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Essential Baking Pans – What You Really Need and What You Don’t

If you love gluten free baking as much as I do, this guide to Essential Baking Pans is for you. Here I’ve listed the baking pans that are truly essential to if you’re a home baker whether you’re baking gluten free or not.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies lined on a metal sheet pan
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Essential Baking Pans

The key here is that you’re a home baker, not a professional. You might not have a ton of storage space in your kitchen for all kinds of fancy gadgets and specialty baking pans. All those crazy (but beautiful!) bundt pans? You might not really need them.

My list of essential baking pans has been narrowed down to just 8 types of baking pans. I’ve also included as list of 10 bonus baking pans – these pans are nice for specialty baking and ones that the avid baker might want or need. They’re “nice-ities” not necessities.

In that list of bonus pans are also a few pans that you might not really need at all. It’s not my job to sell you pans (though it helps 😉), it’s my job to help you learn how to bake the best gluten free baked goods. Knowing which pans are going to give you the best results is key.

I also don’t want you filling your cabinets with junk pans you’ll use once. There’s no need for excess and I know that’s not a super popular mindset since we live in a consumerism economy. Get what you need, what you’ll use frequently, and what you love. This list of 8 Essential Baking Pans is exactly that. 

Hit me up if you have any specific questions. I’m here to help!

Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie in a white pie dish with a slice cut out

8 Essential Baking Pans

These are the 8 essential baking pans that you truly need if you enjoy baking.

Bonus Baking Pans – Yes, No, Maybe So:

  1. Bundt Pans – there are so many specialty bundt pans out there. If you’re a collector, you might have 15 different bundt pans on display. They can be super intricate yielding cakes that look like sculpted pieces of art. Then there are the simple, basic Bundt Pans for your “every day” bundt. Standard is 10 inches and holds 12 cups of batter. If you’re short on space, just stick with the basic or skip it all together.
  2. Specialty Cake Pans – I’m sure you’ve seen all of the specialty cake pans out there. Character faces, crosses, Easter bunnies, giant cupcake pans, giant Oreo pans, etc. Honestly, you don’t need these. The cakes look like they’re straight of the 90’s and when the heck are you going to bake another Barney cake? If you really think you need a princess shaped cake pan or a Winnie the Pooh pan, check your mom’s attic – there’s probably a character cake pan graveyard up there.
  3. Shaped Cookie Sheets – these cookie sheets have shaped indents in them where you can just press your cookie dough into the molds and bake them up. Once baked, they’ll hopefully look like the mold they came out of. Honestly, these are a waste of money and space because you will never use these pans. I had a couple of these pans and I couldn’t even sell them at my yard sale. Just bake regular cookies. If you want pretty shapes, make sugar cookies and cut them into the shape of your choosing.
  4. 9-Inch Spring Form Pan – these pans are mostly used for baking cheesecakes. They have taller sides than cake pans and they side releases to remove so your can serve and dish your cheesecake easier. If you don’t plan on baking cheesecakes often, you probably don’t need one. But I have big cheesecake plans (like I have at least 10 different cheesecake recipes I want to share eventually) so if you find a 9-inch Springform Pan on sale, get it.
  5. Tube Pan – Tube Pans AKA Angel Food Pans are basically for baking Angel Food Cake, Chiffon Cakes or sometimes a coffee cake. They usually have a removable bottom but not always. Chances are, your mom or grandmother have one of these pans so save yourself some money and space and just borrow one from them 😉
  6. Donut Pans – Ok so for me,  these Wilton Donut Pans are not a bonus, they’re essential. However, since I have this fun little baking blog, I bake a lot more than the average person. But if you’re gluten free, it’s not really possible for you to run to the coffee shop and get a donut when the craving strikes. You have to make your own which is where these donut pans come in handy. Use them to make my gluten free baked double chocolate donuts, gluten free cookies and cream donuts, and gluten free yellow cake donuts to satisfy that craving! I recommend having two if you have the space but I personally only have one. I just wash, dry, and re-spray the pan between baking batches. It’s a little extra work but it cuts down on the number of pans I have to store in my tiny kitchen.
  7. 4-inch Ramekins – Technically, 4-inch Ramekins are not classified as baking pans but you can bake in them. They’re actually quite useful for things like custards, holding hot grease that you’ve skimmed out of your pan, baking mini layer cakes, chocolate lava cakes, and making microwave mug cakes. If you’re into individual desserts, you’ll probably want to have these in your kitchen. Plus, they stack nicely and don’t take up a lot of space in the cupboard.
  8. Roasting Pans – How often do you make a roast? Often enough to justify having to house an insanely large pan and its even bigger dome lid? As I mentioned above, I don’t own a roasting pan. I honestly have nowhere to store it. Instead, I roast my pork loins, small chickens, and roast beef in a 9×13 pan. I’ll roast larger chickens in my 12-inch or 14-inch cast iron skillet, depending on the size. And if I really need a big roasting pan for a large turkey, I’ll borrow it from my mom or I’ll get a disposable one from the store that I can wash out and recycle. For reference, I can count on one hand the number of turkey’s I’ve cooked. Clearly, it’s a non-essential pan for me and I’ve been able to make it work without having one.
  9. Tart Pans – If you want to be fancy, get yo’self a tart pan. These make pretty quiches, pies, and well, tarts. But fanciness aside, they’re not necessary unless you’re a hard-core baker. You can always use your pie plate, borrow a tart pan from your fancy friends or use a spring form pan if you have that. I’ve basically only used my tart pan for my Frozen Mint Chip Pie and a few other desserts that I haven’t blogged. Maybe I should use it more often and class this place up a bit.
  10. Mini Muffin Pan  – If you want to make mini muffins, mini cupcakes, cookie cups, mini quiche, or homemade nut butter cups, you’ll need a Mini Muffin Pan. You can get 1 large one that makes 24 or 1 small that makes a dozen. Personally, I have 2 small ones that I place on a half sheet pan when baking to make it easier to get them in and out of the oven. 

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