Greasing the pan is a crucial step in many recipes, yet it’s often overlooked or briefly mentioned without any guidance.
When you come to think of it, it’s as if this fundamental technique is assumed knowledge for every cook! But what if you’re new to the kitchen and haven’t yet perfected your greasing game?
Fear not, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share our top tips and tricks for greasing pans of all types, and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Why Grease Your Pans?
Regardless of whether you’re using an aluminum, stainless steel, or non-stick pan, greasing it is essential to ensure that your baked goods release from it with ease.
If you’ve ever had your cake or cookies stick to the pan, then you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to serve your baked goods in the shape they were meant to have.
It could be that you forgot to grease the pan, or perhaps you didn’t grease it properly. Whatever the reason, getting the right amount of grease in the right places is key to making sure your baked goods come out of the pan in one piece and look as good as they taste.
How to Grease a Pan
Step 1: Choose your grease
Most recipes suggest using butter or vegetable shortening, but you can also use other fats such as lard, olive oil, or non-stick cooking spray.
Keep in mind that if you use a flavored oil, the flavor may transfer to the crust of your baked goods. For example, lard adds a porky taste to your baked goods, and olive oil may leave the crust tasting on the bitter side.
Step 2: Apply the grease thinly and evenly
If you’re using a non-stick cooking spray, shake the can well before using and spray it upright from a distance of 5 to 6 inches away from the pan. This will help ensure even coverage and prevent the spray from pooling in certain areas of the pan.
If you’re using butter or vegetable shortening, it’s important to bring the stick to room temperature before rubbing it onto the pan’s interior. To do this, remove it from the fridge 15 minutes beforehand. This will make it easier to spread the grease evenly and ensure that it adheres to the pan.
If you’re using olive oil (or any other cooking oil that’s liquid at room temperature), pour a small amount onto a paper towel and use it to spread the oil evenly on the interior of the pan. The key is to do so evenly and thinly, so that there’s no excess pooling in any one spot.
Step 3: Pour the baking mixture into the pan slowly
Now that you’ve greased the pan, the next step is to pour the baking mixture into it. Make sure to pour the mixture slowly into the pan to make sure it settles evenly before placing it in the oven. It may also be helpful to shake the pan.
Do You Need to Grease Non-Stick Pans?
While non-stick pan manufacturers may claim that you don’t need any grease in their pans, using some form of grease, even if minimal, can actually be helpful.
Adding a thin layer of grease to a non-stick pan not only prevents baked goods from sticking, but also protects the non-stick coating and extends the pan’s useful life. This is a significant advantage, considering that non-stick pans typically don’t last very long.
Over time, baked goods can latch onto the pan so securely that removing them can require force, potentially damaging the coating in the process. Grease your non-stick pans and avoid this problem altogether.
Alternatives to Greasing the Pan
In some cases, like when making brownies, using parchment paper can be a good substitute for greasing the pan. Simply cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, place it in the pan, and pour the baking mixture on top of it.
Just remember to use the right type of paper. Parchment paper is safe to use in the oven because it has a silicone coating that can withstand high temperatures. Wax paper, on the other hand, is coated with wax and is not heat-resistant. If you use wax paper in the oven, the wax may melt and the paper may catch fire.
Another option for greasing the pan is to cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. This method can make cleanup easier, as any grease or residue bakes onto the foil instead of the pan. But use caution when removing the baked good from the foil — it may stick or tear.
To grease a pan, choose your grease and spread it thinly and evenly onto the pan’s interior. The keys to success are to apply a thin and even layer and avoid pooling or clumps that could affect the final product.
Once you’ve greased the pan, it’s time to pour in the baking mix and slide it into the oven. With a properly greased pan, your baked goods should easily release in one piece, allowing you to serve them up with pride.