Let’s face it. Baking takes a whole lot of work and there is no assurance of having the perfect outcome all the time. Those cookies may turn soggy and sad. More often than not, the culprit is poor air circulation during the final stage of cooling.
There is a piece of inexpensive kitchen equipment that may be the answer to your problem. It is the cooling rack that basically elevates your baked goods from a solid surface to allow air circulation.
The result is that the cookies’ bottoms don’t get soggy from the steam that is released when taking them out of the oven.
It’s a little misleading to call it a cooling rack since they are good for so much more. What they basically do is find a way to evenly distribute heat so that it spreads around and doesn’t continue to bake your baked goods right out of the oven.
It works with hot air pretty much the same way it does with the air that cools your baked goods. The food inside the oven will cook more quickly and evenly. Plus, the browning will be better.
Keep in mind when shopping for cooling racks that they have different temperature limits, and depending on how hot your oven goes, you may want a compatible rack for foods straight from the oven.
We recommend going for one which is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want something more heavy-duty, then you’re probably broiling some serious food, and that requires resistance to temperatures over 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best? I prefer the Checkered Chef Cooling Racks because they can also be used in the oven for cooking. Check it out at Amazon.
Types of Racks
Cooling racks come in different sizes, shapes, and types. Flat cooling racks are what usually come to mind when we think of cooling racks. Tiered racks are also very common especially for some people where counter space is a concern.
There are two other types called the baker’s rack and bread cooling rack that don’t look like anything that we know cooling racks should be.
Get to know more about these types of cooling racks and what makes them different from one another.
Flat Cooling Racks
The flat cooling rack is the most common of all the cooling racks. It comes in various shapes with square, rectangular, and circular being the most popular. It typically comes with feet on its edges to elevate the rack from the surface. Air can then circulate freely all around the rack.
The wires making up the grid are thick, sturdy, and non-flexible to be able to hold the weight of the baked goodies. The wires are also designed to have small gaps in between to prevent smaller pastries from slipping through them.
Tiered racks come with two or more racks that are stacked on top of each other. They usually have at least 4 inches between them for clearance. They are preferred by those who bake multiple batches and want to cool, for example, dozens of cookies all at the same time.
Using tiered racks will also save a lot of countertop space. They can also be used for presentation of food in a buffet or when you have guests at home. Some tiered racks are sold in a set or you can buy them separately.
This type doesn’t look like the typical cooling rack that we all know of. Instead of the usual grids, it has metal bars with shelf-like partitions that can hold the entire baking pan right out of the oven. This means that you will no longer need to transfer your baked goodies since cooling takes place on the pan itself.
Baker’s racks are usually made from stainless steel to make them durable and sturdy enough to be able to carry the weight of the baking pans filled with baked items. They are also equipped with wheels to make moving them easy.
Bread Cooling Rack
Bread cooling racks several layers of shelves joined in the corners by dowels. They are raised higher than normal cooling racks for better air circulation under the bread. This will prevent condensation and will prevent soggy bottoms for the bread. Often made out of wood.
These cooling racks are intended to cool and display larger bread. They are not designed for smaller baked items that may fall between the large partitions.
They are much bigger than the typical cooling rack. They come with wheels for easy mobility and have breaks for stability while at rest.
|Best Cooling Racks||Why We Like It|
|1. CHEF 5-Tier Stainless Steel Stackable||Stainless Steel - Stackable|
|2. Oven-Safe Baking Pan with Cooling Rack Set - Quarter Sheet Pan Size||Single rack + baking sheet|
|3. 3/4-Tier Collapsible Cooling Rack with Adjustable 3 Setting Design Stackable Rose Gold||GORGEOUS, that is all.|
|4. Wilton Excelle Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack||3 tier, good value, good Wilton brand|
|5. USA Pan Half Sheet Bakeable Nonstick||commercial grade|
|6. Calphalon Signature Nonstick Bakeware 12-in. x 17-in. Cooling Rack||ceramic surface|
|7. 3-Tier Stackable Cooling Rack||favorite for bread|
|8. Checkered Chef Cooling Racks||twin pack and no coating|
|9. Tebery 4 Pack Cooling Racks||our favorite coated version|
|10. Huji Cross-Wire Grid Cooling Rack||heavy duty reinforced|
The Best Cooling Racks You Can Buy
The most common cooling racks are made from stainless steel or aluminized steel to make them more durable and sturdy. They promote optimum airflow and are designed to have well-welded wires. They can also prevent smaller items from falling through their slats.
If you can’t wait to enjoy the benefits, check out our list of the best cooling racks for baking.
1. Best Stainless Steel Cooling Rack–Cooling Rack, P&P CHEF 5-Tier Stainless Steel Stackable Baking Cooking Racks for Cooling Roasting Grilling, Collapsible & Heavy Duty, Oven & Dishwasher Safe – 15’’x10’’
This is another tiered cooling rack that you can use as a set or individually. In this set, you will be getting 5 cooling racks that allow for 4 stackable combinations. They can be folded down easily.
The cooling racks are made from pure uncoated stainless steel that makes them very durable. The wires are welded solidly to make them more sturdy so that they won’t sag or wobble even when they are stacked. Plus, each cooling rack has smooth edges that won’t scratch.
Another good thing about it is that the feet can be adjusted to one or three inches depending on your preference. Its wires are equidistant to have optimal airflow while baking your goodies or cooling them.
- Made from pure uncoated stainless steel
- Allows cooling of multiple batches of cakes and cookies at the same time
- Elevated feet higher than other cooling racks
- Firmly welded wires provide sturdiness
- Stack tend to fall if not placed right
2. Best Cooling Rack with Baking Sheet–Ultra Cuisine Oven-Safe Baking Pan with Cooling Rack Set – Quarter Sheet Pan Size – Includes Premium Aluminum Baking Sheet and 100% Stainless Steel
This two-piece Ultra Cuisine set is oven-safe for up to 575°F. The cooling rack is perfect also for baking, roasting, and broiling. It has a small wire grid and holes, and smooth edges that won’t warp.
The affixed legs can add an inch in height for better air circulation. This set from Ultra Cuisine is also rust-resistant so you won’t have to worry about rust getting into your food.
As a bonus, you will also get a free recipe ebook that has over 100 recipes. And, in case something goes wrong, it is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
· Cooling rack can also be used for baking, roasting, and broiling
· Affixed legs provide better air circulation
· Not dishwasher-safe as claimed
3. Best Collapsible Cooling Rack–Geesta Rose Gold 3/4-Tier Collapsible Cooling Rack with Adjustable 3 Setting Design Stackable Cooling Roasting Cooking for Cookies Baking – Rose Gold
This cooling rack has sturdy construction with a collapsible and adjustable design. Once collapsed, it turns into a flat and compact item that will easily fit into cupboards or kitchen cabinets for easy storage.
It takes less counter space too since the 4 tiers stack on top of each other. This will leave you more space to work on other things while waiting for your food to cool.
At the same time, it can cool plenty of items all at once. It is perfect for cooling everything, from small cookies to large cakes.
It is made from heavy-gauge materials that allow even cooling for your food items. It also can carry large baked goods of significant weight.
- Collapsible and adjustable design
- Takes less counter space with 4 tiers
- Made from heavy-gauge materials
- Cannot be used inside the oven for baking
4. Best Cooling Rack with Tiers–Wilton Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack for Cookies, Cake
The three cooling racks stack on top of each other let you cool dozens of cookies and three cakes at once without taking too much space on the countertop. When you’re not using them, they collapse back down for easy storage.
The cooling racks have a nonstick coating for easy release and cleanup. They are dishwasher-safe. But, to get the best results, you have to wash them with warm and soapy water before and after each use.
I like that this cooling rack set is affordable. It is something that you need to use for only a few minutes each time so you don’t really need to spend much on it.
· Can cool dozens of cookies at the same time
· Does not take too much space
· Collapses back down for easy storage
· Slats are too far apart that tiny cookies might fall through
5. Best Aluminized Steel Cooling Rack–USA Pan Store Bakeable Nonstick Cooling Rack, Steel (Half Sheet)
This USA Pan Store bakeable cooling rack is made from commercial-grade aluminized steel that is perfect for cooling freshly baked goodies right out of the oven.
Commercial bakers prefer aluminized steel for its high-performance capabilities, durability, and strength. The cooling rack fits perfectly with USA Pan Store’s half sheet pan.
It comes with a nonstick coating on its surface that leaves cookies with crispy bottoms that stay intact. You don’t have to worry about your cookies losing their shape or getting stuck as they cool. The easy release of your baked goods also means easy clean-up.
This cooling rack has raised feet that lets better air circulation and therefore uniform cooling for your baked items.
- Made from commercial-grade aluminized steel
- Non stick coating
- Raised feet for uniform cooling
- Not dishwasher safe
6. Best Cooling Rack with Ceramic Surface–Calphalon Signature Nonstick Bakeware 12-in. x 17-in. Cooling Rack, 2000610
The Calphalon cooling rack is made with a ceramic non stick surface that releases baked goods easily. It is scratch-resistant and easy to maintain. You will be able to use it for a long time.
The cooling rack fits well with any standard baking sheet and is perfect for cooling goodies right after baking them. One of its good features is that the cooling rack’s slats are small enough not to let items fall through but big enough to allow fast cooling.
This cooling rack has other uses. It is oven-safe and also works fine as a broiler rack. Another great thing? It comes with a full lifetime warranty.
- Ceramic non stick surface for easy release
- Fits a standard baking sheet
- Not dishwasher safe
7. Best Cooling Rack for Bread–Zoaju 3-Tier Stackable Cooling Rack for Cake, Pastry, Bread, Meat and More Cooling Roasting Cooking for Cookies Baking,15.7″x9.6″x12″
If you want a cooling rack for bread or other big items like whole pizza and big pies, the Zoaju cooling rack is for you. It is also suitable for cooling cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and other smaller baked items at once.
Made from high-quality carbon steel, it will not rust and can last for years. It is multi-use since you can also use it for baking, cooking, and grilling. Its rectangular cross wire pattern ensures fast heat ventilation.
This rack has a non stick coating finish that allows easy food release. It is easy to clean since all of its parts are dishwasher safe. The three racks are collapsible for easy storage.
- Perfect for breads and other big items like pizza and pies
- Rectangular cross wire pattern for fast heat ventilation
- Non stick coating
- Heat resistance may not be high
8. Best Cooking Rack Twin Pack–Checkered Chef Cooling Racks for Baking 17 x 11.75inch – Baking Rack Twin Set. Stainless Steel Oven and Dishwasher Safe Wire Cooling Rack. Fits Half Sheet Cookie Pan- set of 2
This is a good option if you like to bake two batches of cookies at the same time since it is a twin set. You can use the racks for either baking or cooling. Due to their stainless steel construction and having no artificial coating, the racks are also safe to use inside the oven of up to 500°F.
To strengthen the cooling rack even more, it has a reinforcement crossbar at the center. This way, it won’t warp and twist like other cooling racks.
Besides optimizing airflow for even cooling, the perfectly spaced grid will also prevent smaller items from falling through. Clean up is a breeze. The cooling racks are dishwasher-safe and corrosion-free.
- Comes as a twin set
- Can be used for baking and cooling
- Reinforced with a crossbar at the center
- Sharp/ragged edges
9. Best Cooling Rack with Non-Stick Coating–Tebery 4 Pack Cooling Racks Baking Rack for Cookies, Cakes and More
These cooling racks are made from carbon stainless steel and have a black nonstick coating. This feature makes releasing items easier since they don’t stick to the surface. It also makes cleaning the cooling racks easier.
They come in a set of four. Each has four feet situated around the edges to keep them elevated and allow air to circulate underneath. This promotes proper cooling and prevents your baked items from getting soggy.
Their small grid design prevents smaller items from slipping through. It also helps in preventing baked goods from sagging also. The cooling racks themselves are sturdy enough to hold heavy cakes and pies.
- Black nonstick coating
- 4 feet for elevation
- Small grid design keeps small items from slipping through
- Black coating may peel off
10. Best Heavy Duty Cooling Rack with Grid Pattern–Huji Cross-Wire Grid Cooling Rack, Wire Pan Grate,Baking Rack, Icing Rack, Chrome Plated Steel, (17″ x 11.75″)
You may want to use a cooling rack to cook or cool heavier items like poultry or loaves of bread. A heavy-duty cooling rack like this one from Huji might be what you need.
It is very sturdy due to its stainless steel construction. You can be assured that you can use it over and over.
It has six legs that give the cooling rack more support for heavier items without it bending in the middle. The legs also allow your food to cool down properly without getting soggy. If you use it in cooking, the food will cook evenly as well because the food will not be sitting on grease.
The cooling rack will fit in a standard ½ sheet pan. It has no artificial coating that will wear off and get into your food. Its tight grid pattern also prevents food from falling through.
- Stainless steel construction
- Six legs for more support in the middle
- No artificial coating that may get into food
- Rust may form
Cooling racks are essential baking equipment. They allow baked items to cool more quickly and efficiently. They also prevent over-baking and condensation that can make your cookies soggy.
They are affordable and easy to use. The best cooling racks are those made from stainless steel to make them durable and stable. They are designed to create optimum airflow.
If you haven’t used a cooling rack before, try any of our recommendations. You will see a difference in how your baked goodies turn out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do I Need a Cooling Rack for Baking?
A cooling rack is an essential piece to have in the kitchen. Whether the food is still in a hot pan or already removed from it, a cooling rack will cool it evenly and quickly.
It is not intended to simply protect your countertop or table from a hot object. It is designed to allow air to circulate completely around the hot food or pan. This makes the food or the pan cool down more quickly than it normally would.
A cooling rack also prevents baked items from being overbaked with the residual heat of the pan. The same goes for those that have been left to cool down individually on the rack such as cookies.
Aside from cooling, a cooling rack also prevents the steam from the hot cookies from soaking their bottoms or the cookies placed on the upper tier. It prevents baked products from getting soggy or soft.
What can you use instead of a cooling rack?
If you don’t have a cooling rack to quickly and efficiently cool down baked goods, you can use regular items in the kitchen instead. If you cannot improvise, the easiest way would be to put the baked goods on a cool flat surface to cool, them down more quickly.
The most obvious thing to use is a spare baking rack from your oven. If there is not enough clearance to allow airflow, you can set it on something that will make it higher like a cooking pot.
One of the best cooling rack substitutes is a removable raised grate from a stovetop. You should clean it first if you plan to put your baked items directly on it and then set it on the counter.
Another item you can use is rolled-up pieces of foil. Roll at least 3 pieces of foil into tight cylinders. These rolls can lift the baked items from the countertop and allow air to circulate below.
Instead of foil rolls, you can also use chopsticks, bottle lids, muffin tins, or cardboard egg trays turned upside down. The same principle as the rolls of foil applies.
Is a cooling rack necessary?
A cooling rack allows air to circulate completely around whatever you need to cool down. Using it makes the hot pan or baked food cool faster than if you simply leave it on the countertop or even a trivet.
A cooling rack will also prevent over-baking. The residual heat from a hot pan will continue to cook whatever is inside it.
Most recipes require you to first place the hot pan directly on the cooling rack for a specified time. Then, they will tell you to remove the baked items from the pan and place them directly on the cooling pan.
This is usually the final step in cooling. It has to be done to prevent condensation from accumulating that can make your baked goods soggy and soft.
Are black coated cooling racks oven-safe?
Using a cooling rack to cook is letting it live up to its full potential. Most are oven-safe and can withstand very high temperatures. It can be very effective as an oversized roasting rack since it allows hot air to circulate and allow food to be evenly cooked.
However, not all cooling racks are created equal. Black coated cooling racks may be nonstick but the coating may break down and warp when subjected to high heat. It is best to read the label first before attempting to put the cooling rack inside the oven.
Can I use a cooling rack as a roasting rack?
You can use a cooling rack as a roasting rack only if it’s made with high-quality stainless steel. If it’s made from iron and coated thinly with chrome, it will most likely be prone to rust. This usually happens when the coating wears away or is chipped off.
Aside from looks, consider replacing your cooling rack more often if the coating is peeled off and rust is exposed.
So if you want to use your cooling rack as a roasting rack, get a stainless steel one. This way, you will not have to worry about rust and coating peeling off. It is also oven-safe and has high heat tolerance.
How long should cookies stay on the cooling rack?
It takes a lot of work to bake cookies. You should not waste all the efforts and time baking by rushing the final and important step of cooling them.
How long it will take to remove the cookies from the baking pan to the cooling rack will depend on how you want your cookies to be. They can either be chewy or crispy.
For chewy cookies, let them cool on the baking pan for 3 to 5 minutes before transferring them. If you want crispier cookies, it will only take a minute before you have to move them to the cooling rack.
Cookies should be completely cool to the touch before you can remove them from the cooling rack.
You can then store your cookies in an airtight container.
Read more from The Kitchen Professor: