Baking pan substitutions and conversions

For anyone who bakes on a regular basis (little did I know I would be one of those people), it’s really frustrating when a recipe calls for a pan size we do not own.  Especially if it is one we would seldom use, like a springform pan.   Do we run to the store to buy that pan that will gather dust in our cabinet, or do we convert that recipe to a cake pan of similar depth and volume?

We convert that recipe!  But how do we do this?  It’s easier than you might think.  To begin, you should have a set of standard pans in your kitchen.  Standard size pans are 8×8 in square, 9×9 inch square, 8 inch round, 9 inch round, 10 or 12 cup bundt pan and an 8×4 inch loaf pan.   After many moves, I have pared my pans down to the 8×8 and 9×9 square pans, the loaf pan and the bundt pan.  But I can convert any recipe to fit into these pans.  It’s all about volume.

There is the handy pan conversion chart:


courtesy of


I find this a bit confusing.  It gives the volume in cups, but if you don’t know how many cups of batter you have in a recipe, it might be difficult to find the equivalent pan.  Also, there is no equivalent for one 9 inch cake pan here as in this recipe. Here is another chart that simplifies things a bit more:

Here is another chart that simplifies things a bit more:

courtesy of

Lastly, if you are good at math, you can read up on calculating pan conversions here.

Try not to overthink this too much.  As you can see in the chart above, a 9 inch round pan equates to an 8×8 square pan.  When in doubt, Google.  Just make sure to adjust your baking time.  Use the same temperature called for in the original recipe, but consider the depth of the pan.  If the batter is spread thinner, you will need a shorter baking time.  If the batter is thicker, you will need to allow for more time.  Check at regular intervals.

How to measure a pan’s dimensions and volume from

To determine the pan’s dimensions always measure inside edge to inside edge of the pan so that you do not include the thickness of the panin your measurement.

 To measure the depth, place your ruler straight up from the bottom of the pan (do not slant the ruler). 

To determine the pan’s volume (how much batter it will hold), pour pre-measured water by the cupful until the pan is filled to the brim.
Another option is to buy disposable pans if you need an odd size pan you won’t use more than once.   This is especially handy if you have limited cabinet space, like me.  The dollar store is a good place to buy disposable pans at a cheap rate.

So next time you want to bake that cake and have the wrong pan, don’t fret.  Convert!


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