The Scary Reason I’ll Never Cook with Glass Pans Again

Chief among the sounds you never want to hear in your kitchen is an explosive shattering of glass. I’m here to tell you that the stuff of urban legend sometimes is true.

Picture a cozy Sunday supper underway: my husband, Brian, is making his mom’s Yorkshire pudding to go with a beef roast and carrots and buttermilk-poached cauliflower. Our neighbors are over with their sweet toddler. There’s wine and a good Pandora station, and it’s dark outside but warm and bright inside.

We’re getting a demonstration of how the baby is walking now, but the kitchen tile is too slippery so we head into the dining room when BOOM! I whirl around in time to see my husband standing amidst a shower of hundreds of 425-degree, butter-coated shards of glass.

We’re all dumbstruck for a moment, then hustle to get the dogs out of the kitchen and close the door so no creatures, canine or human, can walk on the broken glass that’s everywhere.

I make sure Brian is OK — how did glass not fly into his face? — and move into what-the-what-just-happened mode.

He’d preheated a glass Pyrex-style baking dish with butter, as he always does and as his mom has always done, and opened the oven to take it out and add the pudding batter. He set the dish on a wooden cutting board on the counter where it promptly shattered in the most dramatic fashion.

After the initial wave of relief that nobody was hurt — the baby had been sitting at the counter minutes before! — we turned to stunned discussion, and of course googling.

It turns out, this is a thing. A thing so well-documented that it has its own Snopes entry. There are hundreds of consumer complaints related to the issue on Consumer Affairs alone and a slew of results when you google “exploding Pyrex.” Apparently it has to do with sudden temperature changes. Why this had never happened before in the years we’ve been making this dish, I have no idea.

We swept all the shards from the floor with a broom and dustpan — it took three sweeps of the room and days later I’m still finding tiny pieces we missed in corners — then did a damp mop, and wiped the pieces on the counter into the trash with a damp wash cloth. Then to plan B: We cooked the Yorkshire pudding in a cast iron skillet and it was even better than when we bake it in glassware!

Was there a warning label on the dish? I have no idea. Does anyone even read labels on cookware? I don’t even know if it was Pyrex brand or a knock-off; it’s been in our kitchen for ages. I know one thing, though; I’m not taking any chances in the future. Come Thanksgiving and every other baking occasion in the future, I’m sticking with my trusty, non-exploding stoneware, enamelware, and cast iron.

Has this ever happened to you?

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