How to Buy a 9 x 13 Baking Dish

Published on 10/14/2023 · 10 min readThere's a lot to factor in when choosing your perfect 9 x 13 baking dish! Here's your ultimate guide to choosing between materials, capacity, designs, and price!
Jane M., Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Jane M.

Photo by Africa Studio

TL;DR: A 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish is a kitchen essential, but which is the best one to buy? It’s important to first consider the material it’s made out of—glass, ceramic, or metal—which all conduct heat differently. Think about the types of cooking you’ll do most–slower baking or faster roasting, for example—then review features such as durability, ease of cleaning, storage, and weight. Your budget and aesthetic will be part of the decision-making.

After working with numerous cookbook authors and assisting in cooking classes at a kitchen store, I have been exposed to a wide variety of home cooks, each with their own preferences and styles. Yet all would likely unanimously agree that a good 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish is a must-have for any kitchen and any kind of cook. It’s a powerhouse that works for a wide range of recipes. I use my glass, metal, and ceramic baking dishes regularly for a few favorites, including roasted root veggies, pear-cranberry crumble, blueberry corn cake, chicken roulade, and sausage bakes.

The 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish is a workhorse in any kitchen, available in glass, ceramic, or metal. Use this versatile vessel for everything from cheesy potatoes au gratin to comforting casseroles, roasted meats, and vegetables to cakes, crisps, crumbles, and cobblers.

This classic baking dish varies widely in style and design. It’s important to know that each material works differently. Some manufacturers also adjust sizes to offer larger and deeper dishes, or they play around with the rectangular shape in favor of an oval or oblong. A square 8-inch by 8-inch dish is also a classic, and having at least one of that size is useful in any kitchen, too.

Baking dishes are available from a wide variety of manufacturers. Well-known brands include Le Creuset, Staub, Pyrex, Emile Henry, Corningware, and Lodge. Custom and artisan-crafted baking dishes are also found in places like pottery shops or online. Vintage finds are popular, too, and may appear in antique and secondhand shops.

What’s in a Name?

The terms 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and baking pan appear interchangeably in articles and recipes, but there is a difference. A 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish generally refers to ovenproof glass or stoneware such as glazed ceramic, porcelain, or terracotta clay. A baking pan typically refers to bakeware made out of metal, such as aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, or copper. You may also see the name “casserole dish.”

Ideally, a recipe should clue you into the best dish to use, but that doesn’t mean it does. Conversely, the best dish for the job might not be one you own, but that doesn’t mean you have to write off the recipe.

You can adjust cooking times and temperatures to accommodate different materials, but certain recipes will dictate the pan to use. Acidic ingredients, for example, can react with metal. Roasted potatoes may cook fine in any baking dish you have on hand, but to get the best browned and crispy deliciousness, you might want a metal pan that works well at high heats. The ingredients (eggs, cheese, meat, batter, tomatoes, or citrus, for example), the type of oven (microwave, convection, electric, or gas), storage (freezer, fridge), and cleanup preferences all play a role in what dish to use.

What to Consider When Buying a 9-Inch by 13-Inch Baking Dish

Photo by IriGri

With a wide variety of baking dishes available, deciding what to select may seem overwhelming. The perfect baking dish depends on what’s being prepared, your price point, and presentation. Overall, any good baking dish should evenly distribute heat to ensure consistent cooking, be easy to clean (even if the dishwasher isn’t recommended), be useful for a variety of recipes and purposes, and be durable and long-lasting. Here are some questions to ask when deciding what to select.

What’s the capacity?

Product specs vary. For example, Le Creuset’s Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid measures 9-inch by 14.5-inch. Pyrex has a deep 9”x13” dish to accommodate family-style lasagnas and roasts. Capacities can range from 1 to 4qts, and make sure the dish fits in your oven, microwave, freezer, refrigerator, and cabinets.

How do you store it?

Glass and ceramics can crack, chip, and shatter. Metal can dent, scratch, warp, and get discolored. Consider these drawbacks when storing baking dishes. Remember that ceramic dishes are heavy, so they’re not ideal on wobbly cabinet shelves, although they may be pretty on display in a cabinet.

Design & Handles

What the dish looks like will be important to your personal aesthetic and whether you plan to primarily serve recipes that go from the oven to the table. Ceramic and glass dishes come in various colors and styles. Does the dish look attractive and add to the appeal? What do the handles look like? Are they wide enough and easy to grab? Are they designed to be decorative? For example, Ruffoni Historia’s 12.5” Open Rectangular Gratin has “riveted handles cast in solid bronze that are adorned with acorns and leaves.”

Weight

While a dish may be lovely to look at, how heavy and comfortable is it to lift (particularly when it’s filled with food)? Ceramic options offer a high-quality feel, but they can be hefty to take in and out of the oven and transport. Some dishes might not be practical for cooks who find them difficult to handle (for example, Le Creuset’s Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid weighs 8lbs).

Cleaning

Casseroles and roasted dishes can lead to serious baked-on messes that can stick, stain, and be a pain to clean and remove. Read the manufacturers’ specs about cleanup recommendations and whether the materials are dishwasher-safe or ideally handwashed (and in some cases, such as copper, the dish will need to be polished to restore the shine). All baking dishes and pans will need some muscle at some point, but generally, regardless of the material, no baking dish stands up to heavy-duty scouring or abrasive scrubbing.

Price & Warranty

There are metal and ceramic options between $100 and $150, while some glass and metal options start at $20. Copper is upwards of $300. What’s in your budget? What cooking method do you envision using the pan for the most: microwave, baking, roasting, or braising?

Higher-priced ceramic and stoneware may seem like a big investment, but remember to check the manufacturer’s warranty. Le Creuset typically offers a 10-year warranty; Ruffoni and Hestan offer lifetime warranties. Pyrex offers limited one or two-year warranties, depending on the product.

What Are the Different Types of Baking Dish Materials?

Let’s look at the three primary baking dish materials to see how they work.

Metal

A 9-inch by 13-inch metal pan is an excellent tool to have in any kitchen for everyday use. Ones with nonstick surfaces can be perfect for baked desserts that tend to stick. Metal is a great choice if you’re roasting meats or vegetables and the focus is on getting things nicely browned.

Benefits:

  • Metal baking pans can heat up quickly, which makes them a popular choice for recipes that require shorter cooking times and higher temperatures (think brownies and oven-baked chicken fingers).
  • Metal is lighter than glass or ceramic dishes, so the pans can be easier to handle.
  • Different metals—aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, or copper—all work differently. Some are better for certain temperatures than others, and they have different cleaning recommendations.
  • Nonstick coating options can be helpful for certain baked goods to avoid sticking (think cinnamon buns), but cheaper metal pans can mean poor-quality coatings that erode.

Be Aware:

  • Certain metals can react with acidic ingredients. Carefully review what the manufacturer says in the product specs. For example, Hestan Provisions 9”x13” OvenBond Rectangular Baker is warp-resistant, broiler-safe up to 600°F, and non-reactive.
  • Metal is durable and resists breakage, but it can scratch and get scored, so avoid using metal tools and knives.
  • Cooking times for metal pans can also vary depending on the finish (light or dark, nonstick, or non-reactive).

Glass

Photo by Africa Studio

Glass tends to be the top bakeware choice for most home kitchens because it's affordable and replaceable. It’s ideal for casseroles and desserts that can go from the oven to the table or counter for serving. Glass dishes can come with lids or covers for easy transport. Think potlucks, school events, family barbecues, and parties.

Benefits:

  • Like its ceramic cousins, glass can go from oven to table.
  • Glass is transparent, helping cooks monitor how a dish is coming along. That visibility is reassuring when experimenting with new recipes.
  • Glass baking dishes can be tempered, nontempered, or borosilicate glass. Read the product specs.
    • OXO Glass Bakeware, for example, is made of “thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass, which means it can go from freezer to oven without the need to thaw.”
    • Pyrex, for example, advises not to use its baking dishes in toaster ovens, but its “preheated oven-safe” ability means the dish can go from the counter into a hot oven. Other brands recommend putting a dish into a cold oven so that it gets up to temperature slowly as the oven heats up.

Be Aware:

  • Glass takes longer to heat up than its metal counterparts, but it holds heat consistently and distributes heat evenly. That’s great for homemade mac and cheese, but it could be bad news for that lovely batch of blondies whose edges got scorched in order to get the center solidified.
  • Glass isn’t good for broiling or the stovetop (so it’s not an option for making gravy right in the pan from meat drippings).

Ceramic

The Le Creuset Rectangular Dish with Platter Lid. Photo courtesy of Le Creuset

The major brands offering ceramic baking dishes tend to be synonymous with high quality, durability, and designs and colors that pay attention to serving.

Benefits:

  • Like glass, ceramic dishes absorb heat slower than metal, distribute heat evenly, and retain the heat after the dish has been removed from the oven.
  • Ceramic dishes are made from different types of materials, such as natural clay or porcelain. These conduct heat differently, so read the specs to see exactly what the product contains.
  • Ceramic dishes are nonporous and tend to be easy to clean.

Be Aware:

  • Price points vary depending on the brand, but in general, ceramic is more expensive than glass or metal. Dishes come in various colors and can include decorative and artistic features that make the dish attractive for serving, giving otherwise ordinary comfort food an elegant flair. Think traditional holiday dishes and more sophisticated parties.
  • These dishes can chip, crack, break, and can be heavy to lift.

General Tips, Regardless of the Material

  • Sharp edges or corners that trap stuck-on food that’s difficult to clean.
  • Putting a hot dish directly on a countertop or on a wet or cool surface. Trivets, potholders, oven mitts, and dry towels are a baking dish’s friends.
  • Using the wrong ingredients and the wrong serving tools in the wrong dish.

One of Each

Photo by Jane M.

A well-rounded kitchen will likely have at least one glass and one metal 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish to cover a wide range of recipes. Ceramic dishes aren’t a must-have to get the job done. They can, however, be wonderful long-term investments. A few pieces in different sizes round out any baking dish collection. If only one ceramic option is possible, the 9-inch by 13-inch size is a powerhouse. It can make all the difference in elevating a home-cooked casserole or dessert from ordinary to exceptional.

The 9-Inch by 13-Inch Baking Dish at a Glance

Find the Best 9-Inch by 13-Inch Baking Dish for You

Whether you’re a new cook or a veteran, having at least a couple of 9-inch by 13-inch dishes in your kitchen is important for making a large array of dishes, from everyday weeknight meals to casseroles and desserts that become family traditions during holidays and celebrations. My recommendation is to have one of each kind of material, but since ceramic dishes are at higher price points, they can be something you add over time after starting with glass and metal options. If you have any questions, reach out to a Kitchen Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice when buying your baking dish.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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