How to Buy the Best Bakeware Sets for Your Kitchen

Published on 12/02/2023 · 10 min readElevate your baking game with our guide on how to choose the best bakeware sets for your kitchen. Discover the essential features for a delightful baking experience!
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Edith Czech

TL;DR: When buying a bakeware set, be sure to consider what material it’s made out of, how many pieces it contains, and whether or not it’s nonstick. Bakeware has a wide range of uses, meaning that you’ll use it regularly – and a bakeware set typically isn’t cheap, so you want to be sure you’re getting what will work best for you.

I’ve been a baker since I was old enough to use the kitchen equipment. I started off with cookies – and they’re still my favorite thing to make, particularly chocolate chip. But I also bake pies, quick breads, cakes, cupcakes, and muffins - meaning I have quite the bakeware collection myself.

I collected my bakeware piecemeal over the last fifteen years or so, by getting some from my parents and picking up ones to fill the gaps along the way. I’ve tried many kinds of bakeware for a lot of different recipes. If you’re looking to get a set to start off, fill gaps, or even just to make it so all of your bakeware matches, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve figured out along the way.

What Is a Bakeware Set?

Photo by Pinkyone

The answer to this question is pretty obvious! A bakeware set is a set that has more than one piece of bakeware in it. Bakeware sets can range from a pair of cake or sheet pans to an entire collection of 20 items. Determining the best set for you will depend on what you already have, what you want to replace, and what items you want more of.

Things to Consider When Buying a Bakeware Set

Purchasing a bakeware set is a bigger investment than just buying a single baking pan. If you don’t like it, then you’ll end up with a butch of bakeware that you don't want to use. That’s why it’s important to consider carefully before committing. Before buying, ask yourself these questions:

What Material is it Made From?

A glass loaf pan and a cast iron loaf pan. Photo by Di Doherty

  • Stainless Steel: This material has good heat distribution, isn’t prone to rust, and is durable. Heavy-gauge stainless steel also won’t warp or bend. However, having a material that’s too shiny isn’t the best for most baked goods, otherwise you won’t get that crispy browned edge. Most stainless steel bakeware will be coated to darken it and make it nonstick.
  • Aluminum: Pure aluminum can also be too shiny, but it has the benefit of not rusting (though it can oxidize. If your aluminum is turning dark gray, that’s a sign it’s oxidizing). Aluminum is also extremely light and very durable. If the appearance of your bakeware is important, be sure to use only silicone or plastic utensils, as aluminum is easy to scratch.
  • Aluminized steel: For the best of both worlds, aluminized steel is made with a steel core and has an aluminum and silicon outer layer to prevent rust and help with heat distribution.
  • Anodized aluminum: If you wish that aluminum was scratch-resistant, anodized aluminum is the answer. This is the result of boding the oxidation with the autumn through a chemical bath and electrical current. The process makes the metal tougher, resistant to oxidation, and grants nonstick properties.
  • Silicone: There aren’t many options for silicone bakeware, but you can find them if you look. Silicone is oven safe up to 400°F, nonstick, and dishwasher-safe. Be aware that most silicone bakeware has a metal frame, which may degrade over time in the dishwasher.
  • Cast Iron: In terms of getting perfectly browned baked goods, cast iron is very hard to beat. However, it requires a lot more care than most other materials, as you need to make sure it’s properly seasoned and be careful not to soak it or use too much soap when you wash it. It’s also 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 doesn’t have great heat disturbing. It’s wonderful for dishes where that doesn’t matter as much, like lasagna and casseroles, and it’s arguably the best material for pie pans. But for many other baking needs, like brownies and cakes, I’ve found my glass bakeware over browned the outside and undercooked the inside.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic has similar heat distribution properties to glass. That means that it’s better for baking dishes for casseroles, lasagna, and other less delicate dishes. However, it also had the benefit of being dishwasher safe, holding heat well, and being scratch-resistant.

What Pieces Do I Want in the Set?

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Most bakeware sets contain standard items. However, if you get a larger set or if you’re looking for something specific, you can find a bakeware set that contains just about any piece of bakeware you can imagine.

A standard bakeware set contains:

  • Sheet pans
  • Round cake pans
  • Loaf pan
  • 12-cup muffin pan

Bakeware sets can also contain:

  • Pizza pan
  • 9x13 pan
  • Square cake pan
  • Pie pan
  • Cookie sheet
  • 6-cup cupcake pan
  • Cooling rack

Should I Get Nonstick Pans?

Photo by Candice Bell

Pans with a nonstick coating are preferred by a lot of bakers, but that doesn’t mean that they’re without their flaws. If you're considering whether or not to get a nonstick pan, consider the below:

Benefits:

  • Nonstick is easier to clean, as food’s less likely to stick to it.
  • It makes it easier to get cakes and other baked goods out of the pan.
  • Dulls the shininess of aluminum and steel for better browning.

Be Aware:

  • Nonstick coatings wear out over time, meaning you’ll have to replace your bakeware more often.
  • Most coatings are only safe up to 500°F and therefore, can’t be used with the broiler.
  • You can’t use metal utensils on them.
  • Baking spray can damage some coatings.

How Much Am I Willing to Spend?

A blueberry pie in a ceramic pie plate. Photo by Di Doherty

Bakeware sets can vary wildly in price depending on the type of bakeware, the number of pieces included, and the brand name. You can get an affordable bakeware set with just a few pieces, or you can splurge and spend a few hundred dollars on a larger, high-end set.

Features to Look For in a Bakeware Set

When looking for good bakeware, here are some features to keep an eye out for:

  • Handles: While certain types of bakeware can get away without handles, like loaf pans or smaller cake pans, having them makes it a lot easier to take it out of the oven. Good handles with a good grip –even when you’re wearing oven mitts – will make a big difference in how ergonomic it is.
  • Weight: It’s important that your bakeware not be too heavy, as that’ll be hard to handle. But it also shouldn’t be too light – unless it’s made of aluminum, that is. Steel, cast iron, glass, and ceramic should all have some weight to them to show that they aren’t cheaply made. Thin steel or aluminum will warp in the oven from uneven heating, making it less effective.
  • Color: The color of the bakeware matters. Too shiny and you won’t have a crispy browned edge (though some people may prefer their cookies soft) and too dark and you can end up with a burned bottom. While the material is more important than the color (cast iron won’t burn your cookies, despite being black), it’s a good idea to aim for bakeware that’s gray or light brown.
  • Cooling rack: While not a necessity in a bakeware set, a cooling rack is a nice addition to have. It’s difficult to have too many cooling racks, and if you’re just getting started, you want to be sure that you have one so that your baked goods cool quickly and evenly.

How to Choose the Right Bakeware Set for You

Bakeware doesn’t have to be used for only one thing: brownies in a glass pie plate. Photo by Di Doherty

The number of options when it comes to bakeware sets can cause choice paralysis, making picking the right one difficult. In order to help you narrow down the right bakeware set for your needs, I’m going to list three different people and what bakeware sets I’d recommend for each of them.

Mary: Young Baker Looking for Eco-Conscious Bakeware

Mary just got her first apartment and is looking to start building her bakeware collection. She has a few pieces she’s picked up from thrift stores or got from her parents, but she wants to get good quality bakeware that’s well-made and better for the environment.

Features Mary should look for:

  • Materials that will last a lifetime and are recyclable.
  • Bakeware made in the United States or other nearby countries.

Bakeware set examples:

  • Lodge baker’s delight set: Lodge’s cast iron bakeware set is made in the US from cast iron and vegetable oil. It contains a baking pan, a pie pan, a dual-handle skillet, and a 9-inch x 13-inch pan. Cast iron bakeware is built for long-term use, limiting manufacturing.
  • Nordic Ware Naturals 5-piece baking set: Nordic Ware also makes its products in the USA, and their Naturals collection is made of pure aluminum – save for the ones that have stainless steel rims to prevent warping. It includes all the basics like a sheet pan, muffin tin, and cake pan. Having no nonstick coating means that the pans will last longer, require less processing, and are fully recyclable.

Suraj: Experienced Baker Looking for High-Quality Bakeware to Consolidate his Collection

Suraj has an assortment of bakeware of varying quality that he’s been collecting over the years. He’s looking to upgrade a lot of his equipment and wants to have a matched set of bakeware. He wants something practical, well-made, and easy to keep clean.

Features Suraj should look for:

  • Well-made nonstick coatings that help make cleaning easy.
  • A full bakeware set.

Bakeware Set examples:

  • Caraway Ceramic Non-Stick Bakeware Set: Caraway’s bakeware set uses a ceramic nonstick coating, which is widely considered to be the best. They come in a variety of colors, meaning that you can choose your aesthetic. Being an 11 piece bakeware set, this nonstick bakeware set will fulfill almost all of your baking needs.
  • Circulon Bakeware Nonstick Bakeware Set: This 10-piece set was selected as the best bakeware set of 2023 by Good Housekeeping. It’s made of heavy-gauge steel and has a nonstick coating that both helps with easy release and has excellent heat distribution. They’re even dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup, though it’s likely better for their longevity to wash them by hand.

Rebecca: Novice Baker Looking to Start off With Some Decent Bakeware

Rebecca has just recently gotten into baking and wants to get the basics so that she can keep improving her skills. She doesn’t want anything too expensive because she’s not sure how much use they’ll get, but also doesn’t want something low-quality, either.

Features to look for:

  • A smaller set that just includes the basics.
  • Easy to clean and use materials, like stainless steel.

Recommended Products:

  • Anolon Pro Bake Bakeware Aluminized Steel: This set is affordable and includes two baking pans, a loaf pan, and a pizza pan. It’s made of aluminized steel, making it durable and easy to clean, and has enough to get started – particularly if you want to make pizza.
  • Cuisinart 6-Piece Bakeware Essentials Set: This set includes six common bakeware pieces: a baking sheet, a loaf pan, 9-inch round cake pans, and a square cake pan. The muffin tin only holds six cups compared to the usual 12-cup muffin tin, but it’s enough to get started.

Let Us Help You Find the Right Bakeware Set for You

Photo by IC Production

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 Curated Kitchen Experts! Any of our Experts would be more than happy to help you find the bakeware set that’s just right for you.

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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