Cooking and baking can be classified as science. They involve a lot of precision and knowledge about time, temperature, ingredients, and cookware as well.
While there are numerous types of pans out there, silicone, stone, ceramic, etc., the two most commonly used pan materials are metal and glass.
When confused between these two pans, the first thing you should consider is how well they conduct heat and which cooks faster.
So, does a glass pan cook faster than metal, or is it the other way around? Let’s find out!
Does Glass Pan Cook Faster Than Metal?
Let’s get into the science a little bit. We all know that metal is a better conductor of heat than glass. Therefore, you’d assume that metal cooks faster, right?
However, there’s more to it than just that. It’s true that metal is a better heat conductor, and therefore, it does heat up more quickly.
But heating is not precisely equal to cooking.
While metal tends to absorb heat faster, it also loses that heat pretty quickly. This means that it’s not great at retaining all that heat, which is necessary for cooking.
On the other hand, glass is more of an insulator.
It slows down the absorption of heat, which is why it takes longer to heat up. But, when it eventually does, it holds and retains that heat better than metal pans.
You might have noticed this yourself if you have used both types of pans. Once you take them out of the oven, the metal pans usually cool faster than glass pans.
Moreover, since a glass pan doesn’t lose any heat either, it can slowly and steadily rise to higher temperatures while in the oven.
Due to this better retention of heat, glass pans cook faster than metal.
Now, does this mean that whenever you want to bake a batch of brownies quickly, you should use a glass pan? No. Just because a glass pan cooks faster than a metal pan does not mean it cooks better too.
There are certain recipes and ingredients that are better suited for glass pans, and there are some that turn out better when cooked in metal pans.
Similarly, while there is just one type of glass pan, there are numerous types of metal pans.
So, let’s explore these factors and see how they affect cooking times and the final outcome when using glass and metal pans.
When Should You Use Which Pan?
There’s no straight answer to this because both pans have their benefits and drawbacks.
Sometimes you need the quick heating that comes with metal pans, and sometimes, you want to retain heat in your food, which is better possible in glass pans.
However, here are a few features of glass and metal pans and when they should be used.
Use Glass Pans to Keep Your Food Warm and When Using Acidic Ingredients
As mentioned earlier, glass pans heat up slowly. But when they do, they can rise to higher temperatures and hold that heat for much longer.
These features of glass pans make them ideal for some dishes and occasions.
For instance, when you want to make lasagnas and casseroles, you probably, like most people, do reach for the glass pan first.
This is because once you have cooked these in the oven, you want them to stay warm outside as long as possible so that they can be properly enjoyed.
In addition to that, it also helps that glass pans are clear, and you can see exactly what’s going on at the bottom of the pan.
The food you prepare in a glass pan can be directly served as well, so when you’re concerned about presentation, glass pans definitely help.
You should also use glass pans when your recipe includes acidic ingredients such as lemon or tomatoes.
These can have reactions with metal when heated together, which affects the food as well as the pan. Glass is relatively safer in this regard.
On the other hand, glass pans can be fragile, so you don’t want to use them when you need to cook your food at high temperatures. For instance, when you want to broil your food, glass is not the way to go.
Precautions to Remember When Using a Glass Pan
As great as glass pans are, they do need to be handled a bit more carefully than metal pans.
Here’s what you need to remember when using a glass pan:
- Don’t let your glass pan experience extreme temperature changes as it could crack and shatter. When you take a hot glass pan out of the oven, don’t put it in cold water or on a cool counter. Keep it on a cooling rack or dishcloth till it cools down to room temperature.
- Don’t use sharp or metal utensils with a glass pan. These could accidentally scratch or chip the surface of the pan. When this chipped or scratched pan goes back into the oven, the chip could expand due to the heat and shatter your pan.
- Don’t expose glass pans to direct heat like on the stove or during broiling. Try to keep the temperatures below 350 degrees Fahrenheit when in the oven.
Use Metal Pans for Sweet Dishes and Browning the Exterior
Metal Pans are more versatile. Most of the things you can cook in a glass pan, you can cook in a metal one as well. However, between the two, metal pans are better suited for some recipes.
Metal is a good conductor of heat, so it gets hotter faster. Therefore, they are the best option when you want to cook something quickly, such as cookies, biscuits, and other similar dishes.
Furthermore, these pans also tend to lose heat as quickly as they absorb it.
So, when you want your food to cool down faster after coming out of the oven, metal pans are the way to go. Since they heat up quickly, they are also better at browning your food.
So, when you’ve got a pie or tart, and you want it to be beautifully golden brown, metal pans will help you achieve that.
Other than that, metal pans can stand high temperatures and direct heat, as long as they are of good quality. So, you can comfortably use them on a stovetop or while broiling.
What are the Types of Metal Pans?
Until now, we’ve talked about metal pans in general.
However, there are various types of metal pans that have different cooking times and other qualities. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Light vs. Dark Metal
Metal pans come in light colors as well as dark colors. Since they’re both metals, you’d assume the color doesn’t matter, but it definitely does.
Between the two, dark metal pans usually cook faster than lighter ones, and this makes them similar to glass pans.
This happens because light metal pans are more reflective, which slows down the absorption of heat. Dark pans can absorb the heat better as they don’t reflect it away.
Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless Steel pans are quite durable, which makes them a staple for any kitchen. These pans are great for baking cookies and searing meats.
However, they are not suitable for all kinds of dishes as they are not the best heat conductor.
Other than that, it is easy to clean as it is dishwasher safe. It is also resistant to rust and corrosion.
Aluminum pans are excellent cookware to have. They conduct heat quite well, which allows them to cook and brown your food evenly.
It also heats up really quickly, so it’s another great option for cookies, muffins, etc.
It cools down quite quickly as well, and it’s lightweight, which makes it overall easy to handle. If you want to ensure its long life, try washing it with your hands and avoiding harsh detergents.
Carbon Steel Pans
If you only want to invest in one pan for life, it has to be a carbon steel pan. This heavy-duty cookware can last for years and much longer than aluminum pans.
However, they do require proper care and seasoning.
This pan also conducts heat well and can hold high or low temperatures easily. Its natural non-stick property is also a bonus.
Tin-Plated Steel Pans
Tin-plated steel pans are somewhat thinner than other metal pans. They can hold heat well and spread it around evenly. This makes them a good choice for cakes and pizzas.
However, without proper maintenance, they don’t last very long.
While it is true that a glass pan cooks faster than metal, this is not the only thing you should be considering when deciding between the two.
You should also think about what you’re cooking, what ingredients you’ll use, what kind of exterior you want, etc.
If, after all this, you decide to go for a glass pan, make sure you keep in mind the precautions of using a glass pan and handle it carefully.
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