The Difference Between Baking Pans and Baking Dishes

Which one should you use?

When we call for a baking pan in our recipes, we're referring to a metal pan, ideally one with straight sides and crisp corners that will give well-defined, professional-looking edges to baked goods. Our favorite 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan, from Williams Sonoma, is nonstick and has a gold color that produces perfectly browned baked goods (an 8-inch square version is also available). The only downside to this pan is that the nonstick coating can scratch and that it's ovensafe only up to 450 degrees (it's not broiler-safe).

Baking dishes, on the other hand, are those made of either tempered glass or ceramic, with rounded corners to make it easy to scoop out soupy desserts and casseroles. Neither glass nor ceramic reacts with acidic foods like some uncoated metals, and both are scratchproof and safe to use with metal utensils. Glass is transparent, so you can easily track browning. The downside for glass dishes is that they are ovensafe only up to around 425 degrees, can't go under the broiler, and shouldn't be exposed to sudden temperature changes. Our favorite glass dish is the Pyrex Easy Grab 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish.

Some ceramic baking dishes can withstand direct-heat cooking such as broiling (up to 550 degrees) because the material is hardened by being fired in a kiln at temperatures well over 1,000 degrees. Our favorite ceramic baking dish is Mrs. Anderson's Baking Lasagna Pan with Handle (Rose), which measures about 13 inches by 9 inches.

The bottom line:  Baking pans are made of metal, and baking dishes are made of glass or ceramic.

Our Favorite Baking Pan

Our Favorite Baking Pan: Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Rectangular Cake Pan, 9” × 13”, $33

Use for:

  • Cakes

  • Brownies

  • Sticky buns

Don't use for:

  • Anything that needs to be cut in the pan with a sharp knife
Our Favorite Glass Baking Dish

Our Favorite Glass Baking Dish: Pyrex Easy Grab 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish, $7

Use for:

  • Stuffings

  • Cobblers

Don't use for:

  • Dishes that require high heat or the broiler
Ceramic Baking Dish

Ceramic Baking Dish: Mrs. Anderson's Baking Lasagna Panwith Handle (Rose), $50

Use for:

  • Lasagna

  • Gratins

  • Broiling

Don't use for:

  • Foods where you need to track the bottom browning

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