I’ve been baking bread for years now and a few months ago I wondered, is the pan I always use the best pan out there? There are so many to choose from- aluminized steel, silicone, glass, ceramic- even cast iron bread pans.
So I set up an experiment. One week, 75+ cups of flour and over 400 pictures later, I have my answer! Read on to see which bread pans I’ll keep and which I’m getting rid of immediately.
Bread Pan Testing Process
The team baked a loaf of yeast white bread in each pan on one day and a loaf of zucchini quick bread in each bread pan the next day. We measured out the amount of dough or batter so that each pan got the exact same amount. Following that we analyzed how the loaf of bread looked, how evenly it baked, how long it took to cook, the cost of the bread pan and any other physical factors the bread displayed.
We had a team of two people mixing the bread and baking each loaf. Three additional people were brought in to judge the loaves of bread.
We recognize that this is NOT a perfectly designed experiment, but nevertheless, feel it’s useful to compare the types of pans available today. As we continue to use the pans we keep, we’ll update with additional information as it’s deemed helpful.
All bread was baked in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Kitchen temperature was 73 degrees F and humidity was 37%.
Loaf Pans Compared
We tested 9 different loaf pans each with 2 bread recipes. We wanted to test out a wide variety of pans that are on the market today.
Steel pans are the most widely available, but do they perform the best? We couldn’t wait to find out! Here are the ones we tested:
All outcome notes below were made by Jessica, chief baker and bread enthusiast.
Cost: $16.97 (as of 7/2019)
- Made of nonporous glass that won’t warp, stain, or absorb odors
- Glass is preheated oven, microwave, fridge, freezer & dishwasher safe
- Lid is BPA free and top-rack dishwasher safe
- Glass bakeware has large ergonomic handles for improved handling
- Measures 4 inches wide by 7 inches length by 3 inches tall
- Weighs 2 lbs 4 oz
Outcome: To be honest, I’ve used a glass pan in the past and it didn’t wow me, so I didn’t have very high expectations for this pan. However I was pleasantly surprised at how it consistently baked a gorgeous loaf of bread! Both the yeast bread and the quick bread rose well, baked evenly and had great color. The glass pan yielded lovely loaves of bread and I’ll certainly use this pan again.
I did spray the glass pan with non-stick baking spray and had very minor issues with the bread sticking. I sprayed a bit more on the pan when baking the zucchini bread and it didn’t stick at all. Clean-up was simple and took very little time. I am a bit concerned with how the glass pan will look over time after being sprayed with non-stick spray. I’ll have to make sure I clean it thoroughly to avoid baked grease spots.
I plan to keep the glass pan and will use it again.
Glass Bread Pan Rating: 9.25/10
Cost: $19.03 (as of 7/2019)
- Red Glazed Exterior And Cream Interior
- Oven To Table Design
- Microwave, Freezer, Oven And Dishwasher Safe
- Measures 4 inches wide by 8 inches length by 3.5 inches tall
- Weighs 2 lbs 6 oz
Outcome: I’ve had this ceramic pan for years but I mostly just liked how it looked! It’s just a very pretty pan! After testing with both bread recipes though now I know it also bakes a gorgeous loaf of bread. Loaves were evenly baked, had great lift and color and overall a pleasing appearance.
I did spray the ceramic pan with non-stick baking spray and had no issues with the bread sticking at all. Clean-up was simple and took very little time.
I plan to keep this pan and will use it again.
Ceramic Loaf Pan Rating: 7.7/10
Cost: $14.47 (as of 7/2019)
- Camp Chef brand cast iron bread pan, weighs 3 lbs 9 oz
- True Seasoned & ready to use out of the box
- Measures 4.3 inches wide by 8 inches length by 2.8 inches tall
Outcome: I love the look of the cast iron pan but I’ll be honest, I was pretty nervous to bake with it. I worried that it’d take quite a bit longer to bake. I was also concerned about the dough sticking to the pan so I opted to line the pan with a piece of parchment paper.
The results? I love it! The bread baked evenly and looked great.
I’m not sure if the bread would stick to the pan if I opted to not use parchment paper. I’ll bake another loaf and update this with more info if it sticks. I am definitely planning to keep this pan and use it again.
Cast Iron Bread Pan Rating: 7.85/10
Cost: $19.99 (as of 7/2019)
- Heavy gauge steel construction resists warping.
- Comfortable silicone Anolon SureGrip handles provide a slip-free grasp.
- Dishwasher suitable and oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Measures 4.3 inches wide by 8.3 inches length by 2.5 inches tall
- Weighs 1 lb 2 oz
Outcome: This steel pan is the most widely available type of bread pan right now. There are several different brands that offer this same type of pan. I opted for the Analon pan because it was a heavy pan with great non-stick abilities. I was a bit concerned with how dark the pan is and how that would affect the color of the bread.
The bread did cook to full 200 degree F temperature in 4 minutes less than the other loaves. This bread pan baked a beautiful loaf of bread. The top was smooth and well rounded. It was slightly lighter on the top than the bottom, but it still looked lovely.
I didn’t spray the pan at all with non-stick spray and it did not stick. Clean-up was an absolute breeze!
I really liked this pan and will use it again.
Heavy-weight Steel Bread Pan Rating: 8.25/10
Cost: $19.99 (as of 7/2019)
- Natural aluminum commercial bakeware is made of pure aluminum which will never rust for a lifetime of durability
- Baked goods rise and bake evenly due to aluminums superior heat conductivity and the reinforced encapsulated steel rim prevents warping
- Easy clean up, hand wash only
- Measures 4.5 inches wide by 8 inches length by 3 inches tall
- Weighs 11 oz
Outcome: I’ve used this bread pan for years and *thought* that it would perform well. I was wrong! Breads baked in the aluminized steel pan consistently didn’t rise as well. Even after measuring multiple times for a 200 degree F temp with the thermometer, the bread sank upon cooling, indicating that it didn’t bake evenly. It was pretty disappointing!
I’m not sure if the pan didn’t perform well because it was so light weight or if it was something to do with the type of metal? Even the Dollar Store pan and the foil disposable pan loaves looked better!
I’m planning on getting rid of this pan and not using it again.
Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan Rating: 6.2/10
Cost: $11.99 for 2 pans (as of 7/2019)
- Set of 2 rectangular-shaped bread pans—ideal for baking bread, making meatloaf, and more
- Heavy-weight carbon-steel construction provides durability and fast, even heating for uniform browning
- Nonstick coating ensures effortless food release; oven-safe to 500 degrees F
- Measures 4.3 inches wide by 8.5 inches length by 2.3 inches tall
- Weighs 11 oz
Outcome: The Amazon pan is another steel non-stick coated pan. It’s pretty light weight at just 11 oz. Both loaves of bread initially looked good, but not great. The zucchini bread looked wonderful, I made sure to bake it to the full 200 degrees, but then it sank upon cooling, which indicates uneven baking. Both loaves had slightly uneven coloring with the bottom of each loaf being noticeably darker than the top.
I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray and didn’t have any issues with the loaves sticking.
I likely won’t keep this pan or use it again. It performed okay and was pretty inexpensive. However the Dollar store pan performed very similarly for a fraction of the price. Since I bake bread often, I’d rather spend an additional $5- $6 and use a pan that bakes bread more evenly.
Medium-weight Steel Non-Stick Bread Pan Rating: 6.13/10
Dollar Store Light-weight Steel Loaf Pan
Cost: $1.00 (as of 7/2019)
- Lightweight Steel pan
- Measures 3.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches length by 2.5 inches tall
- Weighs 4.5 oz
Outcome: For a pan that costs $1, I was pleasantly surprised with how it performed. It’s a very light weight pan, measuring in at just 4.5 oz. The pan was fairly dark colored too, so I was concerned about uneven baking.
My concerns were warranted, as it did bake somewhat unevenly, but it wasn’t the worst by far. The quick bread did take 10 additional minutes to bake and the loaf was quite dark in color. The crust was harder too, which still tasted good, but I preferred the other loaves more.
The yeast bread stuck to the pan despite the fact that I sprayed it with non-stick spray. I sprayed it very generously when I baked the quick bread and it didn’t stick at all.
Overall, this pan is just okay and I will not keep it or use it again.
Light-Weight Steel Loaf Pan Rating: 6.75/10
Cost: $15.44 for 2 pans (as of 7/2019)
- 100% Food Grade Silicone, BPA Free, Latex Free, Exceeds FDA & LFGB (European) standards.
- MULTI-PURPOSE – Use for Bread, Quiche, Meatloaf, Lasagna, Pot Pies and More! COMMERCIAL GRADE – Set of 2, Size: 10.75L x 5W x 2.5H inches (each)
- Dishwasher safe, oven safe to 450F, microwave safe, freezer safe, built-in stabilizer bars for extra strength
- Silicone is safe for your family and good for the environment; make healthy all natural snacks and avoid unhealthy preservatives, food dyes, chemicals and GMO’s found in store bought products
- Measures 3 inches wide by 8.5 inches length by 2.5 inches tall
- Weighs 6 oz
Outcome: I’ve used a silicone muffin pan in the past and the muffins stuck terribly, so I was nervous to try this bread pan. It did well though! It was a slightly longer pan, so the loaves didn’t quite rise as high as others, but they still looked great. Both loaves were lopsided though, which I thought was interesting.
I did spray the inside of the silicone pans with non-stick spray. I’m not quite sure they needed it, but neither loaves stuck at all so it worked. Clean-up was very easy too. Both loaves cooked a few minutes faster than the others.
I’m not planning on keeping this pan, nor do I plan to use it again. It did okay, but I didn’t like how the loaves baked lopsided each time.
Silicone Bread Pan Rating: 7.15/10
Cost: $2.47 for 3 pans (as of 7/2019)
- Set of 3 foil pans designed for disposable use
- Measures 4 inches wide by 7.5 inches length by 2.3 inches tall
- Weighs 0.5 oz
Outcome: The foil loaf pan was the smallest and I debated dividing the dough up differently, but in the end I opted to use the same amount of dough as the others. I was pretty surprised at how well both loaves looked- they were lovely!
Despite being up to an inch smaller than the other pans, the dough in the foil pan didn’t rise any higher, so the inside was slightly more dense. It appeared to bake evenly and even baked a few minutes faster than most of the other pans. Overall, the loaves of bread in the foil pans were gorgeous- one judge even rated it in their top 3!
I plan to keep these pans and it’s really helpful to know that these are a good option. They were the least expensive pans I purchased, coming in at just under $1 each. I may use these for baking bread to give as gifts in the future!
Disposable Foil Bread Pan Rating: 7.2/10
BEST BREAD PAN RESULTS
Here’s how each of the 9 pans we tested ranked, 9 being the worst pan and 1 being the BEST:
9: (Amazon) Medium Gauge Steel Non-Stick Loaf Pan, 6.13
8: Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan, 6.2
7: (Dollar Store) Light-weight Steel Non-Stick Loaf Pan, 6.75/10
6: Silicone Loaf Pan, 7.15/10
5: Foil Disposable Loaf Pan, 7.2/10
4: Ceramic Loaf Pan, 7.7/10
3: Cast Iron Loaf Pan, 7.85/10
2: (Analon) Heavy Gauged Steel Non-Stick Loaf Pan, 8.25/10
1: Glass Loaf Pan, 9.25/10
If you enjoy baking bread and want to use the BEST bread pans, I think the top 4 pans all performed very similarly and are great options!
The cast iron bread pan was the least expensive of the top 4.
However, it looks like in this case, you get what you pay for, as all 4 of these pans yielded the most evenly baked, aesthetically pleasing loaves of bread.
If you are on a tight budget, I’d opt to use foil pans over buying less expensive steel pans.
I’d avoid using aluminized steel bread pans at all! It was the most expensive and performed consistently poorly.
AVOID SUNKEN BREAD
The easiest and best way to avoid sunken bread is to use a cooking thermometer to check the inside of the loaf. Fully cooked bread will register 200°F on a thermometer. My all-time favorite thermometer is the Thermapen. It’s super fast and incredibly durable. Another great cooking thermometer is the ThermoPop which is a more basic version that works just as well!