Are you looking for the very best cookie trays? Maybe your baking sheets are scratched, a funny size, or maybe it’s just time for some new ones?
If so, you’ve come to the right place, because I’m rather picky when it comes to baking tools.
Did you know cookies are one of the most popular baked foods in the United States?
In my kitchen, I love a fresh-out-of-the-oven chewy chocolate chip variety dipped in milk (almond milk for me). But what I really hate – and I’m sure you would agree – is when I burn my treats! Burnt cookies are the worst kind.
And, the ones that fall apart when you try to move them onto your plate with a spatula or your hand come in at a close second-to-worst.
If your treats are burning even when you follow the recipe or they’re not cooking evenly, it’s easy to blame your oven for this, but the thing you should really be questioning is the sheet that you bake on.
Below I will share our number one pick first. We searched all over for the best quality for the job, and I think you’re going to be quite impressed with what we found.
We’ll also discuss what to look for in terms of:
Following that, we’ll explore the other options that we found to be great products. And then, as a bonus, I’ll give you my Top 10 Tricks for Baking the Perfect Cookies.
Bottom Line Up Front – Our Top Rated Model
We believe the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet is the very best for baking cookies, for most people.
It’s made from aluminum, which tells us it’s durable and not coated with any toxins, but will still hold up well in hot environments.
Although it’s a baker’s half, it fits nicely in a standard oven. Based on my own test, it can hold about 20 round treats at once, if you use about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, made from a batter that doesn’t spread significantly during baking.
This sheet might be the only one you’ll ever need, but it’s so nice you might want to buy two.
It’s commercial quality and guaranteed never to rust. It’s also made in The United States and is priced rather low, so even the most budget conscious shoppers can surely justify this.
It does well at your average 300°F temperatures, but has been shown to hold up nicely at higher temperatures upwards of 500°F as well, perfect for roasting crispy vegetables.
This product is also a top rated best seller on Amazon.com
- The perfect size. Fits in the oven, holds a large amount of baked goods, and allows room for heat circulation.
- Light color. Allows for even cooking and no unwanted burning/browning.
- Made from aluminum. Made to last, free of toxins, and won’t warp due to high temperatures.
- Versatile. Thanks to the rim, you can use this pan to roast vegetables and other foods. It will even survive the broiler without any damage.
If you’re looking for a high quality sheet that’s built to last, this Nordic Ware pan is a good option for most bakers.
It will lightly brown the bottoms of what you’re baking without burning, and cookies will easily come off the sheet – IF you’re sure to use a baking spray or a sheet of parchment paper.
That’s right – you should always remember to prep your pan first, when using this type of pan for baking.
Or better yet, the pan is also offered as part of a set that includes a silicone baking mat.
You do have to hand wash this product, but I haven’t found any high quality pans that you can put in the dishwasher without compromising the quality. However, a simple wash with soap and water cleans this sheet up very nicely.
If you’re looking for a good pan for baking delicious goodies for years to come, I’m confident you’ll be very happy with this product.
Things to Look For
There are some key factors and features you want to be aware of before you make your purchase.
Most standard ovens have a baking rack that’s around 22 inches wide, so I recommend a sheet that’s the standard 13×18” size (a baker’s half) as it’s not too big, giving the heat room to circulate. And it’s not too small either, allowing you to bake a large quantity of treats at once.
Another perk of going with a standard size is that precut parchment paper is a perfect fit, with no trimming required.
If you have a commercial extra-large oven, you could get away with using the full-size sheet pan, which is 26×18″. But that’s going to be too big for most ovens. Smaller sized sheets also work, it will just take longer to get through your batch of dough.
Sometimes I’ll make a batch and only bake half, saving the rest of the dough in the freezer until another sweets craving strikes. This is a great technique to use during the holidays – freezing your dough in portions, and then taking a little out to bake a small batch when you have company.
When it comes to these products, we found four different styles that are very popular: nonstick, aluminum, carbon steel, and insulated.
Nonstick usually means it’s a thinner sheet of steel that has been coated with a thin layer of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)/Teflon, which often means it’s more prone to heat warping, scuffs, and uneven cooking.
If you’re sensitive to toxins and chemicals, you’ll want to avoid nonstick options, as they’re usually coated with chemicals that may off-gas when heated to high temperatures.
The good thing about using this style is you don’t have to worry about oiling your pan or using parchment paper, and food comes off very easily without it.
However, you will eventually have to replace your nonstick pans, since the coating does wear off over time (but where does it go? Does the same monster that eats your socks ingest the PTFE coating as well? Or perhaps it is lining your gut…).
Aluminum is the material I prefer, since it’s thicker and more durable. Pans made from this material seem to hold up better in the long run, and it’s possible to avoid scuffs and discoloration (as long as they stay out of the dishwasher). It’s also known for heating up evenly and uniformly.
If you go with this option, it’s important that you use some kind of barrier between the food and the pan, such as cooking oil or parchment paper, as food will get stuck to the bottom if you’re not careful.
Silpat Premium Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat available from Amazon
I prefer to use silicone and fiberglass baking mats such as the French-made Silpat shown above. Baking mats like these can be used thousands of times and make clean up a breeze.
Aluminum is also a better conductor of heat than iron, steel, or most other materials. In fact, other than copper, it is the best heat conductor that’s commonly available in cookware.
Why is this important to you?
Since aluminum can transfer heat so quickly, it can also lose that heat just as fast, meaning that once you remove a tray from the oven, you don’t have to worry about the material taking a long time to cool down, continuously radiating heat the whole time.
The process happens relatively quickly, and the rapid heat loss helps to prevent scorching.
Carbon steel is another popular option.
Like cast iron, steel is not a great heat conductor. It takes a long time to get up to to the correct temperature, and a long time for the energy to dissipate after it has been removed from the heat source.
Thinner, cheaper versions of carbon steel pans can create hot spots, and they don’t spread the thermal energy very well from the point source. If you have the tray sitting directly above an electric coil, the sheet will become much hotter in the location nearest to the coil.
These thinner versions work much better in convection ovens where the majority of the thermal energy is carried by the air, rather than radiating from electrified points.
However, there is a catch – carbon steel does excel at some baking applications. Here’s the deal:
The thicker versions are excellent for baking artisan breads and pizzas.
Why is this?
Well, it’s for the same reason that they make a poor choice in the thinner material – their reluctance to gain or shed thermal energy makes them ideal for retaining that heat, once they are finally up to temperature.
Dough-Joe® Pizza Steel Baking Sheet The Shogun™–15″ x 15″ x 3/8″ available on Amazon
For pizzas and breads, you want a baking surface that can store and radiate thermal energy no matter what is placed on top of it.
If you have the oven set at
Cast iron is the ideal choice for this, due to its ability to store heat energy, and this is why thicker examples are sometimes used in place of baking or pizza stones.
Some of the higher end versions are available in 1/4-, 3/8-, and even 1/2-inch thicknesses such as the Dough-Joe products shown above.
These usually have a bit of a lip and are designed to achieve even cooking: top, bottom, sides and center. Due to the insulation, this type of sheet does take longer to heat up and bake all the way through. But they’re a wonderful option for light colored treats, like shortbread and Linzer cookies.
Rimmed vs. Non-Rimmed: Which is Better?
This is a difficult one, as there are pros and cons to both options. That being said, what’s referred to as baking sheets are usually the ones with the rimmed edges, and cookie sheets are those without edges.
This is because the rim can actually block the circulation of hot air in your oven, preventing cookies from baking evenly. Without the edge, you usually have more baking space as well.
However, I have found both styles to be very useful. But if you are only going to own one, get a rimmed product.
They are multi-use pans (which I’m a big fan of). Not only can they work well for your baked goods, they can also serve double duty as a roasting pan in some instances. These can be used bake veggies or other foods that give off liquids.
With this option the size of the rim can fluctuate dramatically, from thick to thin and short to tall. When using this style I found that as long as I have enough work space in the pan, I don’t mind the rim.
I will say that these tend to be thicker, usually made from aluminum, and they don’t bend or warp at high temperatures. They also make great roasting pans for vegetables and potatoes.
You can easily chop vegetables, put them in the pan, and toss them with oil and fresh herbs, and you won’t have to worry about any of the veggies spilling out.
The problem with the rimmed option is that the rim makes it a little more challenging to remove delicate goodies from the pan, and this can sometimes result in broken pieces.
But it’s not the end of the world, especially if you’re willing to wait – treats usually harden up after a few minutes out of the oven.
These pans are great for removing delicate food, as you can easily slide your baked goods off the sheet and onto a cooling rack or plate. The problem with this style is that they’re usually thinner, and can start to show signs of wear a lot faster.
They’re also less versatile, so no veggie roasting, unless you’re okay with vegetables falling to the bottom of your oven.
Dark vs. Light
You may have noticed that baking sheets also come in different colors. Some are light, and some are dark. The main difference is in how the pans absorb heat.
The darker colored sheets are going to heat up faster and absorb more heat, which is great if you want a really crispy crust or brown bottom. On the flipside, this is usually not the best for making sweet treats, unless you’re preparing a rustic pie.
If you do fall in love with a dark pan and don’t want the bottom of your recipe to brown, simply layer the pans with one or two sheets of parchment paper or silicone mats – these tend to keep the bottoms from burning.
These have the opposite effect, cooking more slowly and evenly – which is great for when you don’t want the bottoms to be super brown.
For making sweet treats, I would opt for a lighter colored pan like the Nordic Ware option described above. Although it’s lighter, it’s still capable of browning the bottoms if you wish.
If you purchase a high-quality pan that’s made to last, like our top pick from Nordic Ware, then you’ll have a lot more versatility when you bake as well.
Baking and Cookie Sheet Pan Reviews: Your Other Options
Still shopping? If you’d like to see some more options for this kitchen staple, we’ve included a few others that stood out to us below.
Farberware Nonstick Bakeware
This pan is made from carbon steel and seems to hold up just as well as aluminum. It is also nonstick, making cleanup easier, but it’s suggested that you don’t use it above 450°F.
That said, this would not be a good pan for roasting, but it’s great for baking sweet treats. It has a small rim and a bit of an edge, making it easy to remove from the oven as well.
- Nonstick inside and outside, making cleanup really easy.
- Durable, heavy-duty construction resists warping and heats evenly.
- Good size at 11×17”. A little smaller than the Nordic, but big enough to fit at least a baker’s dozen.
This is an excellent product for the price. If you don’t mind washing it by hand and keeping it away from sharp utensils, this pan could last you a very long time.
However, it doesn’t rank as high as the Nordic Ware, as some users found that it warped after a number of uses in a hot oven.
Wilton Recipe Right 3-Piece
If you’re in need of multiple pans this might be the product for you, since it comes as a set of small, medium, and large pans. All are made of steel and they are nonstick with a nice rim.
The price for all three pans is the lowest I have seen, which has me wondering… How do they do it?
Nonetheless, one owner commented that the pans have lasted six years and are still going strong.
If you treat your cooking equipment with care, this might be a wonderful set for you.
- Great value, as it comes with 3 sheets for less than the price of 1 pan from other brands.
- Nonstick material makes cleanup very easy.
- Heavyweight material holds up to high heat and it’s warp-resistant.
- If you’re looking for a bargain and a variety of sizes, this set is for you. All of the pans in this set are the same design, light in color with a small rim.
Oh, and they stack very well, so if space is an issue in your kitchen, you don’t have to worry with these. If you’re trying to find an overall good deal, look no further than this set.
AirBake Natural 2-Pack
These are the only “thin” pans that made our list, since the material isn’t normally as durable as other options.
AirBake Natural 2-Pack Cookie Sheet Set available from Amazon
However, these are actually made entirely of aluminum and they’re insulated, plus they offer “micro-dome technology,” to decrease bake times by up to 15% over traditional bakeware.
If you’re not familiar with “micro-dome technology” (I sure wasn’t), here’s how the company explains it:
“These pans are made from two heavyweight aluminum sheets surrounded by a layer of air. The air reduces the temperature of the metal that comes in contact with the food. The bottom sheet blocks the direct oven heat while the layer of air acts as an insulator, preventing the top sheet from overheating. This means better browning, no burning, and moister baked goods.”
Another thing I really like about these is that they come with a 10-year warranty, a “No More Burning Guarantee,” and a rust-free promise.
It’s not surprising that these are highly rated on Amazon.
- Air insulation prevents the top sheet from overheating, which prevents burning.
- Advanced technology decreased bake times by up to 15%.
- 100% aluminum, with high quality construction.
- Also available with a nonstick finish.
- Customer protections including the rust-free promise, 10-year warranty, and a no more burning guarantee.
It’s recommended that you season the natural aluminum versions before using.
You can do this by placing a teaspoon of cooking oil (I recommend coconut, as it’s a high heat oil) on the baking sheet, spreading it around with a clean towel, and baking it for 30 minutes at 400. After that it should be ready to go.
You can read more about seasoning here.
To avoid scratching the nonstick versions, use plastic utensils and always hand wash. Although the company does say you can put these in the dishwasher, personally I wouldn’t advise it.
Rachael Ray Oven Lovin’ Nonstick Bakeware 3-Piece Set
This 3-piece set comes with a small, medium and large baking pan, all of which are made from durable carbon steel that resists warping. The pans have a long-lasting nonstick finish to provide excellent food release, making for easy cleanup.
I’ve used Rachael Ray products in the past and have never been disappointed. I usually feel pretty confident buying products promoted by people who cook a lot.
These pans are dark in color, but they seem to heat up perfectly. They’re rimmed with extra wide handles, making them very easy to pull out of a hot oven. Plus they provide a pop of color, which I always appreciate.
- Set includes a variety of sizes: 9×13”, 10×15”, and 11×17″
- Rimmed edges keep baked goods from slipping off the sheet.
- Extra-wide handles to easily grab pans from the oven without dropping or burning yourself.
- Nonstick material to quickly clean and remove food.
- Also available in a 5-piece set, should you need a bigger selection.
If you’re thinking about these pans but you’re not totally convinced, another great thing about them is that is a portion of the proceeds go to Yum-O!. Rachael’s nonprofit helps kids and parents to develop healthy relationships with food, which is something future generations really need.
10 Tips for Baking the Perfect Cookies Every Time
When it comes to baking, the pan plays a huge role. After working for two years in a bakery, I learned some tips that will help you even more when it comes to making the perfect sweet treats.
Some of this information you may have heard before, but some will surprise you. If you use these tips, I promise your results will be delicious.
1. Read the recipe. Seems obvious, but if you don’t read the recipe all the way through before getting started, you might miss the step that says to refrigerate overnight, or let the ingredients sit at room temperature. It’s important to know what to expect before getting started.
2. Measure and preheat. These are actually two separate steps, but they’re equally important. Baking is a lot more precise than other types of cooking, so the ingredients need to be measured exactly. The same goes for the temperature of the oven – don’t take any shortcuts here.
3. Make sure it’s done. All the of classic drop cookie varieties – like chocolate chip, peanut butter, and coconut macaroons – will be done when they start to firm up and the edges are golden brown.
4. Make substitutions wisely. Again, baking is finicky, so if you do make any changes to a recipe, only change a few things and be wise about it. If you’re changing the type of sugar, make sure you’re exchanging a dry variety for a dry variety, or wet for wet. For example, sub brown sugar for white sugar, or use coconut nectar instead of maple syrup.
5. Create your favorite chocolate chip variety. It seems like everyone likes their treats a little differently. If you like yours warm and gooey, increase the flour by two to three tablespoons per batch. If you like yours chewy, use bread flour instead of all-purpose. Or maybe you like them on the crispy side? Use equal amounts of baking soda and baking powder.
6. When in doubt, refrigerate. If your dough doesn’t seem to be sticking together and you’re having a hard time handling it, stick it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. It will stick better and the flavors will have more time to meld.
7. Use a ruler. Baking bars, logs, or biscotti? Use a ruler to cut evenly when slicing, and your treats will come out picture perfect every time.
8. Space out that dough. A good rule of thumb is to space them about two inches apart on the sheet pan, unless the recipe states otherwise.
9. Give them some time. Do not remove them from the pan right away. Instead, let them stay on the sheet for two or three minutes before touching them, then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
10. Store well. Place leftovers in tins or airtight containers, and use waxed paper in between layers to preserve taste and presentation.
A good cookie sheet is one you’ll be making delicious memories with for years to come. Get a good one such as the Nordic Ware commercial offering that we recommended above, and you’ll never have to worry about buckled sheets or heat warping again.
No matter how often you bake, you’ll need a good quality sheet. Whichever you decide to go with, I’m confident you’ll be happy with your purchase.
Once you get that new baking sheet, the real question is: what type of cookies are you going to make first?
Feel free to ask any additional questions you might have in the comments below, and be sure to let us know what pan you go with. Happy baking!
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.