Buying Baking Sheets

September 17, 2012

Food52's Editorial Assistant (and college student) Brette Warshaw is curating her very own first kitchen -- and she needs your help. Today: Brette searches for a sturdy, resilient baking sheet.

Chewy Sugar Cookies #2

We all have those moments in the kitchen, those moments when our worlds shake, shift, and change for the better. Maybe it was the time you first put an onion in a pan, then watched it get clear and then brown and then soft and then sweet. Maybe it was when you used a sharp knife for the first time, then discovered the simple glee in chopping vegetables.

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For me, it was seeing bacon getting cooked on a baking sheet. (For those who don’t know to do this, try it: lay bacon on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees. It will fry in its own fat.)

Baking sheets, from then on, have taken on this mystical, awe-inspiring quality; how can they do so much? How can you bake cookies on them one day and then fry bacon on them the next? How can you use them for simple prep work – storing prepped vegetables and meats, holding bowls of mise en place – and then roast a chicken on them? (You can even hack a tart pan out of them.)

Granola prep

It may just be a rectangle of aluminum and steel – but for a home cook, it’s magical.

Since my baking sheets will be my work horses – they’ll get roasted and broiled, baked and stacked, made to hold as much weight as their edges can fill – I need resilient ones, sturdy ones. Ones that won’t warp too soon; ones that won’t leak and spill. Ones that, like Amanda’s, will hold their scrapes, scratches, and memories with pride. 

Roasted carrots

My first set of criteria: rims. What’s the point of cooking something delicious if it’s just going to spill everywhere? (Can you tell I’m a jostling, violent, rough-around-the-edges cook?) While cookies, vegetables, and other non-liquid-producing foods are just fine on non-rimmed baking sheets, lots of the good stuff – the bacon fat, the chicken juices, even the nubby brown bits on the bottom of the pan – can be lost without rims. Since I’m starting from scratch, I’d rather have all rimmed baking sheets; that way, I can use them all interchangeably. Cook’s Illustrated recommends the Wear-Ever Half Size Heavy Duty Sheet Pan by Vollrath – and at $21.79, it won’t break the bank. 

Roasted squash

Another important criterion: thickness. Here, it’s a fine balance between thickness and cost; I want a sheet as thick as I can get for a reasonable price. Thinness leads to burnt stuff: burnt bottoms, burnt bits, burnt juices, burnt fat. (The good stuff.) Plus, if these are going to be work horses, I want to keep the warping at a minimum. A thick, sturdy bottom will prevent that.

Some cooks, these days, debate over nonstick or normal baking sheets. As of now, I’m leaning towards the normal – there’s always parchment to turn to, and nonstick pans are rumored to suck the moisture out of your food. 

But I’m young; I’m naïve. I need your help. What kind of baking sheets do you love, and what would you recommend for my first kitchen? 

State Fair Cream Puffs

As usual, I'll be pinning everything I'm coveting to my First Kitchen Pinterest board, so check it out!

Email me at [email protected] with your First Kitchen recommendations -- your favorite tools, your favorite cookware. All wisdom is appreciated.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MegE
  • Suburbanitis
  • Duckie
  • GreenEats
  • Panfusine
Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


MegE May 29, 2013
For baking cookies and other yummy goodies, the jelly-roll (probably better known as "air-bake") are wonderful. They have a layer of air among the layers of metal, and give you a little more lee-way by keeping the bottoms from scorching. The real every-day pan that I use is my grandmother's heavy-duty aluminum. It's got a deep rim, so I can cook anything (including a chicken or turkey) in it, and make gravy in it afterwards. It's probably one of the most versatile things in my kitchen - and it's heavy enough to last.
Suburbanitis December 4, 2012
I have two cheapie no-name workhorse baking sheets that have the well-loved patina, and those get everyday use. Roasting vegetables, chicken, etc. I line them w/foil most of the time. For cookies and delicate baked goods, however, I adore my Williams Sonoma Goldtouch sheets - NOTHING sticks to them and they still look pristine. Very heavy and sturdy, no buckling or warping.
Duckie October 1, 2012
I agree with greeneats, Chicago Metallics is also my recommendation. Plus you can buy a set of 3 dif sizes for a very reasonable price.
GreenEats September 18, 2012
I love my Chicago Metallics baking sheets, I have four of them in various sizes and they can really tak a beating. They're sturdy aluminum too, none of this stainless steel nonsense!
Panfusine September 17, 2012
Picked a set of 3 from Macy's last century when I was a grad student..still have & use them.. added 2 half sheet pans from the local Wegmans recently..
Sam1148 September 17, 2012
I'm with the resturant supply store crowd. Cheap here..I paid 8 for a half sheet pan...and additional 2 dollars for a rack. They've held up well and have never warped.
elangomatt September 17, 2012
I got my half sheet pans from Sam's Club. They were fairly reasonably priced for the pack of two and they are holding up great! They don't warp or anything since they have a thick rolled top edge on the sides. They are kinda scratched from heavy scrubbing sometimes (it is amazing how burnt on stuff can get after just a few minutes in the oven!), but work just fine.
HalfPint September 17, 2012
I get my baking sheets from restaurant supply stores. The half sheet is what you want. They're thick, fully-rimmed and run about $10-12 dollars. I invested in 4 of them about 10 years ago and I still use them. They haven't warped, leaked or done bizarre things will in the oven. In addition to baking, I use them as a clean work surface/spoon rest/tray that makes clean-up so much easier.
MaryWynn September 17, 2012
I got an inexpensive, sturdy pair at Costco a few years ago. They came with a cooling rack for I think $15. Between my roomie and I, they get a daily workout in cool weather. I tend to avoid nonstick but stuff shouldn't stick to a well-seasoned pan anyhow, an these are well seasoned now.
ncindc September 17, 2012
Yup, Costco sells a half sheet pan, quarter sheet pan, half sheet size cooling rack and cover for $15 (the cover is kinda useless, but whatever.). I love those- a quarter sheet pan comes in handy. I can't remember what kind they are, but they're american made and pretty awesome- I think the same as the ones you get from most restaurant supply stores.
Ileana M. September 17, 2012
My cheapo baking sheets have recently been joined by a few thick ones from Calphalon with a tall rim all around. I used them once and that was it for me; they are so much better. My old ones always warped, but these can withstand a very hot oven.

I hadn't heard about nonstick pans sucking the moisture out of food... whoa. But I often use parchment paper for an easier clean up anyway. p.s. I love that bacon trick, too.
Kim T. January 12, 2015
I'm convinced that Calphalon ANYTHING is wonderful!
AntoniaJames September 17, 2012
I find that having a cookie sheet with a side open, i.e., no rim, is much more convenient than a pizza peel (big, bulky, not easily stored in my tiny kitchen) for sliding oven-ready pizzas and shaped artisan breads onto the hot stone in the oven. ;o)
MRubenzahl September 17, 2012
Two suggestions: First, don't worry much about cost. They will last a long time.

Second, I got mine at Costco. They came in a set of three with a plastic lid you can use to transport food to a pot luck. As with most things at Costco, they were not very inexpensive and very good quality. If you don't have a Costco near you, try a restaurant supply store or a Smart and Final.