Baking Brown Bread in Tin Cans

Today I’m taking a little trip down memory lane.

It all started a few weeks ago when I saw something on Pinterest about baking in tin cans instead of using ordinary pans.   I read a little further and smiled because it was as if they had discovered something brand new.  Recycle!  Re-purpose!  And make cute cakes too!

Oh gosh.  What would my grandmothers think?

I don’t think either of my grandmothers baked quick breads in anything but tin cans for many years.  It was something they started doing during the depression and just kept on doing it.  Visiting a grandma usually meant having a piece of brown bread . . . and it was always round.  Always.

Because that’s how bread looks when it come out of a tin can .  🙂


homemade brown bread

So for old time’s sake I made my grandmother’s brown bread recipe in tin cans today.  My mother used this method a lot too so having nice little circles of brown bread to eat this week will bring back lots of fond memories.

brown bread cansSo remember . . . if you want to make some small loaves of a quick bread and don’t have any small pans, you can always Make Your Own pans simply by recycling some clean tin cans.  Use cans from things that come in an approximate 14 oz size like diced tomatoes or beans.  Cans from soup or vegetables work good too.

Just make sure you’re very careful when cleaning out the cans to be aware of any sharp edges that might be around the rim.



You Will Need:

  • 3 or 4 tin cans – tops removed, labels removed, and washed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cups very hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

1.  Place the sugar, raisins, baking soda, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the hot water over everything in the bowl.

2.  Let the mixture set for about a half an hour to let the raisins plump up.

3.  Next add the flour, egg, and nuts to the bowl and stir until everything is well mixed.

4.  Spray the inside of your clean tin cans generously with cooking spray.  You can also grease the pans with butter or crisco, but be careful sticking your hands inside the cans in case there are any sharp edges.

5.  Spoon the batter into the tin cans.  I used three cans and filled them about three quarters full.  You could also use four cans and fill them about half full for smaller loaves.

6.  Put the cans on a baking sheet (in case anything bubbles over).

7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.  The bread will rise up out of the can a little bit.

brown bread in cans

8.  Once the cans are removed from the oven, let them cool for about an hour.

9.  To remove the bread, turn the cans over and give them a little shake and the bread should slip right out.


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  1. My great aunt said the inside of the cans cannot be ribbed due to ease of removal. Has anybody found unribbed cans or found issues of removal difficulties?

    1. No, i just use shortening or spray pam, quite a bit, inside the cans. I do let the bread sit in the cans 10 minutes and gently run a regular dinner knife along the edge to release the bread. Give the bread a couple of shakes and it usually pops right out.

    1. No, you only remove one end of the can. Because you grease the inside of the can, you are then able to slip the bread out of the open end of the can when the bread is done baking.

  2. This bread is fabulous- took some for Christmas and quickly eaten! Next time, I will soak the raisins for a while, then roll them in flour so they do not all sink to the bottom of the bread. But fab!

  3. If you’re going to bake in a tin can, beware the BPA lining. If, on opening, you see a white lining, that’s BPA a toxic “forever” chemical. I wouldn’t eat the beans, and you should certainly not be baking in it. Fortunately, most big producers have gotten the message (including GF who, rather incredibly, packaged organic Muir Glen tomatoes in the stuff!!! Talk about unclear on concept) but if you shop at a smaller market, or a place where baked beans don’t get a quick turnaround, you may yet find BPA lined cans.

    Aside from that, brown bread is absolutely delicious and would make a nice swap out for some other tired Thanksgiving side!

  4. This is my Grandmother’s recipe also, with one exception, she boiled the raisins slightly. I make this recipe and always use cans the way Grandma did. Everyone loves this bread, especially my 97 year old father. It reminds him of his Mom. I have found that generic raisins are drier and work best. Thank you for posting the recipe. I’ve always wondered about it’s origin.

  5. My grandmother and mom always made Brown Bread and used tin cans. I took about 20 tin cans from my mom’s house when she passed. Talk about recycling; I think the cans were used over and over! I love brown bread and still make it. Her recipe calls for graham flour which I was able to find on-line at King Arthur. She used to look all over for it in our stores.
    I have never seen this recipe in print before. Thank you for enlightening a whole new generation to this delicious bread!

    1. You should not use any tin cans that have the white lining in them, but cans that are completely of tin are what people have used for many years and are what I have used too.

  6. My mom made this bread every year at this time. I lost her recipe so I’m going to do yours I’m sure it is delicious. I have save my cans for about 20 years using the same ones. Can let you know how it turns out thank you🎄🎄🎄🎄 Merry Christmas 🎄🎄🎄

  7. Oh my goodness!! I’m so very grateful I finally began my search for this recipe. My great grandma made these every year for Christmas and would wrap them in paper and twist the paper to make a tootsie roll shape. It was a delight every year. My Nannie passed almost 15 years ago as well as my grandma taking the recipe with them. Those are the things you need to remember while they are still alive. Anyway, I’ve asked family members and no one had it!! I’m starting the tradition over again. God bless. I know my Nannie is smiling down at me now!


  8. Oh my gosh! This is my recipe (almost) that I’ve been making for years! Mine is called Scotch bread. Mine has the addition of cut up marachino cherries and coconut!

    1. I don’t think tin cans are available to the public to purchase in a small amount. That’s why folks use cleaned and recycled tin cans from purchasing other goods. However sometimes you can find tubular loaf pans such as this one from Pampered Chef:

    1. Brown bread is the generic term I have always used for a quick bread with raisins, as the raisins and their soaking water darken the batter and the final results is a darker bread.

  9. Surprised that there is no molasses in your recipe and that you use A flour and not rye or wheat and cornmeal?

  10. Pat again. I should tell you her recipe consists of 4 c flour, 2 cup sugar, cinnamon,1 lb of raisins that you soak in 2cups of boiling water until cool. Plus salt, baking soda and small amount of Crisco. All go into six 15 oz cans to bake one hour. Cans are filled about half way up. This might vary size of loaf pans I wanted to know about.

    1. That sounds like quite a large recipe and you would probably need to use 2 of the standard size loaf pans. If you are making gifts, you might want to consider the mini disposable aluminum foil loaf pans (and then your bread can stay right in the pans when you give it away). You can usually fill 4 of these mini pans with a batch that would fill a standard loaf pan. So for your larger recipe, you could probably make 8 mini loaves.

  11. I have my mother in laws brown bread w/raisins recipe and have made it in tin cans but I have always wanted to try it in loaf pans as gifts. What size pans would you recommend for baking.

  12. i have a question? my husband is trying to make the brown bread in tins which are set in water to boil for 3 hrs.You are suppose to seal the cans. Do you know of anywhere something like this can be bought, then you put them i the oven after removing the top for 10 minutes to dry them

    1. I had never heard of this water steaming method, however I did find an article about this where they say to just cover the can with foil and secure it with a string (they are using a coffee can). I don’t think there are any special cans available so the tin foil/string method might be your best bet.

  13. Hey Bev! My sister and I are sitting here discussing our Grandmother’s Brown Bread Recipe. I wasn’t sure if today’s veggie cans are safe to bake in. I googled it and your post came up. Your recipe ingredients are almost identical to my Grandmother’s recipe but your process is different. For years we have been trying to replicate my Grandma’s recipe but it never turns out as dark as her bread was. The photo of your bread is as dark as hers. Just wondering if the difference might be in the raisins used. Anyway, glad to see a wonderful recipe lives on!

    1. Loved your comment Mary! My best guess would be that the soaking of the raisins may be what makes the bread darker or lighter. My grandmother’s recipe said to soak the raisins overnight, although I never do it that long. But the water will turn a little darker after things have been soaking, so that could possibly be what is making that difference in how dark or light the bread looks, based on how long you soaked the raisins.

  14. We have been making our whole wheat bread in 46oz round tin cans for about 30 or more years, makes the bread so soft! Our tins are wearing out, even sandblasted the inside, now we use parchment sprayed with Pam. Works well also, our kids loved having round sandwiches!
    Kay Heiner
    Ogden Utah

    1. I never thought of making bread in larger cans Kay – great idea! I have fond memories of eating the “round bread” that comes out of a can too. “)

  15. I reuse BPA Free Cans (stated on the lower left side of can) of Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk. They are white on the inside. I like the idea of using the ( P.S.) can opener so the lid can be reused. I made Hobo Bread/Tin Can Bread as a grade schooler Girl Scout and then again as an Adult Instructer for the American Camping Association. Lost my recipe & so I was glad to find it here. I look forward to teaching my grandchildren how to make it.

  16. Mom used to do this at Christmas time. I loved it! One comment was in regards to avoiding the sharp edge on the can. I have a can opener from a well known company that employs hostesses to show their product in people’s homes (in case we can’t do endorsements on this website). This can opener doesn’t cut the tin but lifts the complete lid away from the can, leaving both the lid and can free of any sharp edges. I teach preschool and those lids are great (no sharp edges) for gluing pictures or decorations on, punching a hole in, hanging from a ribbon and using as Christmas ornaments. Just a thought!

    1. Thanks for sharing that JUlie! A can opener like you mentioned would be perfect for this purpose, and I love that you’re not letting those lids go to waste either.

  17. Thank you…lol, loved the comments. I misplaced my mom’s recipe but I knew someone would have it and her it is. This is also a nice way to give personal gifts. Take out of the can wrap in clear paper, colored is nice with pretty bow tied on either end. Good for teachers, pastors or close friends. Again thank you.

  18. Hi I just discovered your website when I was looking for Bisquick substitute that I need for zucchini quiche, and I LOVE the ideas & recipes you’ve offered so far! I’m excited to make up my homemade Bisquick & then I think I’ll make the Red Lobster biscuits too. I’ve never had brown bread & want to try it too. I think is awesome idea to offer as gifts-homemade says so much more b/c of time & love spent on the effort that goes into it. I’ll definitely be referring to your site a lot now!! 🙂

      1. I tried the homemade Bisquick, & it turned out great in my quiche!! Also made the RL biscuits and turned out great as well. Thanks again:)

  19. I have been making this bread for years..( my grandmothers recipe) Please make sure you use the cans without the plastic liner..alot of cans have turned to liners…) just my thought to you.

  20. this reminds me of a loaf my mom used to make when i was a kid, but she called it a ” hobo’ was delish

    1. Yup, this is an older recipe, but it’s a good one worth keeping that helps remind us of our moms and grandmas 🙂

  21. How fun! Reminds me of date nut bread you can buy in the can 🙂

    Never have thought of doing this, but this size would be perfect for gift giving.

    I’ll make sure I get BPA free cans based on some other comments.

  22. How fun! Growing up, we used to have ‘easy dinners’ of Boston baked beans, Polish sausage, and canned brown bread from the grocery store. Eventually my mom couldn’t find it in the regular stores here in Northern CA so I haven’t had that kind of bread in years. I’ll have to make some!

    My only concern is using modern cans to bake in because most of them still have a BPA-laden coating on the insides, right? And BPA will transfer to foods quicker when heated. So I might try using glass freezer mason jars instead (1 or 1.5 pint size).

    1. I didn’t know about the BPA coating. I’m wondering if those are the cans that are white inside ??