The Top 5 Most Recommended Bakeware Sets

Published on 10/24/2023 · 10 min readDive into the world of baking with our guide to the best bakeware sets! Learn about top-tier brands, materials, and features that will elevate your edible creations.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Africa Studio

Good bakeware can make all the difference in your baked goods and even when roasting vegetables or making side dishes. Most people – myself included – end up with a haphazard selection of baking dishes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are bakeware sets that make sure all of your bakeware is high-quality, functions the same, and matches – which can make you really feel like a chef. Having the right tool for the job makes a huge difference, so here’s my advice on picking bakeware that works for your baking style and preferences.

How to Choose the Right Bakeware Set

Buying a bakeware set is more nerve-wracking than just buying a pie pan or cookie sheet – if you don’t like them, you’re out a lot more money and have a lot more useless items. There are advantages to buying a set, too, though. Having different kinds of bakeware made from different materials can cause you to have to alter recipes depending on what bakeware you’re using, and you may end up with pieces that aren’t really right for the job. So, how do you decide? Well, here are some considerations when looking for the right bakeware set for you.

What Should a Bakeware Set Be Made Out Of?

There are several options of oven-safe material for your bakeware to be constructed from, and it can be hard to know which option is the best. The answer is that it depends on what you’re baking and your baking preferences. There are several different materials and pros and cons for each one.

  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is always a practical choice as it’s durable, has good heat distribution, and isn’t prone to rust. Good stainless steel also won’t warp or bend. However, having a material that’s too shiny isn’t the best for most baked goods, as it’s important that they brown. Most stainless steel bakeware will be coated to darken it and make it nonstick.
  • Aluminum: Aluminium can have the same issue as stainless steel if it’s too shiny, but it has the benefit of not rusting – though it can oxidize – being extremely light and very durable. Aluminum is easy to scratch, but that’s usually just cosmetic.
  • Cast Iron: In terms of getting perfectly browned baked goods, cast iron is almost impossible to beat. The downside is that it requires a lot more care than most other materials, as you need to make sure it’s properly seasoned and be careful when you wash it to prevent rust. It’s also very heavy, making it a no-go for people with mobility issues.
  • Glass: While glass has many wonderful qualities, like being dishwasher safe, resistant to scratches, and attractive, it’s often not the best bakeware choice. It’s wonderful for certain situations like making casseroles or lasagna where you want to see the layers, and it’s arguably the best material for pie pans. But for many other baking needs, like brownies and cakes, glass has a tendency to overbrown the outside and undercook the inside.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic functions similarly to glass, save for the fact that it’s not transparent. It does brown baked goods nicely, but it’s better for casseroles, lasagna, and other less delicate dishes.
  • Nonstick: This really isn’t only one category, but it’s not reasonable to go through the different nonstick coatings. Ceramic is quickly becoming a very popular nonstick coating, and it’s one of the best choices due to it being POFA-free and PTFE-free (at least, most of the time), but it does mean you have to be more careful with it. I admit to not caring for nonstick coatings due to the fact that they require more care and often don’t let you use baking spray. They also require more steps to manufacture and are less green. However, they are undoubtedly convenient, and particularly, the new ceramic coatings can produce baked goods with a wonderful browned edge.

What Should a Bakeware Set Contain?

Photo by Charles Brutlag

This is extremely individual, as it depends on what you usually bake. There are standard types of baking dishes and sizes, but exactly which ones are best for you depends on what you prefer to make. Here are some standard types to look for.

  • Cake Pan: You use cake pans often if you’re a baker. 9-inch is a standard size that most modern recipes call for. As a rule, it’s best to get a set that has two cake pans so that you can make layer cakes. There are both round cake pans and square cake pans, though round is more common for layer cakes.
  • Pie Pan: Pie pans are another standard item to have in your kitchen. 9-inch has become the standard size, meaning that it’s likely that any bakeware set will have it. Pie pans are best made out of glass or a dull metal – there’s a debate about which is better (I prefer glass).
  • Muffin Pan: Also called a cupcake pan, this is necessary if you want to make muffins or cupcakes. Most muffin tins will make 12 cupcakes or muffins, though you can buy half muffin pans that only make 6. It’s usually better to go for a 12-cup muffin pan, as the majority of recipes make 12 cupcakes or muffins.
  • 9-inch Square Pan: A 9-inch square pan is a standard size that you can use to make small cakes, brownies, or fudge in. For brownies, it’s best to have a metal pan with sharp corners so that they get crispy around the edges.
  • 9-inch by 13-inch Pan: This is a standard sheet cake size, meaning it’s an excellent addition to anyone’s kitchen. Many lasagna and casserole recipes are around this size as well, making this a versatile pan.
  • Baking Sheet: If you like to make cookies or roast vegetables, then this is a staple. Generally, it’s best to have two of these sheets in a set, as most cookie recipes require more than one cookie sheet.
  • Loaf Pan: Loaf pans’ standard sizes are 9-inch by 5-inch or 8-inch by 4-inch, and you’ll find recipes for both sizes. These are best for meatloaf, quick breads, and yeast breads.
  • Pizza Pan: While not necessary for every kitchen, if you like to make your own pizza, it’s good to look for a set that includes this.
  • Cooling Rack: A good baking set will likely include a wire rack – or two – to let baked goods cool. It helps in airflow to make sure that baked goods cool more quickly and evenly and don’t end up overbaked on the bottom.

Caring for Bakeware

Photo by Olya Detry

How best to care for your bakeware depends on what your bakeware is made out of. However, as the majority are made out of steel with nonstick coatings, there are commonalities in the best ways to care for them.

  • Avoid the dishwasher: Unless your bakeware is glass or ceramic, don’t put it in the dishwasher. Plain stainless steel and aluminum can take the dishwasher, but dishwasher detergent will tarnish the pan and shorten its lifespan. Nonstick bakeware is almost universally not dishwasher safe, as is cast iron.
  • Use plastic or silicone utensils: Again, unless it’s glass, metal utensils are best avoided. With aluminum and stainless steel, you can scratch it, which is largely cosmetic, so you can get away with it if you prefer metal utensils. But for nonstick coatings, metal utensils can scrape the coating off, which not only shortens its lifespan but potentially gets the coating in your food.
  • Grease the pans: Unless the recipe tells you not to, it’s a good idea to put butter on your pans. It helps to remove food more easily and prevent having to scrub. A good nonstick pan may not need this, so follow the recipe and pan care directions. Additionally, silicone mats or parchment paper are a great way to add a nonstick surface.

My Top 5 Picks for Bakeware Sets

1. Circulon Bakeware Nonstick Bakeware Set, 10-Piece, Chocolate Brown

This is a comprehensive baking pan set that is considered the best bakeware set by Good Housekeeping. It has almost everything you could need, including two cookie pans, a muffin pan, a loaf pan, cake pans, and a sheet cake pan. It also comes in a distinctive chocolate brown color, making it stand out. The rims on the bakeware are generous, making it easy to get a hold of. However, the dark color could end up overbrowning some baked goods if you aren’t careful, and if you aren’t starting your set from scratch, you’ll end up with a lot of duplicates.

2. Anolon Pro Bake Bakeware Aluminized Steel 4-Piece Bakeware Set

If you’re looking for a set with just a few things in it, this is a good choice. It has baking sheets, a loaf pan, and a pizza pan. The pans are aluminized steel, meaning that they’ll be lightweight and durable but may be a bit shiny to really brown your baked goods. However, it’s difficult to find bakeware that isn’t nonstick, so if you’re looking to avoid nonstick, this is a good choice. Conversely, if you prefer nonstick bakeware, there are many other options on the market.

3. Cuisinart 6-Piece Bakeware Essentials Set

For those who want a bakeware set on a budget, Cuisinart is a solid choice. This set comes with two cake pans, a loaf pan, a baking sheet, and a 6-cup muffin tin. It has enough to get you started and comes in either a silver or champagne color, though I’d recommend the latter. These pans aren’t nonstick, which can be a plus or a minus. The fact that the muffin pan is only half size can be disappointing as most recipes call for a 12-cup muffin pan.

4. Caraway Non-Toxic 11-Piece Ceramic Nonstick Bakeware Set

This is a comprehensive baking set that comes in a variety of attractive colors. It has a ceramic nonstick coating, which is an excellent and long-lasting nonstick option. It has almost everything to cover your baking needs, is easy to clean, and browns your baked goods nicely. However, if you aren’t starting your bakeware collection from scratch, the high expense can be difficult to justify.

5. All-Clad Pro-Release Nonstick Bakeware Set, 10-piece Set

All-Clad is known for their fully clad stainless steel pans, but the company also makes high-quality bakeware. Their pans are made of heavy gauge steel and have a PTFE combined with ceramic coating, making them highly nonstick. Each pan has prominent handles, making them easy to get ahold of, even with oven mitts. This set has just about everything you need, with round cake pans, a square cake pan, a sheet pan, a loaf pan, and a muffin tin. However, some may want to avoid PTFE on their bakeware, and this set is expensive.

Let Us Help You Find the Right Bakeware Set for You

Assorted bakeware including muffin pans, a sheet pan, a square cake pan, and a baking sheet. Photo by Di Doherty

It can be overwhelming to try to find the right choice for your needs, particularly if you don’t have experience with bakeware sets. Some of it also boils down to personal preferences in terms of material, whether or not it’s nonstick, and how many pieces the set contains. As a bakeware set is a serious investment, don’t be afraid to take your time. If you feel you need more information or advice, reach out to one of our Kitchen Experts here on Curated! Any of our Experts would be more than happy to help you find the bakeware set that’s just right for you.

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