Which meatloaf pans are best?
Meatloaf is a classic comfort food for a reason. It’s simple, reliable, and straightforward to make. But no one likes improperly made meatloaf, and the first step is having the right pan. A well-made heavy-duty meatloaf pan — possibly with specialized features for meatloaf — can make the difference between delicious and inedible.
A top meatloaf pan is the Anolon Bakeware Nonstick Loaf Pan Set, a pan from a trusted brand with an insert that improves air circulation around the food and allows grease to drain away from the meatloaf.
What to know before you buy a meatloaf pan
Meatloaf vs. regular loaf pans
Loaf pans of any kind can be used to make meatloaf, though dedicated meatloaf pans usually have a few key differences. They’re usually metal, as it’s the best heat conductor for the long baking times dense meatloaf requires, as well as having the structural integrity to support the meatloaf. Meatloaf pans often also include a separate insert that lets the grease drain away from the meatloaf as it’s baking, making a healthier, tastier dish.
Capacity and shape
Most meatloaf pans come in a 9- by 5-inch size, with slight variations. Check the pan’s capacity to make sure your meatloaf will fit in it and bake evenly. The pans also traditionally come in a rectangular shape, though some variations on this exist, including novelty shapes. Meatloaf generally cooks at a relatively low temperature, but it’s worth checking to see what temperature each pan is safe to use at. Many nonstick pans cannot be used at temperatures higher than 450 degrees Fahrenheit safely.
What to look for in a quality meatloaf pan
It’s all about the pan’s materials, whether it’s metal, silicone, cast iron or glass.
Stainless steel pans are very durable, but they don’t heat evenly. Aluminum pans, in contrast, distribute heat well, but aren’t as strong or durable, which is a priority when it comes to a meatloaf pan.
Many metal pans have a nonstick coating, which can eliminate the need for greasing the pan. Nonstick coatings are usually only safe to use up to a certain heat point, after which they can emit harmful chemicals, though this heat point is usually plenty high for home cooking.
Silicone is flexible, easy to clean, safe to store in the refrigerator or freezer, and lightweight. It’s not the best choice for a meatloaf pan, however, as it’s not sturdy enough to handle the heavy duty shaping meatloaf requires.
Cast iron is sturdy and durable. Properly taken care of, it can last for generations. However, it’s a little finicky. It can’t be washed in the dishwasher and it takes a long time to heat up, but it distributes heat evenly and stays hot for a long time.
Glass pans heat slowly and evenly. Their primary advantage is their transparency, allowing you to see through them as you’re baking. Glass is more delicate than other materials, but can be useful as long as it is oven safe, able to be heated to high temperatures without shattering.
How much you can expect to spend on a meatloaf pan
Meatloaf pans can cost anywhere between $15, for affordable options, up to $50 for brand name or unusual materials.
Meatloaf pan FAQ
Can I use any loaf pan to make meatloaf?
A. Yes, any loaf pan will suffice, though dedicated meatloaf pans usually have certain features meant to improve the texture, taste or make the process of baking meatloaf easier. These features often include a nonstick surface and a second inset piece to let fat and juices drip down below.
Can I wash a meatloaf pan in the dishwasher?
A. It depends on the material. Most metal, glass and silicone pans can be washed in the dishwasher, but the harsh dish cycle can damage non-stick coatings and leave scratches and wear on glass pans. Cast iron can never go in the dishwasher. Always check the instructions on the specific pan to see if it is dishwasher safe.
What are the best meatloaf pans to buy?
Top meatloaf pan
What you need to know: This nonstick pan comes from a beloved brand and includes a wide rim and a rubber handle for easy grabbing from the oven.
What you’ll love: The inner pan lets the grease from the meatloaf drip down below and is easy to remove after use. The pan is dishwasher safe and truly nonstick.
What you should consider: The inner pan is slightly smaller than the outer pan, which requires planning for volume.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top meatloaf pan for the money
What you need to know: This two-piece pan set includes a grooved inset to allow for easy draining of the grease while the meatloaf bakes.
What you’ll love: It’s very affordable compared to many other meatloaf pans, while still being a high quality two-piece set. It’s made of sturdy steel to prevent warping.
What you should consider: The inset sits low to the base of the pan, and some found this didn’t provide enough space for drainage.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a heavy-gauge nonstick meatloaf pan with an easy-to-remove insert and convenient handles, at a good price point.
What you’ll love: The two-piece design is easy to clean and remove, and the shape of the insert has no side pieces, allowing for easy slicing. The pan is thick and high quality for the price.
What you should consider: Some reviewers found that the nonstick coating flaked off relatively quickly with use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Arabella Matthews writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.