Anyone who enjoys making tasty treats like banana-nut bread or pound cake knows how important it is to have a good loaf pan. It is sized and designed to shape your bread and other baked goods and provides the right depth so your foods are always cooked all the way through. But loaf pans are available in a variety of materials and sizes, which can make shopping for one a little more complicated than it should be.
Fortunately, our buying guide has all the tips necessary to help you find the best loaf pan for your kitchen. We've included some specific product recommendations at the end, including our top pick from USA Pan, which is made of durable aluminized steel and offers a nonstick surface for easy cleanup.
Considerations when choosing loaf pans
Loaf pans are made from a variety of materials. Here are some of the most common options:
is a very fragile material that can shatter if dropped. It heats slowly, too, which can lead to uneven baking. You have to be sure to choose ovenproof glass to keep it from shattering during baking, too. Glass pans can work very well for non-yeasted bread, though.
Standard loaf pans are usually 9 x 5 x 3 inches. A standard size is fairly versatile, so if you'll use your pan for multiple types of bread or cake, it's a good option. If you're buying a pan for a specific recipe, though, make sure to get the pan size indicated. A pan that's the wrong size can lead to spilling or misshaped bread.
Many loaf pans have a nonstick coating, which helps your bread, cake, or other baked good release easily when it's done baking. A nonstick coating can flake or wear off over time, but it makes baking more convenient because you never have to worry about the bread sticking to the pan or breaking when you try to get it out.
Depending on the material that you choose for your loaf pan, it may be safe to clean in the dishwasher. Before you buy, check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure that a pan is dishwasher-safe. If you're not sure, play it safe and wash it by hand.
You'll have a much easier time taking your loaf pan out of the oven if it has easy-to-grip handles. They can also cut down on the risk of damaging the top of your bread or cake by accidentally piercing it when you remove it from the oven.
You can expect to pay between $15 and $50 for a loaf pan. Basic metal, glass, or silicone pans usually range from $15 to $35, but ceramic models can go for $35 to $45. Some brand-name loaf pans can cost as much as $55, though.
Q. My bread didn't cook properly. Is there something wrong with my loaf pan?
A. Using a loaf pan that's too small or too large for your recipe can cause issues, but in most cases, it's usually a problem with your oven. Check that your oven temperature is accurate with an oven thermometer.
Q. What else can I make in a loaf pan besides bread?
A. You can make a variety of cakes, including pound cake, in a loaf pan, but there are quite a few savory recipes you can make, too. Meat loaf, lasagna, baked ziti, and crustless quiche all work well in a loaf pan if you don't mind smaller portions.
Our take: A highly durable aluminized steel loaf pan with a nonstick surface that does require handwashing but holds up well to years of use.
What we like: Made of 65% recycled aluminized steel to increase durability. Makes one-pound loaves. Corrugated design helps air circulate for more even baking. Bread and cakes release easily without any greasing.
What we dislike: Requires handwashing, so it can't be soaked or cleaned in the dishwasher.
Our take: A dishwasher-safe loaf pan that can last for years but won't break the bank.
What we like: Made of European-grade silicone for added strength, flexibility, and durability. Bends to make it easier to pop out baked goods from its nonstick surface. Dishwasher-, freezer-, and microwave-safe.
What we dislike: Batter can get stuck in the ridges at the bottom.
Our take: Strong, heavy-gauge steel loaf pan with an easy-to-grab lip along the edge.
What we like: Features sturdy, durable steel construction. Pan dimensions are embossed on its handles. Generous lip makes it easy to turn the pan in the oven and remove it as well.
What we dislike: Requires handwashing if you want to maintain the finish.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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