As we spend more time at home this year, many have picked up or revisited baking as a hobby. From sourdough bread to decadent sweets, one of the keys to baking success is the bakeware. However, there's an overwhelmingly large number of cake pans out there and for online shoppers, it can be difficult to judge performance based on the scant description of each cake pan.
To help you decide which cake pan will guarantee springy cakes with well-defined edges and even browning, we rounded up 12 popular cake pans to test. We’ve found the simple Chicago Metallic Commercial II 9-inch Round Cake Pan(available at Amazon for $13.55) to be the most worthwhile choice for its ease of use and quality build, while the Hiware Springform Pan (available on Amazon) topped the springform category. For bundt cake pans, we like the Nordic Ware Heritage (available at Williams Sonoma) for its consistency and beautiful bundt cakes.
These are the best cake pans we tested ranked, in order:
Chicago Metallic Commercial II 9-inch Round Cake Pan
Hiware Springform Pan
Ballarini Nonstick Two-in-One 9-inch Springform Pan
Frieling Glass Bottom 9-inch Springform Pan
Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Cake Pan, 10-inch
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Nonstick 9-inch Fluted Bundt Cake Pan
Wilton Performance Aluminum 8-inch Round Cake Pan
USA Pan Bakeware 9-inch Round Cake Pan, nonstick
Wilton Easy Layers Round Cake Pan Set
Tebery 8-inch Round Cake Pan
Parrish Magic Line Aluminum 9-inch Round Cake Pan
Fat Daddio 8-inch Anodized Aluminum Cake Pan
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Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-Stick 9-Inch Round Cake Pan
Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-Stick 9-Inch Round Cake Pan
This 9-inch cake pan (also available in 8-inch) from Chicago Metallic aced our tests, coming out at the top of a very solid cake pan lineup. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some other cake pans, but it does its job superbly. The Chicago Metallic cake pan baked perfectly round yellow cakes without significant doming and one evenly browned pound cake with a moist interior texture and a patina-like finish.
The unmolding process was smooth and easy—it was one of the few pans that didn’t struggle in this step. It’s made from heavy-duty aluminized steel, which is a more costly material than others used in cake pans, but the functionality and durability of the pan is also significantly higher. The dual-coating technology makes the pan nonstick and safe to use.
In terms of care, this cake pan doesn’t require too much cleaning. As the pan is nonstick, there was nothing for us to scrub. Run it under warm, soapy water and dry immediately, then you’ll be ready to bake again. If all you need is a round cake pan that can bake perfect chiffon, sponge, and tiered cakes consistently, then this is your best choice.
Springform cake pans have risen in popularity in recent years, thanks to their ingenious design that revolutionized the cake releasing process. These are round cake pans with removable sides and bases, and all the parts are held together by an interlocking band.
Springform cake pans are particularly useful when making cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, and fruit tarts because the removable sides can protect the often delicate components of the cake. This pan is sold as a springform pan set, including three different sizes: 4-inch, 7-inch, and 9-inch.
As we only tested traditional flour cakes like yellow and pound cakes, we’ve seen very few advantages that a springform cake pan would have over a one-piece metal cake pan. Plus, we’ve noticed significant leaking from the lower quality models in testing. This set of three springform pans from Hiware are the best we’ve tested—it baked delicious cakes without burning, leaking batter, or sticking. We made cakes in all three of them and the cake quality was consistent. The 9- and 7-inch cakes domed slightly, which made stacking a little difficult but not impossible.
The only thing we don’t like about this set of pans are the dimpled bottoms, which made greasing and cleaning difficult. (This won’t be an issue if you grease your pans with a spray, but we used a stick of butter.)
If you’re shopping for a bundt cake pan, look no further. The Nordic Ware Heritage Cake Pan is beautifully designed and made with high quality aluminized steel, which means it’s both nearly indestructible and can conduct heat well.
A bit on the heavier side because of the use of steel, this pan was surprisingly efficient at baking both yellow and pound cake quickly, thanks to the aluminized finish. In addition, it was a breeze to release the bundt cake from this nonstick pan—and the cakes all had pleasant-looking, shiny edges.
What we don’t like about this cake pan is that it could be hard to find storage space for it, due to its strange shape. But in our opinion, this cake pan is elegant and stunning enough to live on your shelving!
I’m Valerie Li, Reviewed’s cooking and kitchen staff writer. From rice cookers to juicers to ranges, I’ve tested popular kitchen gadgets and appliances that have the potential to make people’s cooking lives much easier. As the designated dessert maker for my family gatherings, my passion for beautiful cakes has led me on a quest for a durable, safe-to-use, and storage-friendly cake pan.
As we baked the cakes, we took notes of how easy it was to grease, fill with batter, and transport the pans; how much each cake domed, how easy (or difficult) it was to release the cake from the pan, and the doneness of the cakes. We also took into account whether they are dishwasher-safe, plus any other special features.
As some of the cake pans are coated with a variety of nonstick material, we’ll also discuss how safe they are and the best practices when using nonstick cake pans.
What You Should Know About Cake Pans
Anodized Aluminum vs. Aluminized Steel vs. Carbon Steel
There aren’t many players in the game when it comes to the materials used to make bakeware—you’ll probably see aluminum, ceramic, and stainless steel as the most common ones for pie dishes and cake pans. But there are significant differences in how these materials are treated for each pan, as conductivity differs and heat retention properties will vary.
And more importantly, with nonstick bakeware rising in popularity, be sure you know the safest way to use and care for your nonstick pans. These best practices will help you keep your pans working and looking their best for years to come.
Anodized aluminum is basically aluminium that has gone through a controlled oxidation process, which gives the metal a naturally formed coating. The benefit of anodized aluminum is that the bakeware holds the same level of conductivity as aluminum, but is also much stronger and not as reactive to acidic foods. The coating gives the metal necessary protection against corrosion, making the pan more durable.
Aluminized steel is another popular material in the cake pan world. Much more expensive to produce than anodized aluminum, aluminized steel is made by dipping steel pans into an aluminum alloy to give the pans more conductivity, as steel is a poor conductor of heat. The benefit of this practice is that it gives the pan a desirable cooking ability, but it’s a more complicated process than anodizing aluminum. Aluminized steel pans are often coated with a thin layer of silicone-carbon to make them nonstick.
Cheaply-produced carbon steel is the other material we’ve seen in this round of cake pan testing. They’re lightweight and typically coated with chemically-produced nonstick materials to save on cost.
Cake Baking Tips
If you’re about to set out making your first cake, there are a few things you need to know, even if you’re not making the cake from scratch.
Tiered cakes are tough. First, you need to reduce doming as much as possible to be able to successfully stack your cake. I’ve seen many people simply slice the domed part off, which is also an option, but if you’re trying to reduce waste you may benefit from using a cake strip. However, it’s not the end of the world if your cake is domed.
Regardless of the types of cakes you bake, let them cool before unmolding. When you remove your cakes from the oven, the interior is still cooking. That’s why unmolding too early will cause the entire cake to deflate if you’re baking a chiffon cake—which means that all the effort you’ve put into beating the meringue will have gone to waste. Grab a cooling rack and position the cake pan upside down (if you can) on the rack for at least 25 minutes. Then, carefully remove the cake pan when it’s completely cooled.
In terms of utensils, we recommend only using silicone and wooden spatula on the cake pans—this is partly because it’s difficult to find the information on the exact material used to coat the cake pans. Even with relatively durable silicone nonstick coatings, using metal utensils can still scratch and destroy the layer, making the cake pan unusable.
Other Cake Pans We Tested
Ballarini Nonstick Two-in-One Springform Pan
If you can’t decide between a round or a bundt pan, you may like the features that Ballarini has to offer. This two-in-one set up gives you a flat base for round cakes and a fluted base for bundt cakes. The springform not only lets you switch between the two bases easily, but also makes detaching the baked goods effortless. Our cakes turned out fine, with no noticeable unevenness or domed tops.
However, this nice set-up isn’t without major flaws. First, it claims to have PFOA-free nonstick coating, but in testing, all three cakes (baked in each of the two bases) stuck when we tried to remove the cakes. Furthermore, the base had visible scratches though we refrained from using metal utensils in testing. Another major issue we ran into was leaking, which is a common problem that exists in springform pans across the board. In the yellow cake tests, the cake batter leaked from the bottom of the springform.
The Frieling springform cake pan features elegantly designed handles, which are as functional as they are pleasant to look at. Choosing glass as the material for cake pans is a great style choice, but what you gain in fashion you may lose in function. In our testing, we found the glass bottom to be less practical than we had initially thought. Though it’s nice to visually check the doneness of the cake, the traditional method of poking a toothpick through the cake and checking for loose batter may provide a better analysis of the interior of the cake.
The dealbreaker was how difficult it was to remove the cake from the glass base—sure, you may want to serve it right off the base, but if you’re making a layered cake, that’s simply not an option. Put your money elsewhere if you’re serious about cakes. Another note is that the pan is heavier than the other cake pans we’ve tested in this roundup, partly because of the glass bottom.
If you’re serious about making beautiful bundt cakes with clear definition, this cake pan from Cuisinart is a more affordable version of our best bundt cake pan. From the appearance, it may not be as stunning as the Nordic Ware pan, but its performance impressed us. In multiple cake tests, it baked the cakes evenly and the cakes were consistently easy to unmold. It’s a heavy-duty cake pan that baked many impressive cakes in our testing.
Be aware that the pan is coated with Xylan, a chemical coating that can be dangerous above 500°F so you should avoid heating the pan when it’s empty. Using any metal utensils is also a no-go, but otherwise it’s not harmful with proper care.
This cake pan is durable and can sustain high temperatures in the oven without warping, thanks to its anodized aluminum construction.
However, baking perfect cakes in this pan may require more effort, as it isn’t nonstick even after greasing. In our testing, we noticed a few flaws: The white cakes were extremely hard to take out—I ended up breaking the cakes. The interior was runny and not fully baked at all, which defeats the purpose of using aluminum as the base material. As the cake kept getting stuck to the bottom, we deducted a few points for ease of cleaning.
Overall, it’s a bargain because this cake pan is sold in a set of two, but you may need to line them with parchment paper to make your life a little easier.
Similar to our best cake pan, this one uses aluminized steel as its base material, which makes it durable and distributes heat evenly across the pan. The nonstick coating is silicone, which is safer than other chemical coatings while also increasing the durability of the pan.
We didn’t like the dimpled bottom of this cake pan as we struggled to clean it after baking. It was also not as nonstick as the Chicago Metallic, as there were bits of residue stuck on the dimpled base. The USA Pan cakes also domed the most, making them a less attractive choice for bakers who want perfectly shaped cakes.
The Wilton Easy Layers is actually five 3/4-inch thick layer cake pans, designed for making perfect a multilayered cake using one batch of batter. This concept might sound appealing to people who are intimidated by cutting even layers from a single cake. However, baking four thin layers of cake means dividing cake batter into four equal parts and re-calculating the bake time. You may also end up worrying about the evenness of the cake, as the four cakes end up in four different parts of the oven, which likely has hot spots. So in the end, you may be spending much more time portioning and doing math, as opposed to slicing the cake using an inexpensive tool like a cake slicer. Unless you’re dedicated to making a Dobos Torte as seen on the The Great British Bake Off, you may save yourself some time by using one of the other cake pans we tested.
These pans come in a set of two, so if you’re planning to make tiered cakes, this setup could reduce your workload significantly..
Each pan has handles on either side, which allowed us to transfer the baked cakes easily from the hot oven. Its carbon steel construction makes the bakeware relatively strong and heat-resistant, but the material isn’t as good at conducting heat as aluminum is, resulting in less satisfying results. The cakes are lopsided, potentially caused by the tapered sides design. You’ll need straight-sided cake pans to effortlessly build stackable layers. Unfortunately, these cake pans also produced many domed cakes, which can be explained by their carbon steel construction.
Parrish Magic Line Round Aluminum Cake Pan 9" x 2"
The cakes baked in this pan came out consistently lopsided—this could’ve been an oven issue, but we didn’t notice such weird shapes in the cakes baked in other pans. In the yellow cake testing, we found the cakes continuously stuck to the bottom of the pan. In the pound cake testing where the exterior of the cake should be shiny and brown, the color of this pound cake was dull, not as pretty as the other cakes.
Another issue was with the description of the cake pan—it’s slightly smaller than 9 inches. If you’re looking to add a new 9-inch cake pan to your collection, you can skip this one.
Though this pan has received high marks from online reviews, we were disappointed by its performance after testing it. This anodized aluminum pan has some promising features: It’s durable and nonreactive, making it a safe baking vessel. What threw us off was how all the cakes got stuck to the bottom when we unmolded them. This straight-sided pan is 3 inches deep, much deeper than the other pans we’ve tested, resulting in a more difficult greasing experience.
Valerie Li Stack is a staff writer for Kitchen & Cooking. She is an experienced home cook with a passion for experimenting with the cuisines of countries she's visited. Driven by an interest in food science, Valerie approaches the culinary scene with a firm grasp of cooking processes and extensive knowledge of ingredients. She believes food speaks to all people regardless of language and cultural background.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.