Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans - Which Is Better? | Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Baking Science | Brownie | How To

Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans

By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 21st, 2022

Comparing glass vs. metal baking pans, when to use which type of baking pan, and which is better to use in baking!

Choosing the right bakeware and cookware can make a world of difference in how successfully you can make recipes at home.

The wrong pan may result in loaves that sink, brownies that never cook through the center, or burned edges. Investing in the right equipment will definitely pay off in the long run.

One of the first questions I ask when someone writes to me about a problem with a loaf or brownie question in particular is, “What kind of pan did you use?”

Materials matter, so let’s get into it!

Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans

There are many different kinds of materials that cookware and bakeware can be made from. So which is the right choice? What are the pros and cons?

Let’s talk firstly about the basic concept of heat transfer. Every material of cookware and bakeware will conduct heat differently. For example, copper conducts heat more effectively than stainless steel, which is why some of the best pots and pans have a copper core that’s encased in stainless steel because the latter is easier to clean and care for. You get the best of both worlds in that example!

Glass, as well as ceramic, will conduct heat more slowly than metals like copper or even aluminum.

Let’s look at metal specifically. Most metal bakeware is made from aluminum. Dark coated aluminum pans will transfer heat more aggressively than light and shiny aluminum pans.

Besides heat conduction, there are a few other differences between glass and metal baking pans. Glass is heavier and more breakable than aluminum, making it more difficult to wash, store, and care for. That’s why in professional kitchens you’ll almost never see glass bakeware.

Is a Glass or Metal Pan Better for Baking?

Since aluminum baking pans conduct heat more quickly and are easier to wash, store, and care for, I prefer them for baking in most circumstances.

In fact, using glass or even ceramic baking pans for certain recipes, such as brownies or banana bread, may create adverse results! This is because they take LONGER to conduct heat. Often times the edges become overcooked before the heat has transferred enough to cook through the center.

If you’ve ever baked brownies or banana bread that turn out raw, underbaked, gummy, or sunken in the center, it may be due to a glass pan.

Oppositely, if you’ve ever baked cookies that burnt on the bottom or a lemon loaf that got too crispy on the edges, it could be due to using a dark nonstick aluminum pan. Dark metal pans heat too aggressively and make it easy to overbake or even burn.

Brownie Baking Experiments: Metal vs. Glass Pan

We baked up two identical batches of Chewy Brownies, one in a light-colored metal pan and one in a glass pan, and baked them at the same oven temperature for the same amount of time to compare the results.

The brownies baked in a metal pan were perfectly cooked through after 30 minutes. They were also taller, thicker, and had the perfectly chewy, slightly fudgy texture.

The brownies baked in a glass pan were very underdone in the center after 30 minutes. The edges of the corner brownies were also rounded instead of the perfectly beautiful square slices of the metal pan brownies. These brownies were shorter, far too gooey, and actually sunk in the center quite a bit.

Look what Shea from the HTH community discovered in her own experiment! She used a metal pan and a glass pan with the exact same brownie batter, baked for the same amount of time. She noted that the glass pan didn’t cook all the way through like the metal pan did, they didn’t rise in the middle, and the texture was very packy. The edges also crumbled when she cut them. Compared to the metal pan whose brownies were even and fudgy with a chewy edge that did not crumble when cut:

What Should I Bake In a Glass Baking Pan?

I honestly very rarely bake in a glass pan at this point. The only time I may opt for a glass baking dish is occasionally when it comes to baking pie crusts. The glass makes it helpful to see just how golden brown your pie crust is getting.

If all you have is a glass pan, below are adjustments you may need to make to get the best results.

How much longer does it take to bake in a glass pan? Is there a difference in baking time between glass and metal pans?

Unless you know the recipe author used a glass pan to test the recipe, generally you’ll need to drop the baking temperature and increase the baking time. For most recipes, that looks like dropping the temperature from 350°F to 325°F and increasing the time anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the volume of batter.

Not sure how to tell if your baked good is done baking? For banana bread and many other quick breads and loaves, use an instant read thermometer inserted into the center to tell if it’s done baking. It should register at least 200°F. This doesn’t work as well with brownies, unfortunately, because they’re much thinner in depth and different recipes recipes should be baked to different internal temperatures depending on the desired final texture.

What Should I Bake In a Metal Baking Pan?

Brownies, cookie bars, blondies, quick breads, and sheet cakes are what I bake most in metal pans. Here are my recommendations:

Square or rectangle pans: I like this 8 by 8-inch baking pan or this 9 by 13-inch pan.
Loaf pans: I like this 8 ½ by 4 ½ -inch loaf pan and this 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

All the pans above are nonstick, but they’re light colored aluminum so they won’t bake too aggressively unlike dark nonstick coatings.

Typically I also like Fat Daddio’s anodized aluminum pans, but their square, rectangle, and loaf pans have rounded edges which I don’t like. One, it’s more difficult to release baked foods from rounded edges, and two, it doesn’t make for as clean of a presentation of the final baked good. That’s why I stick with Fat Daddio’s for cake pans.

Can I substitute a metal pan for a glass pan?

Yes! If the recipe you’re following originally calls for a glass pan, just know you may need to shave 5 to 10 minutes off the baking time.

This is the best ever easy banana bread recipe with a super moist and tender texture and tons of sweet banana flavor. Everyone loves this recipe!

Recipes You’ll Love:

More Science of Baking Tips & Articles:

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Harriet — September 23, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    When baking bread i personally prefer using a glass pan. Metal pans bake a darker, tougher crust. I also think the type of oven makes a difference. Electric vs gas vs convection.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — September 26, 2022 at 9:36 am

      Hi Harriet! I’m glad that works for you! Glass does not conduct heat well, so for most bakes, we prefer a light-colored metal pan – but if glass is working for you for certain bakes, that’s terrific. Happy baking 🙂

  2. #
    Frances — September 23, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Really good article. How about pottery type pie pans or baking dishes? Same catagory as glass or?
    Thanks

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — September 23, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Frances! Yes, essentially ceramic is similar to glass in that it is a poor conductor of heat. You can make similar adjustments to the glass recommendations when using a ceramic pie die. I hope that helps 🙂

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