The 3 Best Bundt Pans of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

The original remains the gold standard.

Sarah Karnasiewicz is an award-winning writer, editor, and cook. In addition to Food & Wine, she has contributed to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Epicurious, Food Network, and Cooking Light, among others. Sarah is the features editor for The Wall Street Journal's Off Duty lifestyle section. Silicone Cake Mould

The 3 Best Bundt Pans of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

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Food and Wine / Sarah Karnasiewicz

Bundt pans are a baking essential. Their unique construction allows an even browning on denser cakes, like pound cake, with the well-defined curves that are the hallmark of the form. Bundts now come in the shape of rosettes, castles, and even pine forests. But from the simplest design to the most elaborate, the requirements of a quality bundt pan remain the same. It should have a solid construction to stand up to repeated use without denting or warping (which might mar the decorative shape); it should have a nonstick coating to help the cake slip from the pan's ridges and crevices without cracking or sticking.

Hoping to single out a pan that best meets this criteria, we spent hours baking our way through a bevy of bundts, comparing their design, functionality, and ease of use. What did we learn? It's hard to go wrong with bundt pans. No matter which one you buy, you're likely to produce a cake that your friends and family will be thrilled to tear into. Every model we tested, except one, produced an evenly browned cake with a tender crumb, and released from the pan without incident. But when it came to ease of use, the caliber of construction, and the aesthetics of the final product, one contender still stood out.

We love this pick from Nordic Ware because it's reliable and high-quality. With a sturdy cast aluminum body that was taller and narrower than its competitors and deeply defined curves and ridges, it produced a cake that was elegant and shapely with clean lines and eye-catching architectural edges. The pan's light-colored surface prevented it from over-browning and drying out, and the generous handles made maneuvering the pan into and out of the oven easy. The handles were also great to grip when it came time to turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.

With a capacity of 10 to 15 cups — the largest of all the models we tested — it would be large and versatile enough to accommodate an array of recipes. It is considerably pricier than the other models we tested, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee and, given its superior performance, feels worth every penny. What's more, Nordic Ware is still a family-owned company and produces all of its products in the U.S.

We agree with culinary experts Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, two self-described "bundt enthusiasts," who put dozens of bundt pans to the test day in and day out at their bakery in Brooklyn. "Nordic Ware pans are just special," they told Food & Wine. "You can still feel the enthusiasm about the product from the company. It's still got a mom-and-pop feeling, even though it has grown to a global scale."

We were impressed by the even golden color of the bake in the simple, inexpensive Wilton Recipe Right Fluted Tube Pan, and appreciated the durability and reliability of the nonstick surface. Also: aside from the Nordic Ware pan, this was the only other model to produce a cake with decent height and somewhat well-defined fluting. It also cleaned up easily.

We enjoyed the feel of the soft, easy-grip handles on the sturdy Anolon Advanced Nonstick Fluted Mold Baking Pan, and were pleased by the consistency and depth of color of the cake it produced. The nonstick surface also worked well, and the finished cake slid out readily after just a few minutes of cooling. Our only qualms? The surface of the cake seemed a bit artificially shiny in comparison to the matte texture of the Nordic Ware cake, and the decorative ridges and curves were considerably less pronounced, resulting in a less visually interesting cake.

Hoping to single out a pan that best meets our criteria, we spent hours baking our way through a bevy of bundts, comparing their design, functionality, and ease of use. While the competition may be stiff, most classics become classics for a reason. And in the case of bundt pans, the original remains the gold standard. We recommend the Nordic Ware Platinum Collection to anyone buying a bundt pan.

After researching the market, we narrowed the field to five commonly available and classically shaped bundt pans with capacities ranging from 10 to 15 cups. To keep the variables the same, we baked the same recipe, our top-rated Olive Oil Bundt Cake, in each pan, in the same oven, for the same amount of time. Then we compared the results, checking to see how comfortable the pans were to handle, how evenly the cakes baked and browned, how well they kept their shape, how easily the cakes released from the pan, and how cumbersome the pans were to clean.

While it's possible to find bundt pans made of glass, stoneware, and silicone, the overwhelming consensus among professional and amateur bakers is that metal — either aluminum or coated steel — is the best material in which to bake a bundt cake, thanks to both its sturdiness and its even and efficient heat conductivity. Silicone bundt pans, in particular, get routinely poor reviews—and just mentioning them can get professional bakers all worked up.

"Never, ever, ever use a silicone bundt pan," said Lewis and Poliafito. The reason? Silicone is squishy and unstable—a bad match for hefty bundt batters, which may spill or sag when not properly contained. Also, due to the material's poor conductivity, batters baked in silicone will never brown deeply — a must for a properly baked bundt cake. Considering this, in the end, we chose to test only metal pans.

We also found that most cooks agree that when it comes to bundts—with their elaborate whirls, curves, and crevices that seem tailor made for trapping cake—a nonstick surface is indispensable. Indeed, even when using a nonstick surface, most professional bakers and cookbook writers recommend buttering and flouring your pan, or coating it thoroughly with a nonstick cooking spray before filling.

The color of a bundt pan's surface will also play a role in the texture and attractiveness of the final product: In general, light-colored surfaces perform better than darker ones, as the dark surfaces may produce a crust that is dry is overly browned before the cake's interior has had enough time to bake properly.

The market is littered with mini bundt pans of assorted shapes and sizes, but because the most common size for bundt pans is between 10 and 12 cups, We confined our experiments to models that fell in or near that range. Generally speaking, if you want a larger pan, seek out one that looks taller, not wider — wider pans produce squatter, less dramatic architectural cakes. Most recipe developers design recipes for 10-cup bundt pans, so home bakers will be best served by a pan that accommodates that amount at a minimum. If you want to adapt a non-bundt-specific recipe, the form is fairly forgiving—in general, a cake recipe that yields enough batter for two 9-inch rounds or one 9-by-13-inch pan will also fit a typical bundt pan.

Any sturdy cake batter or quick bread that is typically baked in a loaf pan will also do well in a bundt, but avoid delicate, airy cakes, which will just fall apart, according to Lewis and Poliafito. When you are filling your bundt, ideally the batter should come two-thirds up the sides of the pan before baking. Overfill it and you'll have a mess on your hands; underfill it and you'll wind up with a thin, squat cake. If you are unsure of the capacity of your pan, you can measure it by filling it with water one cup at a time.

Finally, when ranking the pans we kept in mind the small design features—like easy-grip handles, a satisfying weight, and attractive proportions—that can add up to a big difference in the experience of baking and the aesthetics of the finished cake. And while today's makers produce bundt pans in a dizzying array of creative designs, we limited my tests to the "classic" shape: a ring-shaped series of peaks and rounded curves that Lewis and Poliafito call Bundt 101, and is beginner-friendly, always beautiful, and easy to glaze. The more elaborate shapes, they warn, can be trickier to turn out of the pan and—while Instagram-friendly—don't take as well to a variety of frostings or glazes.

Bundt is an adaptation of the German word bund, which loosely means an alliance or gathering. Around 1950, the young husband and wife founders of Nordic Ware, Dave and Dotty Dalquist of Minnesota, coined the name and designed the pan at the request of local members of a Jewish women's organization, who wanted a pan for the central European cake called gugelhupf — or bundkuchen in parts of Germany. Nordic Ware designed the bundt pan as a lightweight, modern alternative to the heavy ceramic cookware traditionally used to make gugelhupf. The design was simple: a round tube-shaped loaf with a hollow center and a decorative, fluted pattern around the body.

“Tube pans most often have detachable sides, while bundt pans do not,” says chef and cookbook author Denise Norton, founder of Flavour Cooking School. “A tube pan is round, with deep sides and a hollow center tube that is most notably used for angel food or sponge cakes, which tend to be oil-free and very delicate. The center tube and detachable sides aid in inverting the cake onto a bottle so it doesn’t deflate,” she says. “Tube pans sometimes will also have a removable bottom or ‘feet’ to help with the flipping of your cake,” says pastry chef Becky Pendola from Virtue Restaurant. 

“A bundt pan also has a hollow tube in the center – but it also usually has decorative sides, which nowadays can be very intricate – and is usually used for denser, oil- or butter-based batters,” says Norton. “All bundt pans are tube pans, but not all tube pans are bundt pans,” says Pendola.

“Due to the decorative nature of most bundt pans, greasing is essential. Pay extra attention to the nooks and crannies of the pan,” says Norton. A well-greased pan should release the cake cleanly, according to Pendola. “Let it cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes until the pan is cool enough to handle but not cooled completely. Then invert onto a wire rack. If your pan was properly greased and your cake is baked through, you shouldn't have any problems. Give it a wiggle or tap if you have a stubborn one,” she says.

“Use softened unsalted butter and nonstick cooking spray to grease your bundt pan well. You can use a paper towel or pastry brush to get into all the nooks of your bundt pan. Then, use cooking spray just for good measure. Butter adds flavor and allows you to more visually ensure that you have coated your pan well. Don’t use melted butter, as it will not coat the pan and blend in with the batter,” says Pendola.

“Do consider that using butter can have a browning effect on your cake, so if you’re doing a lemon or vanilla cake, you may want to stick with spray,” says Norton. “A light dusting of flour can be helpful here, too.” Be sparing with flour, however, as it can leave a chalk-like film on the cake if you use too much, according to Pendola, who forgoes flour at this step.

Baking a bundt cake over a sheet pan will result in a more even cake, according to Norton and Pendola. “It holds the bundt pan evenly on the rack. Since it is circular and usually fluted, it has a greater chance of not sitting evenly on the rack," says Pendola. "Also, if you happen to overfill your pan, the baking sheet allows you to catch any mess before it hits the bottom of your oven."

This piece was also updated by Stacey Ballis, a freelance writer, recipe developer, and product reviewer. Stacey has been published on Food & Wine, Eating Well, Allrecipes, MyRecipes, Delish, and more.

The 3 Best Bundt Pans of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

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