Kitchn Love Letters

The Brilliant Storage Solution You Haven’t Thought of, but Chefs Love

updated Apr 5, 2021
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Credit: Katie Leaird

If you clicked on this story, it’s likely because you want to know the storage solution that chefs love. Well, I will tell you: It’s a sheet pan rack. You almost never see these outside of a commercial kitchen, but I swear that one of these makes the best home kitchen organizer. Even if — nay, especially if — you’re short on space.

So, what is a sheet pan rack? It’s a heavy-duty aluminum rack with uniformly spaced tray slides (usually about three inches apart). It’s designed for efficient, vertical storage of full sheet pans (or double the amount of half-sheet pans) and, in a restaurant, is often used as a landing zone for blazing-hot trays right out of the oven. It’s super helpful, but, admittedly, not a looker. However, I’m not recommending you get a six-foot aluminum monster for your home kitchen. My suggestion: Get the half-size version, which can easily fit into a closet or slide underneath a counter.

Credit: Katie Leaird

Get one of these racks and, instead of looking for somewhere to shove your baking trays, you can use them as more storage. Slide in all your sheet trays (stacking them if you have a bunch) and wire baking racks and cutting boards (and anything else with a 16- to 18-inch width that can perch on the tray slides), arranging them as you like for optimal usability. Then, start populating your custom shelves. And when your storage and organization needs change, re-do your rack!

Credit: Katie Leaird

Here’s what my sheet pan rack looks like right now: I have wooden cutting boards on top of wire cooling racks (so they can fully dry and air out) on the bottom tray. Then, I have cake pans on a full sheet tray above that. Next up, I have a taller “shelf” for mixing bowls. (Just don’t put a sheet pan on every slide and you can have taller shelves!) Then comes a full tray of my favorite, most-used utensils, like my Thermapen and measuring cups. Above that, I have two half-sheet trays dedicated to the projects I do most often: One tray for pasta-making tools, and another for cakes and cookies. Then, dedicated parchment paper storage. I keep the top slot for my “office” — my laptop gets its very own pristine, clean tray, and the half-sheet behind it holds my label-maker (can’t go a day without it!), notebooks, pens and Sharpies, and other business materials.

I never need to root around in a crowded, jumbled drawer and I don’t lose things. Because my tools are on trays, I can slide one out and move it wherever I want while working on a project, then tuck it away when I’m done.

My half rack has wheels and a white worktop (these are both features you can opt for, depending on what rack you get — like this or this). Personally, I find the wheels a huge plus, as I can prep by my sink and then roll everything over to the stovetop. (I also like to park it next to my KitchenAid stand mixer to make a mobile pasta station.) The white top is a great, neutral background for food photography and those full-swivel wheels make it super easy to roll food into the best natural light for shooting.

Will you have to buy a few more sheet trays to make your perfect sheet pan rack storage system? Maybe. But if you do, it’s a relatively small investment — and there are a myriad of uses for a good, sturdy rimmed baking sheet. And again, if you only put a few sheet trays on here, you’ll have taller shelves, which you can use for big pots and even some small appliances.

Do you have a storage system that maximizes a small kitchen space? Tell us about it in the comments!