If your bread tends to overbrown or your pound cakes consistently stick to the pan, enough’s enough. Do yourself and your recipes a favor and upgrade to a new loaf pan. We tested a variety of options, from standard metal and nonstick to ceramic and glass, and found a favorite in each category. Our four picks are quite distinct, each offering different benefits. Use our guide to help you pick the pan (or two) that best meets your needs, and then get back to baking. We know you’re going to love the results.
Emile Henry loaf pan
$35.95 at surlatable.com
8-3/4 x 4-3/4 x 3 inches
Why buy With this pan’s good looks, you can take it right from oven to table. Made of high-fired clay, it’s an excellent conductor of heat and bakes evenly. Bread rises into a beautifully upright, classic loaf shape with well-defined corners (other ceramic pans tend to produce rounded, stout loaves). Pound cake comes out perfectly golden. A coating of hard, scratch-resistant glaze allows you to cut in the pan when serving, enables the pan to release breads and cakes with ease (more so than other stoneware alternatives, which require prying), and makes for near-effortless cleaning. This pan can go directly from the freezer to the oven—not all stoneware tolerates such extreme temperature changes—and is also dishwasher and microwave safe.
Keep in mind Stoneware is fragile and can break if banged around or dropped on a hard surface. It’s not recommended that this pan, when hot, be placed on a cold or wet surface.
Williams-Sonoma Traditional-Finish loaf pan
$16 at williams-sonoma.com
8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-3/4 inches
Why buy If you’re looking for a heavy-duty all-purpose loaf pan—one that’s constructed to withstand corrosion and rusting over time—look no further. Williams-Sonoma’s traditional-finish pan is made of heavy-gauge aluminum-coated steel, has a reinforced rim that resists warping, and feels quite hefty. Most important, it bakes exceptionally well. Pound cake—which overbrowns along the edges in so many other pans—bakes to an attractive, uniformly golden color; similarly, loaves of bread develop a crisp, light brown crust.
Keep in mind Though this pan is dishwasher safe, it’s better to wash it by hand to prevent harsh detergents from darkening the aluminized steel. Its clean, straight edges create well-defined, nicely shaped loaves but need extra attention when cleaning, as they can trap residue over time.