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What’s the Difference Between Glass and Metal Bakeware—Besides the Obvious

Three images of bakeware recommended in the article below including brands like M MCIRCO, Faberware, and Nordic Ware
M MCIRCO/ Farberware/ Nordic Ware

At a glance, glass and metal bakeware have pretty obvious differences. Even the names say it all. When it comes to baking, you’ll find they differ even more.

From reactiveness to acidic foods to quality heat conduction, there are many reasons to use one over the other, and it all depends on what you are making.

What Are the Benefits of Glass Bakeware?

A woman holding a glass casserole
Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

There is a good chance you have some form of Pyrex glass bakeware within your kitchen, and there are plenty of excellent reasons to own this type of baking dish. Glass bakeware retains its heat longer than metal bakeware.

Because of this, you’ll notice the outside of whatever you are making will brown faster than the center. This could benefit anyone who enjoys cookie bars and brownies with chewier edges.

Glass bakeware is typically the best baking dish for casseroles or baked pasta dishes cooked at a moderate temperature. Because the glass retains heat well, you can remove your meal from the oven and let it sit for some time. The hot glass will help maintain warmth longer than a metal pan would.

Glass is also non-reactive with acidic foods, so you can bake pasta meals filled with tomatoes or berry-loaded cobblers and crisps without worrying about a yucky metallic flavor or discoloration of your food, which happens with certain types of metals.

Reach for your glass bakeware to make savory dinner casseroles, baked pasta dishes, cobblers, crisps, crumbles, and buckles.

Glass Baking Dish Set with Plastic lids

Four glass baking dishes with matching lids!

What are the Cons of Glass Bakeware?

broken glass bakeware

While some enjoy their cookie bars and brownies with chewy border pieces, you probably won’t get away with the same positive texture in cakes.

That’s because if you are making a light and fluffy cake, you want it to be, well, light and fluffy all around, and your glass bakeware might prevent that, as you may find the bottom and sides brown faster than the interior.

Glass bakeware also doesn’t handle intense heat as well as metal, which means it is not your best option if you plan to set your oven to high broil.

Being made of glass, one thing to remember is that it will not transfer well from one extreme temperature to another. For example, if you prepare a casserole and let it sit in the cold fridge overnight, then transfer it into a piping hot oven, the glass bakeware could crack from the intense and fast temperature change.

Finally,  you may have noticed that tenacious baked-on grease build-up is more noticeable on glass than on some metal bakeware, which some don’t like. Luckily, you can easily remove some of the gunk with something as simple as a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Just what you need to remove that baked on grease!

What Are the Benefits of Metal Bakeware?

A metal loaf pan with a quick bread in it.

Metal bakeware is excellent for many reasons. For one, it can withstand higher temperatures than its glass competitors, so if your recipe calls for high heat, reach for the metal.

Plus, metal bakeware is a great conductor of heat, which means it will heat up quickly, but also cools quickly when removed from the heat.

This is great when you make cookies or brownies which you don’t want to continue baking and browning upon exiting the oven. Reach for metal bakeware whenever you make cookies, breakfast bars, muffins, scones, biscuits, quick bread, and cakes.

Farberware Nonstick Steel Bakeware Set

All the metal bakeware you need to get started.

What are the Cons of Metal Bakeware?

A dark colored baking sheet with burnt cookies.

Metal bakeware does have a few downsides too. For one, certain metals are reactive to highly acidic foods like tomatoes and berries. So, if you plan to make a cobbler with bubbly hot berries, avoid using aluminum, copper, and cast iron. These reactive metals will discolor your food and give it an unpleasant metallic taste.

Darker-colored metal bakeware also tends to cook your foods faster, as they absorb more heat than lighter-colored metal bakeware. If you’re into baking, you are better off using lighter-colored metal bakeware as they retain less heat and won’t brown your goodies as much.

Nordic Ware 3 Piece Baker's

Light-colored aluminum sheet pans are perfect for cookies.

Is Glass or Metal Bakeware Better?

Man looking into an oven.
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com

Once you understand the properties of both glass and metal bakeware, you can decide which is better, but it all depends on what you are making. We certainly won’t tell you to pick one over the other for all baking needs because, let’s face it, both glass and metal bakeware have excellent benefits.

If you are equipping your kitchen for the first time, we recommend having at least one rectangular glass baking dish for casseroles, a sturdy sheet pan for all your baking, a round metal cake pan for cakes, and a metal loaf pan for quick bread and meatloaf.

Cuisinart 9-Inch Round Cake Pan

For all your cake-baking needs.

Cuisinart Classic Nonstick Loaf Pan

For all those sweet quick breads.

Glass and metal bakeware differ in many ways, besides the obvious, but once the hot weather comes, you won’t need your oven much. Instead, make a cold, refreshing icebox cake your glass or metal bakeware.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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