There’s nothing like pulling out a piping hot baking sheet full of chocolate chip cookies, straight from the oven. But the experience is ruined when your cookies don’t turn out quite how you imagined. A batch that is unevenly browned, undercooked or stuck to the pan can be very frustrating; and you may be surprised to know that your baking sheet is to blame!
It seems like a basic kitchen tool, but there are a surprising number of features to consider. Use our baking sheet buying guide to help you make the right choice.
Hmm. What Is a Baking Sheet?
The terms “cookie sheet” and “baking sheet” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. A baking sheet has a rimmed edge, and a cookie sheet does not. Some pro bakers prefer a flat cookie sheet for better circulation and a larger surface capacity. But for the average home baker, a rimmed baking sheet is best. It allows you to make a larger variety of dishes thanks to its spill-proof edges.
You can whip up a pan of roasted veggies, baked chicken or a crispy pepperoni pan pizza. You can explore the convenient world of sheet pan dinners, too, without worrying about anything spilling over the edge.
Our Preferred Material
Most baking sheets are made from aluminum or aluminized steel. Aluminum is a preferred material because of its durability and even heat distribution. Plus, it’s affordable and easy to clean. What more can you want? Heavy-gauge aluminum pans are sturdier but will cost you a little more.
Test Kitchen tip: Some acidic foods like tomatoes can react with aluminum, causing a metallic taste. It’s best to line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
Your Finish Options
Stick or nonstick, that is the question. In the end, it’s really a matter of personal preference, but here are some things to keep in mind. Nonstick baking sheets are easier to clean, and it’s less likely you’ll be scraping stuck-on food from your pan. (Just in case—here’s how to clean a baking sheet.) Because nonstick finishes are usually dark in color, baking times are quicker, too. But nonstick finishes will eventually wear off and the pan will need to be replaced. Basic aluminum pans tend to last longer.
Our Pick for Nonstick Baking Sheets: OXO Good Grips Nonstick Pro Half Sheet, $25
Our Pick for Basic Baking Sheets: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet, 2/$25
What About Insulation?
You’ll see baking sheets on the market with descriptions that boast about their insulated construction. But do you really need an insulated baking sheet? Probably not. Insulated sheets are made with a layer of air between two sheets of metal. They are slow to warm up and require longer baking times. Because of their gentle heat, they’re best suited for delicate cookies and light-colored desserts like shortbread. (Here’s another shortbread baking secret.)
You won’t get crispy edges or brown bottoms—which are more commonly desired results. A non-insulated sheet is more versatile and less expensive.