Do Glass or Metal Pans Cook Faster?

If you've ever read the back of a cake mix package, you might be wondering why cook times are different depending on whether you use a glass or metal pan. The science has to do with how a pan heats up, holds its temperature and distributes heat. Glass tends to cook faster than metal, and knowing why that is, and what effect it has on your food, will help you choose the right pan for whatever you're whipping up in your kitchen.

Someone is pouring a cheesecake mixture into a metal pan.
Credit: Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images

Glass Is Faster

Glass pans tend to cook food faster than most metal pans. When you use a glass pan, the glass heats up gradually, but once it's hot, it tends to hold its temperature more steadily, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This matters because when you're baking something, your oven goes through heating and cooling cycles. As your oven goes through a cooling cycle, a glass pan is better able to maintain its temperature. In turn, the foods you're cooking absorb the heat faster, and cook more quickly, according to the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension.

Metal Is Slower

The temperature of some metal pans fluctuate more as the food cooks, and that can extend the cooking time. Metal pans begin to cook a food more quickly, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but because metal also heats and cools more noticeably, it can extend the cooking time regardless.

Dark or Light Metal?

The color of a metal pan makes a big difference. If you use a dark metal pan, you can expect cooking times more similar to what you'd see if you used a glass pan, reports the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension. The sheen of a metal pan influences cook time, too. A dull metal pan, or a glass pan, can cook a food up to 20 percent faster than a shiny pan, writes Harold McGee, author of "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen."

Making Your Choice

That glass and certain types of metal cook faster than other types of metal matters when it comes to what kinds of food you're cooking. For example, glass pans are usually better for pies and breads, while shiny metal pans are better for cookies and cakes, notes the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension. Foods without crust, such as soufflé, cook better in glass pans, suggests the U.S. Department of Energy.

references & resources
Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.