It's true, not all cookie sheets are created equally (and they're not all interchangeable). If you've had a batch of cookies turn out dark on the bottom or spread too far, your cookie sheet could be the culprit. Our advice will help you pick the best cookie sheet and use it so that every batch turns out perfectly.

By BH&G Food Editors
July 21, 2016

For some of us, picking a cookie sheet is as simple as reaching into the cupboard and using whichever one we grab first.

But if you're not paying attention, that cookie sheet could cause your next batch to turn out too brown on the bottom or bake your cookies unevenly. (Maybe you've been using a baking sheet the whole time without knowing the difference.) 

If you've been experiencing cookie baking problems lately, use our guide below to choose a new cookie sheet that will help you avoid problems when you bake your next batch of tasty dough.

Scooping sugar cookie dough onto baking sheet pan glass bowl woman

What to Look For in Cookie Sheets

Are the cookie sheets in your cupboard up to par? (Hint: They need to have these three characteristics.) If not, it's time to go shopping and make sure your new ones do:

  • Stick with Light: Use cookie sheets that are a light to medium color. (Don't go too dark.) Don't worry about shiny and nonstick surfaces, they won't affect your results.
  • Limit Raised Sides: Cookie sheets usually have one raised side. One or two raised sides give you something to hold while sliding a pan in or out of the oven. A baking sheet has four raised sides. You can use one, but keep in mind that your time and results may be slightly different than the recipe because they prevent good air circulation.
  • Keep It Sturdy: Make sure your sheets are sturdy and heavy-duty. Flimsy sheets could warp in the oven and lightweight ones won't support a full batch of cookies as well when you're putting it in and taking it out of the oven.

Tip: Even if you have nonstick cookie sheets, lining them with parchment paper is always a good idea. It makes cookie removal and cleanup much easier. Having a sheet on the counter lets you prep faster—scoop extra batches onto it while the sheet is still in the oven then slide it on when the first batch is done.

Pressing fork into peanut butter cookies on cookie sheet

What to Avoid in Cookie Sheets

Although it's handy to know what to look for when you're buying cookie sheets, it can also be helpful to know what to avoid. Here are a few features to steer clear of when you're looking at different types of cookie sheets:

  • Don't Go Dark: Avoid this because they tend to result in overbrowned cookie bottoms.
  • Avoid Baking Sheets and Jelly Roll Pans: Use these two only for bar cookies. Most types of cookies won't bake evenly in a pan with edges. If you're in a pinch and only have a baking sheet or jelly roll pan, turn it over and bake your cookies on the bottom.
  • Say No to Insulation: Avoid insulated cookie sheets because they tend to yield pale cookies with soft centers. Specifically, you'll probably have trouble using them when baking cookies with a lot of butter like shortbreads because the butter might melt and leak out before the dough is set. If you are using an insulated cookie sheet, don't bake your cookies long enough for them to brown on the bottom—the rest of your cookies might end up too dry.
  • Stay Smooth: For easy cleanup, don't use perforated cookies sheets. Crumbs tend to stick in the perforations. (If you're stuck, cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper.)

Comments (4)

December 10, 2018
I use my Granny’s cookie sheets and will pass them along to my daughter when the time comes. These cookie sheets are almost 100 years old.
December 10, 2018
So which brand of cookie sheet do you actually recommend? Also, aluminum or steel?
December 6, 2018
celefree63 You are most definitely correct, that image was intended to show "What to Avoid in Cookie Sheets." We'll look for another proper cookie sheet image to include so you can see both cookie sheets and baking sheets. Thank you!
December 6, 2018
Ironically, the picture is of a baking sheet, not a cookie sheet.