You may be overlooking the best baking pan in your kitchen.   It may never have crossed your mind to use it in your oven and yet it’s often the perfect pan for cornbread, coffeecakes, and desserts.

It’s your skillet.

Whether it’s nonstick, stainless, or cast iron, it makes a great baking pan.

  • It’s heavy duty and distributes heat evenly.
  • It holds heat to keep cornbread or a coffeecake warm while you serve it.
  • It gives you more options to bake in.
  • It’s attractive.  Set your cookware on the breakfast table and show it off.

So what can you bake in your kitchen skillet?  Almost anything that fits.  You won’t want to bake a layer cake or an angel food cake in your skillet.  If you need to remove your cake intact from the pan, a skillet may not be your answer.   But once you think of a skillet as a baking pan, you’ll be surprised how often you use it.

Guidelines for Baking in Your Skillet

What size skillet should you use?

  • If your recipe calls for a 9 x 9-inch pan, use an 8-inch skillet
  • If your recipe calls for a 9 x 13-inch pan, use a 10-inch skillet
  • If your receipt calls for 10 x 15-inch pan, use a 12-inch skillet

That’s a rough guideline.  If it fits, use it.  The worst that can happen is that you have too much batter for your skillet and you have to scrape it out and try another pan.

What about baking time?

Baking time always varies.  Oven temperatures are hardly ever accurate.  Some pans reflect heat and some absorb.  The depth of the batter is a real determinate.  If your skillet is loaded, expect it to take longer to bake.  The chart above tends to overload the skillets just a bit so expect a little longer bake time.

Which is best—nonstick, stainless, or cast?

I’ve used all three.  I think it’s a matter of preference.  I use nonstick most of the time—it’s dark and bakes faster and it’s easy to remove goodies from the pan.

See the nonstick pans that we recommend for baking »

People are concerned about the handles melting in the oven.  I think most quality pans have heat resistant handles.  These pans, the ones we recommended, have baked black handles.  I suspect they are a type of plastic but we’ve used them many times in the oven.

If you are going to use your nonstick pans in the oven, invest in a nylon knife, something that will cut through your cornbread and not mar the nonstick baking surface below.  We sell two.  They are not expensive.

See the nylon knives that protect yoiur nonsitkc surfaces »

Sample Recipes

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake

This is a fun, very good little apple coffee cake recipe.  It’s made in an eight-inch skillet.  It’s got two cups of apples in a light, delightsome cake with a walnut and brown sugar topping.

We first made this with a brown sugar flavor—because we love brown sugar flavor.  Then we decided that we wanted to boost the apple flavor and changed the recipe to apple flavor.  We’re sure that it would be good with vanilla.

This recipe was originally designed for a 9 x 13-inch pan and cut in half.  It overloads the pan a bit but makes a very attractive mound of a cake.  It demonstrates the versatility of baking a in a skillet.

If you have another favorite coffeecake receipt, try it in a skillet.

Buy one of these 8-inch skillets here.  They’re great, versatile pans »

Ingredients

1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar flavor or apple flavor
1 egg
2/3 cup sour cream
2 cups peeled, diced apples
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Cream the shortening, sugar, first measure of cinnamon, and salt together.  Add the flavor and eggs and beat well.  Add the sour cream and diced apples.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and soda together.
  3. Add the flour to the creamed mixture in four additions, beating after each.  Pour batter into a greased eight-inch pan.
  4. For the topping, mix the walnuts, second measure of brown sugar, and second measure of cinnamon together.  Cut in the butter with a pastry knife.  Sprinkle over the cake.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Texas Chili Cornbread

This recipe was adapted from Baking in America by Greg Patent.  (We recommend this book.)  For our version of this recipe, we used chiles instead of jalapenos, red bell pepper instead of pimentos, and garlic powder instead of clove garlic but feel free to experiment.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped and diced
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped and diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 4-oz can diced green chiles, drained (less if you prefer a less spicy bread)
1 cup corn kernels–fresh, frozen, or canned
11/2 cups grated cheese, cheddar or jack

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a ten-inch skillet and place it on the middle shelf in the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.   In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs then stir in the rest of the ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.
  3. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix with a spatula until well combined.
  4. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the pan.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and return to the oven.
  5. Let bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.  The top will be a rich, golden brown.  Let cool for ten minutes before unmolding.

Dutch Apple Pie

This is another recipe made in an eight-inch pan.  It’s a great apple crumb pie recipe and if a regular apple pie is too big for your household, this may be just right.

If you wish to make this in a standard nine-inch pie pan, increase the ingredients by about 1/3.  Measurements don’t have to be exact.

For the crust

Use a recipe or pie crust mix for a single crust pie.  Our professional pie crust mix is what many bakeries use and all you add is water.  It is nearly foolproof.

See our professional pie crust mix—just add water »

For the filling

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 large apples, peeled and sliced, 1/4-inch thick

For the topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Form the crust and line the pie pan.  Decorate the top edge as desired.
  2. Mix the sugar, first measure of flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Toss the apple slices in the mixture to coat.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
  3. For the topping, cut the butter into the other ingredients using a pastry knife.  Spoon the toping over the pie.
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is browned and the pie is bubbly.

Caramel Pear and Walnut Skillet Cobbler
with Caramel Whipped Cream

This is my favorite skillet cobbler recipe!  Fresh pears give it a gentle fruit flavor but the real star of the show is the caramel coated walnuts.

After the pears are placed on the batter, scatter walnuts across the top and drizzle the dessert with caramel ice cream sauce.  The caramel coats the nuts in the oven to make them crunchy.  The combination of crunchy candy-coated nuts, fruit, and the luscious caramel whipped cream is fabulous.

You can make this cobbler either from scratch or using our mix.

While these are called skillet cobblers, the butter is melted in a pan on the stovetop, the batter is added, and then the cobbler transferred to the oven to bake.  Any oven-proof, 10-inch skillet will work.

For the cake: Use our Skillet Cobbler Base Mix or the recipe below.   The advantage of the mix is that everything is there, ready to go, and foolproof.

For a quick and easy cobbler, see this skillet cobbler mix »

1 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 to 2 cups fresh pears, pealed and sliced into thick slices
1/3 to 1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup Uncle Denny’s Caramel Ice Cream Sauce or equal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of your stand-type mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer on for less than a minute to mix the ingredients together.
  2. Add the eggs, milk, sour cream, and vanilla.  Turn the mixer on again to mix the ingredients stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  When thoroughly mixed, set aside.
  3. Place the butter in the pan over medium heat and melt the butter until it is hot but not scorched.  Turn the heat off.
  4. Immediately scrape the batter into the hot pan.  Place the pear slices on top of the batter.  Sprinkle nuts evenly over the pears. Warm the caramel sauce and drizzle it over the nuts and pears.
  5. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out fairly clean, with some crumbs clinging.  The top should be a golden brown and the center spongy-firm to the touch.

Note: Different pans may require different baking times. 

For the Caramel Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon caramel flavor
1 tablespoon meringue powder

Buy caramel and other flavors here and make flavored whipped cream  and  other goodies »

Whip the cream with a whip attachment.  When peaks start to form, add the sugar, meringue powder, and flavor.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Whipped cream will melt as it sits, especially if not refrigerated.  The meringue powder makes the whipping cream stiffer and retards melting.  For attractive desserts, it’s essential.  Meringue powder is also used to give frosting a shell so that cookies and cake decorations do not mar as easily.

Learn more about meringue powder »

Whipped cream can be whipped again to revive it.