The 6 Best Bread Pans for Baking Great LoafsPublished on 07/21/2023 · 8 min readDiscover the top 6 bread pans that guarantee perfect loaves. Bake with confidence and achieve delightful results with these top-rated pans!
Photo by Rebecca Reed
Nothing compares to slicing into that perfect loaf of bread you just labored over for hours and, in some cases, days. Smearing it with rich butter and biting into the crunchy crust and fluffy soft interior — yum! There is just so much satisfaction and joy that comes from being able to produce your own loaf of bread. Choosing a pan to bake that loaf in makes all the difference between a good loaf and a great loaf.
I was not raised in a big bread-baking family. I grew up in the era of the bread machine, though, and you can bet we had one of those! I can definitely understand the draw of a bread machine. It’s relatively easy to use. You load up your ingredients, press some buttons, and poof, you have a loaf of bread. As magical as that might seem to some, there is something far more magical that happens when you mix your own dough. You are able to see it, feel it, and make sure it’s just right before you proof it, shape it, and finally bake it.
It was in my earlier years at culinary school that I really got to experience this magic firsthand. Since then, I have worked in several restaurants and bakeries around the U.S., gained a lot of knowledge, and learned a number of tips and tricks. So when my husband (who also happens to be a chef) and I decided we wanted to bake our own bread at home, we had a lot of fun experimenting with different vessels to bake bread in. There are so many options out there. Some are obvious, such as the loaf pan. But others may surprise you, like the Dutch oven, one of my favorite items to bake bread in.
So maybe you’re like me, and you didn’t grow up with someone who taught you how to make bread, but you have since learned how. Or maybe you are just starting out. Either way, I would like to help you find the perfect bread pan to help you make that perfect loaf. Here are a few of my favorite choices.
The Loaf Pan
I’m sure you have all used a loaf pan, as it is one of the most versatile pans in the kitchen. There are so many baked goods and dishes that utilize a loaf pan, such as banana bread and meatloaf. Even though many loaf pans have never baked a loaf of bread, they do so quite well. It is literally made to do just that!
The typical loaf pan is a standard 5 x 9 inch rectangular pan made of almost every material imaginable: glass, aluminum, and cast iron, just to name a few. They are all made to hold a pound of dough, which is very convenient. Metal options heat up faster and provide very even heat distribution in the oven, allowing the bread to form a nice golden crust. Glass loaf pans might seem desirable, as you can microwave them, and they are dishwasher safe. But glass is not the best conductor of heat, so I would use this one for the meatloaf and not so much for bread.
If you want uniformity with your slices, the loaf pan is the one for you.
The Dutch Oven
I love the Dutch oven! There are several features that a Dutch oven provides that make it a fantastic option for producing that perfect loaf. Dutch ovens are heavy-duty and very durable. They have a lid which is a bonus when baking bread. When you bake bread in a pan with a lid, all the moisture is trapped inside the pan. That moisture will then turn to steam and give your bread that nice thick, crunchy crust that many bread bakers desire.
Dutch ovens also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which makes it easy to match up with all your baking projects. However, most Dutch Ovens are round and will hold about 5-6 quarts. Dutch Ovens are most commonly made of cast iron, and some will also have an enamel coating.
The Baguette Pan
Though not as common as the loaf pan, the baguette pan is another option if you want to make a longer loaf of bread.
Many baguette pans come perforated to allow air to circulate freely and to produce a nice crust. However, if your dough is really sticky, I suggest you use a layer of parchment paper between the pan and your loaf to keep it from sinking into those perforation holes and getting stuck.
Baguette pans come in a variety of materials ranging from aluminum to stainless steel, some of which have a non-stick coating. Making sure the baguette pan is safe for higher temperatures is key, as you will be baking baguettes at temperatures over 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember, unlike some of the other options, this pan has a very specific purpose. , If you are short on cupboard space and prefer cookware that is dual-purpose, this might not be the best option for you.
The Bread Oven
Also known as a bread cloche, the bread oven is similar to the Dutch oven in that it is an enclosed bread pan. It will also keep all the moisture inside, resulting in a lovely thick, crispy crust. The dome shape of the lid will not only trap moisture, it will circulate it and create the ultimate conditions for a perfect loaf.
Bread ovens are typically made out of ceramic or enameled cast iron. They are made to withstand the high temperatures of the oven. However, they are not intended for stovetop use.
Choosing the Best Shape for you
Your bread pan will obviously dictate the shape of your loaf, and a loaf of bread can really be any shape you wish! However, you might want to choose a specific shape depending on how you use your bread. For example, if you want nice consistent slices for toast or sandwiches, you will want to bake your loaf in a loaf pan. If you want big chunks of bread alongside a bowl of soup, I would definitely use a Dutch oven or bread oven to make a round or oval loaf. Need smaller slices for appetizers? A baguette pan is the best choice for that.
The Best Pans for Bread Loaves
I would like to note that the recommended products are in no specific order.
This is the go-to bread pan for professional bakers. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and it produces consistent results. Aluminized steel is durable and a great conductor of heat, which will give your loaves a nice golden crust and that classic dome top.
One thing to keep in mind with aluminum is that it will react with acidic ingredients. So, if you plan on using many recipes with acidic ingredients or have a sweet spot for lemon pound cake, I would opt for another option.
If you feel most comfortable with non-stick bakeware and want a pan that will last over the years, this is the one for you! It has a base of heavy gauge aluminized steel that will provide exceptionally even heat distribution. The nonstick coating is ceramic-reinforced PTFE, which will provide a nice easy release every time and make for easy cleanup. This pan also features handles.
This is a great pan! It is made with iron and oil and comes already seasoned. However, after baking bread in this pan a few times, I would recommend greasing it to maintain the seasoned finish. This loaf pan is a bit smaller than the standard-size loaf pan, but not so much that you will have to change any recipes. This pan also features handles, which will allow you to easily move the pan in and out of the oven without damaging your bread.
Cast iron is going to provide you with excellent heat retention and even heating, producing a nice loaf of bread with a great crust.
This is, for sure, the Cadillac of bread pans! The Le Creuset Signature Bread Oven will simulate the environment of a professional bread oven and give every home baker the ability to make professional loaves. It is made from enameled cast iron and has that traditional bell shape, providing even heat retention and keeping the moisture locked in and circulating. It is available in some gorgeous colors. It is oven safe up to 500 degrees and very easy to clean.
This is a great Dutch oven, and it’s a wonderful choice for baking bread. It is a shallower Dutch oven, which I prefer for bread baking because I can get my loaf in and out easily. It is also made from enameled iron which is lighter than cast iron but just as durable. This pan will heat up fast and maintain even heat, giving you that all-important crusty bottom.
I must say, this is a really nice baguette pan, and it is offered at a very reasonable price. It has a carbon steel base which will provide durability while not being too heavy. The pan has a nonstick surface and is safe up to 450 F. As with most baguette pans, it is perforated to allow for airflow.
Connect with an Expert to Find the Best Bread Pan for You
If you still are on the fence about which Bread loaf pan is the best fit for you, please connect with me or one of our other Kitchen Experts at Curated. We can answer any question you may have and assist you further in finding the perfect pan to bake your greatest loaves.