We Tested 11 Different Bundt Pans—Three Won Top Marks

We Tested 11 Different Bundt Pans—Three Won Top Marks

Bundt pans
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Based on a Jewish immigrant’s ceramic pan that came with her from Germany, the bundt pan gets its name from the German celebration or “gathering” cakes, i.e., bundkuchen, that were baked in it. This style of pan features an inner core that helps conduct heat into the center of the cake, as well as intricate designs that imprint onto the surface. Bundt pans as we know them today were first mass-produced by the brand Nordic Ware, but while they may have popularized the pan and put a copyright on the name, the market for “fluted tube pans” (as competitors call their products) is flush with offerings. There are pans made from aluminum (both cast and formed), steel, and even silicone. Nonstick coatings are commonplace due to the intricacy of the shapes and patterns, but we also tested a few alternatives, such as ceramic.

And since these cakes are often served minimally adorned (maybe with a dusting of cocoa powder or a thin glaze, if anything), any flaw on the surface is on display, making an even bake and a clean release especially important. We tested 11 bundt pans to find options that baked evenly, released easily, and resulted in a stunning cake.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Bundt Pan: Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan

The dramatic shape of this pan immediately caught our eye, and the resulting cakes and jello molds did not disappoint. Made of heavy cast aluminum, this pan evenly browned our olive-oil cake, and its non-stick coating held up well to our scratch test and released cakes and jello cleanly. Nordic Ware makes cast aluminum bundt pans, like this one, in a wide variety of designs.

The Best Bundt Pan If You’re Short on Space: Nordic Ware Formed-Aluminum Bundt Pan

This classic, aluminum bundt pan performed extremely well in all our tests. Its standard 12-cup capacity and traditional, attractive design make it a perfect choice for those looking for one pan to do it all.

The Best Alternative Nonstick Bundt Pan: casaWare Fluted Cake Pan Ceramic Coated NonStick

If you’re looking for a bundt pan without a traditional, chemical-based non-stick coating, avoid silicone (which is floppy and bakes unevenly) and instead choose this ceramic-coated pan. It didn’t distribute heat quite as evenly as our top picks, but it released the cake and jello mold easily, and we were still impressed with its performance.

The Tests

pouring batter for olive oil cake into casaware pan
Serious Eats / Julia Stimeck
  • Cake Test: We baked a double batch of olive oil cake in each pan after preparing the pan according to this method. We noted how easy it was to maneuver the pan, and how evenly the pan browned the cake’s exterior. We also noted if the cake baked for a notably long or short amount of time. Then, we examined how well the pans imparted their shape and pattern onto the finished product.
  • Jello Mold Test (Winners-Only): We made an old-school Jello salad in our favorite pans to see how well they handled and released the delicate, jiggly substance. We whipped up four batches of this gelatin salad recipe (adapted to raspberry flavor due to a tragic lack of lime sherbet in December), refrigerated each overnight, and loosened each one by plunging the outside of the pan into hot water for ten seconds before turning the finished product out onto a plate.
  • Durability Test: We scratched each pan lightly with a butter knife to mimic the act of removing the cake from the pan with a knife. We also rubbed the pan with the scratchy side of a sponge to note any damage to the non-stick coating through normal washing. During other tests, we noted whether the compromised coating affected performance.
  • Usability and Cleanup Tests: Throughout testing, we noted how easy the pans were to maneuver and whether their handles (if present) were helpful while the pan was right-side up (full of batter or jello) as well as upside down during the removal process. We also examined how easy the pans were to clean.

What We Learned

Aluminum Pans Baked and Browned the Most Evenly

A cake baked in the Nordic Ware aluminum bundt pan
Serious Eats / Julia Stimeck

Different pan materials conduct heat differently. Since the surface of the cake is visible in the final product, our favorite pans were the ones that browned the cake evenly all over. We baked each cake until the internal temperature reached 200° Fahrenheit, stabilizing pans by placing them on a baking sheet (which, it should be noted, conducts heat on its own). We found that aluminum pans, such as the two Nordic Ware models, and some of the steel pans conducted heat the most evenly and did not create hotspots. Our least favorite models (including the Trudeau Structured Silicone Fluted Bundt pan, 8 1/2 cup made of silicone and the Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-stick 9-Inch Fluted Tube Pan made of steel showed excessive browning on the top tips of the cake where the pan rested on the sheet pan, while simultaneously looking pale and underbaked near the inner ring. This issue was most glaring in the silicone pans, both of which featured a steel rim to stabilize the mold.

Looks Mattered

closeup shot of nordic ware anniversary bundt pan with other bundts around them
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This metric may be a bit more subjective, but since all bundt pans feature some decorative elements, we thought it was important to test how successfully the pans imprinted their designs on the cakes and jello molds we made. 

The pans that formed the best-looking cakes and molds were those with deeply-imprinted designs that carried over the whole pan (inside, outside, and down to the bottom). Since cakes and breads rise in the oven, the last inch or two of pan toward the opening won’t make contact with the baked goods inside until part-way through the baking process. As a result, the pattern on this part of the pan (which always seems to feature the most intricate and delicate design) will not be imparted on the food inside in nearly as much detail. You likely don’t know ahead of time exactly where your batter will hit in the pan, so you risk cutting off the design in a weird spot. Pans that carried one pattern to the bottom were our preference for cake baking.

Handles Were Nice, but Not Make-or-Break

Some of the bundt pans we tested had handles, a few of which were even padded with silicone, but we found that the presence or absence of handles made little difference in the maneuverability of the pans. For baking, we always recommend placing the pans on a sheet pan to stabilize them in the oven (otherwise the fluted surface may slip between the rungs of the oven rack leading to a tilted bake), so we found ourselves handling the sheet pan rather than the cake itself when moving it around the oven. We appreciated having solid handles to hold onto when dunking the jello mold in the hot water bath, but they got in the way when we tried to flip pans over onto a rimmed dinner plate. Since handles are not a make-or-break feature, consider skipping them if you’re short on cabinet space or unlikely to make a jello mold.

Nonstick Coatings Were Necessary but Not Always Durable

Releasing a bundt cake from the pan is a notoriously fraught endeavor. Other cake pans can be lined with parchment, have spring-trap sides, or at the very least you can run a knife around the edges. With its corners, curves, and divots, a bundt pan rejects all of these helpful tricks, and the baker is totally reliant on the pan to release the cake. Most bundt pans achieve this by using non-stick coatings.

All of the pans we tested excelled in their ability to cleanly release their cakes and jello sculptures, even after we scratched them with a knife and a rough sponge. However, every pan, except those made of silicone, showed visible scratches after just ten light jabs with a butter knife. While some showed insignificant damage, others, like the USA Pan Bakeware Nonstick Fluted Tube Cake Pan, Anolon Advanced Nonstick Fluted Mold Baking Pan With Silicone Grips, and Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick 9-Inch Fluted Tube Pan flaked very easily. Since the nonstick coating is so essential to the functionality of the pan, and because nonstick coatings can break down into harmful chemicals over time, we recommend staying away from pans whose coatings can be easily damaged.

Silicone Bundt Pans Weren’t Worth the Trouble

cake baked in aluminum shows even browning while cake baked in silicone is uneven and has darker spots
Cakes baked in aluminum browned evenly, while cakes baked in silicone were underbaked in some spots and over baked in others.Serious Eats / Julia Stimeck

While we were excited to try the silicone pans as a safer and more durable alternative to nonstick coatings, we were disappointed with the results. The pans imparted crisp designs and released cakes easily, but they were difficult to maneuver, spilling their contents when lifted. During the olive oil cake test, we accidentally placed one silicone pan too close to the oven wall, leading to a visibly uneven cake. The two silicone pans we tested performed the worst in the olive oil cake test, browning the cakes extremely unevenly. They are also difficult to wash, squirming away from the sponge in the sink.

The Ideal Capacity Was Between Ten to Twelve Cups

Most of the pans we tested had an interior diameter of nine to ten inches, a height around three-and-a-half inches, and held approximately 90 fluid ounces of batter. These pans fit our test batches perfectly without the need to add or subtract extra batter, as we did for the fifteen-cup Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan (which we loved enough to call it our winner anyways), and the Trudeau 05115204M Structured Silicone Fluted Bundt pan, 8 1/2 cup. Since most bundt pans have a 10-to 12-cup capacity, if you want to use a recipe designed for a standard bundt pan without doing any complicated math, keep these measurements in mind: your recipe should fill the bundt pan approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. If it’s any higher than that, spoon some batter out; it’s better to waste a little than to make a mess in the oven.

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Good Bundt Pan

A seriously good bundt pan: browns evenly, has deep ridges, releases easily, made of aluminum
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

A good bundt pan should brown cakes evenly, release its contents easily, and hold up to normal wear and tear. We preferred pans made of aluminum for its excellent heat distribution. Bonus points were awarded for deep ridges and dramatic designs.

The Best Bundt Pan: Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan

What we liked: Sporting the deepest ridges, this pan produced cakes with the most striking design of all of the pans we tested. Although this pan held more batter (a whopping 15 cups) than any other pan we tested, its continuous design from inner ring to outer ring meant that no matter what level we filled it to, we were going to get a gorgeous cake with the same design from top to bottom. This pan also aced our durability test: the nonstick coating scratched ever so slightly, but the difference was imperceptible and didn’t affect bakes. The durable and rigid nature of the cast aluminum lends this pan well to intricate designs, too, because the pan’s shape is created by injecting molten metal into a mold rather than pressing or stamping the shape into a sheet of metal. 

What we didn’t like: While there was almost nothing we didn’t like about this pan, its large size made it less versatile than our top pick in a few ways. First, if you don’t have a lot of room (in your cupboard or oven) you may want to consider a smaller option. Another downside of this pan’s large size is the cake has a long way to fall when coming out of the pan. The jello mold, which didn’t fill the pan all the way, hit the plate quite hard on its way out, and splattered along the edges. 

Price at time of publish: $35.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 1 lb, 11.4 oz
  • Materials: Cast aluminum with nonstick coating
  • Dimensions: 12 x 10.75 x 4.5 inches
  • Capacity: 124 fluid ounces (15.5 cups)
  • Cleaning and Care: Hand-wash recommended, no metal tools or abrasive cleaners
Nordic Ware Anniversary bundt pan on marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Best Bundt Pan If You’re Short on Space: Nordic Ware Formed-Aluminum Bundt Pan

What we liked: Featuring a sharp and well-defined pattern, this pan baked a beautiful cake and formed a gorgeous jello mold. It browned cake extremely evenly and released them with ease. While its lack of significant handles may cause slight inconvenience, we thought it was worth it for a smaller footprint, and its light weight contributes to its convenience and maneuverability. The coating performed extremely well in our scratch and wash tests, showing very little damage.

What we didn’t like: The deep ridges that form the designs we love also make the pan a bit more difficult to clean.

Price at time of publish: $28.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 14.2 oz
  • Materials: Formed aluminum with nonstick coating
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 10 x 3.5 inches
  • Capacity: 95 fluid ounces ( 11.9 cups)
  • Cleaning and Care: Hand-wash only, no metal tools or abrasive cleaners
Nordic ware aluminum bundt pan
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Best Alternative Nonstick Bundt Pan: casaWare Fluted Cake Pan Ceramic Coated NonStick

What we liked: The ceramic coating passed our durability test with flying colors; the scratches were almost undetectable. The cake and jello mold also released easily from the pan, and the ceramic coating comes in a few fun colors. This pan did not bake the most evenly, but it was far from the worst.

What we didn’t like: The ridges of this mold were pretty subtle, leading to a fairly boring final product. The pan baked more quickly on the outer edges, leading to a paler inner ring. 

Price at time of publish: $23.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 1 lb, 2.8 oz
  • Materials: Steel with ceramic coating
  • Dimensions: 12 x 10.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Capacity: 90 fluid ounces (11.25 cups)
  • Cleaning and Care: Hand-wash recommended, no metal tools or abrasive cleaners
casaware pan (blue) on marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition

  • Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-stick 9-Inch Fluted Tube Pan: This steel alloy pan browned the outside of the cake too much while leaving the inside pale. The fluted design was barely noticeable on the finished product. 
  • Anolon Advanced Nonstick Fluted Mold Baking Pan With Silicone Grips:  This carbon steel pan baked unevenly, with a darker outside and lighter inner core. We liked the grippy handles, but don’t use the handles frequently enough to need them, and cleaning around them is a pain. 
  • Trudeau 05115204M Structured Silicone Fluted Bundt pan, 8 1/2 cup: Our least favorite pan of the bunch, this silicone pan produced a very uneven bake. It also featured a slick, staticky surface that was an absolute magnet for dust and hair. And with an eight-and-a-half cup capacity, it was the smallest pan we tested.
  • USA Pan Bakeware Nonstick Fluted Tube Cake Pan: Made of aluminized steel, this pan baked similarly to other steel pans creating an unevenly baked surface.
  • Le Creuset Bundt Pan: Unlike Le Creuset’s famous dutch ovens, their bundt pan is not coated in enamel, but rather, a non-stick coating. The coating was durable and did well in our scratch test, but the material of the pan did not bake the cake evenly. In our olive oil cake test, the outside of the cake was nearly burnt by the time the cake was fully cooked. We were also not enamored with the cake’s subtle design and the straight inner tube was more reminiscent of angel food cake pans, which are necessarily simple due to the extremely sticky nature of that cake. 
  • Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 9.5″ Non-Stick Two-Toned Fluted Cake Pan: This pan featured a straight inner tube that formed a visible seam on our finished cake, and it was difficult to clean around. It also baked much more quickly on the outside due to its dark coating. 
  • Calphalon Classic Bakeware 10-Inch Nonstick Fluted Cake Pan: This pan did relatively well in our olive oil cake and durability tests, but didn’t feature any standout features that would categorize it as a winner. At $20, it’s a solid budget choice.
  • Lekue Red Silicone Deep Savarin Baking Mold: We loved the design on the upper half of this silicone mold, but the bottom bit faded away. Both of the silicone pans we tested browned our cakes extremely unevenly, but released their contents easily.

FAQs

What is the best material for a bundt pan?

We recommend aluminum pans for their ability to distribute heat evenly and bake cakes with even browning all over.

What’s the best way to remove a cake from a bundt pan?

Let your cake cool in the pan for approximately ten minutes before you try to take it out. Gently tug the edges of the cake away from the pan to loosen it. Place a plate or sheet pan on top of the opening of your pan, and flip both the cake and the base over together. If you give it a few firm taps and the cake still doesn’t give way, try submerging the outside of the pan in a hot water bath for a few seconds before trying again. If you’re still having trouble, let your cake cool completely and use your fingers to gently pull the cake away from the edges of the pan, trying to identify the stuck spot. Use a plastic knife or wooden chopstick (never use metal tools, which may chip away at the nonstick coating) to gently dislodge the problem area. When you’re ready to serve, hit this area with a little extra frosting or powdered sugar—no one has to know!

Do I need to coat the inside of a bundt pan with cooking spray?

You should definitely coat the inside of your pan before baking, however, most pan manufacturers recommend against using cooking spray since it can leave a residue that will build up on the nonstick coating. Instead, you can brush on some melted butter or oil. If you choose to use cooking spray, wipe any exposed spray from the edges of the pan before baking, and be sure to wash thoroughly but gently after baking.

What are the common sizes of bundt pans?

Bundt pans are normally measured by diameter, but what you will really want to know is how many ounces of batter the cake can hold. We’ve included the volume of the pans we recommended. Ten to twelve cups is the most common size for bundt pans. If you would like to find out the capacity of a pan you already have, pour water into it, one cup at a time, until you reach the top. Alternatively, you can pour water into the pan while it sits on a scale that measures in ounces. For water (and only water!) one fluid ounce weighs one ounce. Divide by eight to see how many cups your pan holds.

How do you keep a cake from sticking inside a bundt pan?

Spread a thin layer of melted butter or oil over the interior surface of your pan using a pastry brush. Let the pan rest upside down over some paper towels to allow any excess oil to drip off. Then, use a sieve to apply a thin layer of flour or cocoa powder (for chocolate cakes) over the entire surface. Aim to make your coating as light and even as possible since any buildup on the pan may be visible on the final product. Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions to care for your pan – once the nonstick coating is gone, it’s gone (and if your cakes stick consistently, it may be time for a new pan). If the coating on your pan is decades old or has broken down from misuse, it may be safest to invest in a new pan.

What can you make in a bundt pan?

Cakes are not the only thing you can make in your bundt pan. Try using it as a gorgeous mold for jello or flan. The pans are also a great alternative to loaf pans for baked goods such as bread or babka. The dimensions are similar to those of two loaf pans put together, so think about other things (meatloaf anyone?) that you’d bake in a loaf pan, and double that recipe. You can also use it to support a whole chicken in the oven (similar to beer can chicken), but be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum temperature. Keep in mind that the nonstick coating is tailored to protect the pan against the stickiness of sugar, not protein, so meat-based recipes may be best suited for your nearly-retired bundt pans. Given that nonstick coatings have a finite lifespan, we do not recommend using a new bundt pan for anything other than its intended purpose. 

What shouldn’t you make in a bundt pan? Any recipe that calls for a specialized, easy-release pan such as a springform pan (like cheesecake) or a pan with a false bottom (like an angel food cake pan) should be avoided. If a recipe requires a pan like that, it won’t release easily from the nooks and crannies of a bundt pan or the rise of the cake may be hampered by the nonstick coating of the pan.