They all come under the general bakeware tag, but baking dishes come in a variety of sizes, styles and choice of materials and just as many uses. And while some are handy as oven baking dishes for meats or casseroles, others are more suited for baking cakes. Not all are oven or microwave safe - you should confirm their use under the dish. Learn about your options for baking dishes and have the variety that best suits your needs. Best bakeware features include:
- Multi use: Microwave, oven, freezer
- Can take temperature fluctuations - from freezer to oven, to table
- Nonstick finish - with care
- Versatile sizing and shape
- Easy to clean
Probably the most versatile of baking dishes, ceramic or stoneware bakeware comes in a variety of styles, sizes and prices. While you can bake a cake in a ceramic baking dish as long as the size or shape is appropriate, you would most likely use ceramic baking dishes more to roast meats, bake a lasagna (if high sides) or use one to cook or warm up a side dish. Their best function is when they are oven, microwave and freezer safe, and can take drastic temperature changes so they can go from the freezer right to the oven, then to the table. Always check the bottom of the dish you are buying to confirm its use. Ceramic baking dishes usually transition well to serving at the table due to their colorful designs, patterns or style. Depending on the shape of the ceramic dish, you might even be able to use it for serving a salad or as a mixing bowl. If you plan on using a ceramic dish specifically for lasagna, follow my handy buying tips.
Though we often refer to it all as Pyrex, not all glass bakeware is Pyrex. Pyrex is actually a registered brand and there is other glass bakeware available, as well as non-clear variations. This type of baking dish was extremely popular decades ago and remains a staple in many homes.
The best feature of glass bakeware is its versatility, ease of cleaning and the fact that it can be used in the microwave or oven, or for a frozen or refrigerated dessert. It's not unbreakable but glass bakeware has a certain durability about it, does not discolor and with care, usually retains its good looks for many years.
The most popular size is a 9x13 glass baking dish which is ideal for most standard cake mixes, desserts or family oven meals. A small rectangular dish is best for single layer size cakes or brownie mixes. And of course, glass pie plates continue to be very popular. You can use glass bakeware for roasting, lasagna or other meal items, but it's most common use is desserts and cakes. Some styles are now available with a cover which is ideal for transporting meals or desserts.
You should know though, that there is risk of glass bakeware shattering under certain conditions and you need to follow the manufacturer's care and use instructions to minimize such risks.
Casserole dishes are versatile bakeware and it's sometimes difficult to differentiate one from a ceramic or stoneware baking dish. Though you can cover an oven casserole with foil, a cover for the bakeware is very handy and helps contents to cook more quickly, while retaining moisture and flavor. Construction materials vary, as does the range of prices for casserole dishes. The most affordable are ceramic and glass, but stoneware or enamel-on-steel, have become very popular. Since a casserole dish can be used for a number of meal items including one-dish oven meals, stews or soups, or for roasting meats and poultry, it's handy to have more than one size on hand. A large one for roasts, stews or casseroles and a smaller one which can be used for side dishes, compotes or pasta dishes.
Probably the most common and affordable bakeware, nonstick pans and roasters offer a versatile baking dish that is light, easy to clean and can often nest to save on storage space. However, nonstick requires a certain amount of care to keep the pans looking good and shouldn't be used for every type of foods. High acid foods tend to mar the finish as does using a knife or metal utensils in them. Their most practical use is for baking bread, cakes, muffins, desserts or for roasting. Nonstick finishes tend to have various qualities and some require greasing before using for baking, while others do not. Though you'll pay more for a pan with a premium finish, it's worth it for the durability gained. Nonstick bakeware comes in various sizes, forms and shapes. Though nonstick finishes have become safer with manufacturers not using harmful chemicals in their construction, nonstick is still a concern for some.
While we tend to think that all shaped or formed baking pans are Bundt pans, Bundt is actually a registered NordicWare trademark, but there are several types of shaped cake pans on the market. Bundt pans do however lead the market, followed by other name brands including Wilton which makes a large assortment of cake pan shapes, for every occasion. While most Bundt cake pans have a nonstick coating, not all shaped pans are nonstick. Nonstick cake pans require less greasing, but more care with the finish. Pans that do not have a nonstick finish should be well greased before using and depending on the shape, may also require parchment or waxed paper to help with cake removal. Shaped cakes are big on presentation and little on effort, making them very popular. However, shaped pans to not nest well and may take more storage room. Formed bakeware is also available in muffin tins and can also be used for jellied desserts and salads. Using a shaped cake pan is not difficult, just follow my easy Bundt tips.
- Bundt Basics
- Bundt or Shaped Pans Add Flare
- Valentine Bakeware and Tools
- NordicWare Platinum Collection Sunflower Pan
- Wilton Giant Cupcake Cake Pan
- A Heart-Shaped Pan
Where silicone kitchen tools have become must-have utensils, whether silicone bakeware will ever reach that popularity is debatable. Its biggest constraint is the flimsy construction of the pans, though some do come with sturdy rack systems. Although silicone baking does usually result in very even, thorough baking, getting the cake or muffins out of the pans leaves many frustrated. And silicone is not necessarily nonstick, meaning that pans should be greased and floured before using. Weigh in on this debate and leave your tips and comments below.
Foil bakeware in various sizes is handy for transporting desserts or single use roasting. Although some can be cleaned and reused, most are not very durable and single use is recommended. Foil pie plates are extremely handy for bulk baking and freezing and foil 9 x 13 pans are quite common for making refrigerator or freezer desserts as well as making cakes for socials. When it comes to using a foil bakeware pan for roasting a turkey or large meats, care should be used due to their lightweight nature. When used for meats, since it can be difficult to fully clean a foil pan, they should be discarded after use. Though foil is an affordable alternative to a tin or other style of baking pan, repeated purchases can be costly over time. Some will use a disposable foil pan for those roasted foods that tend to leave a very messy, hard to clean pan, to save some cleaning time.
Since roasters or roasting pans come in various sizes, they can be very versatile for other baking or roasting needs, such as for meats, poultry or lasagna. And stainless steel is a nice feature in a roasting pan, making it easier to clean than some other types of roasters. Add an encapsulated construction and you have the makings of good performance in a multi-function dish.
- Roasting Pan Buying Tips
- Cleaning and Caring for Stainless Steel Cookware
- Chef's Essentials Deep Lasagna Pan
- Splurge or Save on Cookware