Have you ever wondered why almost all baking recipe instructions end with leaving your baked goods on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving?
Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, you must invest in some vital pieces of cooking and baking equipment, and cooling racks are one of them.
They may seem very simple, and the best ones always are, but cooling racks can have a huge impact on how you cook and the final result of your dish.
They are one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen and come in two main variants; those that are oven-safe and those that are not.
So, what are the best oven-safe cooling racks? The best oven-safe cooling racks are made using sturdy materials such as stainless steel and have a tight grid-like design to create proper airflow and prevent food from getting soggy and falling through.
Read our detailed buyer’s guide on why you need a cooling rack, how to choose the best one, and our pick of the 7 best oven-safe cooling racks!
Why Do I Need A Cooling Rack?
The answer to this is very simple. You need a cooling rack to prevent your baked goods from overcooking and turning soggy.
A cooling rack is a rectangular-shaped wire rack that allows air to pass through and circulate between the openings in the rack. It lets whatever has been placed on top of it cool down.
If you leave your baked goods or hot pans to rest on a flat solid surface, it will prevent any air from reaching the bottom and will either cause moisture to build up.
This will cause them to sag at the bottom, consequently ruining the quality of your dish.
In addition to that, cooling racks can also be used to prevent overbaking. After taking out the pan from the oven, the heat inside it will continue to cook the food unless it is properly cooled and brought to room temperature.
Putting the hot pan on the cooling rack allows air to circulate freely and cool it down faster than if it were left on a flat countertop.
To finish the process and facilitate the final cooling phase, the baked goods may be placed directly over the cooling racks.
Types Of Cooling Racks
Cooling racks come in various sizes, shapes, designs, and types. Let’s look at two of the most commonly known and used ones: flat cooling racks and tiered cooling racks, and how they differ from one another.
Flat Cooling Racks
Flat cooling racks are the most common type and usually what comes to mind when we think of oven-safe cooling racks.
They come in different shapes and sizes with circular, square, and rectangular being the most widely used.
Flat cooling racks are typically built with feet on their edges to give them a little height and elevate them from the surface so that air can freely circulate around the rack, especially the bottom.
The wires on the rack are thick and sturdy to be able to withstand the weight of the baked goodies and baking utensils, such as pans and trays. Also, they have small gaps in between them to prevent smaller items from slipping through.
Tiered Cooling Racks
Tiered cooling racks are a common choice for people with limited countertop space. They usually come with two or more racks stacked on top of each other and have at least 4 inches of space between them.
They are great for when you have multiple batches to cool off simultaneously, such as dozens of cookies, cupcakes, or muffins all at the same time.
In addition to saving quite a lot of space, tiered cooling racks may also be used for food presentation for a buffet, party, or gathering.
There are two other types of cooling racks – baker’s racks and bread cooling racks – both of which are nothing like the cooling racks we are accustomed to seeing and using in our kitchens.
These are much bigger than typical cooling racks, have wheels for easy mobility, and are usually found in large commercial kitchens and food processing plants.
How To Choose The Best Oven-Safe Cooling Rack
When choosing the best oven-safe cooling rack for your cooking and baking needs, there are a few factors that you need to consider. They include:
Cooling racks are usually made up of stainless steel, carbon steel, or chrome-plated metal, all of which are safe to use and highly durable.
Most cooling racks have a non-stick coating to make them easier to clean and use in a dishwasher. However, while the non-stick coating makes cleanup easier, they are not oven-safe.
The coating can break down and warp due to the heat and ruin your food. Therefore, if you want your cooling rack to be an oven-safe one, go for the metal ones without the coating.
The size of the cooling rack is another determining factor and it may vary depending on the available space on your counter and the size of your baking pan or dish.
If space is an issue, you may opt for the tiered ones that are easily collapsible and stackable instead of the flat ones so that they can hold large amounts of food at a time.
For a cooling rack to be used for baking or grilling purposes, make sure it is compatible with the baking sheet you would be using.
The size and design of the grid determine how strong the rack is and how much heat and weight it will be able to withstand.
Most cooling racks come with a strong metal wire grid pattern, and that is the one you should opt for instead of the ones with a parallel pattern.
The reason being that the latter will make your baked goods sag between the wires and will not offer much in terms of support. A grid-patterned cooling rack will be able to withstand both high heat and heavy food items.
The 7 Best Oven-Safe Cooling racks
From a simple flat one to a fancy multi-tiered one that you can use for food presentation as well, cooling racks comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and uses.
Here are our top 7 picks for the best oven-safe cooling racks to help you pick the best one for your needs:
|1.||Ultra Cuisine Quarter Sheet||Stability and increased height|
|2.||Kitchenatics Half Sheet||Superior height and improved strength|
|3.||Hiware Half Sheet 2-Pack||Exceptional value for money|
|4.||Goson Kitchen Cooling Rack||Sturdiness and good ventilation|
|5.||Checkered Chef Quarter Sheet||Versatility and great price-value point|
|6.||Spring Chef Heavy Duty Quarter Sheet||Reasonably priced and available in multiple sizes|
|7.||Hamilton Housewares Cooling Rack||Tight grid pattern and durability|
1. Ultra Cuisine Quarter Sheet
Ultra Cuisine’s cooling rack can withstand temperatures up to 575°F and is a great option for serious home cooks.
It’s made using commercial grade stainless steel which ensures it will not rust or corrode.
Supported by 2 braces and 4 feet, the rack sits perfectly flat and does not rock at all.
It is raised almost 1 inch above whatever surface it is resting on so that air can circulate evenly for all kinds of purposes ranging from broiling a roast to cooling cookies.
2. Kitchenatics Half Sheet
The Kitchenatics cooling and roasting rack is one of our top contenders thanks to its thoughtful design.
Its elevated height offers superior airflow, more than any other top cooling rack.
It stands at a 1-inch height with additional support and stability, holding up to 45 pounds of weight.
The rack is oven-safe and designed using stainless steel that is dishwasher safe and able to withstand high temperatures of up to 575°F.
3. Hiware Half Sheet 2-Pack
When it comes to the best value for money, it is tough to beat the Hiware 2-pack cooling rack.
Each rack measures 195 square inches, offering a total of 390 square inches combined.
These racks are made with 100% stainless steel and are both dishwasher and oven-safe.
They can easily be set up for heavier cooling and cooking tasks, like roasting a turkey, thanks to the 3 crossbars that provide them with additional support.
In addition to that, these sizable racks can easily be moved around if you need to clear up some counter space, without the fear of spilling anything onto the counter or the floor.
4. Goson Kitchen Cooling Rack
This set of 2 stainless steel cooling racks is perfect for all things cooking. They can withstand temperatures up to 575°F.
They are sturdy and compatible with other similar-sized sheet pans.
Their heavy-duty ½ inch square cross wire pattern ensures good heat ventilation and prevents small items from falling through.
It is elevated at ¾ inch for even heat distribution for baking and even air distribution for cooling. In addition to being oven-safe, it is easy to clean and is dishwasher friendly.
5. Checkered Chef Quarter Sheet
These Checkered Chef Quarter Sheet racks come in a set of two and are one of the most economical options out there.
Although they are smaller than other quarter sheet cooling racks, their slightly smaller dimensions actually make them more versatile.
You can use them in conjunction with a quarter sheet pan and can also combine the two racks for extra cooking or cooling space.
Made using a 100% stainless steel even surface, these racks stand taller than ½ inch and allow for better air circulation.
6. Spring Chef Heavy Duty Quarter Sheet
The Spring Chef Heavy Duty Quarter Sheet rack is made with 100% stainless steel and a 3/8-inch grid spacing.
It is priced very reasonably and comes in a variety of sizes to choose from.
Also, it is not just oven-safe up to 575°F but also dishwasher-friendly.
The smaller size of the rack makes it a versatile tool in the kitchen and allows it to fit in some toaster ovens as well. It is a lightweight cooling rack that is easy to clean, without relying on chemical non-stick coatings.
7. Hamilton Housewares Cooling Rack
The Hamilton Housewares cooling rack is made with 100% grade 304 stainless steel that resists rust better and offers maximum durability.
It has no coatings and treatments added and is oven-safe up to 575°F.
It works great for all sorts of baking and cooking and works great in the dishwasher as well.
Its perfect 3/8-inch tight grid pattern ensures that nothing falls through and there is adequate airflow to cool your goods perfectly.
Now that you know why you need cooling racks and how to choose the best one for your needs, here are a few questions we thought you might have in mind while reading our guide!
Are all cooling racks oven-safe?
No, not all cooling racks are oven-safe; some are meant only for cooling purposes. So how can you tell if one is?
The first step is to read the product label. If the cooling rack is oven-safe, the insert or tag that comes with it will clearly specify it.
You should never guess whether a tool or utensil is oven-safe and never experiment by putting it in the oven unless you’re sure.
For times when there is no oven-safety sticker, there are other signs to help you tell if your cooling rack is safe to use for baking, broiling, and the works.
If your cooling rack has a non-stick coating, which most of them do, you can forget to use it to bake or oven-grill anything.
The non-stick coating, aka polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, makes it easier to clean the rack and prevents food from sticking to it. However, when put inside the oven, it melts and warps due to intense heat.
The melting and warping lead to the PTFE leaking into your food, which can be hazardous to your health.
Can cooling racks be used for anything other than cooling?
Cooling racks, although their name suggests it, are not used only for cooling. They can be used for a variety of purposes, both inside and outside the oven.
Other than cooling your baked goods, you can use your cooling rack to cook food inside the oven, such as bacon.
Just preheat your oven to 450°F and place the rack on top of a sheet pan to cook your bacon. It’s a simple and mess-free way since the fat drips onto the baking sheet, leaving you with crispier bacon as compared to frying.
You can also use the racks to smoke meat, baste meat, dehydrate fruit, thaw frozen foods, and glaze and decorate your baked goods.
Cooling racks can be put into the smoker for perfectly smoked meat and they are great for basting meat as well since you don’t have to worry about the meat getting drenched in the oil drippings.
You can put your cakes and cupcakes on the cooling rack and easily glaze them, the remainder of which will drip down the gaps without making the base soggy and unattractive.
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