Food & Nutrition

The Secret Behind the Numbers on the Back of Your 13×9 Pan

Not every 13×9 pan is created equal.

brownie panShutterstock/Shebeko

It’s a rainy Saturday, aka the perfect time to bake up a big batch of gooey chocolate brownies. You pull out all your ingredients (including dark cocoa powder for extra richness) and, of course, a trusty 13×9 pan like this one. But before you start mixing, before you even preheat the oven, you might want to double check that pan. Because it turns out those numbers on the bottom might not even be accurate.

What’s the Deal?

Because there are no defined standards for bakeware, not all 13×9 pans are actually, well, 13 inches by 9 inches. Sometimes it might be due to a thicker edge, sometimes it might just be due to the pan’s design. Regardless, it’s important that you use a pan that is the right size. Otherwise, you could end up ruining your recipe. That’s bad news for these yummy 13×9 desserts!

How to Measure a Baking Pan

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to ensure your pan is 13×9. To start, always measure from inside edge to inside edge. Going from the outside edges includes the pan’s border which throws off your measurement and will most likely make it inaccurate. Another rule of thumb is to use your ruler to measure across the top, not the bottom.

You can also measure the pan’s volume, aka how much batter it holds. Do this by filling the pan with water all the way to the top—a true 13×9 pan should hold about 14 cups or 3.3 liters of liquid. Tip: This is much easier to do if you measure the cups as you fill (instead of filling it up, then having to pour the water into a measuring cup). You should avoid these other 25 cooking mistakes that ruin your food.

Don’t forget to consider your pan’s depth, too. The average 13×9 pan is two inches deep. You can measure for depth by holding a ruler straight up (no slanting!) in the bottom of the dish. A shallower pan may not hold all of your batter whereas a deeper pan may not cook evenly through the center.

Remember, just because a piece of bakeware looks like a 13×9 pan doesn’t mean it really is. Always measure first to make sure you’re using the right size—and avoid burning those delicious blondies you worked so hard for.

Next, make sure that you’re not making these 12 other baking mistakes.

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