reshaping.”
- Easy to use and clean
- Stacks inside each other
- Even bake
- Quilted surface and logo leave a mark on the baked goods
- Sides are not truly straight
8. Nordic Ware Heavyweight Angel Food Cake PanBest Cake Pan For Pound Cake
For classic angel food cakes and pound cakes, there’s the only one we recommend – the Nordic Ware Heavyweight Angel Food Cake Pan. This pan is made of heavy aluminum for even heat distribution and features a nonstick coating to help you slide out your cake easily. However, the dark coating of this pan means you’ll need to cook it at a lower temperature (-25 degrees) and for lesser time.
Otherwise, you’ll be burning your angel cake. Also, some users have reported receiving slightly dented cake pans. Others have experienced the coating coming off after a few uses.
- Even heat distribution
- Heavy duty cake pan
- Nonstick coating
- The dark coating may burn the cake
- Pans may get dented during shipping
- The coating may come off easily
9. Wilton Aluminum Performance Pans
If you want a more budget-friendly option without sacrificing quality, then the Wilton Aluminum Performance Pans are your best bet. These pans are made from durable aluminum which is the best at conducting heat for baking cakes. However, these are nesting pans; they feature slightly tapered sides to allow them to stack inside each other. If you want to create a single layer cake, these pans are perfect. For tiered or layered cakes that you plan on decorating, you’d better stick to one of our other picks. Also, these pans are not dishwasher-safe; it’ll degrade your aluminum.
- Even heat distribution
- Easy to use
- Not dishwasher-safe
- Slightly tapered sides
10. Chicago Metallic Professional Non-Stick Round Cake Pan
The Chicago Metallic Professional Non-stick Round Cake Pan is another of our favorites. It is made of heavy-weight aluminized steel and features a silicone-based non-stick coating. What makes this product stand out from the rest is the fact that it’s dishwasher safe. Something that most other cake pans aren’t. These pans all have straight sides so professional bakers rejoice!
However, this pan has a charcoal gray coating so you’ll need to make necessary adjustments to oven temperature and bake time to prevent the cake from getting overcooked. Also, the rolled lip does not have a non-stick coating and will rust if you don’t let it completely dry.
- Silicone-based non-stick coating
- Even heat distribution
- Straight Sides
- The dark coating can cause overbaking
- Rolled lip will rust if not completely dried
How to Choose the Best Cake Pan: The Ultimate Buying Guide
While you can bake almost any kind of cake in any kind of cake pan, the result may not always be desirable. Sometimes, following the recipe is not enough. Having the right cake pan may just be that single factor that makes or breaks your bake. To ensure that your dessert turns out delicious instead of a disaster, we’ve constructed an in-depth guide on how to choose the right pan for your baking needs.
What Should the Right Cake Dan do for Me?
A good cake pan is just one out of several factors that can affect the success of your bake. Other factors include ingredients, creaming technique, and oven temperature. Now, all other things being equal, a bake done with a cheap pan can often result in dark and wrinkled crusts, the thick brown crust at the bottom, and a gummy and dense inside layer. Using a good pan, on the other hand, will result in an evenly baked cake that has a light and delicate crisp with minimal wrinkling and an inside layer that’s moist and fluffy.
What Features Should the Best Cake Pan Have?
Basically, you want your cake pan to have three essential features:
- Its material should conduct heat quickly and evenly.
- It should have straight/vertical sides all around which allows you to make evenly stacked layers of cake and makes frosting the sides easier.
- It should be deep enough (at least 2 inches deep) to give your batter room to rise and protects the top from overbaking. This is especially useful if your oven runs a little hot or the top coil of your electric oven is too powerful.
Let’s Talk Materials
Cake pans come in four types of materials: metal (aluminum or steel), silicone, ceramic, and glass. Each material has advantages and disadvantages. And each of us probably has our own preferences. Nevertheless, most baking experts agree that one material tops them all – aluminum.
Aluminum and Anodized Aluminum
Cake pans made of aluminum or anodized aluminum are considered the best because this metal is a very good conductor of heat and allows your cake to cook evenly. Cake pans in this category are often lightweight and durable. Anodized aluminum is even better because it is nonreactive. What this means is that it will not react with the acidic ingredients in your batters like lemon juice, baking soda, buttermilk, and brown sugar. If you’ve ever tasted a funky flavor in your batter, it’s likely the result of these acidic ingredients reacting to your pan. However, aluminum will warp if exposed to rapid changes in temperature if it is thin enough so make sure to find medium to thick pans. Our number one pick, Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Round Cake Pan, is made of anodized aluminum.
In a cake pan, stainless steel works great because it is durable, resistant to rust, and won’t stain. It is also nonreactive so no funky flavors to worry about. However, it does conductor retains heat as well as aluminum. But with the right temperature and baking time, cooking with a stainless steel pan like the Norpro Stainless Steel Square Cake Pan may be well worth your while.
Tinned, Black, or Blue Steel
Tinned steel is cheap and good at conducting heat. However, it will rust. Black or blue steel, on the other hand, is resistant to rust due to its coating. However, when scratched, it will rust. Also, it does react with acidic ingredients.
The glass is great because it is non-reactive and distributes heat evenly. However, it is a poor conductor of heat which means that it will take time to heat up but it will also stay heated way after it was taken out of the oven. This means that your cake would continue cooking even after you’ve removed it from the oven. Also, recipes with a lot of sugar (like cake) may start to burn way before the entire dessert is cooked all the way through.
Silicone is a great non-stick material so you don’t have to worry about getting your baked goods stuck in the pan. Also, silicone is durable and can handle extreme changes in temperature. Plus, silicone is easy to clean. However, it is not a good conductor of heat so you’ll need longer bake times. In addition, you can expect very little browning on the sides of your cake. More importantly, silicone cake pans are hard to maneuver when filled with batter.
Ceramic is much like glass which means that it conducts heat very well and definitely looks attractive. You can serve your cake inside this pan and it’ll still look pretty. However, ceramic cake pans like glass will also cause your sweet desserts to brown too quickly.
Non-stick Coating, Anyone?
There’s no question that non-stick coating is incredibly convenient. Cake pans with this feature like the USA Pan Bakeware Rectangular Cake Pan are easy to use and clean. However, you must keep in mind these are not dishwasher-safe. A small scratch can cause parts of the coating to peel away. And some experts recommend that you throw away the pan once part of the coating is gone. Choosing to line the pan with parchment is definitely not as convenient but may save you headaches in the long run.
Dark or Light Coating?
The rule of thumb is the lighter the coating, the lighter the browning. If you want a lighter, golden brown cake, then a lighter-colored cake pan should be your top choice. Dark colored pans like the Nordic Ware Heavyweight Angel Food Cake Pan will absorb more heat and cook the outside of your cake faster than the inside.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll need to throw out your perfectly good dark colored pan for a light one. You can still use a dark colored pan but take measures to prevent over-browning the sides by lowering the temperature by 25 degrees and then check the cake’s doneness 10 minutes before the given bake time.
What Size Should I Get?
When it comes to cake pans, you may have noticed that there are several sizes for you to choose from. This is because size will depend on what you want to bake. Generally, you should have two round cake pans that are 9 inches across and at least 2 inches deep with straight sides to make the perfect cake. Square cakes and brownies require a square pan that’s 8-9 inches in size. For loaf pans, the recommended size is 9×5 inches like the USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan.
Take note that these sizes aren’t interchangeable. For example, a 9-inch pan will have an extra inch of volume which can cause a huge difference in the result of your bake. With the same amount of batter for an 8-inch pan, there won’t be enough to cause the cake to rise as well or as evenly. Because the pan is underfilled, the cake will also set faster which can lead to cracks and weird bubbles in the crust.
Any Other Advice?
When buying a cake pan, make sure to buy the best quality that you can afford. Don’t skimp on the pans. Aside from getting delicious desserts every time, top quality cake pans will still be in use in your kitchen years from now. And that’s money well spent.