Square Cooking Pans vs Round Cooking Pans – Which ones are better to use?

Cooking can be extremely easy with the right cookware. There’s a pan in every size and shape for each dish you cook. Whether you want to make delicate crepes or bake a casserole, the right pan can do wonders for your dish.

Instead of filling your rack, simply stick to a few, well-chosen pans of the right shape.

Most pans come in two different shapes – square and round. But, which one is better for cooking and baking and stands the test of time?

Choosing between a square pan or round pan really depends on what and where you’re cooking. For stove-tops, round pans are the classic choice as they come with handy features. For baking, square pans are a popular option as they produce aesthetic-looking delights. If you’re using induction cooktops, you may want to go with round pans though.

Below I cover more details on what pans is suited in what scenarios.

Understanding Pan Shapes (Square Vs Round Pans)

When choosing a pan, you’ll probably come across different sizes, metals, and thickness.

While these are common features, the shape of the pans is seldom discussed. Some pans are small and round, ideal for one-dish serving, like frying an egg or grilling veggies, others are large and square to fit more food and retain delicious juices.

While size is important, the shape of your pan can influence:

  • How much cooking area is available?
  • How moist and juicy the food turns out?
  • How easy or difficult it is to stir and flip your food?

Keeping that in mind, here’s how to decide between a square or a round pan for cooking and baking.

Square Pans

Square pans are available in multiple sizes. Mostly used for baking purposes, they are a nice vessel for deep-dish foods. Many square pans are also divided into smaller squares so you can cook your meat, veggies, and sauces at the same time.

A square pan is what you typically think of when it comes to classic brownie squares. Other great dishes are Mac n’ cheese, casseroles, and steamed chicken thighs.

They are available in different metals like:

Cast Iron

Square cast iron pans or skillets are perfect for rustling up omelets, sausages, and veggies. They’re also a good option for baking as cast iron square pans produce tender, evenly cooked cakes. It also doesn’t burn off any sugary glaze, so you can enjoy those gooey chocolatey cookies you’re looking for.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel square cooking pans have excellent cooking performance. They’re beautifully shiny, easy to clean, and durable. Stainless steel square frying pans have greater depth and usually come with easy-to-grip handles. These are also oven-friendly, so you can bake brownies and cakes as well.

Copper

Copper is an excellent conductor of heat. A copper square pan retains heat well and accommodates a larger batch of food at one time. It’s also way lighter than stainless steel and sits securely on the stove.

However, since it’s a volatile metal with a low melting point, the pan shouldn’t be left on flame for too long. Copper square pans are ideal for steaming chicken thighs or simmering curries and sauces.

Aluminum

Aluminum square pans heat up faster and are great for preparing quick snacks. They use a lesser amount of energy to prepare the food. However, avoid cooking leafy veggies, citrus foods, and vinegar as they tend to absorb the aluminum.

Most aluminum square pans are hard, anodized, and non-stick. This thick layer of aluminum ensures a non-reactive, non-stick, and durable coating for your food.

Benefits of Using Square Pans

Square pans have extended corners that round pans don’t. For this reason, they can fit in more food at one time, which means faster cooking. The spacious interior allows you to place a greater number of food items in a single go. In fact, square pans provide up to 25% greater cooking area than round pans.

They also provide an extra depth to retain juices and keep your meat and veggies moist. The steam circulates inside the spacious interior, which prevents the food from drying out. Square pans are perfect for steaming or braising beef tenderloin and delicate protein cuts. The corners also make it easier to spoon out any juices. You can easily tilt the pan and all the liquid will flow to one side.

Cooking in a traditional round pan makes it difficult to position the spatula. While flipping thin crepes or a delicate omelet is a challenge per se, square pans make it extremely easy. The corners provide room to maneuver the cooking utensil and execute the flip with perfection.

This just makes square pans a handier option than round pans. They also have a larger surface that provides greater heat for cooking meat and veggies. Whether you’re using stainless, copper, or aluminum, a square pan evenly distributes heat.

Another great feature about square pans is that they’re unique and far less common than round pans. Their smart shape and design make them elegant cookware.

Round Pans

Nothing beats the classic round pan. The most common shape for most cookware, round pans are easier to handle on the stove. Their simple, circular shape makes tossing food around in the pan a simple task. Square pans don’t have this convenience.

Their shape restricts the juices or sauces to smoothly glide around in the pan. Round pans may not have a greater surface area, but they’re definitely more durable. Since they’re common cookware, you will find a greater variety of round pans as compared to square ones.

A round baking or frying pan can easily accommodate all your favorite dishes. Like square pans, round cookware is available in different metals, sizes, and varieties. While cast-iron is the most common, other varieties include stainless steel, copper, anodized aluminum, and carbon steel.

Benefits of Using Round Pans

Round pans have their own share of benefits over square pans. Their round shape makes it easier and more convenient to shake and move things around in the pan. If you’re afraid your food will burn or don’t want a sear, then use a round pan to sway the juices around. This will help deglaze the pan and keep your food moist.

Since round cookware is traditionally used, it typically comes with great bonus features. Round pans have spouts to conveniently pour out sauces and juices. They also come with dual handles and protective non-stick coating that are easier to clean.

Round pans are also commonly used for baking. Their shape prevents the batter from running over and allows for even cooking in the oven.

Should You Bake In a Round or a Square Pan?

Baking is a completely different ball game when compared to cooking on the stove.

The shape, weight, and size of your baking pan certainly influence the result. A high-quality cake pan cooks both savory and sweet foods effortlessly.

Baking the perfect cake is a complicated task. Using the wrong pan shape or size can cause your creation to burn, run over, or appear unsightly. When choosing between a square or round bakeware, here’s what to consider.

The Dimensions

Square baking pans will always have a 25% greater surface area than round ones. Stick to the recipe so you’ll know exactly how much surface area you need for the number of people you’re baking for. Whether it’s a cake, cookies, or a savory dish, your recipe will tell you the measurements of your pan.

Cakes can bake well in both square and round stainless steel pans. Cookies and brownies look more aesthetic in square pans and are easier to cut.

The Metal

Most bakeware is available in stainless steel, anodized aluminum, silicone, and glassware. Ideally speaking, metal baking pans heat up and cool down rapidly. So, if you’re in a hurry, metal baking pans are the best. Aluminum, being a good conductor of heat, is an excellent choice for baking casseroles, pasta, and sweet delights.

Depending on your dish and how many people you’re cooking for, square aluminum pans provide a greater surface area and depth. If you’re baking in batches, you can pour more batter at one time.

Nonstick

A non-stick coated bottom allows for greater airflow that results in even cooking. If your cakes are uneven or the crust is too hard, you’re probably using the wrong pan. If you want your cakes to develop nice, smooth sides, then your best option is a round non-stick baking pan.

A good option, therefore, is aluminized steel round baking pans. They have a reflective silicone/aluminum coating that slows down the conduction of heat to the batter.

Round baking pans are deep enough to prevent the cake’s surface from burning. They also produce cakes with smoother sides that allow the frosting to glide evenly over the cake’s surface.

Choosing between a square or round pan really depends on what and where you’re cooking. For stove-tops, round pans are the classic choice as they come with handy features.

For baking, square pans are a popular option as they produce aesthetic-looking delights. Both the pan shapes have their pros and cons. Use the tips mentioned above to pick the best one for your recipe!

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