How to Choose the Right Pan for Your Recipe

Not all cookware is created equal, but each type of pan serves its own purpose.

Woman With Pots and Pans
A. J. O'Brien/Fox Photos/Getty

Depending on your recipe, aluminum, silicone, carbon steel, or nonstick may be best, says Chris Freytag (see her Skinny Lasagna Cupcakes featured among our 5 muffin tin recipes that will save you time and keep your diet on track). Here’s how to pick the right pan.


“The flexible, rubbery material used for silicone bakeware is trendy right now for a reason: versatility. It’s oven-safe, microwave-safe, goes in the fridge and freezer, and will not be damaged by the dishwasher,” Freytag says. Plus, it’s a cinch to remove the muffins from the pan by bending it. “I like them for muffins and desserts, but they work for everything.”


This pan is popular due to the obvious: nothing sticks. “They are easier to clean up, and you don’t need to use paper cups with them. I still oil them a little for flavor and to ensure clean removal of food.”

Aluminum or steel

“Old-fashioned metal tins are the cheapest, and they last forever. I have one of my grandma’s really old tins, and it’s browned but still works amazingly well.”

Cast iron

“It creates slow, even heating, but you have to be a watchful cook to use cast iron. It’s a little trickier, and the bottoms of your food will get a little crispier—they can burn if you’re not careful.”

SEE ALSO: The Five Best Slim-Down Diets