For professional quality baked goods, you need a great cake pan. Find out which pan you should be using and why.
Last Updated Aug. 10, 2022. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Elegant French Desserts
We recently learned that one of our previously recommended nine-inch cake pans has changed. After testing four new models, the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Nonstick Round Cake Pan is our new winner. It browned foods a touch more evenly than any other model we've tested. At half the price of our new winner, our previous winner from Nordic Ware is now our Best Buy.
We also tested and recommend the 8-inch versions of our favorite 9-inch cake pans.
Our favorite round cake pan, the light-colored Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Nonstick Round Cake Pan, produced tall, evenly baked, golden-brown cake. It also turned out uniformly well-browned pizza. All food baked in it slid out easily, thanks to the pan’s nonstick coating. Our Best Buy, the Wilton Perfect Results Nonstick Round Cake Pan, baked beautiful cakes, too. Plus, it has wide handles that made it easy for us to securely grip when removing it from the oven. The food we baked in it released cleanly from the pan. We docked its rating slightly because the food we baked in it wasn't as evenly browned as food baked in our winner.
Whether you’re baking layer cakes, upside-down fruit cakes, pan pizza, or cinnamon buns, a good cake pan is a baker’s best friend. After all your hard work of measuring, mixing, and baking, it’s disappointing and frustrating to pull your cake out of the oven and realize it’s unevenly baked or that it’s stuck to the pan. To produce tall layers and to accommodate voluminous fruit upside-down cakes, we like 9-inch round cake pans that are at least 2 inches deep. We vetoed angled sides because straight sides make better layer cakes. To find out which cake pan is best, we purchased and tested a range of 9-inch cake pans. We baked Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake and Pepperoni Pan Pizza in each, comparing the results.
Light-Colored Pans: We slightly preferred light pans to dark ones. The two light-colored pans in our lineup produced golden brown and evenly baked cake. The cake was tall and airy with a flat, even top. Baking in a light colored pan reduces the chance that you will over-bake your cakes because the browning happens more slowly than in a dark pan. We’re happy to note the pan’s light color didn’t prevent it from developing deep browning when we made pizza in it.
Slick Nonstick Surface: Pans in our lineup with a good nonstick coating released all food with ease, leaving nothing behind. Delicate cake and sticky pizza slid out of these pans completely intact, looking beautiful. Nonstick coatings also make for a quick cleanup.
Handles: Two of the pans in our lineup had distinct wide handles, which made it easier to rotate them in the oven as well as move them from the oven to the cooling rack. We loved how secure our grip felt, even with bulky oven mitts on.
Uncoated Pans: Pans without nonstick coatings make it very challenging to remove food without damaging it. Despite thorough greasing, pizza fused to the pans without nonstick coating. They are also harder to clean than pans with nonstick coating.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Carolyn is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She's a French-trained professional baker.