Kitchn Love Letters

You Need Smaller Sheet Pans. (No, Even Smaller!)

published Mar 30, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Half-sheet pans (often just referred to as “baking sheets”) are a kitchen essential. They’re what you use to make batches of chocolate chip cookies, sheet pan meals (like this knockout sweet potato and black bean hash), and even slab pies. But they’re not the only sheet pan around town — and certainly not the only sheet pans that deserves a place in your kitchen.

Because we also need to talk about quarter and eighth sheet pans. They get a heck of a lot less attention than their half-sheet siblings, but are equally useful in their own ways. Let me explain.

Quarter sheet pans are half the size of half-sheet pans. (Math!) They’re perfect for prep tasks like cooling a couple of cups of cooked grains for a salad, and cooking for two. They easily fit a couple of proteins of salmon or chicken thighs, but are much less bulky and easily fit in your sink for washing. I also love them for baking just a couple of cookies (store pre-portioned cookie dough in your freezer; it’s life-changing). And I use them to stash uncooked proteins in their store packaging on the bottom-shelf of my fridge for soon-to-be meals. This way, if something leaks, the juice get contained.

But, which one should you buy? I’m a professional gear tester so I’ve spent hours and hours using baking sheets and have some thoughts. My favorite quarter (and half and eighth!) sheet pans are by Nordic Ware. They last for years and are totally warp-resistant. (You know that popping sound you hear when a sheet pan’s in the oven? That’s warping — meaning one side basically twists or buckles, so the sheet pan is no longer a totally flat surface.)

Eighth sheet pans are even smaller! At half the size of quarter sheet pans (more math!), these tiny guys are my go-to for prep tasks like toasting a handful of nuts. They’re great for cooking for one, too, and can accommodate a single serving of protein for baking or roasting in the oven (or toaster oven!). I also like to use one to toast a handful of croutons for a single-serving salad. And at less than $10 a pop, it’s totally worth having a couple of them around, for whenever you may need them.

What size baking sheet do you find the most useful in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments!