How do you find the best baking tray or cookie sheet? And what’s the difference?
Below you’ll find everything you need to know.
There are so many types and brands of baking trays and cookie sheets, it may feel overwhelming to choose. But the right tray is very important for perfect cookies, as some trays may not distribute heat well.
Some recipes call for a specific tray, for example, aluminum, non-stick, insulated, etc. But usually, the choice is up to you.
My recommendation for baking cookies is the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Half Sheet. Read on to learn why.
the difference between baking trays and cookie sheets
A baking tray sometimes called a baking sheet or baking pan, (similar to a jelly roll pan) has a rim around the edge or a “rolled edge.”
Cookie sheets are flat, so you can slide cookies off the tray more easily.
You may use either for cookies.
Keep in mind, cookie sheets will primarily be used for cookies which limits their versatility. For other, savory foods that may have juices or liquid, you’ll need a rimmed sheet.
Also note, cookies tend to bake more quickly on cookie sheets than baking trays with rims, so keep your eye on the oven!
aluminum baking trays and sheets
Basic aluminum trays conduct heat quickly and evenly. They are lightweight, affordable, and last for years.
Aluminum trays may dent or scratch over time, and the aluminum can discolor acidic or salty foods, but overall, they are the most versatile baking trays to purchase.
To prevent warping, instead of cookie sheets, I prefer the rimmed baking trays.
You should hand-wash aluminum trays.
For the price, these trays are my go-to. I recommend the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Half Sheet.
stainless steel baking trays
Stainless steel trays are heavier and stronger. They also contain iron, so they take longer to heat up.
Stainless steel trays are a higher quality, however, they are more expensive.
They are dishwasher-safe.
Stainless steel baking sheets by TeamFar are well-reviewed.
insulated cookie sheets
Insulated cookie sheets evenly bake the tops and bottoms of cookies, so they are great for delicate cookies and lightly-colored cookies.
You may need to extend the bake time, as they cook more slowly and the cookies are soft in the middle.
If you want crispy edges, this is not the sheet to use.
They are pricier, but you can’t beat Le Creuset cookie sheets for quality.
dark, nonstick baking trays
Nonstick trays are dark in color, so they bake cookies more quickly. These sheets are thus good for crunchy cookies.
However, since I use parchment paper anyway and don’t need the non-stick feature, I don’t prefer using these sheets because of the risk of too-brown cookies.
I like the Wilton non-stick baking trays.
should you line your trays with silpat or parchment paper?
Silpat is difficult to clean and to fully remove grease. Also, residual heat from the cookie cooling can create moisture that gets trapped under the cookie.
However, Silpat is handy for baking very delicate cookies, like tuile cookies, because it’s easy to peel the cookie from the Silpat.
But parchment paper is my choice.
how do you clean a baking tray or cookie sheet?
Grease or baked-on grime can be difficult to remove from a baking tray or cookie sheet. This is the best way to clean them.
you will need:
- baking soda
- hydrogen peroxide
- coarse sponge
Sprinkle baking soda over the tray. Pour hydrogen peroxide on the tray. Sprinkle additional baking soda on the tray.
Let sit for two hours.
Gently scrub the mixture off of the tray.
TIP: You can also use cream of tartar in place of the baking soda and spray white vinegar instead of hydrogen peroxide.
Is it better to bake with metal or glass pans?
We’re talking so much about baking trays, let’s not forget our bar cookies!
Should you bake with metal or glass baking pans? Choose metal.
Glass baking pans act as insulators, not conductors. They are slow to heat and tend to bake baked goods unevenly.
Metal pans heat more quickly and brown more evenly. Save the glass pans for your dinner casseroles.
I prefer non-stick baking pans with straight sides for even browning and easy release, although my enamel bakeware often gets used for bar cookies, too. Aluminum cake pans are wonderful, too, as long as you are sure to grease the pan.
This Circulon non-stick 9 x 13 inch baking pan comes with a lid.
BAKING TRAYS VS. COOKIE SHEETS SUMMARY
- We recommend Nordicware aluminum half-sheets for baking cookies.
- Aluminum trays conduct heat quickly and evenly.
- Baking trays have a rim. Cookie sheets are flat.
- Cookies bake more quickly on a flat sheet.
- Stainless steel trays are good quality, but take longer to heat.
- Cookies bake slowly on insulated sheets and tend to stay soft. Do not use insulated sheets for crispy cookies.
- Dark, non-stick trays bake crunchier cookies.
- We suggest parchment paper over silpat.
- Clean baking trays with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
- To make bar cookies, metal baking pans are best.