Serious Eats / Irvin Lin
We’ve told folks before that half sheet pans (along with cooling racks) are the unsung heroes of the kitchen; they can be used to not only bake cookies, but also to roast vegetables, make sheet pan meals, dry brine chicken and turkey, rest meat, and so much more. We even use half sheet pans to help prep and organize ingredients. And the pans can even function as utilitarian serving trays. Best of all, unlike rimless cookie sheets, half sheet baking pans are usually the same size (18 x 13 inches). So even if you mix and match brands, they should nest and store together easily.
We tested seven popular uncoated half sheet pans to see which held up to a myriad of kitchen tasks. We didn’t include any nonstick models, as the darker nonstick coating can affect bake and cook times and eventually will wear off, limiting the lifespan of the pan. Nonstick pans also have a lower oven-safe temperature max, making them less versatile than uncoated pans.
Though most of the half sheet pans we tested were great and did everything we wanted of them, there were two that stood out above the others.
The Winners, at a GlanceThe Best Half Sheet Baking Pan: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet
Made of aluminized steel, this sheet pan had a comfortable rolled edge which didn’t bite into our palms as we held onto it and made it easy to pull from the oven, even when using bulky oven mitts. The heavy gauge material also resisted warping. Cookies baked up consistently across the pan, delicate cakes came out evenly cooked, and roasted potatoes browned and released without any issues. It’s very reasonably priced, too, and conveniently sold in a two-pack.
The Most Durable Half Sheet Baking Pan: Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan
The commercial grade pan was a heavier gauge metal than most of the other pans we tested, and it heated up evenly without warping. Cookies, cakes, and potatoes came out perfectly cooked and evenly browned. However, as far as we can tell, it’s not broiler-safe.
The TestsSerious Eats / Irvin LinChocolate Chip Cookies Test: We made batches of chocolate chip cookies, weighing each individual ball of dough (in grams) to ensure each cookie was exactly the same weight. We then baked six cookies on each sheet, using a single, fresh piece of parchment paper for each pan, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, and pulling each baking sheet out of the oven at the same time.Sheet Cake Test: We baked a box of prepared Betty Crocker Yellow Cake in each pan. We then inverted the cake onto a cooling rack, looking to see how evenly the cake baked and if there were any evident hot spots.Roasted Potato Wedges Tests: We roasted 2 1/2 pounds of potato wedges per sheet pan to see potatoes roasted evenly and released easily.Warp Test: We preheated an oven to 475°F and placed each empty pan in the hot oven for 20 minutes to see how much they warped (if they did at all). We then removed the pan from the oven and let cool. If warping did occur, we looked to see if the pan snapped back into place.Usability and Cleanup Tests: Throughout testing, we evaluated how easy each pan was to use and hold onto. We cleaned each pan by hand after every test.
What We LearnedBack Up: What’s a Half Sheet Pan? Serious Eats / Irvin Lin
Unlike other baking pans (like, say, casserole dishes), half sheet pans are almost all the same size: roughly 18 inches long, 13 inches wide, and 1-inch high. Not only are half sheet pans standard in size, they also fit perfectly in most home ovens with plenty of space around them to allow for air and heat circulation.
The name “half sheet” refers to the size being half the size of a commercial sheet pan. Quarter sheet pans and even one-eighth sheet pans exist, too, and we can safely recommend buying our favorite pans from Nordic Ware or Chicago Metallic in these smaller sizes. (You can read our ode to eighth sheet pans here.)
Lightweight vs. Heavier Sheet Pans
Most of the pans we tested were relatively light, weighing around 1.5 pounds, meaning they were made of a thinner gauge metal. Though nearly all the pans we tested performed fairly well, models made from thinner metals tend to warp more over time. A heavier, thicker, 18-gauge pan, like our favorites, the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum, resulted in a more durable, warp-resistant baking sheet.
That said, the heaviest pan (at more than one pound more than the Nordic Ware), the Williams Sonoma Traditional Touch Corrugated Half Sheet Pan, cost nearly twice as much as the Nordic Ware and Chicago Metallic pans, but didn’t necessarily perform any better. And handling the pan with oven mitts was awkward because the pan was unwieldy. So, the best sheet pans were actually right in the middle: not too thin to warp, not too heavy to be unbalanced.
Pan Finish Didn’t MatterWe found that pan finish didn’t affect performance, though matte finish pans were slightly more difficult to clean and shiny finish pans got scratched looking more easily.Serious Eats / Irvin Lin
Some of the pans like the Nordicware, Fat Daddio, and NorPro had shiny, polished finishes, while others (like the Chicago Metallic and the Williams Sonoma) had a dull, matte surfaces. The finish didn’t impact performance: we didn’t see any noticeable difference when it came to browning, evenness, or stickage.
Matte finish pans didn’t show scratches when scrubbed clean, while shiny pans tended to scratch when scrubbed. This didn’t matter a ton to us though, as all uncoated sheet pans will likely discolor with heavy use.
Minor Warping Wasn’t Super Concerning
Warping occurs when metal stretches and contracts after being exposed to extreme hot and cold (if you’ve ever heard a sheet pan “pop” in the oven, that’s warping) .
Most of the sheet pans we tested started out flat and then warped slightly when placed in a 475°F oven. But all of them snapped back when cooled, and the warping really was minimal to begin with. One pan, from Fat Daddio, was slightly warped to start, which meant oil pooled and the potato wedges stuck to the pan in spots. So, if your sheet pan isn’t flush with the countertop when you take it out of the box: return it.
Skip the Textured PansAvoid pans with textured surfaces like this: they make cleanup a whole lot tougher.Serious Eats / Irvin Lin
Two pans, the Nordic Ware Prism and the Williams Sonoma, had textured surfaces. These pans were more rigid (which could be a boon to prevent warping), but the texture made cleanup more difficult and the crevices trapped oil, baking it onto the surface. Pans with flat bottoms performed just as well, released baked and roasted food just as easily, and cleaned up far easier.
The Criteria: What To Look for in a Half Sheet Baking PanSerious Eats / Irvin Lin / Grace Kelly
When looking for a good half sheet pan, select one made from a heavier gauge material, like uncoated aluminum or aluminized steel. These pans conduct heat evenly, release food easily, and are resistant to warping. We also preferred pans with rolled rims, which were more comfortable to grip onto—with or without oven mitts on.
The Best Half Sheet Baking Pan: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet Pan
What we liked: This sheet pan performed well in all of our tests. Cookies came out golden brown and evenly baked; cakes baked up perfectly springy from edge to center; and roasted potato wedges emerged crispy and released easily. The heavy gauge of the pan made it durable and less prone to warping and its rolled rims were easy and comfortable to grip and hold onto. It’s reasonably priced, too.
What we didn’t like: The pan has the Nordic Ware logo embossed on its surface. While this didn’t effect performance, oil gathered at the edges of the logo and required extra scrubbing to remove. However, this is truly a small quibble.
Key SpecsWeight: 1 lb, 9.25 ounces Gauge: 18Materials: AluminumBroiler-safe: YesDishwasher-safe: Hand-washing recommendedSerious Eats / Irvin LinThe Most Durable Half Sheet Baking Pan: Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan
What we liked: This heavy-duty pan was made of a thick gauge metal and yielded great results: cookies, cakes, and potatoes are emerged evenly cooked.
The pan’s matte finish hid scratches better than shinier pans (if that matters to you) and its rolled, slightly angled rim and walls were comfortable to grip.
What we didn’t like: Like the Nordic Ware, this pan’s embossed logo was a little more finicky to clean. And as far as we could find, it’s not broiler-safe, which is a bummer.
Key SpecsWeight: 2 pounds, 4.75 ouncesGauge: UnknownMaterials: Aluminized SteelBroiler-safe: NoDishwasher-safe: Hand-washing recommendedSerious Eats / Irvin LinThe CompetitionVollrath Wear-Ever Half-Sized Sheet Pan: This was a great sheet pan and performed well. But our favorite models did just as good of a job and were more affordable.Nordic Ware Prism Half Sheet: This pan performed well and resisted warping. However, its texture surface also made it difficult to clean. Norpro Commercial Grade Aluminum Jelly Roll Pan: This pan performed well, but dented easily. It also cost more than our top picks, but didn’t perform any better.Fat Daddio Natural Aluminum Half Sheet Pan: This pan was thinner and arrived with a slightly warped surface.William Sonoma Traditional Touch Corrugated Half Sheet Pan: This pan was super heavy-duty, but also very heavy and therefore unwieldy.
FAQsWhat’s the difference between a baking sheet and a cookie sheet?
Baking sheets have raised walls and a rim around the perimeter of the pan, while cookie sheets are flat, with only one raised edge (for you to grab onto). While they are good for baking cookies, without walls cookie sheets aren’t as versatile: they won’t contain food, oil, or juices from, say, a roast chicken.
What’s the best way to clean a sheet pan?
Though a lot of companies say their baking sheets are dishwasher-safe, it’s best to hand wash them since the harsh detergents and high temperatures of dishwashers can dull or damage the pans. We recommend hot, soapy water and a sponge.
What’s the brown burnt-on oil on a baking sheet?
These dark spots are the result of oil and fats heated above their smoke point; the oil polymerizes into a resin that bonds with metal; it can actually help brown food better than a fresh-faced pan.
Though there are ways to remove them, like a baking soda paste or Bar Keeper’s Friend, these spots are cosmetic and won’t affect the pan’s performance.