Sugar cookies baked on shiny heavy gauge aluminum pans will come out soft and chewy, with a slight golden color bottom and pale top. Chef Eddy also recommends using parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to prevent sticking and for easy cleanup.
Insulated bakeware is designed with a cushion of air sandwiched between two layers of aluminum in order to lower the surface temperature of the pan and reduce the risk of burning. Because of their increased air circulation, insulated pans often require a longer bake time.
As with shiny, heavy gauge aluminum, Chef Eddy recommends using parchment paper. There's no denying the allure of a pan that's easy to clean and doesn't require parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Additionally, the nonstick surface can allow the cookie dough to spread which can result in thin, over baked edges. You may find that you'll need to reduce your oven temperature by 25ºF when bakingsugarcookies and using dark nonstick pans.
When you reach for a baking sheet or cookie pan, take into account what you want your final product to look and feel like. There's a wide variety of price points available online and in your local kitchenware stores.
Shiny heavy gauge aluminum is Chef Eddy's top choice as it conducts heat quickly and uniformly and it will resist warping while in the oven. Sugar cookies baked on shiny heavy gauge aluminum pans will come out soft and chewy, with a slight golden color bottom and pale top.
Chef Eddy also recommends using parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to prevent sticking and for easy cleanup. Insulated bakeware is designed with a cushion of air sandwiched between two layers of aluminum in order to lower the surface temperature of the pan and reduce the risk of burning.
Because of their increased air circulation, insulated pans often require a longer bake time. As with shiny, heavy gauge aluminum, Chef Eddy recommends using parchment paper.
There's no denying the allure of a pan that's easy to clean and doesn't require parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Additionally, the nonstick surface can allow the cookie dough to spread which can result in thin, over baked edges.
You may find that you'll need to reduce your oven temperature by 25ºF when bakingsugarcookies and using dark nonstick pans. When you reach for a baking sheet or cookie pan, take into account what you want your final product to look and feel like.
After making 24 batches of cookies, six pizzas, and many pounds of oven fries, we found that the Nordic Ware bakes as evenly as sheets twice the price and won’t buckle at high heat like cheaper models. We chose the Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet as our top baking sheet in our original 2013 review, and after years of heavy use at home and in our test kitchen, we’ve found it still lies flat and bakes cookies to an even golden brown.
If our main pick sells out, the Artisan Half Size Aluminum Baking Sheet is a decent runner-up. Like the Nordic Ware, it’s made of strong, uncoated 18-gauge aluminum that stands up to high heat.
In our tests it browned oven chips a little darker than the Nordic Ware, and it costs more than our main pick, a price bump with which we saw no increase in performance. In our testing, this two-handled sheet was easy to rotate in the oven, capable of baking cookies evenly, and simple to clean.
Made of 10-gauge aluminum, it’s even thicker than our main pick, which is necessary to keep it from warping without the structural support of rims. It isn’t as versatile as our main pick, because it can’t contain roasting vegetables or the juices from a sheet pan dinner.
A quality rimmed baking sheet doesn’t cost much, and it’s one of the most useful pans you can own. You need one for baking cookies of course, but it’s also great for roasting vegetables, making pizzas, toasting nuts, catching drips from a pie as it bakes, or cooking a quick sheet pan dinner.
The rim keeps oils and juices from roasting meat or vegetables contained, and allows you to stir food around without having it slide off onto the bottom of your oven. Rimless sheets are made specifically for baking cookies and can make it easier to slide a batch directly onto a cooling rack.
Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) also found that rimless sheets will bake your cookies a few minutes faster, because they allow for better air circulation. Although sheets also come in aluminized steel and even triply construction (an aluminum core sandwiched by stainless steel), bare aluminum conducts heat more efficiently, especially for baking ; it heats up quickly and evenly and will cool down quickly once you take it out of the oven.
Triply sheets are expensive, and may retain heat longer than bare aluminum ones, meaning you risk overtaking cookies after you’ve pulled them out of the oven. Our rimless cookie sheet pick is made of thicker 10-gauge aluminum, which helps it stay flat without the added structural support of rims.
Nonstick finishes can degrade at high temperatures and will inevitably scratch and lose their efficacy over time, so they’re not great for a pan you may want to use regularly for heavy-duty tasks like high-heat roasting. This method is not only foolproof, but it also makes cleanup nearly effortless and adds a little insulation to the sheets, which helps prevent burnt bottoms.
Standard sizes are most useful Although you’ll find plenty of rimmed “jelly roll” baking sheets at grocery and kitchen-supply stores, they’re often thin and wobbly. The best rimmed baking sheets are the aluminum half-sheet pans used in commercial kitchens and adopted by many home bakers and cooks.
Many rectangular cooling racks are also designed to fit snugly in a half-sheet pan, which is a great setup for roasting meat or glazing a bunt cake. Some baking sheets come with special features meant to promote even baking, but these often cost more and don’t make a huge difference for most tasks.
Without that coating, things like oven fries do inevitably stick to a baking sheet in spots (the same is true of all bare aluminum pans), and it’s a pain to scrub residue out of the ridges. Photo: Michael HessionOver the years, we’ve run numerous tests on our baking sheets.
For the most part, each test helped us evaluate one of two things: how durable a pan is, and how evenly it bakes. To test the latter, we always bake cookies, because they require some precision and are quick to show hot spots.
For each test, we baked one sheet pan at a time and placed it on the middle oven rack. Most manufacturers advise against putting bare aluminum pans in the dishwasher because doing so can tarnish the metal, so it’s important that they clean up relatively easily.
That said, we put our sheet pans in the dishwasher in the Wire cutter test kitchen, and although it has discolored them, it hasn’t affected their performance. Although you might find a comparable pan at a kitchen-supply store, the Nordic Ware is the best option that’s readily available online.
It also happens to be one of the most consistently inexpensive aluminum pans we’ve found in our years of research. The bottom of the pizza crust for our pissaladière also baked evenly with no noticeable dark or light spots.
Photo: Michael HessionThe Nordic Ware sheet also didn’t warp at high temperatures. And even after several years of use, all the Nordic Ware pans in our test kitchen still lie flat.
They’re good for little things like toasting nuts or baking a few pieces of fish, and they’re easier to wrap up and fit in your fridge. I found that a regular nylon scrub pad slightly scratched the surface of the aluminum.
The metal is also soft enough that utensils could scratch the surface a bit, but that’s the case with all the pans we tested. The surface of the Nordic Ware pan quickly accumulates light scratches, but these don’t affect its performance at all.
Also remember that if you throw the Nordic Ware pan in the dishwasher, it will turn dull and tarnished. That won’t affect its performance, but if you want to keep the pan gleaming you should wash it by hand or line it with foil before roasting vegetables.
While Nordic Ware pans used to have a completely smooth surface, they now include a slightly raised logo on one end. Since it’s just a small patch, we don’t think it’s a deal breaker, especially given that Nordic Ware’s pans are consistently the most affordable and high-quality baking sheets we’ve found.
After years of heavy use both at home and in Wire cutter’s test kitchen, all our Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet pans still perform really well. If our main pick is unavailable, the Artisan Half Size Aluminum Baking Sheet is a great alternative.
It was one of several aluminum sheet pans we tested that baked about on a par with the Nordic Ware, and of those, it tends to be the closest in price to our top pick. Like the Nordic Ware, it baked cookies evenly to a nice golden brown, and never warped in our battery of high-heat tests.
We did, however, hear some crackling sounds when this pan was hot and sitting outside the oven, suggesting that it moves slightly as it adjusts to the temperature change. Photo: Michael Sessions it turns out, Tolerate (another top maker of sheet pans) owns Artisan.
We’ve run our aluminum sheets through the dishwasher without any effect on their performance, but the detergent and heat do tend to discolor the metal. Baking on a layer of parchment will keep your pans spotless and create a nonstick surface (as well as a small amount of insulation) for your cookies.
It tends to be a little more expensive than our picks, however, and we also noticed that most of the negative reviews on Amazon complained of pans arriving dented. It was tough to clean all the stuck-on bits of potato off of the Nordic Ware Prism’s ridged surface.
Photo: Michael Session 2018 we tested the Nordic Ware Prism Half Sheet to see how its ridged surface compared with the smooth aluminum bottom of our top pick Nordic Ware pan. It browned sugar cookies slightly less than pans with a smooth surface (a plus if you’re baking delicate cookies), but it was difficult to scrub stuck-on potato from between the ridges.
Unfortunately, they both also have a nonstick coating, which is fine for cake pans but not great for baking sheets (which need to withstand higher temperatures and more frequent abuse from spatulas). We featured the Members Mark Half Size Aluminum Sheet Pan from Sam’s Club as our runner-up in our 2013 guide.
In our tests, it baked cookies (and everything else) as well as the Nordic Ware, and you get two for the price of one of our main pick. The pan did buckle in high heat, which isn’t a big deal if you use it only for making cookies.
Surprisingly, this pan warped slightly while baking our honey Florentine, when the oven was set at only 375 °F. We tested the 12-gauge, very thick Half Sheet Pan by Island Ware for our 2015 update.
We were also not clear on if the bright (albeit attractive) turquoise finish (it also comes in red) would chip over the long term. Marguerite Preston is a senior editor covering kitchen gear and appliances at Wire cutter, and has written guides to baking equipment, meal kit delivery services, and more.