Glass or Metal: Which Pan Is Better for Baking?

Arm yourself with the right baking tools for the job.

If you're an avid home baker, chances are that you've amassed a fair collection of baking tins. From Grandma's pretty patterned Pyrex dishes to sleek steel tins, our bakeware collections tick the boxes for both fashion and function. But then comes the essential question: Which piece is actually best for baking? We've got all sorts of gadgets and gizmos, but at the end of the day, we're always going to reach for the pan that delivers the best, even bake. Whether you already have a vast collection of baking pans and tins or you're just starting out, we're here to advise on the right vessel for the job.

The topic of today's great baking debate: Is it better to bake in a glass or metal pan? Well, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might expect. Each material has its own pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it all boils down to what specifically you're baking. Looking at the science behind heat conduction can give us some answers on the best material for the job.

The task of a pan is to smoothly transfer the heat from the oven to the batter or dough in the pan. Accordingly, we're looking for a pan that conducts heat quickly and evenly. By this definition, our all-around choice for baking is metal. Metal pans, such as aluminum, are lightweight and heat up quickly, resulting in a nice rise and even browning. Glass pans take a longer time to heat up; since they hold the heat on the sides and bottom of the pan, you run the risk of unevenly baked goods—the exterior may be dry and crunchy by the time the inside is cooked through.

Because of their ability to conduct heat, aluminum pans are the reliable workhorse of any bakeware collection. They can be used for just about any baking project, from cakes to brownies and pies. You can shop our favorite aluminum cake pans on Amazon.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Though we prefer metal for most baking projects, glass certainly has its pros. Glass is non-reactive, meaning that it won't pick up any flavors from previous bakes—it can transition masterfully from sweet to savory. Though glass takes longer to heat up, it retains heat very well—these insulating properties make it an excellent choice for baking pies, when you want the crust to remain crisp and golden. Get your own set of 2 Pyrex glass pie plates on Amazon for just $16.49.

Our Food Editor reserves a special spot in her heart for a glass dish—specifically when it comes to casseroles. "A 3-quart baking dish is one of the most versatile items in my kitchen," writes Southern Living editor Patricia York. And in this case, the glass comes in handy. "The glass design makes it easy to see how much browning and/or bubbling is going on in the oven, and it can handle a wide range of temperatures, unlike some ceramic baking dishes."

For more information on baking pans and tins, check out this beginner's guide.

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