There are a number of pans that every baker should have in the kitchen and one of them is a 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan. This type of pan is very versatile and can be used for everything from sheet cakes to lasagna, from baking a pan of bar cookies to building a water bath for a cheesecake. This style of pan can be made of metal, glass or ceramic, but metal seems to be the most basic option. Cook’s Illustrated set out to test which metal 9×13-inch pans were the best. They looked for pans with sharp corners and straight sides to start with, then tested them for even baking, ease of cleaning and durability to see which one was worth adding to your kitchen collection.
The winning pan turned out to be the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Rectangular Cake Pan. This pan was the most expensive pan in the test, but it received top marks because it repeatedly turned out evenly cooked, professional-looking baked goods. The aluminized steel pan had a nonstick coating that made it easy to get sticky buns out even after their sugary glaze was left to solidify in the pan, and it was easy to clean (and it could even be popped in the dishwasher if you prefer not to wash by hand).
The runner up to the Williams Sonoma pan was USA Pan’s Rectangular Cake Pan. This pan was also made of aluminized steel and had a nonstick coating that performed flawlessly in all baking tests. The pan wasn’t quite as easy to clean as the Williams Sonoma pan because it wasn’t dishwasher safe, but it was 30% less expensive and turned out great baked goods. Pans that received “recommended with reservations” ratings included Fat Daddio’s Sheet Cake Pan and Parrish Magic Line’s Oblong Cake Pan, both of which performed well in the baking tests but scratched easily and were difficult to clean. “Not recommended” pans included Chicago Metallic’s Nonstick Bake & Roast Pan, which often turned out overbaked products, Chicago Metallic’s Commercial II Uncoated Bake & Roast Pan, Fat Daddio’s Sheet Cheesecake Pan with Removable Bottom and Focus Foodservice’s Aluminum Sheet Pan Extender.