In this baking pans guide, you will be armed with everything you need to know to build an arsenal of essential baking pans to keep stocked for everyday baking and those spur-of-the-minute desserts.

A collage of different baking pans with text "My 7 Must-Have Baking Pans".

I have previously shared lists of essential kitchen equipment and essential baking ingredients, but today I wanted to focus on just PANS. There are so many different types of bakeware, and seemingly a million different choices and brands for each type.

Today I’m excited to share what I consider my must-have pans; this is a great list to consult if you’re a beginning baker or setting up a new (or your first!) kitchen, creating a registry, or are shopping for someone who loves to bake and looking for the best baking pans.

#1: Half-Sheet Pans

What I Use and Recommend: Nordic Ware Half Sheet Pans

These are 13×18-inch and I use them all the time, from baking Ina’s outrageous brownies, sheet cakes, and countless batches of cookies to roasting vegetables and potatoes. They are the workhorse of our kitchen!

How Many? I own four of these and would recommend starting with at least two.

Quick Note: You can get parchment paper sheets to fit in these half-sheet pans, as well as cooling racks that fit in there, too (handy if you’re making crispy oven-baked chicken wings!).

Bonus Size: Last year, I discovered that Nordic Ware made “big baking sheets“, a size up from the traditional half-sheet pan, they are 15×21 inches and the extra space is amazing for baking cookies and roasting meat and vegetables. I have two and love them!

#2: 9×13-inch Baking Pan

What I Use and Recommend: For baking purposes, I highly recommend a metal baking pan, as it cooks more evenly than glass, and love the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Rectangular Cake Pan, as well as the USA Pan Rectangular Cake Pan.

I do also love a 9×13-inch glass baking pan for casseroles and other miscellaneous needs, and I recommend the classic Pyrex 3-Quart Glass Baking Dish (with lid).

How Many? 1 metal

#3: Square Baking Pan

What I Use and Recommend: Again, I highly recommend metal for baked goods because it cooks more evenly than glass. You can find square pans in both 8-inch and 9-inch varieties; I personally like the 8-inch pan because they are a better size if you want to take a recipe for a 9×13-inch pan and cut it in half (a 9×13-inch pan has a 14-cup capacity, while an 8×8-inch pan has an 8-cup capacity; a 9×9-inch pan, however, has a 10-cup capacity).

I love the same two brands that I mentioned above – the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Nonstick Square Cake Pan and USA Pan Square Cake Pan. Both of those links also include options to buy 9-inch square versions if you choose to have that additional size on hand.

I also do have an 8-inch square glass baking dish, and I recommend the Pyrex Basics Square Glass Baking Dish.

How Many? 1 metal

#4: Round Cake Pans

What I Use and Recommend: 9-inch cake pans are usually the standard when it comes to cake recipes for layer cakes, so I recommend starting with those, and then if you want to add 8-inch round pans, you can get some of those, too (they create taller layers and I adore that size!). I love the Nordic Ware Round 9-inch Cake Pans (they come in a set of two) and the USA Pan Round 9-inch Cake Pan.

How Many? Ideally 3, but at least 2.

Nice to Have: You can get 8-inch round versions of each here (Nordic Ware) and here (USA Pan).

#5: Standard Muffin Tin

What I Use and Recommend: An absolute must for making muffins and cupcakes! The muffin pans that I have are a much older Wilton model that is not sold anymore. That said, both the OXO Non-Stick Muffin Pan and the USA Pan Muffin Pan are highly rated and I would recommend either.

How Many: Since some muffin and cupcake recipes yield more than 12, I recommend purchasing 2 of these pans.

Nice to Have: While not necessary, if you love muffins and/or cupcakes, I recommend picking up a Mini Muffin Pan that yields 24 mini muffins or cupcakes. I use this all the time for smaller muffins – a better size for packing in school snacks.

#6: Loaf Pan

What I Use and Recommend: The loaf pan is a kitchen staple for churning out recipes like banana bread, zucchini bread, and pumpkin bread. The 9×5-inch size is the one most called for in bread recipes, and one you will get a lot of use out of! I recommend either the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Loaf Pan or the USA Pan 1.25 Pound Loaf Pan (please note that 9×5-inch loaf pans can also be named/sold as 1.25 pound loaf pans).

How Many? At least 1, may want to eventually own 2.

Nice to Have: Some recipes call for an 8.5×4.5-inch loaf pan, and this size pan can yield higher (sometimes prettier!) loaves. I like to keep both sizes in my kitchen. These can also be sold as “1 pound loaf pans”. I recommend the Goldtouch 1-pound pan and the USA Pan 1-pound pan.

#7: Glass Pie Plate

What I Use and Recommend: 9-inch Pyrex Glass Pie Plate

The 9-inch pie plate is the most classic size (though I have seen so many pie plates that are 9½ inches, which will create shallower pies) and glass is my material of choice for pies; it cooks pies more evenly than other materials and you don’t have to worry about scratching a non-stick pie plate while cutting or serving.

How Many? 1 to start, but might to have 2 eventually!

6 More Nice-to-Have Baking Pans

This is where it gets fun! Add to your collection when you can with these pans and you’ll be ready to make almost any recipe!

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