If you were forced to pare down your kitchen supplies to only the bare minimum, sheet pans would make the cut. I pull mine out nearly every day, often multiple times a day. I’ve been known to make a big batch of granola to eat for breakfast throughout the week and to crisp up bacon on the weekend (way less mess than frying in a skillet). For lunch, I often quickly transform a handful of nuts or a can of chickpeas from raw to golden brown, the perfect additions to salads. For dinner, I prep any number of ingredients — roasted or charred vegetables, filets of fish, cuts of meat. And at least once a week, you’ll find me turning to a single-sheet-pan dinner in an attempt to cut down on dishes, whether a whole roasted chicken nestled on top of a layer of potatoes, or a rectangular pizza loaded with cheese. Then, of course, there’s dessert. Cookies are a given, but sheet pans also make excellent vessels for large-format cakes as well as trays for catching pie- or tart-juice overflow. The point is, they’re serious workhorses.
They’re also made by a lot of different brands. So how do you know the one you’re buying will hold up to all that cooking without staining, warping, or scratching? To help answer that question, we spoke to nearly a dozen cooks, bakers, and even one candy artist about the sheet pans they love — and I wax poetic about the ones that have lasted me through years of granola (and chicken and cookies).
What we’re looking for
Material: Most sheet pans on the market are made from either aluminum or aluminized steel (basically, carbon steel treated with an aluminum-silicon alloy, a.k.a. mixture). If this sounds nitty-gritty, that’s because it is — but all you really need to know is that the core material isn’t a huge determiner for a good sheet pan. While some people say bare aluminum is the best for even heat conductivity, in our research, we found that both work well and that there are other factors to consider when deciding which sheet pans are best for you.
Coating: A nonstick coating can make cleanup a whole lot easier. But it also makes long-term care a bit fussy since you have to make sure to avoid metal utensils that will damage the surface.
Size: The largest sheet pan on this list (smaller than commercial-size pans but still bigger than a standard half-sheet) is great if you’re blessed with a large oven and are consistently feeding four or more people or baking all the time (though it’s certainly the most niche option on the list). Half-sheets, which generally measure around 11-by-16 inches, are the most versatile and probably what you think of when you think of a sheet pan. Make sure to look at specific measurements if it matters for your oven or kitchen, though; they can vary by up to a few inches on either side. Finally, quarter-sheet pans are half of that, perfect for single-serving snacks and meals as well as more targeted tasks, like toasting nuts.
Rim: There are many dedicated “cookie” sheet pans out there with rims on only two or three sides, as opposed to four. This is supposed to make transitioning cookies from sheet to cooling rack particularly easy since you can just slide them off. You could always use a spatula, but I did include one particularly well-constructed cookie sheet on the list, if that’s what you’re looking for. There are also trays with wider flat rims on two sides, making for more of a handle than those with rolled rims. But in my experience, those tend to be flimsier and weren’t recommended by any of our experts, so they’re also not on this list.
Best overall sheet pan
Aluminum | No coating | Half-sheet | Rolled rim
Nordic Ware makes the most durable sheet pans out there. Brittany Bennett, owner of Taartwork, says they’ll “make you feel like a professional in your home kitchen,” and chef and television host Elena Besser says they’re the “closest brand to the industrial baking sheets” she used in the kitchen at the beloved Brooklyn restaurant Lilia. I have owned two Nordic Ware half-sheets and one quarter-sheet for nearly a decade and haven’t needed to replace them yet.
That’s because, as Claire Saffitz, baker and author of Dessert Person, puts it, Nordic Ware sheet pans can “really take a beating.” While the surface color may change over time, especially with the use of acidic ingredients like vinegar and tomatoes (mine have definitely become a bit darker over the years), that doesn’t affect the quality of cooking at all, which is still as even as ever. Nordic Ware notes that metal utensils may cause scrapes, but those are also merely cosmetic. I can attest to this too, as I use my fish spatula to scoop up roasted vegetables pretty consistently with no negative effect.
As these aren’t nonstick, if you’re making something that may require some help with easy removal, like cookies, you can simply place a silicone mat or parchment paper on the surface; both are easy and cheap solutions. Plus, a set of two sheet pans is only $20, so if you find yourself craving that new, shiny silver color after a while, you won’t feel bad about replacing them.
Best nonstick sheet pan
Aluminized steel | Nonstick | Half-sheet | Rolled rim
Although Great Jones’s Holy Sheet is a relative newcomer — it launched in November 2019 — several of our experts said it became their instant favorite. When I checked back in with a couple of them a year after their initial praise, they noted that it stood the test of time. Both sculptural candy artist and founder of Sweet Saba Maayan Zilberman and cook and television host Molly Yeh noted the Holy Sheet’s sturdy nature. At two pounds each, they’re slightly heavier than the Nordic Ware half-sheet, but that makes them feel particularly durable, even standing in as a pizza stone for Yeh.
The obvious immediate appeal is the bright, bold colors (in a kitchen with limited space, I’m personally very here for a sheet pan that can double as an attractive serving tray). But it’s not all looks. Erin Jeanne McDowell, recipe developer and author of The Fearless Baker, says, “Its beautiful appearance hasn’t caused its capabilities to suffer in any way. It hasn’t warped, scratched, or chipped.” Still, the most impressive aspect for her is how easy the nonstick surface is to clean. “Even when I roasted vegetables at a high temperature to specifically char them, the pan cleaned off like I was in an infomercial, without the need to scrub it intensely,” she says.
To maintain the nonstick surface as long as possible, Great Jones recommends not putting the trays in an oven above 450 degrees — quite doable for most foods but perhaps a pain if you are particularly fond of your broiler. The company also recommends you avoid metal utensils making contact with the surface.
At $40 a pop, these are considerably more of an investment than Nordic Ware. This, to my mind, means a Holy Sheet would be a great addition to a sheet-pan collection along with perhaps less precious options for heartier cooking and handling.
But the Holy Sheet is great for more precise baking endeavors. Zilberman, uses it to make delicate sweets, like hand-painted sugar cherry blossoms, because the color allows her to easily see what she’s doing, and since the sheet “doesn’t warp in the oven,” she says, it’s a “consistent flat surface that’s stackable.”
Best sheet pan for baking
Aluminized steel | Nonstick | Half-sheet | Rolled rim
Oxo is a solid brand when it comes to kitchen basics (we’ve written about its products many a time), so it’s no surprise its nonstick sheet pan came up as a favorite too. It comes recommended from Kristen Tomlan, the founder and CEO of DŌ Cookie Dough Confections, who says it’s her “go-to” because “it’s sturdy and nonstick and helps make sure sweets are evenly baked.” This is partially because of the micro-texture on the bottom, which improves airflow. Also, “the light color of the sheet pan helps slowly transfer heat so the bottoms of your pastries don’t get too brown,” she says. This may be more noticeable with something like sugar cookies than chocolate-chip cookies, but in general, the darker the pan, the faster your baked goods will darken.
Best three-sided sheet pan for baking
Recycled steel and aluminum | Nonstick | Half-sheet or smaller | Three-sided
This King Arthur sheet pan is the only one on the list with three sides — not strictly necessary if you’re baking, but potentially helpful in that the rimless side allows you to slide all your finished cookies and scones onto a cooling rack at once. If you are using a spatula, it also helps ensure that there’s space to slip the tool evenly beneath the treats closest to the rimless side without any obstruction, especially helpful if whatever you’re moving is delicate. Finally, these cookie sheets have a textured bottom similar to the Oxo one above, a feature that Tomlan says promotes airflow and therefore even browning.
Best sheet pan for heat retention
Baker Laurie Ellen Pellicano has a set of baking sheets just like these that have a super-dark surface and a heavy, “cast-iron-light” feel. She picked hers up years ago (likely from an industrial pizza-supply store, where she says she often sees similar ones) and uses it for a myriad of things — pizza, yes, but also focaccia and other breads, galettes and tarts, and even charred vegetables. “The way the pan holds heat is really great, and the surface makes things brown a lot faster.” That makes them too intense for cookies or other delicate baking, but ideal for all the aforementioned foods, where a dark bottom is key.
Best durable sheet pan
Aluminized steel | No coating | Half-sheet | Rolled rim
Made with a similar construction to the Nordic Ware sheet pans, these from Chicago Metallic should also last you a very long time. They certainly have for Pellicano, who has been using them in both professional and home settings her entire life. She says their domestically manufactured goods (another bonus, in Pellicano’s mind) are the kinds that can be passed down from generation to generation. “To me, they are synonymous with incredible steel, quality, and durability,” she says. “If I see Chicago Metallic, I know it will be sturdy, not warp, and will outlast others.”
Best sheet pan for buying in bulk
Aluminum | No coating | Half-sheet | Rolled rim
“I’ve gotten so many fancy sheet pans over the years, and honestly, none really lives up to the hype,” says Emily Petrick of Whisk and Whittle. Instead, she prefers to buy these Winco trays at restaurant-supply stores. “These are sturdy, easy to clean, cheap, and easy to replace because, let’s be honest, disasters happen. And most important, they get the job done,” she says. They have “no bells and whistles,” but they’re made from heavy aluminium so they’re less prone to warping. The one caveat: They’re not nonstick, so you’ll want to use parchment paper with these, too.