How to Choose the Best Cookie Sheets for Baking Cookies

Not all cookie sheets are created equally, so follow these tips to pick the best pan for your favorite cookie recipes so every batch turns out perfectly.

For some of us, picking the best 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 your cookies to bake unevenly. (If you don't know the differences between a baking sheet and a cookie sheet, you might even be using the wrong pan.) If you've been experiencing cookie-baking problems, use these tips to choose the best cookie sheet that will help you avoid problems when you bake your next batch of tasty treats.

What to Look For in the Best Cookie Sheets

sugar cookie dough baking sheet
Scott Little

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

  • Stick with Light: Use cookie sheets that are a light to medium color. (Don't go too dark—dark-color pans absorb more heat and can cause your cookies to overbake.) 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 for baking cookies, but remember 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 an entire batch of cookies when you're putting them in and taking them out to bake.

Test Kitchen Tip: Even if you have nonstick cookie sheets, lining them with parchment paper is a good idea. It makes cookie removal and cleanup much easier. In addition, having a sheet of parchment paper 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 you finish the first batch.

What to Avoid in Cookie Sheets

Peanut butter cookies on cookie sheet
Because this pan has four raised sides, it's considered a baking sheet or jelly roll pan, not a cookie sheet. It is not the best choice for baking cookies. Andy Lyons

Although it's handy to know what to look for when you're buying new 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 for the best cookie sheets:

  • Don't Go Dark: Don't reach for the darkest-color cookie sheet on the shelf because they tend to result in over-browned cookie bottoms. If you already have a dark-color pan in your cupboard, you might want to try slightly lowering the oven temperature or checking on the cookies sooner the next time you use it.
  • Cookie Sheets vs. Baking Sheets and Jelly-Roll Pans: Use baking sheets and jelly-roll pans with four raised sides only for bar cookies. Most cookies (such as drop cookies like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip) won't bake as 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 produce pale cookies with soft centers. Specifically, you'll probably have trouble using them when baking cookies with a lot of butter, like shortbread cookies, because the butter could melt and leak out before the dough is set. If you're using an insulated cookie sheet, don't bake your cookies long enough to brown on the bottom—the rest of your cookies might end up too dry. Still, you might have to increase the baking time from the recipe by a few minutes to bake the cookies entirely through.
  • Stay Smooth: For easy cleanup, don't use perforated cookie sheets. Crumbs tend to stick in the perforations. (If you're stuck, cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper.)
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