Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans – Which One is Better?

Want to bake a roast, a pie or even a delicious batch of cookies?

But, which pan should you use? Contrary to popular belief, the one you reach for shouldn’t be the first one you see.

Some materials are great for specific types of food, while others are not.

For example, metal baking pans are great for making cookies. On the other hand, glass ones are perfect for lasagnas and casseroles.

In this article, we will dive into the good and bad of both metal and glass baking pans and which one is right for you.

Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans – Which One Should You Choose?

I wish I could have given you a more straight answer, but both these pans type have advantages and drawbacks.

The baking pan you choose will depend on your heat transfer needs.

There should be a smooth transfer of heat from the air around the pan when you bake. This includes its sides and naturally, the batter it is filled with.

Once the pan and ingredients heat up sufficiently, leaveners activate, making the dough rise till it sets.

So to give you an answer:

  • Metal baking pans, such as aluminum, are great at conducting heat. But these also cool down fast and easily as well. Use these pans if you want to heat up food quickly or when you want to bake sweet treats.
  • Glass baking pans are not great at conducting heat, but once they get heated up, it retains the heat. This can be quite useful if you are making casseroles or braises. That’s because these need to remain as warm as possible when they are taken out.

Now let’s dive in a little more and learn about glass and metal baking pans.

When Should You Use Glass Baking Pans?

Glass does not conduct heat well but it distributes it evenly. Once the temperature gets high enough, it starts to warm up slowly but surely. Plus, it remains warm for a while when you take it out of the oven.

This can be quite useful if you are making casseroles or braises. That’s because these need to remain as warm as possible when they are taken out.

However, don’t use glass baking pans if you want to broil food since it may shatter. The same should be the case for any recipe that requires high amounts of heat. One such example is direct heat from a stovetop. While some glass pans can be used in these situations, it is better to be safe than sorry.

So if you want to make gravy on the stove, do not use a glass pan. Otherwise, you may have to transfer the contents of the pan to a pot first before making the sauce. Do you really want to fill your sink with more dirty dishes than you need?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that glass baking pans cannot benefit you at all.

Some of the benefits of using a glass baking pan include the following:

  • It absorbs rather than reflect heat compared to metal. This allows the pan to speed up the cooking process. However, this is why you should turn down the temperature 25° lower than the recommended temperature. Otherwise, your food may end up burning before you have the chance to enjoy it!
  • You can watch your food cooking right in the clear baking pan.
  • Once the pan cools down, you can pop it in the refrigerator without taking the food out first. That way, you won’t have to ruin the beautiful layers of lasagna you worked hard to put together.
  • Since glass is chemically inert, the food you bake in it is safe from chemicals. This is a common hazard with plastic cookware and even some metallic ones, such as cast iron pans. Additionally, glass does not react with the food that is cooked in it.

Safety Tips  when using glass baking pans

Like any baking pan, glass-based ones come with lists of instructions and care, which can vary with brands.

This includes safety precautions that can ensure responsible use and prevent accidents.

Here are some you should follow if you use glass baking pans:

  • Do not heat the pan higher than 350°F.
  • If your glass is in the refrigerator, do not place it in a hot oven immediately. The drastic and fast change in temperature may shatter the glass otherwise.
  • Do not place a cold glass pan on a wet or cold surface. Place it on a cooling rack or on a towel instead or the bottom may give out.
  • Do not use the glass pan on a stove or in a toaster oven.
  • Even if you empty the pan after taking it out of the oven, allow it to cool down before placing it in the sink or before soaking it.
  • Do not scratch the glass pan with utensils. If it has a noticeable scratch or chip, it can expand and break your pan right inside the oven!
  • Don’t place the pan into a cold oven. Allow it to heat up before doing so or you will end up with undercooked food.
  • If you are baking vegetables in the pan, add some water or vegetable stock to it beforehand. This will prevent it from sticking.
  • Even if your glass pan came with a plastic lid, use it for storage use only. If you need to cover the pan while it is in the oven, use tinfoil.

Cleaning Tips for Glass baking pans

  • Use non-scratch pads or a soft sponge to clean glass baking pans. Scratchy pads can damage it, which can lead to breakage. Remove tough crusted stains by soaking the fish in warm water first before scrubbing. This will loosen the crust and make the pan squeaky clean at the same time.
  • Clean the pan with baking soda and dish soap to remove grease stains. Sprinkle the soda all over the bottom of the pan with a bit of the soap and soak it in warm water. Scrub with a sponge after 15 minutes.

When Should You Use Metal Baking Pans?

Metal baking pans, such as aluminum, are great at conducting heat. But these also cool down fast and easily as well. Use these pans if you want to heat up food quickly or when you want to bake sweet treats.

Unlike glass baking pans, metal pans are available in several types for both residential and commercial use.

Some of them include the following:

Anodized Aluminum pans

Anodized aluminum baking pans are non-reactive and light in color. Plus, they are great if you want to get a nice bottom crust and no wrinkles.

The pan reflects heat rather than absorbing it. Plus, the special aluminum retains optimal baking temperatures for the perfect cook.

The two types of anodized aluminum pans you can get include:

  • Silver anodized pan: This aluminum pan is treated to make its outer surface hard and thus scratch/stick-resistant. The process also prevents the bakeware from peeling, rusting or blistering. It also allows it to conduct heat fast and evenly. So if you use it, you may have to reduce cooking time to ensure your food doesn’t burn.
  • Hard anodized pan: Hard anodized bakeware is quite similar to the silver variety. The only difference is that it is treated for longer periods of time for a hard finish. That is why it is ten times thicker than other metal pans. These are darker so they can brown meat faster compared to lighter pans.

However, even though these pans are scratch-resistant, that doesn’t mean you should go to town on them with every utensil.

Other than sharp knives, you can use metal utensils on these pans without damaging them. Plus, don’t use metal pans for cooking reactive food, such as fruit.

This includes food items that need to be kept warm before they are served.

Stainless Steel Pans

These pans are known for their durability and for the number of uses they have. However, stainless steel pans don’t conduct heat well.

As such, it is not used to bake cakes or roasts. Rather, it is usually used as a sheet pan to bake cookies.

These pans are dishwasher safe compared to the aluminum variety. Plus, they can maintain their sheen even if they are used roughly.

Related article: How to Season Stainless Steel Frying Pans (so it won't stick while cooking)

Silicone Pans

Silicone baking pans come in a range of types and sizes from muffins to loaf pans. These stand out because of their non-stick quality.

In fact, you won’t need to apply oil to make them non-stick. This makes them ideal for sticky-baked items, such as cakes.

Additionally, silicone pans are also microwave friendly, can be used in a freezer and are oven-friendly. This means you can bake in them and pop them in the oven or fridge as soon as they cool down.

However, silicone pans can take some time to heat up. As such, you may not get a good, brown crust on your baked items. So if you use silicone pans, stick to light baked goods.

Cleaning Tips for Metal baking pans

  • Do not soak your metal bakeware overnight to get rid of stubborn burnt food. It may get discolored otherwise.
  • To remove discoloration, fill the pan with water, one tablespoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of cream of tartar. Then simmer it on the stove till the discoloration is gone. Take the pan off the stove and allow it to cool down. Then use stool wool to remove the crusty bits.
  • Use baking soda and a non-abrasive bathroom cleaner along with a scouring pad. This technique will work in a pinch.
  • If all else fails, use bleach but make sure you use safety precautions. It may not be your first choice. However, it may be the best solution to eliminate stubborn grease and food stains.

So this is all you should know about choosing a baking pan. I hope this gives you a good overview of the glass vs Metal Baking pan and which one would be best for you to choose.

Choose according to the food you want to make and you will make the right choice.

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