Kitchen Hacks

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe

With a little math, you can adapt any baking recipe to work with what you've got.

May  6, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Award-winning cookbook author Alice Medrich is here to help you bake smarter, not harder, with game-changing recipes and aha-moment techniques. Today, we're breaking down a question we've asked ourselves, oh, a million times: How do we adapt cake pan sizes in baking recipes? (Say, something calls for a 8x8-inch, but you only have an 9x9.) Alice will show you with just a little math. 

The brownie recipe you want to make calls for an 8-inch square pan, but your only square pan is a 9-inch. Should you risk it? Maybe you want to double or triple a recipe but you aren’t sure which pan to use, or maybe you have a specific large pan but don’t know how many times to multiply your recipe in order to fill it.

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How do you adapt different cake pan sizes for different recipes? 

The answers to these and similar questions (asked endlessly in cooking classes!) do not involve rocket science, but just enough elementary school math to calculate the area of a square, rectangle, or circle. I love the math (and I’ve included a little math review below if you want to brush up), but I’m sharing my chart in case you don’t have my thing for math.  

The handy list below (or some basic math, also explained below) will tell you the surface area of your pan. Once you know the area of any pan, you can compare it to the area of another pan to see how much bigger or smaller it is. You can divide the area of a large pan by the area of a small pan to figure out how many times to multiply a recipe to fill the larger pan with the same depth of batter (more on that later).

Handy list (with the numbers rounded up to the nearest inch):

Area of square/rectangle pans:

  • 6 x 6 = 36 square inches
  • 7 x 7 = 49 square inches
  • 8 x 8 = 64 square inches
  • 9 x 9 = 81 square inches
  • 9 x 13 = 117 square inches
  • 12 x 16 (half-sheet pan) = 192 square inches

Area of round pans:

  • 5 inch = 20 square inches
  • 6 inch = 29 square inches
  • 7 inch = 39 square inches
  • 8 inch = 50 square inches
  • 9 inch = 64 square inches
  • 10 inch = 79 square inches
  • 12 inch = 113 square inches

Geometry review:

I don’t always have the chart at hand; I often just do the math!

For squares and rectangles: The area of a square or rectangular pan is calculated by multiplying one side times the other side. The area of an 8-inch square is 64 square inches because 8 x 8 = 64; the area of a 9 x 13-inch pan is 117 square inches because 9 x 13 = 117. Easy. 

For rounds: The area of a circle equals π times the radius squared. In case you don’t remember, π = 3.14; the radius of a circle is half of its diameter; and squaring means multiplying a number by itself. Ready? To calculate the area of an 8-inch round pan, multiply 3.14 (π) by 4 (because it’s half of 8) times 4. Thus, the area of an 8-inch circle is 3.14 x 4 x 4, approximately 50 square inches. Not so hard!

Just by glancing at the two pans, you might think that a 9-inch pan is very close in size to an 8-inch pan of the same shape, thus making it a reasonable substitute. But if you check the chart, you’ll find that a 9-inch square pan is more than 25% larger than an 8-inch square pan. (The relationship between a 9-inch and 8-inch round pan is similar.) Such a considerable difference will result in a 9-inch batch of very thin brownies that may be over-baked by the time you check them for doneness (because thin brownies bake faster than thick ones). Knowing this beforehand, you can increase the recipe by 25% for results as thick than the original recipe intended. If you want brownies that are even a tad thicker than the original recipe, you can even increase the recipe by 33%. 

Let's try an example: How many times should you multiply an 8-inch brownie recipe to fill a 9- x 13-inch pan or a 12- x 16-inch half sheet? To figure this out, divide the area of the larger pan by the area of the 8-inch pan.  

  • For the 9- x 13-inch pan: 117 divided by 64 = 1.82, which is close enough to 2 that you can confidently double the recipe for the larger pan.  
  • For the half sheet: 192 divided by 64 is exactly 3, so you can multiply the recipe times 3.  

Using similar math, you can calculate how many times to multiply the recipe for a round cake to make a large rectangular sheet cake. And don’t forget that you don’t always have to multiply recipes by whole numbers—it’s perfectly fine to multiply a recipe by 1 1/2 or 2 2/3. 

About now, you might be wondering about eggs. It’s nice if you can increase recipes so that you don’t have to deal with fractions of eggs—by increasing a 2-egg batter by 1 1/2 or a 3-egg batter by 1/3 or 2/3, for example—but it is not essential.

Here’s what to do if you multiply a recipe and end up needing part of an egg: Set aside any whole eggs you need. Next, whisk the other egg to blend the white and yolk; weigh it (preferably in grams); then weigh out the fraction of the egg that you need for the recipe and add that to the whole eggs. If you need 40% of a 50-gram egg, that’s 20 grams of the whisked egg. When egg whites and yolks are used separately, weigh and measure them in the same way, but separately. Add leftover egg parts to your morning scramble. See, no waste and still no rocket science!

The chart (or your ability to do the math) is extremely valuable: Use it but don’t be a slave to it. When I make brownies in a large quantity, I like them to be about the same thickness as they are in a small batch, so I stay close to the chart. But, when I increase the dimensions of a birthday cake, I often make it a bit taller than the original (in other words, I round up when multiplying) because the proportions are visually more pleasing. For example, if I am making a 12-inch round cake using a recipe meant for an 8-inch pan, I divide the area of the 12-inch round pan (113) by the area of the 8-inch round (50 inches) and get 2.26. But instead of multiplying the recipe by just 2.26, I might multiply it by 3 so that the cake will turn out tall and lofty. See: Love the chart, but don’t let it bully you! 

When you round things up like that, don’t go overboard: Pans should not be filled more than about 2/3 full or batter may overflow. If you do end up with too much batter, scrape the excess into cupcake molds or a mini cake pan—bonus cakes never go uneaten! 

When you increase recipes and bake in larger pans, you should anticipate longer baking—anywhere from a little longer if the pans are filled to the same level as the original recipe to considerably longer if you are making the cake taller by filling the pan a bit more. If you are making a smaller amount of the recipe, check earlier than you think you need. And always use a cake tester to check to see if the cake is finished.

Here are 10 baking recipes to put your newfound knowledge to good use: 

1. Triple-Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies

Bittersweet chocolate, chocolate syrup, and Dutch-process cocoa powder make these brownies as chocolatey as can be. We love the olive oil's grassy flavor, but feel free to swap in canola if you're not a fan. 

2. Cook's Illustrated's Blondies

Meet the blondie recipe that will ruin you for all others. Don't say we didn't warn you! Made with melted butter, they're just as gooey and fudgy as a blondie should be. 

3. Peanut Butter Sheet Cake 

"Bake this peanut butter sheet cake for birthday parties, celebrations, or just because," writes recipe developer EmilyC. "It's so easy to assemble, feeds a crowd, and will put a smile on everyone's face." 

4. Magic Cookie Bars

When we say magic, we mean it. These classic cookie bars include graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chocolate chips, toasted nuts, shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. Oh, and butter, because of course. 

5. Lemon Bars With a Salty Olive Oil Crust

While most lemon bar crusts are butter-based, like a classic shortbread, this one opts for a modern upgrade: olive oil instead. A generous pinch of salt brings out the olive oil's savoriness in a way the lemons really love. Serve extra-cold with confectioners' sugar dusted on top. 

Additional ideas from the editors:

6. Minnie Utsey's No-Fail Cornbread

This recipe is exactly as its name promises: no-fail. For that reason, I come back to it time and time again anytime a cornbread craving hits. Scale it up or down as needed, but I guarantee there will be none left over.

7. Mochi Banana Bread 

"What happens to classic banana bread when you swap in sweet rice flour?" asks recipe developer Joy Cho. "The result is neither wholly mochi nor traditional banana bread—it’s a lovely in-between, decidedly familiar with a fun textural twist." Glutinous rice flour brings mochi’s signature chewy texture to the world of banana bread. Even better: it requires only about half the time in the oven as a typical banana bread would.

8. Powdered Donut Cake

This brilliant dessert mashup comes from Snacking Cakes (the book, but also the concept) queen, Yossy Arefi. It’s light and fluffy with all the powdered sugar goodness of your favorite childhood donut holes. The best part? Arefi encourages experimentation and even provides suggested measurements for various pan sizes.

9. Madeira Cake

This simple European cake is so much more delicious than the sum of its parts. Light sponge flavored with just a hint of citrus, this cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea, or even fortified wine (just like its name implies!)

10. Chocolate Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting & Salty Peanuts

For the chocolate-peanut butter lovers in your life. This may just be their dream birthday cake, and now you can easily scale it to accommodate any number of guests.

This article was originally published in June 2015. We refreshed it for this summer, because we're very, very excited about our summer dessert to-do list. What are your tricks for adapting recipes to different pan sizes? Tell us in the comments!

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Kim September 19, 2021
Hi Alice
I would like to serve a tiramisu in a 4"×4" glass baking dish. What would be the math for that please?
Mireille D. July 30, 2021
I am very confused - in the chart the 8x8 pan = 64 sq. inch, and the 9" round pan also = 64 sq. inch, yet in the text it says that they are different (by 25%)... Not sure what to do here...
Smaug July 30, 2021
A 9" ROUND pan is about 64 in.sq., a 9"SQUARE pan is 81 in.sq., about 1 1/4 times the 8".
Mireille D. July 30, 2021
I agree with you. I mis-read the article. Is there a way to remove my comment?
Smaug July 30, 2021
Don't think so, this site has never had any sort of edit function.
Amanda July 12, 2021
It would be great to have this information available in a format for quick reference, which could be bookmarked or printed off. Would that be possible? I’d personally love to have a paper copy by my baking books :)
cmarineau May 16, 2021
So if I wanted to bake a cake in my 10 inch round pan instead of two 8 inch round pans would I divide the are of the 10" pan by the total area of the 8" pans (79 that would mean I am actually reducing the recipe by ~.75. the math works but I'm doing a gluten free cake recipe for the first time and am nervous.
cmarineau May 16, 2021
this is also a 3 inch tall 10 inch round.
Don B. May 16, 2021
you have the right idea, and you've done the area calculations right (79 sq in and 100 sq in). However, you say you're reducing the recipe by 75%, where actually you're reducing the batter needed by ~21%, not 75%. That is, you need about 79% of the batter you would need when using 2 8" pans.
cmarineau May 16, 2021
once I started doing the math I figured out it was that the area was 79%. I appreciate the confirmation that I was doing it right. I also found out my pan is actually a 9"x2.5"round so I went and borrowed my Mom's 8" pans. I did find out, volume-wise, a 10"x 3" round pan holds the same volume as (2) 8" rounds. So I could, I believe do this recipe without conversion, just temp. and time adjustment, then cut my layers out of one pan. Thank you for the quick reply.
Smaug May 16, 2021
To compare round pans, you don't really need to calculate area; you just need the proportion, so you simply need the ratio of the diameter squared (or the radius squared if the arithmetic works out easier). So the ratio of the area of a 10" round pan to an 8" would be 100/64.
Don B. May 17, 2021
True, but her original post said she had 2 8” pans.
Smaug May 17, 2021
Yeah, I thought she could probably handle the additional arithmetic on her own.
mary February 11, 2021
Can I bake a flourless 9” round cake in 2 6” round pans. Thank you
AceyKay January 8, 2021
Hi. All your neat conversions involve open pans. What about muffin pans? I have a recipe for a bread that goes into muffin pans. I don't have them out of storage yet. The recipe makes 12 rolls. How would we extrapolate that out into a round or square pan?
Smaug January 9, 2021
Really hard to say with bread; there's no obvious way to compare volumes. I'd go with filling the muffin cups halfway or so. Hopefully it would rise about to the top of the cup, and then grow above in the oven. It should be a lot easier to figure the next time (or you could experiment with part of the dough). This is one of those situations where there's no real substitute for experience
gtapper January 8, 2021
Hi there, if I want to make a four layer 6-inch round cake but the recipe is for three 8-inch round pans, how would I adjust the recipe?
Smaug January 8, 2021
You would want 36/64x(4/3)=144/192=3/4 of the original recipe, for layeers the same thickness.
Diane M. December 8, 2020
What do you do if you only have a 8x8 and recipe calls for a 9x9?
Smaug December 8, 2020
Make 3/4 of the recipe (or 79% if you feel like doing the arithmetic).
karin.anderson.52 December 1, 2020
Or simply use “Keiko’s Cakes” interactive pan conversion tool. Enter your pan size and the desired size and find the factor by which to multiply your recipe amounts. You can also convert between rectangular and round pan shapes. Very easy!
Jen A. November 24, 2020
I need help. My recipe calls for an 8x8 but I only have 8inch! What should I do? Just increase the baking time? Of leave some batter out?
Michelle D. November 21, 2020
I have a cake recipe that is calling for 3 8inch pans. I only have two 9 inch pans. Can I still make the receipt it the 2 9 inch pans.
Don B. November 21, 2020
of course. 8^2 = 64 square inches per layer, and 9^2 = 81 square inches per layer (for square pans). if your desire is to have a 3-layer cake, one option is to use the 9" pans to make 2 layers, then re-use one of the pans to make a third layer. if you use the same amount of batter, the layers will be 18.5% thinner in your 9" pans (e.g., 2.5" thick in the 9" pans vs 3" thick in the 8" pans). there are, of course, other options (e.g., making a 2-layer cake or using more batter).
ANIRUDDHA R. November 4, 2020

For your example: How many times should you multiply an 8-inch brownie recipe to fill a 9- x 13-inch pan or a 12- x 16-inch half sheet? To figure this out, divide the area of the larger pan by the area of the 8-inch pan.

For the 9- x 13-inch pan: 117 divided by 64 = 1.82, which is close enough to 2 that you can confidently double the recipe for the larger pan.
For the half sheet: 192 divided by 64 is exactly 3, so you can multiply the recipe times 3.
But the area of the 8 inch pan is 50, not 64. So you need to divide 117 by 50 and not 64. Same applies to the half sheet pan. Please make that correction.

Thanks and Regards,
Pamela_in_Tokyo December 18, 2020
I’m sorry, but I was wondering about your comment..... the area of an 8 x 8 square pan is 64 not 50 as you state. How did you get “50”?? Are you perhaps thinking of a different sized pan?? A 7 x 7 pan is 49....
Shu October 23, 2020
Most recipes seem to be for 8", 9" or the 9x13 pans. So, I did the conversions for the pans I own.
Note the conversions are rounded off to the nearest multiple of 5.

So if I want to scale a 9x9 square pan recipe to my 8x8 square pan, I'll just use 80% of the 9x9 recipe.
Eg: 100g of flour will be 80g of flour.
Calculator entry: '100' x '0.8' = 80.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Area of square/rectangle pans:
* 7 x 7 = 49 square inches = Same as 8” round
* (75% of 8” square)
* (60% of 9” square)
* (40% of 9 x 13)
* f**k it. Just half either 9” sq or 9 x 13 recipe
* 8 x 8 = 64 square inches = Same as 9” round
* (80% of 9” square)
* (50% of 9 x 13)
* 9 x 9 = 81 square inches
* (125% of 8” square)
* (70% of 9 x 13)
* 9 x 13 = 117 square inches
* (180% of 8” square)
* f**k it. Just double a 8” sq
* (140% of 9” square)
* f**k it. Just x1.5 a 9” sq

Area of round pans:
* 4 inch = 13 square inches
* (20% of 9” round)
* (25% of 8” round)
* 6 inch = 29 square inches
* (45% of 9” round)
* (60% of 8” round)
* f**k it. Just half either 8” or 9” round
* 8 inch = 50 square inches = Same as 7” square
* (75% of 9” round)
* 9 inch = 64 square inches = Same as 8” square
* (125% of 8” round)
Jmnewman2 June 21, 2020
I am trying to Convert a brownie recipe that is for an 8x8 pan up to a 13x18 pan and it works out to be 3.65 times bigger so would I just times the original recipe by 4 or would I have to go 3.65 times bigger? I can easily multiply all the ingredients by 3.65 except the eggs since im pretty sure it will be next to impossible to use 7.3 eggs and 3.65 yolks🤣. Thanks!!
Don B. June 21, 2020
the easy way would be to multiply the entire recipe by 4 and then just use 90% of it (giving a factor of 3.6). but my guess is that you could use the entire 4X of the batter, which would make just make the batter a little (about 9%) deeper and the brownies that much thicker. then just bake it a little longer. (start checking at your usual time.)
Anna G. May 12, 2020
Thank you for this helpful guideline! I pretty much understand how to adjust a recipe now (I think) but what about for let’s say, a recipe I’m following uses a 3 layer 6” round cake pan, and I’ll be using a 2 layer 8” round cake pan. (Both have the same 2” depth)
So first, Following your chart, i’ll divide 50 by 29 = 1.7 as the multiplier. (270g flour x 1.7 = 459g)
But that would amount to a 3 layered 8” pan... what about the 1 extra cake layer that i don’t want, how exactly do i subtract that?
Sorry for All my basic math skills have basically flown out the window...
Anna G. May 12, 2020
I’m not sure if anyone would follow but if my previous calculation was correct, i now have 459g of flour for a 3 layer 8” round cake pan.
If i want to make just 2 layers instead of 3, I’ll divide 459g by 3 = 153g approx. for 1 pan. 153 x 2 = 306g of flour for 2 layers/pans
Can anyone tell me if this is correct?
Pamela_in_Tokyo December 18, 2020
First calculate how much batter for all three 6 inch pans, then see if that will fit into your two 8 inch pans.

I did this calculation. Does this make sense??

6 in round = 29 square inches x 3 = 87 square inches

8 in round = 50 square inches x 2 = 100 square inches

The batter for the three 6 round inch pans = 87 square inches
The batter for the two 8 square pans = 100 square inches

100 minus 87 = 13 square inches

So the batter for a three layer cake to be baked in 6 inch round pans can be baked in two 8 inch round pans but the layers would be a little thinner.
ebraxy May 2, 2020
Thank you for writing this out, but it seems like you left off in the middle. I'm sorry I don't remember my basic math. I want to scale down from 8" round to 6" round. Using what you have shown I end up with a difference of 1.79. Where do I go from there to take 480g of flour to a 6" round. Thanks
Smaug May 2, 2020
Actually, you want the reciprocal of that; 6sq./8sq.=.56, .56x480=270g.
Don B. May 2, 2020
yes, the difference in volume (assuming equal depth of batter) is the ratio of 1.78 (8^s / 6^2). so simply divide the 480g of flour used for the 8" round by 1.78. you get approximately 271g of flour for the 6" round. now, dividing eggs by 1.78 is a little trickier :)
mompants April 11, 2020
This is brilliant, thank you so much for this! I never would have guessed that a 9” round is so much smaller (in capacity) than a 9x9” square.
Thank you for saving my Easter bunz!
mudd February 10, 2020
Easy way to consider this issue-surface area only. But need to also consider capacity/volume. Eg recipe calls for 8x8x2 in high. You have 8x8x1 in high. Surface are of both is exactly the same-64 in-but capacity/volume is very different. Volume of 8x8x1 is 64 sq in, 8x8x2 is 128 sq in!
Smaug February 10, 2020
Not really very relevant. If you're making soup or jello you can size your container by volume (to some extent) but in a baking recipe changing the depth significantly will have a huge effect both on the baking characteristics and the finished quality of the dish- it's generally to be avoided when adapting recipes.
mudd February 10, 2020
That’s just what I’m trying to point out. Volume of pan can make a huge difference in baking!
Smaug February 10, 2020
Then I'm not sure of the point of your post. If you're adapting a recipe, the depth of your pan should be similar to that of the original recipe, there's no real point in factoring in volume. It can be deeper, to some extent, but a too deep pan can slow down heat absorption from the top which may or may not be acceptable, and can also make it difficult to remove some things without damage; best to stay away from it. If you want to halve a recipe for a 1" deep pan you need a 1" deep pan, or close to it, with about half the surface area.
mudd February 11, 2020
I’m trying to respond to some of the previous commenters/questioners below is all.
Katherine F. January 26, 2020
I'm very new to baking, so this may be a no-brainer question, but i did the math and the difference between a 9 and 9.5 in tart pan is 1.1. Do i really need to increase the ingredients by .1%? I know you have to be pretty darn exact with baking..
Smaug January 26, 2020
Actually, the difference is 11.4%- you can usually get away with ignoring it, but your filling may come out a bit thin. The need for exactitude in baking is greatly overstated- there are some things, such as fat to flour or liquid to flour ratios- where small changes can make a big difference (not necessarily a bad thing), but a lot of it is pretty wide open to variation.
Don B. January 26, 2020
The ratio of the area of the two pans is the square of (9.5/9), or 1.114. This means the difference is .114 (1.114-1) or 11.4%, so you need to increase your ingredients by about 11%, not 0.1%.
Linda December 26, 2019
Would you post a chart like you showed for baking pans, for cheesecake pans?
Recipe calls for one size and maybe you don’t have the same size or you want to create your own cheesecake but not sure how much of each ingredient you’d need.