Which Bakeware Is Right for You: Glass, Ceramic or Metal?

Making brownies? Bread? A casserole? You'll need a baking pan—but choose wisely. Find out the differences between using glass vs. metal or ceramic baking pans.

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Looking to whip up a pan of brownies? Maybe you want to invest in a new 13×9 pan for all your baking and casserole needs? You might be wondering what type of pan is best for you. Do you choose metal, glass or ceramic?

Depending on what and how often you cook and bake, the answer might be all of them, but here’s what you need to know about choosing baking dishes.

Editor’s tip: If a recipe calls for a baking pan, we mean for the pan to be metal. If we call for a baking dish, it’s either glass or ceramic.

Which Bakeware Is Right For You Metal Glass Or Ceramic Feature 1200x800sydney watson/taste of home

Glass Bakeware

Glass is nonreactive, which means food won’t pick up any lingering flavors from a glass baking dish. It also retains heat better than metal bakeware, which is great if you want your casserole to stay warm at the table or on the buffet. If you have a recipe that calls for a metal baking pan and you have to substitute glass, you usually need to decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

There are some care tips you need to consider with glass bakeware: Never heat glass on the stovetop or under the broiler or it can shatter. Also, be mindful not to move ice-cold glass into a steaming hot oven. Glass can shatter with extreme temperature changes.

When to use it: Glass is perfect for casseroles, roasted meats or lasagna. Our Test Kitchen likes to cook pies and quick breads in glass dishes.

Recommended Glass Bakeware

Ceramic Bakeware

Ceramic bakeware performs very similarly to glass. Thanks to its coating, it won’t leave any lingering flavors after washing. It also retains heat well, so your lasagna will stay bubbly hot on the counter.

While glass and ceramic perform similarly and require similar care, you might want to choose ceramic dishes for their looks. Ceramic dishes come in a wide array of colors and patterns which can be a real highlight on the dinner table.

Like glass, ceramic bakeware is sensitive to extreme temperature changes, so don’t place that hot dish in a cold water bath.

When to use it: Use ceramic bakeware the same way you would glass. It’s great for casseroles.

Recommended Ceramic Bakeware

Metal Bakeware

Metal bakeware has a tendency to heat up quickly, but that doesn’t mean it cooks any faster than glass or ceramic. In fact, glass bakeware usually cooks food faster than metal bakeware. Something to keep in mind is that aluminum or steel bakeware reacts with acidic foods, so you’ll want to stick with glass and ceramic when baking with tomatoes or citrus.

Also bear in mind the finish of your metal pans. Dark metal pans will bake more quickly. Lighter pans will cook more slowly. So be sure to grab a lighter pan if you’re baking up particularly delicate cookies, like these chocolate lace cookies.

One more thing: Dull and matte finishes can cause your recipes to bake faster; shiny pans bake your goodies slower. If you have a shiny, light-colored baking pan, it could take much longer to bake the same thing than if you had used a shiny, dark pan.

When to use it: Choose metal for baked goods like bread, bars or brownies. Metal is also a good pick for dishes like meatloaf, where you want the exterior to have a browned quality. Our Test Kitchen likes to use metal pans for cakes and cookies.

Recommended Metal Bakeware

Now that you know the differences between metal, glass and ceramic bakeware, you might find yourself grabbing a few of each (it never hurts to have a well-stocked kitchen). And if you’re looking to stock your kitchen from scratch (or just upgrade) be sure to check out our list of essential baking pans.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.
James Schend
Formerly Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversaw the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and managed all food content for Trusted Media Brands. He has also worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and at Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, James has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.