Learn how to prepare all of your pans for baking so that your cakes don’t stick and everything will release easily!

Collage of vintage baking equipment from top left: rolling pin, whisk, measuring spoons, measuring cups, muffin tin; bottom left: sheet pan, brownie pan, pie plate, tart pan

Each baker has their own favorite ways of preparing their pans for baking. And over the years I have developed my own favorite ways that I believe work the best for releasing baked goods.

Unless a recipe specifically calls for it, you shouldn’t need to grease a sheet pan. Greasing a sheet pan can add extra fat and, for example, cause cookies to spread. Typically, the most common way to prep a classic sheet pan is to line it with parchment paper or to place a silicone baking mat over the top.

Parchment paper is my preferred method although baking mats are great for reusing however, they can be a bit trickier to clean. To clean, you will need to use very hot water and a sponge to remove all of the grease. Do not put them in the dishwasher.

My favorite Sheet Pans

How to Prepare Square or Rectangle Pans for Baking

Square and rectangle pans are most commonly used for baking brownies, sheet cakes, loaf breads, and bars. You can simply spray your pans with a non-stick cooking spray that’s made from oil or butter or you can use a butter wrapper to rub all over the inside of the pan. You want to make sure you grease very thoroughly in all of the corners so that your baked good releases without sticking.

My preference for this shape of pan is to line it with parchment paper. By lining it with parchment paper, you can easily lift your baked good out of the pan and then slice it. You will get a much cleaner slice if it’s outside of the baking pan.

How to Cut Parchment so it Sits Nicely in Square or Rectangle Pans

  1. Start with a piece of parchment paper that is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) larger on all sides than your baking pan.
  2. Set your pan in the middle of the parchment paper and cut out a square from each corner.
  3. Give the pan a quick spray with non-stick spray and place your cut parchment piece in the center.
  4. Press the parchment paper into all corners of the pan. Trim off any pieces of extra parchment paper.

My favorite 8 inch (20 cm) Square Pan, 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) Pan, and Loaf Pan

How to Prepare Round Cake Pans

The best method for preparing a round cake pan is to grease the inside of the pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper. This will ensure that your cake will not stick. If you do not have parchment paper, you can thoroughly grease your pan with non-stick spray or butter and then add flour. Tap the flour all around the pan to evenly coat and then dump out the excess.

How to Make Parchment Rounds for Cake Pans

  1. Start with a parchment square that is bigger than your cake pan.
  2. Fold your parchment square in half bringing the bottom up to the top.
  3. Fold in half again bringing the right side over the left side.
  4. Fold the parchment square into a triangle. And then repeat into a smaller triangle. The point side of the parchment should be closed.
  5. Turn your pan upside down and place the point of your parchment triangle onto the center of the pan.
  6. Trim the excess parchment using the cake pan as a guide for where to cut.
  7. Unfold your parchment to reveal a circle that is the same size as your cake pan.
  8. Give the bottom of your pan a quick spray of non-stick spray and place down your parchment so it lays flat. Spray your pan another time to evenly coat the bottom and especially the sides of your pan.

My favorite 8 inch (20 cm) Round Cake Pan

How to Prepare Tube Pans

Tube pans are cake pans with straight sides and where the bottom piece separates from the side walls. The most common use is for angel food cake and chiffon cake. Both angel food cakes and chiffon cakes are made with an egg white foam which helps leaven and lift the cake. If you introduce too much fat, the batter will have a hard time rising. You typically do not need to prep a tube pan at all but make sure you use a non-stick pan. If you are worried about sticking, you can grease the bottom of the pan but not the sides or the tube.

My favorite Tube Pan

How to Prepare Bundt Pans or Other Intricately Designed Pans

You need to prep a bundt pan very well to ensure that your cake does not stick especially if using an intricately designed pan. You want to be able to see the pretty design on the cake after removing it (that’s the whole point of a bundt pan!).

The best way to prep a bundt pan is to use a spray that is specifically for baking. It should have flour mixed in with the butter or oil. If you do not have this type of spray, you can use a regular non-stick spray but then you will need to add your own flour. Either way, give your pan a very thorough spray getting into all the nooks and crannies. If you need to add your own flour, sprinkle flour all over the pan (or you can use cocoa powder if making a chocolate cake). My favorite way to sprinkle the flour is with a dredge shaker. Once you have enough flour in the pan, give it a tap around to make sure every spot is covered. Then tip out the excess.

My favorite Bundt Pan

How to Prepare Pans for Cupcakes and Muffins

You can simply spray your cupcake or muffin tin with non-stick spray before adding the batter however, I do not prefer this method. You will have a very hard time cleaning your pan.

My favorite way to prep these pans is to use a paper liner. It makes for easy removal and easy cleanup. It also makes transporting and serving your muffins and cupcakes that much easier.

If you do have have paper liners, you can make your own! I love this method because it gives a rustic bakery look to your muffins and cupcakes.

How to Make Your Own Cupcake and Muffin Liners

  1. Cut parchment squares that are about 5×5 inches (13×13 cm) for a regular sized muffin tin.
  2. Find a drinking glass that is about the diameter of the bottom of the muffin tin.
  3. Turn the glass upside down and center a piece of the parchment on top.
  4. Press down over the parchment with your hands and smooth out all sides.
  5. Place the parchment cups into the muffin tin.

My favorite Cupcake and Muffin Pan