How to Bake a Cake Without a Cake Pan

So you’re getting ready to bake a delicious cake, only to realize you’re missing one crucial thing: the cake pan. What now? Are you all out of luck? No. You can use your handy baking sheet, create a DIY aluminum foil cake pan, or create a new recipe like cake pops or mug cakes.

Hi! I’m Michelle, a self-taught baker on a journey to create the most delicious recipes and share all of my baking tips and tricks with YOU! While I don’t typically find myself without a cake pan these days, I’ve had a few coincidences where I’ve had to be versatile without one.

Surprisingly enough, you don’t need a cake pan to bake a cake successfully. There are plenty of other great ways to achieve cake greatness – even if it means you have to change the result in a pinch.

So what can you use if you don’t have a cake baking pan?

How to Bake a Cake Without a Cake Pan: 7 Ways

Yes, you read that correctly – there are a whopping seven great ways to bake a cake without a cake pan. Remember when I said you’re not all out of luck? I wasn’t lying. Here are some cake pan substitutes that you can use to make cakes.

1. Baking Sheet

The easiest way to bake a cake without a cake pan is to use a baking sheet. Most people have these sheets in their kitchen cabinets, making it a super simple swap. Just make sure that it’s not entirely flat. There should be raised edges, or the batter will spill right out.

You may need to make multiple layers when using a baking sheet, as the cake will be longer and thinner than you’d prefer. That’s okay! Layering cake is a cinch. Just let it cool, cut, and layer. You can add some frosting or another favorite filling in between each layer. Yum!

2. DIY Aluminum Foil Cake Pan

Are you obsessed with aluminum foil like I am? Then you definitely have some stocked up in your kitchen drawer. And you can use it to make a DIY aluminum foil cake pan! The steps are pretty simple (watch the video if you’re more of a visual person!):

Step 1: Create the border. The great thing about aluminum foil is it can be super crafty. It’s versatile, so you can opt for a classic round cake or make fun shapes like stars, hearts, and ovals, you name it!

Step 2: Cut out the bottom. Simply place your shape on top of a sheet of aluminum foil and cut it out, but leave some extra room so that it can connect to the sides.

Step 3: Add extra layers for durability. You might consider adding another layer or two on the bottom so your cake batter doesn’t fall out, or your DIY cake pan breaks in half.

Step 4: Place on top of a baking sheet. Even with extra layers, you still might be concerned with stability. Take the risk out of the equation and plop your DIY cake pan on top of a baking sheet or other sturdy, oven-safe product.

3. Use Another Pan

Do you happen to have another type of pan on hand, such as a bundt cake pan or pie dish? Use it! Sure, your cake might have a little extra decoration and might be smaller or larger than you’d like, but it’s better than no cake at all. “Let them eat cake!” – Marie Antoinette.

4. Make Cake Pops

Who doesn’t love cake pops? These charming, bite-sized treats are super portable and are like teeny-tiny cake bombs with all the flavors of a full-sized slice. Plus, they’re easy to make and require the same ingredients. All you need is a stick!

You will need to bake the actual “cake” first to make cake pops. Most recipes will recommend a cake pan, but honestly, it doesn’t matter much. You’re going to be destroying the cake to transform it into small balls anyway, so use whichever pan you have on hand.

5. Make Mug Cake

Mug cakes have grown in popularity immensely. They’re quick and easy, and you don’t even need to use your oven, which means you can make a cake without warming up your entire kitchen, which is a huge plus, especially during those ultra-hot summer months.

All you need is a few ingredients and a microwave-safe mug to make the notorious mug cake. Keep in mind that this will only make small servings for 1-2 people. So, if you’re trying to feed a large crowd, this might not be the best choice.

6. Make Pull-aPart Cupcake Cake

You might have seen pull-apart cupcake cakes hit the scene, especially on crafty apps like Pinterest. They’re becoming quite popular, especially for those that don’t want to fuss with utensils and plates at a big bash.

A pull-a-part cake is perfect for those without a cake pan, but you will need a cupcake pan to be successful. Simply scoop your cake batter into the greased or lined cupcake pan, bake, and cool. 

Then, place your cupcakes into the desired shape. Slather frosting across the entire top of the cupcakes – not individually. The top should look like a singular “cake” rather than a cumulation of cupcakes.

When you’re ready to serve, simply allow your guests to pull a cupcake apart from the “cake illusion.” Super simple, and it works like a charm.

7. Use a Different Recipe

There are many ways to use leftover cake batter. But these recipe suggestions aren’t just for leftovers. If you have mixed cake batter and don’t have a cake pan – and you don’t want to use any of the suggestions mentioned above – you can always use a different recipe entirely.

The best option, especially if you’re trying to feed a crowd at a big event, is to make cookies. All you need to do is add another egg or two and ⅓ cup of vegetable oil. This will create more cookie dough rather than cake batter. Bake as you normally would!


See? A cake pan isn’t essential, but I highly recommend buying one for the future. Check out these frequently asked questions to learn more about this topic!

Can you bake in a frying pan?

It is possible to bake in a frying pan, yes. However, not all frying pans are created equally, and not all are oven-safe. So, if you’re going to try and bake a cake in your frying pan, ensure it’s oven-safe and doesn’t exceed the recommended temperature for your pan.

Can you bake a cake in a glass dish?

You can safely and effectively bake in a glass dish as long as it is oven-safe. Double-check the temperature guidelines for your glass dish. Always reduce the temperature by 25F when using a glass dish. Otherwise, your cake may end up getting burned.

What is equivalent to a 9-inch round cake pan?

The best equivalent for a 9-inch round cake pan is an 8-inch square pan.

Final Words

You can successfully bake a cake without a cake pan. My favorite option is to use a baking sheet, but I have also used other types of pans like bundt cakes. I have also really enjoyed making pull-apart cupcake cakes recently and would highly recommend giving it a shot!

What do you do when you don’t have a cake pan?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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