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Baking Sheets: How to Choose Them for Baking Cookies

Your choice of baking sheets or other bakeware can make your batch of cookies a success.

Price varies widely, but don’t make the mistake of believing more expensive bakeware is better. The key lies not in what you pay, but rather in considering the types of cookies you plan to bake. Choose bakeware size and type that are most appropriate for your cookie recipe.

Baking Pans and Baking Sheets: Is There a Difference?

Although baking sheets (sometimes called “cookie sheets”) can be referred to as baking pans, there is a difference.

Baking sheets are flat, allowing cookies to slip off easily. They can vary in size, but the most common has a large surface area about 14 inches by18 inches, giving room for a large number of cookies with the customary 2 inches in between each one. One or more ends of the sheets are angled upward, like a lip, to allow you to grasp the sheet with a potholder and remove it from the oven safely. Baking sheets are most often used for individual drop cookies, sliced cookies, press cookies, rolled cookies, and types of molded cookies.

Baking pans, on the other hand, have rolled or raised edges. Pans are available in a variety of shapes – square, round, rectangular, and loaf – and various sizes. Bar cookies, brownies, and shortbread are baked in baking pans.

Choosing Kinds of Sheets for Baking Cookies

Baking sheets are made from different materials, each giving you different baking results. Choose the sheet appropriate for the type of cookie you are baking.

Aluminum Sheets

Inexpensive, durable, and easy to clean, aluminum baking sheets conduct heat quickly and uniformly producing evenly browned cookies. So why are they not always the first choice among cookie bakers? Some sheets may produce a metallic taste to some foods. You can prevent that in cookies by choosing a high quality aluminum sheets and lining the sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Since aluminum can tend to rust, dry sheets thoroughly after washing.

Steel Sheets

More expensive than aluminum sheets, steel sheets are available in four types: black steel, aluminized steel (much like aluminum sheets but sturdier), stainless steel, and carbonized steel. Of the four, only black steel and aluminized steel conduct heat evenly and are best for baking cookies. Yet the black steel requires special care. To prevent corrosion, it must be treated regularly with kosher salt. To prevent rust, it must be dried completely after each use and washing.

Insulated Sheets

Also called air-cushioned sheets or double-thick pans, insulated cookie sheets are constructed with two layers of metal with air in between. Insulation prevents cookies from browning too quickly, allowing cookie tops and bottoms bake evenly. They work well for cookies that remain pale or lightly colored even after baking, such as shortbread, sugar cookies, and spritz.

Yet insulated sheets don’t conduct heat as well as sheets made from other materials. They bake cookies slower. As a result you will need to modify recipe baking times accordingly. Since insulated sheets are best for cookies with soft edges, use a different kind of sheet when baking cookies that are to brown or be crispy.

Nonstick Sheets

Nonstick cookie sheets heat easily and allow cookies to slip off easily after baking. The sheets are also easy to clean. Nonstick sheets are made to repel moisture, which produces a crunchier, crispier baked cookie texture.

Light nonstick sheets produce lightly browned cookies. Dark nonstick sheets absorb the oven’s heat faster, allowing cookies brown quicker – so be careful that cookie bottoms don’t blacken. When using nonstick sheets for cookies, you might want to experiment with baking temperatures and possibly reduce the oven temperature 10-25 degrees to prevent over baking or over crisping. The nonstick surface quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in all cases the coating eventually wears off – meaning sooner or later, you will need to replace these sheets.

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