What is a Baking Sheet?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A baking sheet is a flat metal pan characteristically used in either the oven or the broiler. It is only a single layer unless it is an insulated pan, which is made of two sheets of aluminum with a layer or air sealed between them. While an insulated baking sheet is a good choice for softer baked goods, a dark single sheet will help to crisp items. Single sheets can be stacked double to imitate the effect of an insulated pan, if desired. Typically, they are greased or lined with parchment prior to use, although some items may be placed directly on the metal surface.

A baking sheet is a metal pan for baking cookies and other foods in the oven.
A baking sheet is a metal pan for baking cookies and other foods in the oven.

Widely known as a cookie sheet, and sometimes referred to simply as a metal sheet, a baking sheet is, in fact, the pan of choice for many kinds of drop cookies and rolled cookies. Types of cookies baked this way include many oft-made favorites including oatmeal cookies, Tollhouse cookies, sugar cookies, and butter cookies. Other types include biscotti, a type of molded log cookie, gingerbread men, rugelach, whoopee pies, and stained glass cookies.

Cookies are typically cooked on a baking sheet.
Cookies are typically cooked on a baking sheet.

Another popular use of a baking sheet is to toast or roast items that do not contain a lot of liquid that could run over the edge. Items that may be toasted include nuts, pumpkin seeds, and bread cubes oiled and seasoned to make croutons. Garlic bread can also be toasted this way. Roasting on a baking sheet works for squash, onions, peppers, and eggplant in the skin, and when carefully done, leaves the vegetables browned on the outside and tender inside.

Croutons can be made at home using a baking sheet.
Croutons can be made at home using a baking sheet.

Some quick breads are baked on a baking sheet. Scones — which may be shaped as triangles, rounds, squares, or diamonds — are prepared in this way. So are biscuits, including baking powder biscuits. Popovers and muffins, on the other hand, are baked in specially prepared tins.

A darker baking sheet will help to crisp items.
A darker baking sheet will help to crisp items.

Turnovers from a variety of cultures may be baked on a baking sheet. This includes empanadas, which are Mexican or Spanish pastries; calzones, which are Italian turnovers; the turnovers from Crete called Skaltsounia; and Indian samosas. Dessert turnovers are baked this way as well. Other items that may cooked on this pan include pretzels, crackers, crabcakes, and pizza.

Pizza can be prepared on a baking sheet in an oven.
Pizza can be prepared on a baking sheet in an oven.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


I like making my own potato chips on a baking sheet. I cut a big potato into small discs and toss them in olive oil. Then, I sprinkle them with seasoning salt and put them on an oiled baking sheet.

It's important to cover the baking sheet with a layer of olive oil before putting the potatoes on it. That way, you can cover every inch of it, because if you don't, the potatoes will stick to it so tightly that you will lose the bottom layer of each piece when you scrape them off.

I bake them for about twenty-five minutes in a 400 degree oven. I know that they are done when I start to see golden brown blisters forming on top.

I used to use parchment paper instead of oiling the baking sheet, but being exposed to such a high temperature for half an hour burned the parchment. Olive oil doesn't burn on the baking sheet, so it is perfect for this.


@cloudel – It is true, so you might want to keep an eye on those cookies. I've found that my biscuits cook faster on dark baking sheets, so when I use those, I lessen the cooking time by two to four minutes.

The best thing to do is just keep checking on the food during the last five minutes of baking. As soon as it starts to turn golden brown, it will be ready in no time.

I like to turn the oven light on and watch the food through the glass door. This way, I can determine the exact moment when the food is perfectly browned without being overdone.


Is it true that darker colored baking sheets cook food faster than lighter colored ones? I have a cookie recipe I want to try, and I only have dark baking sheets. Should I shave a few minutes off the cooking time?


I have some light silver baking sheets that are totally nonstick. Their surface is textured and resembles a walkway paved with pebbles in concrete, and it keeps dough of all kinds from getting stuck.

I don't even have to use parchment paper or grease the sheets. I can usually just tilt the baking sheet onto a plate and the food will fall right off. If not, a gentle nudge from a spatula will do the trick.


Should a baking sheet be used under pie plates while baking pies?


Can somebody tell me what a wearever baking sheet is? I keep hearing people rave about those things and wanted to know what they are.

Any wearever users out there?


Another good tip about using baking sheets is to make sure you line them with aluminum foil. This is a good idea for almost every kind of baking sheet -- teflon baking sheets, basic cookie baking sheets, etc.

This can keep stuff from getting crusted onto the sheet, and saves you some clean-up time. You can even change out the foil a few times before you have to wash the pan.

However, you shouldn't try this trick with silicone baking sheets -- not a good idea. My sister had a silpat baking sheet, and she tried to bake some pretzels on it with aluminum foil, and completely ruined it.

Any other kind of baking sheet should be fine, though.


If you get stuck somewhere without a baking sheet and really need one, you can make do with a large sheet of aluminum foil folded in half. The on-the-spot aluminum baking sheet was a stand-by for me in college.

Of course it's not as good as your regular baking sheet or pan, but it gets the job done when you're desperate.

One word to the wise though -- if you're cooking something that is going to spread or has a lot of juice, then turn the edges of the foil up to hold whatever you're cooking in.

That way you don't mess up your oven!

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