What Are the Best Rimmed Baking Sheets

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Baking trays are the workhorses of the kitchen.

Baking trays are the workhorses of the kitchen.

A good rimmed baking sheet is something every cook should have in their kitchen. They’re one of those essential items, like rolling pins or knife sharpeners. Baking sheets are a very versatile piece of cookware—these are not just for making cookies.

Why do I need a baking sheet?

Do you need to crisp up some french fries? Want to broil meat, poultry, or veggies? Roast a turkey? Does the idea of toasting your own healthy kale chips, seasonal pumpkin seeds, or snack-sized cinnamon-sugar tortilla crisps appeal to you? If you said yes to any of the above, a rimmed baking sheet will most certainly come in handy. It truly is the workhorse of the kitchen. And, if you do plan on baking cookies, you’ll be glad it’s there.

Where do I buy a baking sheet?

Surprisingly, a good rimmed baking sheet is a little harder to find than you might expect. A lot of cookware stores will forget about staple items, focusing instead on more expensive products like chef’s knives or the latest gadgets (important, but kitchens need more than knives and espresso machines). When you do see a good baking sheet, you know you are in a place that really understands the day-to-day necessities.

Of course, if you can’t find one in person, many online vendors offer a wide selection of models to choose from.

What features does the best rimmed baking sheet have?

Whatever the Founding Fathers might think, not all baking sheets are created equal. If you get a few of them together and do a side-by-side comparison, this becomes very clear, very quickly.

The “real deal” should be made from heavy-gauge metal and measure around 18 x 13 inches, with a 1 inch rim on all sides. A 15 x 10 inch “jelly roll” pan just won’t cut the proverbial mustard in the long run. It may perform adequately for small tasks, but it’s too flimsy for the bigger jobs.

The quality of construction is just as important as, if not more than, the materials used to manufacture the sheet. Warping, however, is something that’s pretty much unavoidable no matter how well the sheet is made.

Got an aluminum baking sheet that needs cleaning? Here’s my how-to.

What can I do about warping?

If you put a cold sheet into a very hot oven with unevenly distributed meats or doughs, the resulting hot and cold spots will inevitably lead to a certain level of non-uniformity in the shape of the sheet over time. This is not a disaster by any means—it may not look as pretty as the day it was bought, but the baking sheet will still do the job it was designed to do.

To avoid major warping, spread the food as uniformly as possible across the entire surface of the tray. Try to avoid subjecting it to sudden temperature changes. Metal is a lively material, so it’s best to treat it with a little care and attention. A cooling rack placed inside the sheet can help with this issue, and there are some very good, affordable racks on the market.

Bake fries and veggies in the oven instead of deep-frying them for healthier snacks.

Bake fries and veggies in the oven instead of deep-frying them for healthier snacks.

What are some popular models?

The Anolon Commercial Bakeware Jelly Roll Pan is a solid little number that is sturdy despite being a little thin. It is best suited to cookies or breads, though it is capable of handling a medium-size turkey.

NordicWare is always there when it comes to kitchen equipment. Their Natural Commercial Bakeware Baker’s Half Sheet is a pretty good option. It may be a little too soft (the surface scratches too easily for my liking), but it does provide for a very even cooking temperature across the surface of the pan. The cookies in the center will be only slightly less done than the ones in the corners.

See the NordicWare Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet on Amazon

The best rimmed baking sheet is…

There isn’t much of a competition when it comes to the best rimmed baking sheet. The Wear-Ever Half Size Heavy Duty Sheet Pan By Vollrath is the clear choice. Formerly made by Lincoln Foodservice, this 13 gauge pan is solid as a rock. Oven fries come out uniformly cooked and crisp, cookies slide off the surface, jellyrolls brown evenly, and it can support the weight of nearly any bird, pork, or beef joint. Better yet, it’s ideal for making your own gravy afterwards (especially when used in conjunction with a roasting rack).

See the Vollrath Wear-Ever Half Size Sheet Pan on Amazon

The Wear-Ever is only marginally more expensive than the other models, compared to the price tag on the NordicWare. In regards to cost, it’s in the same ballpark as its competitors, so why not just get the best?

For other bakeware discussions and reviews, check out our posts on the best rolling pin for cookie dough and the best springform pan for cheesecakes. Remember the best bakers weigh their ingredients, here’s my favorite kitchen scale. 

If you use a KitchenAid stand mixer, you’ll want to check out this post where I go over the best attachments for making cookies.

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Crystal and Gail.