The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make with Their Baking Sheets

updated May 24, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Baking sheets are like the Dutch ovens of bakeware: They really can do it all. Baking, broiling, roasting, cooling cooked grains — a sheet pan’s good for all those things. Pair it with a wire rack? Well, then you have a mighty combination that’s perfect for cooling baked goods, draining foods post-frying, and making oven-cooked bacon.

I use a sheet pan for something at least once a day (my favorites are the ones from Nordic Ware), and so I need mine to last. I’m guessing you want to treat yours right, too? To help you out, I compiled a list of the five biggest mistakes people make with sheet pans — and I included some tips on how to make sure you don’t make them.

1. Putting your sheet pans in the dishwasher.

Specifically, I’m talking about uncoated aluminum sheet pans, like the ones I mentioned from Nordic Ware. Cleaning these sorts of sheet pans in the dishwasher will discolor them, resulting in a splotchy, almost cloudy-looking patina. It could also cause them to warp over time. So, stick to hand-washing. (My favorite nonstick baking sheet, however, is dishwasher-friendly!)

2. Using the wrong utensils.

Speaking of our favorite nonstick baking sheet, do not use metal utensils on nonstick anything — baking sheets and beyond. This will cause them to scratch and become damaged. This might seem obvious to you, but I see it happen a lot. Stick to wooden or silicone utensils. That said, it’s fine to use metal utensils on uncoated aluminum sheet pans.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

3. Thinking a “dirty, old” baking sheet needs to go.

Not true! Browned baking sheets can actually brown food better than shiny new ones. Older baking sheets can also be super helpful for non-cooking tasks, like this fridge storage tip! Plus, it’s totally possible to clean even the most impossibly dirty baking sheets!

Read more: We Tried 5 Methods for Cleaning Baking Sheets and Found a Clear Winner

4. Not tossing those severely warped baking sheets.

However, if that older baking sheet is warped, it may be time to let it go — or least decide that it won’t be for used for cooking. Warping is that popping sound you hear when a baking sheet’s in the oven. It causes the sheet to no longer lay flat and when it’s really warped it can also mean that your food will cook unevenly, as oil will drip away from whatever you’re cooking, pooling in one portion of the pan and leaving things parched on the other side.

5. Not buying quality baking sheets.

Not all baking sheets are worth the money. Flimsier ones are bound to warp much faster and you’ll end up replacing them more quickly, too. Instead, get durable, warp-resistant baking sheets. Again, Nordic Ware is my top pick for these. I’ve had mine for years and they haven’t failed me yet!

Do you have a question about baking sheets? Leave it in the comments below!