Your recipe may be tested and your ingredients top notch, but if your cooking tools aren’t up to scratch you might find yourself disheartened by a burned, unevenly baked, or otherwise ruined batch of treats. Quality cookie sheets are kitchen essentials that help cookies, scones, biscuits, and the like bake evenly and release with ease—no sticking, no scraping and, come cleanup time, no scrubbing.
While the terms “cookie sheets” and “baking sheets” are often used interchangeably, they’re not, in fact, the same. Sure, they’re both rectangular metal pans made for use in the oven, but cookie sheets typically have just one raised edge so that cookies can slide off the opposite side of the pan with ease, whereas baking sheets are rimmed. The bonus? A bit of extra surface area to space out cookies, important to help them develop the right shape as they spread, without conjoining. Read on for the features to look for in these baking basics, expert advice for choosing, using, and maintaining them, and our guide to the best cookie sheets you can buy.
Best Overall: USA Pan Bakeware Cookie SheetBest Value: Vollrath Wear-Ever Cookie Sheet PanBest Edgeless: Good Cook AirBake Nonstick Cookie SheetBest Half Sheet Pan: Sur La Table Platinum ProBest Splurge: Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Nonstick Cookie Sheet
The two most common materials for cookie sheets are uncoated aluminum and nonstick-coated steel—each with pros and cons. Aluminum heats quickly and cools fast, too, a plus when you wish to bake and serve in a hurry. As a lighter metal, aluminum can dent, scratch, and warp with use. Steel cookie sheets take longer to heat up, but they’re great at retaining and distributing heat. Newer to market are pans with a ceramic coating, which gives metal bakeware a smooth, super-hard nonstick surface.
Durability is a definite must if you’ll be using the sheet regularly (and you may already know how addictive baking cookies can be!). “Choose a hefty sheet,” advises David Barrette, owner of Main Street Kitchens in Hanover, NH, and Executive Sous Chef at the Hanover Inn. “Avoid anything that feels flimsy.” You can gage the thickness well by feel; if you are shopping online, this is measured by gauge. A higher number gauge indicates lower thickness, and a lower number is a good sign of a sturdy pan that won’t warp, and will keep your cookies cooking and shaping up nice and evenly.
USA Pan has been manufacturing high-quality bakeware in the USA for over 50 years, and the company’s cookie sheet upholds the tradition. It’s constructed from heavy-gauge aluminized steel for great heat distribution, strength, and durability. A patented silicone coating provides quick, easy release of baked goods and also makes cleanup painless. Steel wire rims help prevent the sheet from warping, even after years of regular use.
One extra feature that pros appreciate? “The sheet looks flat but has tiny ridges that help with its nonstick property,” says Barrette. “Allowing a little bit of air underneath helps achieve a great crispness factor when baking.” Another plus, he adds: “It’s made in the US—a product you can feel good about using.”
Video: The Best Cookie Sheets (Food & Wine)
For bakers on a budget, this Vollrath cookie sheet combines quality and affordability, and also boasts a unique design. Unlike standard cookie sheets, this pan has two curved edges on the short sides for an easy two-handed grip going in and out of the oven. The two long sides have no lip so cookies can slide off smoothly.
The heavy-gauge aluminum cookie sheet heats fast and evenly to deliver a gorgeous golden-brown bake. Created for commercial kitchens, the pan is extremely durable, but the company recommends hand washing for best results.
Need to bake cookies quickly? Consider this Good Cook insulated pan. Rimless cookie sheets allow for maximum airflow inside the oven, and this model boasts Micro-Dome technology, which the company claims can “decrease bake times by up to 15 percent over traditional insulated bakeware.”
Each insulated pan is composed of two heavyweight aluminized steel sheets with a nonstick surface surrounding a layer of air. This composition not only bakes faster but also makes for better browning without burning. Cookies typically turn out crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.
Those in the market for an all-purpose pan that can nonetheless bake beautiful cookies might approve of the Platinum Pro. Developed in partnership with cookware retailer Sur La Table and manufacturer USA Pan, the commercial-quality half sheet pan seriously delivers in terms of performance and durability.
Thick aluminized steel offers superior heat transfer as well as corrosion and rust resistance. Steel wire is added to pan rims for extra strength and resistance to warping. A slightly textured surface allows even airflow under baked goods for that must-have golden-brown exterior, and an eco-friendly nonstick silicone coating helps cookies release with ease—though you will need a spatula, since the pan’s four edges impede slide-off removal.
Bakers ready to upgrade their cookie game should consider this premium product. This cookie sheet is American made of aluminized steel to promote consistent results with even baking and beautiful browning. Its Goldtouch® Pro nonstick coating promises 70 percent better food release than standard nonstick surfaces, enabling quick cleanup and more abrasion resistance.
The 18-inch-by-14 inch dimensions make it a bit larger than other cookie sheets, which means extra surface area to space out batter—and less chance of accidentally conjoined cookies! It also boasts an easy-grip handle, and it’s dishwasher safe.
Even with a nonstick coating, cookie pans will require cleanup, so keep that in mind before plopping batter onto the sheet. “Use parchment paper or a silpat — a mat made of food-safe silicone and a fiberglass mesh — to make cleaning up much easier,” advises Fahr.
If putting dough directly on the cookie sheet, consider handwashing for best results (even if the manufacturer claims the product is dishwasher safe). Barrette recommends cleaning with hot water and a soft sponge. “Try not to scrub with anything too abrasive, which could harm the coating,” he says.
Although worries about aluminum toxicity persist, research has found that the amount of aluminum that leaches into food from cookware is minimal. Plus, studies show that consuming a trace amount of aluminum is not harmful. Still, “if bakeware is tarnished or peeling, stop using it, or top it with parchment paper—the perfect buffer to protect both your pan and your food,” says Barrette.
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