7 Ways To Use a Loaf Pan That Has Nothing To Do With Bread

It's time to think beyond banana bread when using your supply of loaf pans.

bread loaf pans and measuring cups
Photo: Iain Bagwell/Getty Images

You don't have to make your own bread, or even bake, to love the loaf pan. Despite their specialized name, these rectangular pans are extremely adaptable to cooking, freezing, and much more. And, with all the creative ways you can use them, loaf pans are anything but idle in the kitchen.

Like other pans, they can be made from a variety of materials. Metal tends to be traditional because it retains heat well, which is ideal for the yeasted breads that such pans are intended for, says Tracy Wilk, lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. Whether you prefer glass, ceramic, silicone, or even single-use paper pans largely depends on what you use them for most. Silicone loaf pans, for example, release food easily but don't have a rigid shape, so they often need to be set on a baking sheet for stability.

You can find loaf pans in a range of sizes, but the most common is 9x5 inches, which can be great for scaling larger recipes to just a few servings. "A loaf pan is probably not the first piece you reach for," says Wilk, "but once you have one, you will use it more often than you expect." Below are just a few of the ways to do that, so grab a loaf pan and get to work.

1. Make Meatloaf

Bread isn't the only thing that comes in loaves. These pans are the ideal shape for the ultimate comfort food, meatloaf. If you want to get cute with it, try mini meatloaves in individual mini loaf pans.

Get the Recipe: Easy Meatloaf

sliced meatloaf on a black plate

2. Marinate Meats

Keep more of each steak, chicken breast, tofu slice, or veggie skewer in contact with the marinade you made by placing the foods in a loaf pan, then pouring the marinade on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and slip the loaf pan into your fridge for the allotted time. If you have a bit of meat or a few sides of the skewers sticking out, use tongs to rotate them in the marinade for full coverage.

raw meat on a wooden cutting board with a knife and marinade sauce next to it
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3. Think Italian

Rectangular pans are perfect for lasagna or baked ziti, especially if you're only serving a few people. If you cut recipes in half, a square baking dish may be too big. Use a loaf pan instead.

Get the Recipe: Blue Cheese Lasagna

4. Store Food Scraps

If the kitchen garbage can is more than two steps from where you prep and cook your meals, use a loaf pan as a makeshift garbage can. A 9x5-inch loaf pan takes up less space than bowls or other baking dishes. The tall sides helps to prevent spills, too.

5. Rethink Pie

Savory pies like shepherd's pie or chicken pot pie don't have to be round just because that's the tradition. You can bake them in a loaf pan and still have a hearty one-dish meal. For faster serving, consider using smaller individual loaf pans for your scrumptious pies.

chicken pot pie in a white glass pan
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6. Scale Down Dessert

Whip up a half-batch of brownies, bars, or cakes in this slim baking vessel. You can even use the pan to make a small batch of unique desserts, like jellies or truffles.

raspberry jellies with sugar on them

Get the Recipe: Raspberry-Pomegranate Jellies

7. Freeze It

"A loaf pan works great for no-churn ice cream or granita, or a semifreddo that you can slice," says Wilk. Alexander's Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe and Easy Chocolate Ice Cream don't even require an ice cream maker. They're whipped, poured into the loaf pan, and frozen until solid.

Or, if you're more of a strawberry fan, try making our Strawberry Whipped Sensation.

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