What's The Difference Between A 13x9 And A 9x13 Pan?

Our food editor did some digging to find out.

I won't keep you in suspense. There is no significant difference between a 13- by 9-inch cake pan and a 9- by 13-inch cake pan. They are the same thing. Yes, you read that correctly.

For example, pans made by different manufacturers may vary slightly by depth—two inches versus 2¼ inches. But whether the pan's labeling says 13- by 9-inch or 9- by 13-inch, it should have a volume of about 14 cups (or 3.3 liters) and be the right size for most sheet cake or bar cookie recipes. If you want to measure your pan to be sure, measure it from the inside—one corner to the opposite corner on the same side of the pan.

Peach Melba Shortbread Bars

Jennifer Davick

So, Why The Dimension Debate?

So why can't we agree on what to call this pan? I contacted a few major cookware brands to find out why they chose one measurement over the other. The answers revealed what I figured was true: anything goes!

Although specific sizes and shapes of pans are common (like Bundt pans, loaf pans, and round cake pans), there is no standard for their measurements. Companies can set their standards for measuring pan sizes, which creates confusion for shoppers.

Williams-Sonoma, a giant in the bakeware world, said the company lists the width first, then the length, so 13- by 9-inch. A spokesperson for USA Pan, a manufacturer of aluminized steel pans, said that the company lists the greater dimension first for all of their pans (such as a 10- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan). King Arthur Flour sells 9- by 13-inch pans, but length comes before width for loaf pans or other rectangular pans. In Southern Living food stories, we refer to "13- by 9-inch" pans—but a look through our archives proves that even we've slipped up a few times.

My theory is that you call the pan by the name you grew up hearing. For some people, saying the smaller number first makes sense. For others, length always comes first. Either way, you're not wrong—as long as you agree that both pans are the same.

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