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PHYSICS 101 - Where is the heat hottest on a full-size sheet pan?

I frequently roast vegetables for dinner on a large rectangular sheet pan. Often I mix different sized veggies on the same pan, or cook ones with differing densities within the same vegetable (stalks of broccolini say, with the little florets atop a comparatively thick stalk). It works out fine, but I wonder whether I can fine-tune it and if one part of the pan is hotter than another I would put the thicker veggies or stalks in that spot (center? edges of the pan?). Weird question, but having just arranged a bunch of broccolini with the florets all pointing toward the edge and stalks to the center, I got to thinking... Happy V Day, all.

asked by calendargirl almost 4 years ago
6 answers 2906 views
added almost 4 years ago

Good question! I have always noticed that the outer three inches on my pan are hottest (get the most caramelization) and the center is the coolest. Now I'm a scientist turned lawyer so this isn't gospel but I'd imagine the outer portions are hotter because they have the most contact with the hot air and the center takes the longest to heat through because of the mass of the outer edges that heat must travel through first.

added about 3 years ago

What if the oven heats the pan evenly?

added almost 4 years ago

This question depends on your oven, not the pan. To test wear you have hot spots, ATK has a great method. Take many slices of white bread and line your sheet pan with them. Move the rack to the highest position and set oven to a broil. Check back in 30 seconds to a minute and see which pieces are brown, browner, brownest. The brownest pieces indicate the hottest spots.

added almost 4 years ago

OMG! It's the oven and the size of the vegetable AND the water content of the vegetable. Celery, higher moisture content, lesser cooking (yes it's a density thing) carrot longer cooking less moisture


amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

No particular scientific theory, but I've also always noticed that things baked near a pan's perimeter cook faster (caramelize quicker) than those at the center. This goes not just for vegetables, but cookies, etc. and has been true over many years, using several different ovens.

added almost 4 years ago

Thank you, everyone! Arranging vegetables on a sheet pan will never be the same. Love FOOD52!