If you use the oven a lot at home, you need at least a couple of baking sheets in your cookware collection. Whether you like to bake bread or roast veggies, a good baking sheet will help you — with its four raised edges designed to keep oil and juices inside — cook food evenly while keeping your oven clean.
Keeping you oven clean comes at a cost. Very often, baking sheets will get stained or, no matter how well you think you greased them, food will stick to the surface and burn.
And though it’s tempting to put a baking sheet in the dishwasher and forget about it for 2-3 hours until it’s completely clean, I’d argue against that.
Don’t put your baking sheets in the dishwasher unless the manufacturer has specifically stated that they’re dishwasher safe. Aluminum sheets can discolor, metal sheets can rust, and non-stick-coated sheets can scratch and peel off.
Hot water, harsh detergents and bumping into forks, spatulas, drinkware, and dishes are just some of what makes washing baking sheets in the dishwasher a bad idea.
Side note: Don’t waste your money on non-stick baking sheets. They’re made from cheap materials and most manufacturers will cut a lot of corners in the production process.
I’m going to share a small trick that will help you find affordable and durable baking sheets they use in professional kitchens. Yes, they don’t come with uneven surfaces and don’t warp.
How to Clean a Baking Sheet
By Hand With Soapy Water
The best way to clean a baking sheet is by hand. In most cases, soapy water, a non-scratch scrub sponge, and a little patience and persistence from your side will clean the sheet just fine. Cover stains and burns that won’t come off with dish soap and let it rest for 2-3 minutes. After that, you’ll be able to remove them with the scrub sponge easily.
But you already know that — and you come to this blog every now and then to get the best advice for home cooks, and not just any advice.
How can you deep-clean a baking sheet if soapy water doesn’t seem to do the trick?
Spray With Oven Cleaner for 20 Minutes
If stains and burns on your baking sheet won’t come off with soapy water, spray it with oven cleaner and let it work for 20 minutes. Leave the sheet in your oven when not in use or somewhere outside where it’s away from direct sunlight.
After 20 minutes, use the rough side of a scrub sponge to scrub the stains and burns away. It will take a little effort, but they should come right off.
If you’re wondering what oven cleaner I use for the job, it’s the Easy-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner (at Amazon).
Deep-Clean With White Vinegar and Baking Soda
Clean burn stains and grease residue from your baking sheet with a paste of distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Spread the paste evenly on the sheet’s surface and let it rest for 30 minutes (or up to 60 minutes for really stubborn stains).
After 30 to 60 minutes, scrub the stains and residue away with the rough side of a scrub sponge. This cleaning method will work just as well as oven spray, but will probably appeal more to those of you who prefer to use natural cleaning solutions.
Any baking soda brand and any 5% distilled white vinegar will do. You’ll find both on the shelves of pretty much any grocery store.
Where to Find the Best Baking Sheets
What we as home cooks call baking sheets, restaurant supply stores call sheet pans or bun pans. If you’re looking for a baking sheet that won’t warp and peel, head out to a restaurant supply store and buy a couple of the ones they use in professional kitchens.
The baking sheets that they sell in this type of stores are solid and made from pure aluminium. Apart from the name, there’s a big difference in the durability and quality. They don’t warp, have no uneven spots, and are built to last daily use in a professional kitchen for decades.
Just keep in mind that sheet pans are made for commercial ovens. The bigger sizes won’t even fit in your home oven. Sheet pans tend to come in full (18×26 inches), half (18×13 inches), and quarter (9×13 inches) sizes. Full Size is too big for most home ovens, but half is just about perfect.
If you prefer to shop online, consider the Nordic Ware 3 Piece Set (at Amazon). This one is made in the USA from pure uncoated aluminium. The sheets are sturdy enough to not warp and bend. And many Amazon reviewers and Redditors say (see thread) that their Nordic Ware cookware has lasted them for years, and even decades.
Maximize the Life of Your Baking Sheet
You bought a nice and sturdy baking sheet made from pure aluminium or high-quality stainless steel.
The right baking sheet can help you take your home cooking to the next level. Aluminium and stainless steel are both metals that conduct heat really well. With a thick and even surface to bake and roast on, your food is going to look and taste great the moment you take it out of the oven.
Even the best baking sheet in the world will produce mediocre outcomes if you don’t maintain and care for it. When I buy good cookware, I always do my homework to make sure I know how to take good care of it. Here’s what I’ve learned about maximizing the life of high-quality baking sheets.
Let the baking sheet cool down before cleaning it. Clean it after every use. Avoid sudden differences in temperature (called temperature shocks) when cleaning baking sheets as they can warp and twist you pan. And clean your pan by hand after every use.
Use tin foil or parchment paper. Some ingredients will get stuck to a sheet and burn, no matter how carefully and slowly you cook them. Put tin foil or parchment paper between the pan and the food that you’re roasting or baking to prevent this from happening.
Scrape food with wooden or silicone kitchen tools. Using hard utensils like a metal spatula, knife, or fork can scratch the surface of a baking sheet or even dent it, which will damage it beyond rescue.
Answering Your Top Questions on Baking Sheets
Why did my baking sheet bend in the oven? Baking sheets are made from layered sheets of thin metal. When you put a baking sheet in a hot oven, the metal absorbs the heat and starts to expand. When you take it out of the oven, it will contract. This difference in temperature causes low-quality baking sheets, which are made from very thin metal, to warp. To prevent this problem from happening, invest in a high-quality baking sheet made from aluminium or stainless steel.
Can baking sheets go in the grill? Baking sheets can go on the grill, gas or charcoal. Baking sheets conduct heat really well and shouldn’t be exposed to overly high heat in the first place. To prevent your food from burning and baking sheet from warping, only put the baking sheet on indirect flame (for example, on the grill grate instead of directly on top of the gas flame or burning charcoal).
Can baking sheets be reused? High-quality baking sheets (also known as “cookie sheets”) are made from aluminium or stainless steel and can be used for years or, with the right care and maintenance from your side, decades. To maximize the life of your baking sheet, clean it in soapy water after every use and do a deep-clean with oven spray to remove burnt oils and food residue every 2-3 months.
What baking sheets do chefs use? Professional restaurants use baking sheets made from pure aluminium or, in rarer cases, stainless steel. They come in four standard sizes: Full (18×26 inches), Half (18×13 inches), and Quarter (9×13 inches). The bigger sizes are designed for commercial ovens and don’t even fit in most consumer ovens found in home kitchens.
What baking sheets won’t rust? Stainless steel and pure aluminium are the best materials for baking sheets. To protect a baking sheet from rust, always pat it dry with a cotton or paper towel after cleaning. And store them in a cool and dry place, like inside of a kitchen cabinet.
When to replace a baking sheet? Replace a metal baking sheet when it’s sustained dents and cracks that prevent food from cooking evenly. If you use a non-stick baking sheet, replace it immediately when the non-stick coating erodes and starts to peel. Most non-stick coatings last for 2-3 years.
Not all baking sheets can safely go in the dishwasher. It is best to wash them by hand with soapy water. For stubborn stains and baked-on food residue, fill the baking sheets with enough water to cover the affected areas and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then give them a good soap down.
Restaurants use baking sheets made from pure aluminium or stainless steel. You’ll find affordable and durable baking sheets in every restaurant supply store. If you prefer to shop online, check out my recommendation for a great baking sheet from Nordic Ware above.
The right baking sheet can last for many, many years. As long as you give it the right care and maintenance. Wash it by hand after each use and, every now and then, do a deep cleaning to restore it back to mint condition.