Changing the Pan Size

By Carolyn Shearlock, copyright 2010 . All rights reserved.

Pan-SizesSo many times in the boat galley, we don’t have the exact size pan called for in a recipe.  While meat, casseroles and vegetables generally aren’t all that picky about the pan size, the situation is different with cakes, breads, desserts and other “baked goods.”  In this article, I’ll pass on some tips about how to successfully use a different size pan — and the key isn’t what a lot of other online sources say it is!

For baking, the best pan substitutions are those where the batter is the same depth as was originally called for.  In that case, you won’t have to change either the temperature or the time in the oven.  The area of the bottom of the pan is the key to figuring this out.

  • If you increase the area, the same amount of batter will be shallower. When the batter is shallower, the center will dry out faster than originally.  Compensate by decreasing the baking time and raising the temperature so that the outside will still brown in the shorter time.
  • If you decrease the area of the bottom of the pan, the batter will be deeper and the center will be underdone at the original time and temperature.  To compensate, lower the temperature and increase the baking time.

So figure out the area of the pan called for in the recipe, and then the area of the pan you have.  (The areas of common pan sizes are at the end of this article, as are the formulas for calculating the area of other pans).  If the two numbers are within 10% of each other, you shouldn’t need to make any adjustment.  Otherwise, adjust the time and temperature as described above — the exact amount of the changes will depend on how much the depth of the batter has changed.

For example, if a recipe calls for baking in an 8×8 pan (64 square inch bottom) but you have a 9×5 loaf pan (45 square inches), the batter is going to be almost 1-1/2 times as deep. (To figure this, divide the original pan size in square inches by the new pan size = 64/45 = 1.4).

Since it will be deeper, lower the temperature 25 degrees and begin testing for doneness according to the recipe directions at the original baking time plus ten percent (it probably will take about 25% more time, but I’d rather start checking too soon than too late).

Remember, the important thing is how deep the batter will be in the new pan compared to the old pan, not how deep the actual pans are in comparison to each other or what the total pan volume is.  I have seen a number of pan size conversion charts online that talk about using a pan with the same total volume (it appears that they were all copied one from another since every word is identical) but the reality is that what’s important is the batter depth, not the total volume.

The same concept applies if you halve a recipe or double it.  For example, if you make half a recipe, you want a pan that has about half the area of the original pan – or you’ll have to compensate for the difference.

Here’s the area of some common pan sizes:

Pan Size Square Inches
3” cupcakes or muffins 7
6” round 28
4” x 8” loaf 32
5” x 9” loaf 45
8” round 50
9” round 64
8” square 64
7” x 11” 77
9” square 81
9” x 13” 117

Formulas for calculating your own:

  • Square or rectangular pan:  Area = length x width
  • Round pan:  Area = (1/2 x diameter)2 x 3.14

If you have to calculate the area on a pan with sloping or curved sides – a pie pan is one example – measure the length, width or diameter halfway down.

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Comments

  1. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    As usual another helpful article!!! Thanks
    so much Carolyn…

  2. Wow, excellent information!

  3. terry L S. says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for…how handy…THANK YOU!!

  4. rizwana sahraouei says:

    hi everyone im really stuck with this, i have two 14 by 12 by 2 inch rectangle pan but by how much do i increase the ingredients by if the original was two 8 inch round pans, really apprieciate if anyone could help. thank you all.

    • The bigger pans are a little more than three times as big as the round pans, so make a triple batch.

      How I got this:

      Area of the round pan: 8 divided by 2 gives the radius = 4. To get the area from that, it’s 4 x 4 3.14 (pi) = 50.24 square inches
      Big pans: 14 x 12 = 168

      168 divided by 50 = 3.36 — it’s a little more than 3 times as big so using three times the ingredients will work OK

  5. Very helpful. I’ve seen a lot of those other references (the ones that compare the total volumes of the pans) I’ve found myself quite confused by the “logic”. Good to see that it’s not just my general lack of baking experience speaking! Question: in your example, how did you get to 25 degrees (the amount by which temperature was to be decreased)? Is there some rule-of-thumb for judging temperature variances with respect to changes in batter depth? Or is 25 degrees a “safe” value to take off without affecting the baked result? Many thanks in advance!

  6. Ellen Bales says:

    My bread recipe calls for three 6x3x2″ mini-loaf pans, but I only have one. I do have an 8×4″ loaf pan that I want to use. How should I adjust the oven temp and baking time? Thanks so much!

    • Put 1/3 of the dough in the one 6×3 pan and bake that loaf for the stated time at the stated temp (that is, no adjustment).

      Put the other 2/3 of the dough in the 8×4 pan and bake it at the same time at the same temp (no temp adjustment). Test it for doneness at the stated time — it may need to bake a little longer, say even 15 or 20 minutes, but I’d check it at the stated time. If it looks like it’s getting too brown, turn the temp down by 25 degrees for that last 15-20 minutes.

      Good luck!

  7. I have a delicious Lemon blueberry loaf cake recipe that cooks for about 55min ,but my loaf is in use. I wanted to use my 8x8x2 square cake pan. How do I accommodate the time?

  8. Diver dave says:

    I used 2 8×8. Instead of a 9×13 so I know I have 9 more cubic inches of pan with the same batter …. How much hotter should the over be then the 325 recommended ? It calls for 25 minutes so would 20 be the time to check it ?

  9. I am making a cream cheese banana nut bread …. sounds yummy huh ….. it calls for 2 loaf pans and I only have 1 so I was going to devide it up in an 8×8 and half in the loaf pan how should I adjust for this

    • The 8 x 8 pan is about twice the size of a loaf pan — most loaf pans are 8 x 4. So put it all in the 8 x 8 and bake it at the same temp and test it at the same time as the recipe calls for. It may take a little longer, but that’s a good start.

  10. Connie Douglas says:

    I am baking my cake in a 7 inch square tin instead of a 8 inch round tin. For the round 8 inch it says to bake for 75 mins at 160 c. How long should I bake in square tin and what temperature? Please help!! :)

    • They have almost exactly the same number of square inches, so same time and temp.

      8 inch round pan = 3.14 * (4^2) = 3.14 * 16 = 50.24 square inches
      7 inch square pan = 7 * 7 = 49 square inches.

  11. I am baking a black and white cake that calls for an 8×8 pan. I only have a 10×14 (more than doubling the size that it calls for).
    I plan on doubling the ingredients, but do I need to adjust the bake temp and time for doubling?
    Thanks!

    • Since you’re doubling the ingredients and the pan size will be about 10% more than doubled — (8×8)x2 = 64×2 = 128 vs. 10×14 = 140 In general, when the sizes are within 10% of each other, you shouldn’t have to change the time or temp.

  12. My recipie calls for one batch to be made in a 9×5 but im going to double the batter using an 8×8 pan. I reversed the formula above, and got .703. Since it’s not within a 10% margin, am I to first increase the temp by 25 degrees and check it after about ten minutes of baking time? Thanks in advance!

    • The double batch would “need” a 9×10 pan (double the 9×5) to bake at the same time and temp. That’s 90 square inches. You’re using an 8×8, which is 64 square inches. It’s smaller, so the batter will be deeper.

      LOWER the temp by 25 degrees and start checking it at the stated time, but it’s probably going to need 1-1/2 to double the original time.

  13. brilliant!

  14. If I am reading this correctly, to convert a muffin recipe to a loaf pan/quick bread, I would degrees the temp & increase the baking time.?

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