The Best Cookie Sheets for Baking Cookies

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 much, your cookie sheet could be the culprit. These tips will help you pick the best cookie sheets for baking so every batch turns out perfectly.

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

sugar cookie dough baking sheet
Scott Little

What to Look For in the Best Cookie Sheets

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 make sure 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 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 when you're putting them in and taking them out of the oven.

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. 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.

Best Cookie Sheets to Keep in Your Cupboard

If you don't already have a few cookie sheets in your kitchen, or if they're starting to look a little past their prime, it's time to restock. Here are a few different types of cookies sheets and their effect on baking.

Chicago Metallic Cookie Sheet: Want to bake your cookies like the pros? This durable cookie sheet can withstand high temperatures without warping but still heats evenly for the best-baked cookies. Bonus: It's nonstick, so you don't have to remember to use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

T-Fal 2-Pack Cookie Sheets: Make sure your pantry is always stocked with the right pan by snagging a two-pack of sturdy cookie sheets ($11, Target). This way, you can start scooping more dough onto the spare sheet while the other one bakes. No waiting between batches means you'll be dunking your cookies in milk even sooner.

T-Fal Airbake Cookie Sheet: Aluminum cookie sheets heat quickly and evenly. When you're baking cookies on an aluminum pan, start with the minimum bake time listed in your recipe, then check on your cookies so they don't get overly brown. It's one of the best cookie sheets for baking if you love crispy edges.

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

What to Avoid in Cookie Sheets

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 overbrowned 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 types of 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 that have a lot of butter like shortbread cookies because the butter could 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. Still, you might have to increase the baking time from the recipe by a few minutes to bake the cookies completely 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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