All bakeware is not the same. Be sure you know the difference between baking pans and dishes and when to use each.

By BH&G Food Editors
Updated July 24, 2020
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You're about to whip up a batch tangy lemon bars and the recipe calls for preparing a 9x13 baking pan. But if you have both metal and glass pans of this size in your kitchen, which one do you use? Is one type better than the other for that recipe? The answer is yes, and we'll explain the difference between a glass and metal baking dish (besides the material they're made with, obviously). In all the recipes developed by the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen, a baking dish means an oven-safe glass or ceramic vessel while a baking pan refers to one made of metal. Here's what you need to know before you make your next chocolate cake.

Credit: Scott Little

When to Use Baking Pans (Metal)

Aluminum (nonstick or not) is a great choice for baking pans. They are lightweight and conduct heat well for even baking. Pale or shiny metal pans, such as heavy-gauge aluminum, deliver a tender delicate crust for breads and cookies. They're also handy for easy sheet pan dinners. Dark metal pans ($35, Crate & Barrel), which conduct, retain, and distribute heat well, are for items that require more crispness or browning. Here are some instances when you should use metal baking pans.

  • For nicely browned baked goods.
  • For broiling. Do not use glass dishes or casseroles when broiling because the high temperatures may cause the glass to shatter. Therefore, when broiling, use only metal pans or bakeware suitable for broiling.
  • For roasting vegetables.

When to Use Baking Dishes (Glass or Ceramic)

Use these when a 2- or 3-quart baking dish ($11, Target) is called for (specifically when baking egg dishes and acidic foods, including citrus, tomato, and other fruit-based desserts. You'll want to use these dishes for those crisps, cobblers, and other crustless fruit desserts. In general, you probably don't want to use glass or ceramic in temperatures higher than 425ºF. So if you're in a pinch and need to use glass or ceramic cookware for recipes that call for baking pans, reduce the baking temperature by about 25ºF. It's also important to note some glassware such as Pyrex can be prone to thermal shock, meaning rapid change in temperature could cause your bakeware to shatter. Make sure your dishes are completely cool before refrigerating or freezing them. Or if you've got a breakfast casserole chilling overnight, allow it to come closer to room temperature before popping it in the oven.

Now you know whenever you're making our recipe for classic lasagna or peach cobbler and it says to prepare your rectangular baking dish, you'll be reaching for a glass or ceramic dish. And when you're utilizing those ripe bananas to make some banana bread, prepare your metal baking pan for a perfect loaf.

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