A loaf pan is a surprisingly versatile workhorse for your kitchen. The
best bread pans can be used for yeasty or dessert loaves, meatloaf, even for reheating leftovers in the oven. What makes a great loaf pan ultimately comes down to what you’ll use it for most, and bakers of all skill levels have very strong opinions on what the best bread pan material is. Consider the following to find the best option for you. Glass & Ceramic
Glass is popular because it is
naturally nontoxic — but if you typically whip up sweet breads or cakes, the high sugar content in those recipes can cause them to brown a little . Since glass holds onto heat so well, it takes longer to cool down, which could result in over-baking your bread. That said, too quickly in a glass pan it usually releases loaves easier than metal pans. But, know that glass can shatter, whether from drops or extreme temperatures. Stoneware shares many of the same characteristics as glass, but everything from the type of clay used to its thickness can impact the final result, so it’s important to evaluate each pan’s specs to see if it’s up for your task. Metal
Metal pans are lightweight and shatterproof. Interestingly, the color of the metal plays an important role in how the pan bakes: A dark metal pan will cook your
bread faster and brown it more, making it ideal for loaves where you want that crunch. Yet, light metal pans are what the bakers interviewed by Food52 preferred for all-purpose baking, for their ability to not absorb as much heat, and thus not over-bake. But metal options are often treated with a nonstick coating that can scratch, so you have to be careful what you use to clean them. Silicone
This newer material give you a ton of flexibility (literally) because it can easily unmold from delicate loaves without damaging them, and it can go from the oven to the freezer without skipping a beat; plus, it can
brown a bread beautifully and cool down quickly. Look for pans specifically made of 100% food-grade silicone that complies with FDA standards, or better yet, the stricter LFGB European regulations.
With that said, it's time to shop. The seven options below all come highly rated by avid bakers.
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The Overall Best Metal Pan: A Textured Aluminum Option That Bakers Love
Uncoated heavy gauge aluminum pans are a favorite of avid bakers, and this pick from Chicago Metallic is perfect for anyone shopping for an all-purpose loaf pan. In fact, it comes backed by an impressive 4.7-star rating on Amazon. The light-colored pan has a textured bottom that helps promote airflow during the baking process for more even cooking and an easier release. One unexpected benefit is that because it's not coated, you don’t have to worry about the surface chipping or scratching, which means there's no need to be delicate when you are cleaning up. That said, it's recommended you hand-wash this pan to preserve its appearance. While no heat maximum was provided, shoppers mentioned the pan didn't warp at high temperatures. A helpful review: "I love to bake bread and have tried dozens of loaf pans. This is one of my favorites! It is not coated, but is well made and has a textured bottom. It cooks evenly with a nice brown all over. I lightly oil the sides and the bread will come out very easily with minimal residue. I have been using Chicago Metallic products lately and found them to be a superior brand--this is no exception."
A Nonstick Steel Pan With Convenient Silicone Handles
If you're looking for a
metal loaf pan that can produce everything from crusty bread to meatloaf, this heavy-gauge steel pick — in a slightly darker metal — is a great choice. It has a nonstick coating for easy cleanup, and the textured silicone grips on those wide handles are a brilliant little addition to help you hold on and reduce the chance of burns. It’s oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit — one of the highest heat resistant maximums on this list — and is freezer and dishwasher safe too. Just make sure to use wood or plastic utensils to maintain that pristine nonstick surface. If you're a real meatloaf lover, however, you might want to consider this bread pan with a lifter for the easiest loaf removal! A helpful review: "My new pans are wonderful, perfect size, easy clean-up, and love the handles for removing bread from oven! Now, I’m back to to successful Irish bread making and yeast breads! Thank you!"
A Glass Baking Dish So You Can Keep An Eye On Things
If you love using a
glass bread pan to see the doneness of your dish, this classic loaf pan from Libbey Baker's Premium line is a solid choice. It comes with the thick, scratch-resistant, high-quality glass that washes up with ease (it's dishwasher safe). It can be stored in the fridge or freezer afterwards (once cooled) — and you can even pop it into the microwave to reheat leftovers. The handles are curved for easy gripping and it's safe to use in the oven up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. A helpful review: "[...] In the oven I use it for everything from manicotti, ravioli in sauce to bread puddings. I love that it has the cover - and yay handle to get hold off and transport safely. Saves doing dishes too, if there are left overs I can let it cool and put it right in the fridge! Then just heat it up and serve again! [...]"
This Set Of Silicone Loaf Pans That Are Reinforced For Stability
Silicone bread pans are lightweight and release quickly, but they often get knocked for being too flexible. Not this
set of two silicone bread pans, that come with built-in stabilizer bars to prevent tipping (seriously helpful when you’re pouring batter into flexible materials). The high-quality food-grade silicone is BPA and latex free, and exceeds FDA and LFGB (European) safety standards. Plus, the waved interior design allows even cooking throughout. The silicone material is oven-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and can go into the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safely, too. A helpful review: "Bakers dream. I bake a lot of homemade breads and was very tired of cleaning pans, breads sticking, etc. when I ran across these. [...] I decided to try them with my sticky but delicious bananabread. Much to my delight and surprise my break slipped right out of the pan and nothing was left stuck on it!!! I didn't even add any butter or grease. Since then I've baked my homemade white, wheat, zucchini, and more bananabread and every time the same perfect loaf without sticking. Best purchase for baking EVER!"
A Luxe French Farmhouse-Style Ceramic Loaf Pan
A beautiful Le Creuset
ceramic bread pan is a worthy addition to any kitchen for everyday use, and it dresses up nicely for entertaining, too. The high-fired stoneware is glazed with a glossy enamel that's naturally nonstick and scratch-resistant, plus it doesn't absorb flavors or aromas from food. It's oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and can stand up to the broiler for crisp toppings and perfectly melted cheese. And if you want to reheat leftovers, you can put it in the microwave (though handles might get hot) and then later add it to the dishwasher for easy cleanup. A helpful review: "[...]These are well worth their price. Stoneware conducts so evenly, and looks beautiful. I love it for making wet dough sandwich breads and dessert breads like banana. I do a lot of my baking for such things starting in a cold oven (works well for dense dessert breads--think boiling a potato starting in cold water for evenly cooked result), and these can go from the fridge into a cold oven and heat up without cracking. I would recommend hand washing, I learned that stoneware lasts longer that way."
Also Nice: A Set Of Mini Bread Pans For Your Instant Pot
mini loaf pans nestle side by side in either a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot for cooking batches of your signature recipe, or getting dinner and dessert ready at the same time. The steel body comes with a nonstick coating, ensuring a headache-free cleanup — just be sure to use the right sponge and don’t go near them with metal tools to preserve that finish. And get this: They work equally well outside the Instant Pot: "I also used them in my convection toaster oven to make mini loafs and they still popped right out with no sticking. Really like them." A helpful review: "Nice mini set of baking pans, good for mini meatloaf, cornbread, regular bread, square chicken pot pie, backed mac and cheese and other Italian dishes. Made for a cooker called instant pot, but I have other multicookers they work fine for and they work in a regular oven as well. [...]"