An Expert Guide to Tart Pans

Published on 12/07/2023 · 10 min readDive into the delectable world of tart making with our expert guide to tart pans. Unlock the secrets to crafting perfect tarts with our recommendations!
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Anna Pustynnikova

TL;DR: When buying a tart pan, consider the material it’s made out of, if it has a removable bottom, and the size.

I grew up learning to cook and bake from my mom and have been doing my own baking ever since I was old enough to be trusted in the kitchen alone. I started out with cookies and have since expanded to cakes, pies, and, of course, tarts.

I’ve been collecting baking equipment over the years. Some I got from my parents, while others I picked up at thrift stores or even picked out for myself. I’ve used a wide variety of bakeware made from different materials, so I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't.

I started off making tarts in a pie pan. It is a workable substitution, but now that I have tart pans of my own, I have to admit that it’s much better. Getting the tart part out is so much simpler, and it ends up with lovely scalloped edges.

What Is a Tart Pan?

Photo by Ahanov Michael

A tart pan is a shallow baking pan with fluted sides used to make tarts. It is typically round, but you can also find square and rectangular ones. Tart crust is usually firm and crumbly, which is why tarts are usually displayed outside the tart pan. The filling is usually cooked separately and added after the tart is based, and most are topped with fruit.

You may be wondering: what makes a tart pan different from a pie pan? They do look pretty similar, and while it’s true that the difference between a tart and pie isn’t well-defined, the two pans are quite different. Tart pans have straight, fluted sides and are shallower. Pie dishes get narrower as they go down, have smooth sides, are deeper, and usually have a rim.

What to Consider when Buying a Tart Pan

A tart pan is a specialized piece of bakeware. While you may not use it very often (unless you make quiche regularly), it’s still important to find a good one. You also need to consider what you plan to use it for, and what features you prefer in your bakeware.

What Material Is it Made Out of?

An apple tart in a ceramic pie plate. Photo by Choloe Benko Prieur

As with all bakeware, there are numerous different materials that tart pans can be made out of.

  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel is an excellent all-around choice for cookware and bakeware. It’s durable, has good heat distribution, and is safe for the oven and broiler.
  • Aluminum: Aluminium’s heat reactivity and distribution are difficult to beat, and it’s extremely lightweight. It’s also recyclable and will last for decades if properly cared for. That being said, it’s easy to scratch (though they’re usually just cosmetic) and is reactive to acidic foods.
  • Glass: Tart pans made of glass aren’t going to have a removable bottom. However, glass is durable, aesthetic, and safe for the oven and dishwasher. It also allows you to monitor how browned the crust of the tart is as it’s baking. So if you don’t mind serving your tart in the pan, then it’s a practical choice.
  • Ceramic: Like glass, ceramic tart pans will all be one piece. Most tart pans made of this material are ornate, making it an excellent serving dish. They’re also dishwasher safe.
  • Anodized aluminum: For those who want the benefits of aluminum with more durability, anodized aluminum is a great choice. It’s made by bonding an oxidation coating to aluminum, making it scratch-resistant and granting it a natural nonstick coating.
  • Aluminized steel: If stainless steel’s heat distribution isn’t good enough for you, then aluminized steel combines the durability of steel with the rust resistance and heat distribution of aluminum. Steel, usually carbon steel, is coated with aluminum in order to prevent rust and aid in even heating.
  • Carbon steel: This is going to be an uncommon tart pan material, but you can find it if you’re interested. Carbon steel has excellent durability and heat retention. It’s similar to cast iron in that it’s prone to rust, so it needs to be seasoned, but it’s a much harder material, so it can be lighter and thinner.

Does It have a Removable Bottom?

A fruit tart in a metal tart pan – not the straight side and scalloped edges. Photo by Natalie Jolie

Tarts have a stiff crust, meaning that they don’t need the pan to hold them together. If you go to a bakery, you’ll see that tarts are displayed without a pan, with the crust being what holds them together. A removable bottom makes it much easier to remove a whole tart from the pan, so that you can get a lovely presentation. However, over time, any pan that has a removable bottom (such as angel food cake pans and springform pans) can develop leaks.

What Size Is It?

Photo by casanisa

Tart pans can come in a number of sizes, though they most often vary between 9-inch and 11-inch.

  • Mini: Mini tarts are sometimes called tartlets, and these pans can be referred to as tartlet pans. They’re usually round and have about a 4-inch diameter, but there are also rectangular pans that are usually around 4x2.
  • 9-inch: This is one of the more common sizes of tart pans, and is used in a lot of recipes. It’s similar to the 9-inch pie dish, though they’re shallower, so hold less.
  • 9.5-inch: If you search for tart pans, you’ll likely get a lot of results that are 9.5-inch. This is a good in-betweener, as it can be more easily used for a 9-inch recipe, but can also sub for a 10-inch if you’re willing to leave a bit of filling out.
  • 10-inch: Most modern recipes call for a tart pan this size, meaning that it’s a practical choice in that regard.
  • 11-inch: Fewer recipes call for a tart pan this large, though having a pan that’s too big is usually better than one that’s too small.
  • 14-inch x 4-inch: Rectangular tart pans are unusual, but most of them tend to be around this size. As the curricular ones are more popular, the rectangular ones vary more in size, and you’d have to check to see if the volume compares to that of a round tart pan.

What Shape Is It?

Photo by casanisa

Almost every tart pan you’ll see will be round. But that doesn't mean that’s your only option. So long as it adds up to the same volume, there’s no reason you can’t use a tart pan that’s a different shape.

  • Round: This type of tart pan is sometimes called a quiche pan, as they’re often used for that purpose as well as making tarts. Round is by far the most common. The majority of recipes will expect you to have a round tart pan, making it both the easiest to find and most practical.
  • Rectangular: Tart pans that are rectangular are also an option. They tend to range from more standard pan size to being very long and skinny. They can also have removable bottoms.
  • Square: There are very few options for a square tart pan, but they do exist. They’re generally eight or nine inches, like a cake pan, but have a removable bottom and fluted sides.

Features to Look for in a Tart Pan

Most tart pans are going to look pretty much the same, but there are some aspects that make some tart pans better than others. When picking out a tart pan, keep an eye out for these features.

  • Flutes: All tart pans are going to have flutes – or ridges – on the edge. The sharper these are, the more professional your tart crust is going to look. That doesn't mean that rounded flutes are inherently inferior, but if you want a gorgeous presentation, then look for ones that are well-defined.
  • Size: For the majority of recipes, a 10-inch tart pan is called for or will work. If you like to share or enjoy individual presentations, then mini tart pans are also a great choice.
  • Removable bottom: in the majority of cases, you’re going to want a tart pan with a removable bottom, as it makes it easier to get the tart or quiche out. You also won’t end up cutting the tart in the pan, which can damage a nonstick coating or scratch aluminum. However, as I mentioned above, they can end up leaking, so they won’t last as long as a pan that’s one solid piece.

How to Pick out the Best Tart Pan for You

Photo by Rui Elena

Finding the right pan for your kitchen can be difficult, especially as there are a lot of options out there in terms of tart pans. In order to make it simpler, I’m going to describe three different people and what tart pan I’d recommend to them.

Autumn: Generous Baker Who Likes to Give Baked Goods as Gifts

Autumn is an experienced baker who likes to make desserts to give out to friends, family, and coworkers. She likes tarts, as they tend to have a beautiful presentation, and they can be made in stages so she can work them in around her schedule.

Features to look for:

  • Mini tarts to make individual portions
  • Larger tart pans that allow for a lot of slices to be given out.

Recommended products:

  • Webake 11-inch nonstick tart pan: This 11-inch tart pan makes larger recipes that can be cut into slices and shared easily. It has a removable bottom to help get the tart out in one piece, and is nonstick.
  • Wilton non-stick tart pan set: This set of six mini tart pans are 4.5-inch and perfect for making individual tarts or quiches. They’re nonstick, meaning that it’s easy to remove the tarts from the pan, and they’re excellent for making gifts or individual desserts.

Teddy: Amateur Baker who Wants to Get Better

Teddy recently started baking and has found out that he enjoys it. He’s made some basic recipes, but wants to try making more difficult desserts, and is looking for good equipment to help him through the learning process.

Features to look for:

  • Standard size tart pans.
  • Conductive materials, like steel or aluminum.

Recommended products:

  • Wilton round scalloped tart and quiche pan, 9-Inch: This tart pan is made out of stainless steel, meaning it should last a long time, and has a nonstick coating for easy removal. It’s even dishwasher safe, though it’s better for the life of the pan to hand wash it.
  • Nordic Ware quiche and tart pan: Nordic Ware’s 10-inch tart pan makes larger recipes that can be cut into slices and shared easily. It’s made of aluminum with a nonstick coating on the inside.

Dominique: Busy Hostess who Loves to Host Dinner Parties

Dominique loves to have people over and serve dinner and dessert. She also loves to bring desserts and side dishes to when others host. She’s a good cook and baker, as she’s been doing it for a long time, and wants good equipment to help her deliver consistently beautiful results.

Features to look for:

  • Individual tart pans.
  • Tart pans with shapes that stand out.

Recommended products:

  • Webake 14-inch rectangular tart pan: Webake’s carbon steel pan is heat resistant up to 500 degrees and is easy to clean. It has a removable bottom, an eye-catching rectangular shape, and is very affordable.
  • USA Pan mini fluted tart pan: This tart pan is constructed like a muffin tin, with six cups to hold mini tarts. It prevents you from having to fuss with individual tart pans while still being able to make mini tarts to serve individually. It’s made out of aluminized steel with a nonstick coating that makes the tarts easy to remove.

Find the Right Tart Pan for You

A strawberry cream tart in a pie plate – note the rim and lack of scallops. 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 tart pans. Some of it also boils down to personal preferences in terms of whether it’s nonstick and what material it’s made out of. If you feel you need more advice, reach out to one of our Curated Kitchen Experts! Any of our Experts would be happy to help you find the tart pan that’s just right for you.

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