As someone who wrote an entire book on sheet pan cooking, I'm often asked what kind of sheet pan is best for the job. For something as simple as a sheet pan, there are a surprising number of choices! Here is my advice for finding a sheet pan you'll love and use forever.
Recipe pictured: Roasted Potatoes with Bacon & Brussels Sprouts
Know What a Sheet Pan Actually Is
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your sheet pan is that you pick an actual sheet pan, measuring 18x13 inches with a one-inch lip around the edges. These are sometimes called half-sheet pans at restaurant supply stores, which is definitely confusing, so just be sure to check the measurements before buying. Also be careful not to buy a jelly roll pan, which is much smaller and flimsier, and has a tendency to warp at high heat.
Sheet Pan Facts
- A sheet pan measures 18x13 inches with a one-inch lip.
- This size is often also called a half-sheet pan because it's half the size of a full-sized commercial sheet pan.
- Double check your oven to make sure the pan will fit. If not, you can buy smaller quarter-sheet pans.
Remember, the large surface area and shallow sides of a sheet pan allow for maximum air circulation in the oven. This results in juicy meat (and fish, chicken, and so on) and extra-flavorful vegetables, all with plenty of perfect, crispy bits — whether you want to cook a full meal or simply roast a bunch of vegetables.
Choose Aluminum or Stainless Steel Sheet Pans
Material-wise, I like aluminum or stainless steel sheet pans, without nonstick coating. (I don't like the thought of the nonstick coating breaking down over time and chipping off into my dinner. Of course, if that doesn't bother you, or you don't mind replacing your sheet pans more frequently, nonstick sheet pans are a perfectly good choice.)
Buying a Sheet Pan at a Restaurant Supply Store
Don't forget to look at commercial equipment and restaurant supply stores!
I own six (quite worn and battle-tested) sheet pans from a few different manufacturers: I've got two each from Chicago Metallic and Sur La Table, and I managed to score two older, vintage Ovenex pans (with a pretty starburst pattern) off of eBay. I've found the Chicago Metallic and Sur La Table members of the arsenal are best at distributing heat evenly and also hold up well at high temperatures. The Ovenex pans, despite looking great in photos, are (unsurprisingly) less reliable in the oven.
Bonus Tip: Buy a Wire Rack!
No matter which brand of sheet pan you choose, it's worth it to invest in a rectangular wire rack. One that fits nicely inside your sheet pan is great for both layering ingredients on the pan and cooling finished dishes.
Also, make sure you have plenty of parchment paper and aluminum foil — this makes for quick and easy cleanup.
Happy (sheet pan) cooking!