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What is a Jelly Roll Pan?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A jelly roll pan is similar to a baking sheet or cookie sheet, but it has sides that are usually 1 inch (2.54 cm) deep. These pans are handy for many uses, such as for roasting vegetables and baking cookies, coffee cakes, and the cake portion of jelly rolls.

A jelly roll is a thin sponge cake that is rolled up with a filling of jelly or jam. When sliced, a circular pattern is revealed in each piece of cake. Whipped cream and fruit or fruit preserves often top each slice. The jelly roll cake batter is usually flavored with vanilla and/or almond extract, and raspberry or strawberry jam or jelly is usually used for the filling. There are many variations of this dessert, however, and while a chocolate cake with whipped cream filling isn't technically a jelly roll, it would still be made in basically the same way.

Since the outside layer of cake will show in the finished dessert, the jelly roll pan is often lined with a piece of wax paper or a silicone mat that is peeled off the cake after baking. This method tends to add a smooth look to the top surface of the cake. Turning the other side of the jelly roll into a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered, or icing, sugar and then letting it cool before filling may make the paper or mat easier to remove. Then, once the cake is completely cool, the baker can flip it over, fill it and place the roll on a plate seam side down before slicing and serving.

A jelly roll pan is usually made of aluminized steel as this material resists rusting and allows for an even distribution of heat, and non-stick versions are available. Commercial quality pans are made with heavy gauge steel for extra strength and to prevent bending and warping. Cooks can use this type to roast a big pan full of roasted vegetables or broil a lot of appetizers.

Many foods that slide off of a regular cookie sheet can be cooked on a jelly roll pan, thanks to the edges. There's much less chance of juices leaking from the pan and making a mess in the oven. Plus, cooks can bake desserts such as coffee cakes and granola bars on this type of pan rather than just cookies.

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Discussion Comments
By gmajudy — On Oct 23, 2013

@feasting-I had to google to find out what a jelly roll pan was. This pan pictured is what my mom always referred to as being a cookie sheet. I've had bad experiences with non-stick baking pans that I've purchased, as they'd start to rust anywhere they got the smallest scratch. What I now use in place of a jelly pan that I believe works very well is my enamel broiler pan, without the rack, of course, that came with the purchase of my oven. I hope this may be useful information for others, and I'm always open to others ideas and suggestions! Happy baking to all of you!

By gmajudy — On Oct 23, 2013

@Whiteplane: I believe stainless steel is a very good choice, as they are very long lasting! It is my choice of pots, pans, and mixing bowls, too! I've been married 40 years, and I'm only on my second set of stainless steel pots and pans with copper bottoms. I've had my mixing bowls for about 30 years, and they are still in good condition. The plastic handles became faulty on my first set of pots and pans. Otherwise, the pans themselves were in good condition. I hope the new business is a success for your wife!

By orangey03 — On Dec 13, 2012

I bake salmon in my jelly roll pan. Just because it is designed for jelly rolls doesn't mean we can't break the rules a little!

I glaze my salmon with a mixture of butter, honey, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Also, I re-glaze it halfway through cooking, so there are plenty of juices rolling around the pan that need to be stopped at the edges. I have smelled juice that has dripped onto the hot oven bottom before, and it is not a pleasant aroma.

I also cook chicken in this pan. Even when I don't glaze it with anything, natural meat juices come out of the chicken, so I would never bake it on a flat baking sheet.

By OeKc05 — On Dec 13, 2012

@feasting – Isn't it strange that something so flat and wide is called a jelly roll pan? When I first heard someone mention this type of pan, I picture something rounded and short.

Even a small jelly roll pan is rather wide. I've never cooked this type of cake before, so I didn't know that cake could be made so flat.

By JackWhack — On Dec 13, 2012

I have a large jelly roll pan that I use for just about everything that needs baking! I bake things like fishsticks and chicken tenders on it, because they tend to slip around after I spray vegetable oil on the pan to make it slick.

I've even toasted bread on this pan. When I take the pan out to turn it around so that all the bread toasts evenly, the bread does slide quite a bit, so it is nice to have the sides there to capture it.

By feasting — On Dec 12, 2012

I wasn't even aware that I had a jelly roll baking pan until reading this article! I have a recipe that calls for using one, and I've been desperately wanting to try it, but I haven't because I didn't know what a jelly roll pan was. Now I can use the recipe!

By Ivan83 — On Dec 12, 2012

I would like to buy a nonstick jelly roll pan. Does anyone know where I can get one cheap?

By nextcorrea — On Dec 12, 2012

I use a jelly roll pan to roast pumpkin seeds in the fall.

It is great because you can roast a lot of seeds and not worry about them sliding everywhere.

I love everything fall and one of my favorite aspects is to munch on warm, salty pumpkin seeds.

By whiteplane — On Dec 11, 2012

I am getting my wife several stainless steel jelly roll pans for Christmas this year. She has recently gotten into baking and is thinking of setting up a little baking business out of our kitchen. She has the initiative and the recipes, what she lacks is the equipment. Ideally I would be able to get her a second kitchen, but we will have to start with the pans.

By anon152615 — On Feb 14, 2011

Yes, forever ago we only used waxed paper. I didn't even own parchment paper until last week (2011)! Thought I'd give it a try. Otherwise, my mother always used waxed paper in baking as did all my aunts, and myself and cousins. So, it's just an older use item (in my view) and parchment is a newer item (in my view.) Happy baking!

By anon38911 — On Jul 29, 2009

When my mother baked her round cakes she always used waxed paper to line the pans and never had any problem. Back then there was no such thing as parchment paper.

By anon22242 — On Nov 30, 2008

Thanks for your comments. According to my research, both wax paper and silicone are acceptable when making jelly rolls.

By anon22188 — On Nov 29, 2008

The previous post re waxed paper is wrong. Perhaps this person has never made a roll cake. Parchment paper is fine for cookies etc. but Waxed paper is a MUST for baking roll cakes. I have successfully made a Christmas chocolate roll/log cake for over 35 years using waxed paper. There has never been a problem re wax ruining anything, in fact the recipe requires that you use waxed paper. This recipe is from the reputable "Joy of Cooking" cookbook that has been in print and updated for many years. I agree that Parchment paper is wonderful stuff but not for roll cake baking. Thank you.

By AuthorSheriC — On Nov 27, 2008

I use glass baking dishes for things such as sweet potatoes and they always work for me!

By anon22023 — On Nov 26, 2008

If a recipe calls for a "jelly roll pan" to bake sweet potatoes, is there any reason I could not use a large glass baking dish instead? (I don't have a jelly roll pan.)

By anon22002 — On Nov 25, 2008

Not wax paper, but parchment or baking paper, which is embedded with silicone, not wax, which will absolutely ruin your cake/cookie/whatever you put in the oven. Do not put wax paper in the oven.

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