Knowing which bakeware is better suited for the recipe you have in mind is the second most crucial aspect of surprising your special someone; the first is obviously the thought that goes into it. Whether you are thinking of baking your loved one the one cake she simply can't have enough of or preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey, you must understand the Baking Dish vs Baking Pan difference. It ensures not only the recipe turns out well but also everything that follows, including a memorable time spent together and the happiness on your partner's glowing face.
So, let us make one thing easier for you by helping you understand the difference between a baking dish and a baking pan; the rest of the day is for you to plan.
What’s a Baking Dish & What’s It Used For?
A baking dish is the most frequently used bakeware, typically rectangular and made from oven-safe materials such as glass, porcelain, or stoneware. You might even find oval or square baking dishes, but rectangular ones are most popular because they fit most ovens easily.
So if you are looking for an answer to "what is a baking dish used for," the easiest answer is they are most appropriate for home use, smaller occasions, or intimate date nights. You can make a variety of recipes in baking dishes such as cobblers, casseroles, quiche, and bread pudding.
They are made from materials that don’t conduct heat too well, so they take a lot more time to heat up. However, they cook food very evenly once hot because of even heat distribution.
Baking dishes can shatter easily as they are not highly shock-resistant. So, it is advised not to put a baking dish coming straight from the fridge into the oven or vice versa.
What’s a Baking Pan & What’s It Used For?
Baking pans are bakeware typically made from highly conductive metals such as aluminum. Because of high conductivity, baking pans heat very quickly and can withstand very high temperatures.
The shapes and sizes vary depending upon what you are cooking and the quantity you plan to cook. However, baking pans are generally bigger and deeper compared to baking dishes.
Baking pans are really great for desserts such as cakes, brownies, muffins, or even bread, especially those recipes which require browning and crust formation. You can also use baking pans for savory recipes such as chicken roasts and meatloaves.
The only time you should avoid baking pans is when you are using acidic ingredients in your recipe. These ingredients react with metal and can lead to chemical leeching in the food. Therefore, the baking dish is a better option for such recipes.
Now that you know what a baking dish and a baking pan are let's jump to the baking dish vs baking pan comparison. You’ll have a clear idea of which bakeware to use for which recipe by the end of it.
Typically, baking dishes are made from low conductive materials such as glass or ceramic. These materials are perfect for slow and more even cooking. If you are planning an intimate dinner for your loved one, cook cheesy au gratin potato casserole or a baked ziti pasta and serve with her favorite wine. Sometimes even enameled cast iron can be used in baking dishes; however, it's not very common.
Baking pans are made from highly conductive metals, preferably aluminum or carbon steel. These are perfect for cooking roast meals for small family gatherings or even larger parties. The food cooks faster, it's crisper, and can be made in bulk.
If you are looking to buy a beautiful baking dish, check out the bakeware collection of TableMatters. They have a fantastic range of ceramic dishes with colorful patterns and handles for convenience.
2. Size and Depth:
The size and depth is the next defining factor to help you settle the baking dish vs baking pan debate. Baking pans are typically deep enough to hold more extensive preparations, such as a full-fledged Thanksgiving turkey. Therefore, baking pans are at least 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep. The depth is not just for holding the meat well but also to save the juices that ooze out as the meat roasts.
Another reason baking pans have a deeper design is that generally, they need to hold a roasting rack inside so that the food doesn't stick to the pan bottom due to excessive heat. Some pans are even large enough to cook two average-sized chickens together.
On the other hand, baking dishes are generally shallower compared to baking pans. They typically have a depth of 1 to 2 inches.
3. Heat Absorbability:
Baking dishes take more time to conduct heat because of the materials they are made from. However, they hold heat better, which leads to more even cooking. Therefore, you might need to adjust oven temperatures to prevent overheating at a later stage when the dish is already hot.
Compared to baking dishes, baking pans cook much faster due to high heat conductivity. Baking pans are generally made from aluminum or carbon steel, so they are pretty lightweight, conducting heat evenly and resulting in a lovely tender crust.
Therefore, you don’t have to adjust the temperatures much while cooking in a pan. However, you need to be an experienced cook to use the pan and prevent the food from getting burnt.
Some baking pans can have a maximum heat resistance of just 450°F as against the 500°F norm, but this doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to home cooking. If you want to make your meat juicy and soft, use Dutch oven pans made from cast iron.
Roasting pans generally require a rack to prevent the food from sticking to the pan bottom as the temperatures rise very fast. Therefore, some manufacturers provide the rack along with the pan.
In the case of baking dishes, they don't come with a rack, but many come with a lid that keeps the food hot or allows for more even cooking. These lids add height to the baking dish to fit a slightly larger casserole or a somewhat smaller than a full-sized turkey.
In cases where you require cooking in a baking pan with a lid, you may use aluminum foil for the cover if the pan doesn't come with a lid.
Another important baking dish vs baking pan comparison factor is the coatings of these dishes. As we know already that because roasting pans have high conductivity, the food can stick to the pan's bottom.
To prevent this, roasting pans come with enamel or modern polymer non-stick coating. You can easily recognize pans with such coatings because they are dark in color. These days, even champagne gold baking pans with non-stick coating are very common, but the coating in these pans matches the pan's color.
As mentioned before, baking pans are great for roasting food or preparing food in larger quantities. Many new bakers have this doubt in mind, “Can I use a baking pan instead of a baking dish,” the quick answer is yes.
Baking pans are multipurpose, and you can do much more with them, such as preparing broiled veal, grilled chicken, or roasted fish. You can even use it as an oversized baking dish to prepare casseroles, cakes, or side dishes. However, baking pans are generally used for larger quantities and don't always fit the home-kitchen ovens.
So, you might prefer using a baking dish instead of a baking pan. It can be used for many more things than just simple home-style baking. While baking casseroles and pasta is a pretty common application of baking dishes, they are also great for fruit-based desserts such as peach cobblers and pies. You can also roast food in it if you cook for long enough.
The only drawback of using a baking dish is that it is smaller and can only be used to cook for a tiny gathering.
Generally, Aluminum baking pans are not dishwasher safe, and on top of that, as they are used for roasting, they often have residual meat juices stuck to their bottom. Such residue is tough to clean, but as the pans are made from durable materials, you can scrub them roughly with a wire sponge or steel wool.
Not cleaning the residue affects the pan's longevity, which is again something you wouldn't want. Therefore, carbon steel baking pans are also available nowadays, which are dishwasher-safe and come with a non-stick coating.
So, first, the residue is less, and second, you don't have to hand-wash these pans. However, if you wash them by hand, don't use steel wool or wire sponge because that will destroy the non-stick coating.
On the other hand, baking dishes are much easier to clean if you know the right trick. They are dishwasher-safe and can be cleaned well with some hot water and dish soap. However, if you have more persistent stains you can clean them the same way we shared to clean and grease off glass baking dishes.
Also, using steel wool or a metal sponge is a big no when it comes to cleaning the baking dish.
Wrapping Up Baking Dish vs Baking Pan Comparison
We hope you now know the difference between baking dishes and baking pans. They can be used interchangeably, but they have their own distinctive characteristics, making them appropriate for different cooking requirements. If you are planning on baking cake in a ceramic dish, check out TableMatters’ extensive ceramic bakeware collection.
1. Can I Use a Baking Pan Instead of a Baking Dish?
Generally, you can use a baking pan instead of a baking dish if high heat conductivity is not a deterrent in the recipe you are going for. Baking pans can do everything a baking dish can, but they don't hold heat so well. However, they can replace baking dishes to a large extent.
2. What is Considered a Baking Dish?
The baking dish is generally made from low heat-conductivity methods such as glass or ceramic. They have lower depth, so they can hold less quantity of food compared to a baking pan. However, they cook the food more evenly and retain heat for longer; therefore, they are perfect for home cooking, especially when fast roasting is not required.
3. Can I Use Pyrex Instead of a Baking Pan?
No, baking pans are generally used for foods that require roasting at high temperatures. However, Pyrex dishes are made from soda-lime glass, which can shatter easily at very high temperatures. So, Pyrex dishes are not a good substitute for baking pans.
4. What Can I Use Instead of a Baking Pan?
If you need to cook in less quantity and have a longer time to cook, you may use a high-quality baking dish instead of a baking pan for some recipes. However, you may use a Leche Flan Llanera or an empty food can, or even create one out of aluminum foil altogether if you don't have a baking pan.
5. Do Cakes Bake Faster in Glass Pans?
Glass pans take longer to cook cakes because of low heat conductivity; however, glass retains heat much better than metal, and the cake is a lot softer and moister when baked in glass bakeware. Baking cakes in metal bakeware always risks burning, but if you want a crispier crust, then metal pans are better.