Finding the Best Sheet Pan
When it comes to hardworking kitchen gear, you can’t forget the sheet pan. This humble pan is an absolute must for so many recipes, like these sheet pan dinners. But a good baking sheet is an essential for much more, like roasting veggies, baking cookies and even whipping up crowd-friendly desserts. However, many folks don’t put a lot of thought into the pans they buy. After all, it’s not a glamorous purchase and they all look a lot alike. That’s where out Text Kitchen crew would tell you to think again.
After using baking sheets day in and day out, our team knows how to spot a good one. A good sheet pan should help your recipes bake up evenly, clean up easily, retain their shape and—most importantly—hold up to repeated use.
To find our Best Loved Brand (what’s that?), our Test Kitchen tried out 10 options. Over the course of several months, our test cooks and food stylists used these pans daily to see how they stood up to wear and tear. Then they put them through a series of standardized tests to see which really performed—and which you should think about purchasing yourself. Here are the tests we ran:
- Roasting: We roasted seasoned and oiled carrots at 425ºF for 15 minutes. Did the carrots look browned and caramelized? Did they stick to the pan? Did the oil discolor or stain the pan?
- Baking: We baked sugar cookies at 350ºF on ungreased pans. Did the cookies brown evenly? Did they release easily from the pan?
- Buckling: At high temperatures, did the pan buckle or warp? If so, did it return to its original shape at room temperature?
- Price: Is the product affordable? Is it well priced for how well it performed?
The Best Sheet Pan: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baker’s Sheet
After undergoing months of use and a series of tests in our Test Kitchen, Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum pan ($21) got rave reviews. Despite baking sheets being a seemingly simple piece of kitchen gear, these pans gave our food stylists and cooks a lot to love.
Features We Loved
- Size: When it comes to baking sheets, it can be difficult to find one large enough for a dozen cookies or an entire sheet pan dinner. Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum series, however, offers a nice assortment of sizes to accommodate almost any recipe. The largest sheet in this line is a whopping 15×21 inches. As our food stylist Shannon Roum put it, “Being able to tackle a dozen cookies at a time is dreamy.”
- Easy to clean: While this sheet pan isn’t nonstick, our Test Kitchen staff had no problem with baking or cleaning. Shannon found that cookies slid off easily—no parchment required. After messier jobs, like roasting veggies, our cooks didn’t notice that sticky residue that sometimes loves to linger on baking trays (even after a wash). They’re dishwasher-safe, too. You may notice some slight discoloration after, but this is only cosmetic—your 100% aluminum pan is safe to use.
- Durable: This cookie sheet is advertised as being commercial grade, and it certainly performs that way. After months of use in our Test Kitchen, it has withstood a lot of use and still looks (and works) great!
How It Performed
Roasting carrots with oil and seasoning, our Test Kitchen found that the veggies browned evenly and were easy to scoop off the tray—no need to pry them off with a spatula. Our cooks reported that all the oil and baked-on bits wiped off easily—even though it’s not a nonstick pan (impressive!). After roasting, the pan cleaned up easily with just a regular dish sponge and soap (hey—are you swapping your sponges often enough?).
This pan did just as well in our baking challenge. Our Test Kitchen’s sugar cookies were perfectly golden on the bottom and required no parchment paper. And since this Nordic Ware pan comes in an extra large size, you can fit more cookies on each sheet.
When it came to our buckling test, our experts found that the pan occasionally buckled at high heat (many do). However, it always flexed right back into shape (not as common).
In the end, this sheet really performed in our kitchen (which sees thousands of new recipes each year—you can share yours here!). If this baking sheet from Nordic Ware can make it in our Test Kitchen, it would be right at home in yours.
We Also Recommend…
While it rose to the top, the Nordic Ware pan wasn’t the only good baking sheet we tested. Our staffers agree you’d be happy with these brands, as well.
- Wilton Professional Results Nonstick Cookie Pan ($32, left): With built-in handles and a nonstick coating, this baking sheet is easy to maneuver and clean. However, in many homes, the handles would take up valuable oven and storage space—two things that are often at a premium.
- Farberware Purecook Ceramic Hybrid Baking Pan ($15, right): Available in both aqua and lavender, this pan shines in form and function. When it comes to care, though, this pan needs a little too much TLC. Hand-washing is recommended and some detergents can damage the finish.
What to Make with Sheet Pans
Now, we don’t need to tell you how to use your sheet pans—you know they’re your go-to for everything from frozen chicken strips (have you checked out our staff’s favorite brand yet?) to Christmas cookies.
But you can make so much more with this kitchen staple! With their extra-large size, these Nordic Ware pans make it easy to bake so many things, from sheet-pan hoisin chicken to a swirled cinnamon roly-poly. The versatility proves what an MVP a good baking sheet can be.
How to Care for Your Baking Sheets
After being used to make that delicious dessert (or snacks or dinner), your sheet pan will need some TLC. Sudsy water is a great place to start, but sometimes baked-on bits get the better of even the most diligent dishwashers among us. Don’t worry, though. We’ve got all the tips you need to get rid of that stuck-on grime—no fancy tools required (but maybe a little baking soda).
After months of wear and tear and hundreds of bakes, our Test Kitchen knows that this Nordic Ware pan would be a great addition to any home kitchen. What are you waiting for? Grab a sheet pan supper recipes and get cooking!
About Best Loved Brands
If you’re like us, you want all your favorite recipes to turn out fabulous every single time you make them. That means opting for the best tasting ingredients and the best tools. While picking your favorite brand of chocolate chips or bacon is a task, it’s a delicious one to be relished. Choosing the best gadgets and gear for your kitchen, though, is another story. Unless you buy several stand mixers or food processors and put them through their paces, how can you ever know which will make your recipes turn out their best? That’s where our Test Kitchen comes in. Our culinary experts tried dozens of products our Test Kitchen—testing your recipes—to find out which brands came out on top.