Best Loaf Pan of 2021
The USA Aluminized Steel is a sturdy, well-made, no-nonsense loaf pan that turns out solid, evenly baked loaves time and time again. It delivered consistent loaves that were well baked every time. We like how the USA pan has heft and solid construction but is still small enough to produce tall, impressive loaves. It also baked our loaves slowly and evenly, creating a nice golden-brown shell, without overcooking. The corrugated steel bottom and sides make for easy loaf release without too much need for greasing. This pan is also easy to clean and affordable.
The major downside has to do with its features; however, these were not a dealbreaker by any means. Unlike many of the pans in this review, the USA Aluminized Steel doesn't have handles, which means turning out loaves and removing the pan from the oven is a bit more difficult. We could get around this, but some bakers are dead-set on having handles — this comes down to personal preference.
The Wilton Recipe Right came in as a close second to our favorite pan in the bunch. It's simple, easy to use, and bakes delicious bread every time. We were impressed by how easily our loaves came out of this pan — the no-stick coating works very well. Feature-wise, we loved the small lip on the rim of the pan, which worked well as a handle for turning out loaves. The Wilton pan has shallower walls than most, which creates a slightly different shaped loaf — with more volume on the sides and less of a puffy, impressive top. The best part about this simple nonstick is its reasonable price tag, which makes this a great go-to for filling out your kitchen quiver.
Compared to the more solid, completely stainless-steel pans we tested, the Wilton Recipe Right is a little bit flimsy feeling. We also noticed that the non-stick coating scratched easily. The thin walls make for a slightly hotter bake, so you have to watch the oven temperature with this pan or else risk an overly-browned shell to your loaves.
We liked this steep-walled, handled glass pan from Pyrex, as it produced some of the most evenly baked loaves of any pan we tested. This is partially due to the fact that its glass construction allows for a clear view of the baking process. With this window into the status of the loaf, we were able to fine-tune our oven temperatures for an even bake. In terms of features, the Pyrex Basics 1.5-Quart pan has large handles which we loved. These made it easy to transport the Pyrex from the oven to the counter and turn out loaves easily.
The iconic glass construction of Pyrex products certainly has a cult following, and we are not immune. For the most part, we love baking with Pyrex, though this pan had a few issues that relate back to the materials used in its construction. The glass should be greased and floured for most loaves; if not, expect a mess when you go to turn out your next loaf. Because of this, the Pyrex can also be hard to clean, since crust tends to stick to the bottom of the pan more easily on this one.
Sometimes, the recipe calls for a long, thin style loaf. Say you're making rye bread, or a seeded loaf meant for thin slices and picnics; that's where the HaFundy Silicone comes in. This long silicone pan has a textured bottom for easy loaf removal plus handles and a metal frame for easy carrying and handling. The silicone pan also means that this one requires no greasing — and releases loaves with ease. We also like that silicone baking pans cool quickly, so you can get into that fresh loaf as quickly as possible.
Though we liked the shape of this pan for specific, dense style breads, it is not ideal for creating a lofty, substantial bake. The HaFundy Silicone seems to cater to a denser loaf as opposed to a fluffy sandwich-style bread. For us, this meant the HaFundy lacks the versatility of some pans we tested. We also felt that this pan was a little expensive for what it is — though the product seems to be durable and long-lasting.
For optimal performance with the Camp Chef Cast Iron pan, we preheated the pan before greasing it. Then, when our test banana bread dough was placed in the dish, it baked to create a caramelized, evenly browned crust that was particularly enjoyable. This pan is for the die-hard cast iron users; it is capable of baking your bread to perfection, with patience and a little bit of grease. It scored high points for heat distribution and produced the most beautiful loaves in our review. For the best experience with releasing loaves with ease, we recommend greasing the cast iron.
As is the case with most cast iron products, the main downside to the Camp Chef pan is its weight. This pan weighs a lot and can be difficult to maneuver around with in the kitchen. Most testers had a hard time pulling this one out of the oven with one hand.
The OXO Good Grips Non-Stick is a simple, lightweight option that releases loaves with ease due to its coating and textured bottom. The textured bottom is a personal choice — if you're planning on flipping the loaf, then the texture will be on top, but for most quick breads, the texture is hidden on the bottom. It certainly helps get the bread out easily and didn't cause any problems when cleaning the pan by hand. We appreciated the fact that this pan is lightweight and reasonably priced. It's a good no-nonsense option for folks who don't want to overthink their loaf pan purchase.
We were a bit disappointed this pan didn't have handles or a lip to assist in handling. It makes it more challenging to turn out loaves and to maneuver the pan in and out of the oven when there is nothing to grab onto. Additionally, the walls of this pan are a bit thin, making for less even heat distribution than some of the thicker-walled options we tested. We found that we had to monitor our bakes a bit more to make sure that they didn't get overcooked on the outside.
The Trudeau Structured Silicone pan is great for substantial bakes, where a large baking pan is key. This loaf pan turns out hefty quick breads with its deep, tall walls. Compared to the other silicone pan we tested, the Trudeau is designed for large, airy breads and sandwich loaves as opposed to rectangular, dense breads. We liked the handles and metal frame that holds the shape of this pan. We also found it easy to clean and appreciated that it requires no grease for smooth loaf turn out.
The shortcomings we had mostly had to do with the shape of the loaves that we baked. When we baked from smaller recipes and pre-made mixes, we found that this pan was too large to accommodate the loaves. This made for flat, unimpressive loaves that barely filled out the pan. For this reason, we found that the Trudeau lacked the versatility that many of the other pans had — where breads of all types can be baked with ease.
From our experience, glass pans seem to produce consistently even bakes. The OXO Good Grips Glass is no exception. This pan baked massive, evenly cooked loaves time and time again. We were impressed by its ability to cook evenly, even though it's such a large-capacity dish. Besides its ability to cook evenly, the OXO Good Grips pan has two notable features — large carrying handles and a BPA-free plastic lid. The lid is a nice addition and sets this pan apart from the rest. That said, we found that it in fact wasn't the most useful, since typically loaves are removed from the pan in which they were baked immediately upon cooling. We found that we usually stored our loaves in a different place than the pan they were baked in, making the lid feel obsolete at times.
Though we had some hang-ups with the lid feature on the OXO Good Grips Glass, we found that this is the most suitable pan for savory dishes, like meatloaf or an egg frittata. Its large size is more suitable for a main course, plus the storage lid comes in handy for bakes that are not meant to be turned out of the baking pan.
Made from heavy-duty aluminized steel, the Chicago Metallic Commercial one-pound baking pan feels like the work-horse of baking pans. Its thick walls are reminiscent of our favorite pans and make for an even and satisfying bake. We like the overall shape of this pan too — its steep walls and fairly deep bottom make for tall, impressive loaves and seem to encourage a nice rise. Additionally, the Chicago Metallic comes at a very reasonable price and its design feels long-lasting and durable.
Because of its folded, package style design, the Chicago Metallic can be hard to clean. There are nooks and crannies in the corners that collect bits of flour and grease over time and are hard to access when cleaning by hand. We also found that without proper greasing and flouring, our loaves tended to stick to the bottom.
The Fat Daddio's Anodized Aluminum loaf pans are not the most confidence-inspiring baking products out there. Their rounded corners make them easy to clean, which is one of their redeeming qualities. The plus side to these pans is that they are extremely inexpensive and come in a pack of two. This quickly becomes a quantity over quality situation, as they are not well made and do not make for an even bake. The walls are thin and the pans feel like they are malleable — not ideal for long-term durability.
Right out of the box, we had issues with the Fat Daddio's pans. They were so tightly packed together that we had to put them in the freezer to separate the two loaf pans before even considering baking with them. This is where their malleability was first brought to our attention, as they seemed to be welded together right out of the box. After our first bake in them, we found that we had a hard time getting loaves out unless the pans were well greased.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Jane Jackson, has been an amateur baker for nearly two decades. Since she was elementary-school-aged, Jane has been obsessed with baking. When she isn't testing out the latest in kitchenware, she can be found serving up cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats to her friends and family. In addition to being a passionate (amateur) baker in her free time, she is a seasoned product reviewer, with testing experience ranging from roasting pans to mixing bowls to dishware. When she's not working, you can find her in the kitchen, crafting her next culinary creation.
To provide you with a comprehensive analysis of the top loaf pans on the market, we had the oven cranking for weeks, churning out loaf after loaf of banana bread, zucchini bread, coffee cake, and pound cake. Our favorite jeans from the beginning of our test period now hardly button due to the constant stream of sweet and savory loaves we baked in order to assess these pans. We cooked batches and batches of breads to evaluate the heat distribution and loaf release of each pan. We also cleaned, stacked, and stored all ten of these models to figure out which ones are easy to use and which ones fall short.
Analysis and Test Results
A loaf pan is a simple kitchen item, but one that doesn't function properly can be a real headache. Every baker knows the stomach-sinking feeling of a loaf that won't release from its pan. Our goal was to find out which pans released their loaves, could create lofty, well-shaped breads were easy to clean, and had the best feature sets. To do this, we baked; simple as that. We used a variety of different recipes but often tested multiple pans with the same recipe in order to maintain some continuity.
Ease of Cleaning
To assess each pan's performance in this metric, we washed them by hand after using them for baking. The pan's shape and materials can dictate how easy or difficult it is to clean. Some pans have rounded corners, like the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick, which make them easy to clean by hand. The Trudeau silicone pan also has rounded corners, making it an easy one to clean as well. When it comes to materials, we found that the silicone and glass pans and those with a non-stick coating were a bit harder to clean than the simple stainless-steel models. The silicone and glass needed a solid scrubbing in order to get rid of oily residue. The USA Pan Aluminized Steel pan was super easy to clean because it had clean corners and a corrugated surface that seemed to shed oil and grease.
There were two pans that were surprisingly difficult to clean. The first is the Pyrex Basics 1.5-Quart. This dish made removing loaves challenging and thus seemed to get bread residue adhered to the bottom after each bake. We had a hard time scrubbing the bottom of this one and returning it to its perfectly clean state. We also struggled with the Chicago Metallic Commercial II because of its folded metal design, this pan creates some cracks in the corners that are quite difficult to access with a sponge. When using a dish wand, we were able to access these corners, but it was challenging to thoroughly clean this pan.
Ease of Release
This is arguably the most important metric for assessing the performance of a loaf pan. A pan that doesn't provide excellent loaf turn out falls short in our minds. It came as no surprise that the pans with textured bottoms, non-stick coatings, and/or silicone construction received the highest scores in this metric. The USA Pan Aluminized Steel required a little bit of oil, but its textured bottom and sides allowed our loaves to easily come out. Both of the silicone models, the HaFundy and the Trudeau, required no oil for easy release. The textured bottom of the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick was much appreciated.
In general, glass models, like the OXO Good Grips Glass and the Pyrex Basics 1.5-Quart didn't do as well in this metric as their non-stick counterparts. In a side-by-side test of the Pyrex and the USA Pan, our famous zucchini bread stuck to the bottom of the Pyrex much more than the USA Pan. We were also unimpressed with the release ability of the Fat Daddio's pans, which required a ton of oil and flour to successfully release our loaves.
A loaf pan, even more so than a round cake pan or rectangular brownie pan, needs to cook slowly and evenly. Quick breads like banana bread, zucchini bread, and pumpkin bread are dense and tend to take longer to bake than a simple sheet cake. That means that the outsides of the loaves can be prone to burning or overcooking long before the inside of the loaf is fully baked. The thicker walled pans we reviewed seemed to handle this issue best. The most impressive pan in terms of heat distribution and an even bake was the Camp Chef Cast Iron. We baked our family banana bread in this pan and were blown away by the results. With a bit of butter coating the sides, the Camp Chef produced a golden brown, caramelized shell on our banana bread that was unparalleled. The USA Pan's thick walls also impressed and produced an even bake.
Since pans with thick walls produce a more even bake, it's no surprise that the thinner, lightweight pans need a watchful baker to not burn the outside of a precious loaf. Though the Pyrex doesn't necessarily follow this rule of thumb, we found that it too had the tendency to over-cook the outside of the pan. On the plus side, it's very easy to monitor the progress of the loaf since the walls are clear. The Fat Daddio's pans and the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick had thin walls and thus tended to produce an over-done crust.
Different pan shapes produce different shaped loaves. For banana breads and sandwich loaves, we like lofty tops and steep walls. The pans that have deep, steep sides and sharp corners, like the USA Pans Aluminized Steel pan and the Chicago Metallic Commerical II both produced proud tall loaves. The Camp Chef Cast Iron also produces lofty loaves and a nice puffed top that splits open after baking. We liked the HaFundy Silicone pan for dense, narrow loaves, but didn't use it as much for fluffy, sweet loaves.
Pans with low-angle sides produced less impressive loaves in our eyes. The OXO Good Grips Glass is an example of this. The sides are low angle and the pan is very large, which for most recipes created a narrow, unimpressive loaf that didn't fill out the pan at all. The Trudeau Silicone was similar, though its walls are steeper. The boxed bread mix we baked in this pan hardly filled it out at all, making for a meager-feeling bake.
The main features that we assessed in this section are handles and texture. Some pans have both of these features, while some, like the Fat Daddio's pans have neither. Featured pans didn't necessarily score higher than those without — we incorporated the usefulness of the features into our assessment. That said, we did find we prefer pans with handles to those without. They are so much easier to maneuver, it became a no-brainer for us. We loved the Camp Chef Cast Iron and the Pyrex Basics 1.5-Quart for this reason. If a pan didn't have handles, we at least wanted it to have a bit of heft — like the USA Pan Aluminized Steel, since it gave us something to hold on to when transporting it around the kitchen.
In terms of texture, we appreciated the subtle, corrugated look of the USA Pan Aluminized Steel dish. This is the only pan that had texture on all sides, rather than just the bottom; it drastically helped our loaves come out with ease. The HaFundy has a textured bottom, which seemed to also help dislodge loaves. Its texture left more of an impression on our loaves that the USA Pan.
The biggest concern most bakers have when it comes to loaf pans is the ability to release loaves relatively painlessly. An even bake is a close second, with ease of cleaning and loaf shape following. Finally, the features of each pan help customize your baking experience to suit your specific needs. We assessed each pan in this review in these performance metrics to determine the best on the market. We hope this review helped guide you toward the right loaf pan to round out your kitchen quiver.
— Jane Jackson