We’ve covered many different kitchen tools and appliances on this blog, but sometimes it’s the basic ones that cause the most confusion. Amongst this list is the humble rimmed baking sheet.
Now, we’ve all used one before, you likely even have one in your kitchen already. However, people tend to severely underestimate its versatility and functionality. So today, we’ll explore it in depth!
To start, what exactly is a rimmed baking sheet? A rimmed baking sheet, often called a sheet pan, is a flat, rectangular pan typically made of heavy-gauge metal. It features raised edges (usually about 1 inch high) on all sides, differentiating it from a cookie sheet, which has just one raised edge.
This design makes it ideal for baking, roasting, and a variety of kitchen tasks.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into everything you want to know about this unassuming yet indispensable kitchen staple. From its defining characteristics and dimensions to its various uses, we’ll unravel it all and show you why it’s an absolute must-have in your culinary arsenal.
What Is a Rimmed Baking Sheet?
A rimmed baking sheet, also known as a jelly-roll pan or a sheet pan, is a versatile and indispensable tool in the kitchen, especially if you are an advent baker.
This is a flat, rectangular pan typically measuring 18 inches in length, 13 inches in width, and about 1 inch in depth. These dimensions make it a standard half-sheet pan, perfect for home cooking as it fits comfortably into most ovens, which are usually around 22 inches wide.
The defining feature of a rimmed baking sheet is its raised edges, which are typically rolled for added strength and durability.
These edges serve several essential purposes. First, they provide a secure grip for handling the pan, especially when it’s hot and heavy. This design allows for easy maneuvering in and out of the oven without risking spills or burns.
The raised edges also serve as a containment barrier, preventing food items from sliding off the pan during cooking or transportation. This feature is particularly valuable when you’re roasting vegetables, baking cookies, or making sheet cakes, as it keeps everything inside the pan.
One of the critical advantages of a rimmed baking sheet is its versatility. While it excels at baking cookies and sheet cakes due to its flat surface and even heat distribution, it can be used for a wide range of cooking tasks as well like broiling, roasting, and braising.
When selecting a rimmed baking sheet, look for one made from heavy-gauge metal, such as aluminum, as it provides even heat distribution and durability.
A shiny, reflective surface helps prevent over-browning on the bottom of baked goods. Properly cared for, a quality-rimmed baking sheet can last for many years, making it an excellent investment for your kitchen.
Cookie Sheets vs. Rimmed Baking Sheets – What’s the Difference?
Cookie sheets are characterized by their flat, unrimmed design. They consist of a single flat metal sheet, typically made of aluminum or steel, with (usually) only one raised edge.
This unobstructed surface allows cookies and other delicate baked goods to slide off effortlessly and is designed to promote even baking.
One of the primary purposes of a cookie sheet is to ensure that cookies maintain their shape and texture while in the oven. The absence of raised edges facilitates the circulation of hot air around the cookies, promoting uniform baking.
It also prevents cookies from touching one another, which is essential for cookies that tend to spread during baking, such as chocolate chip cookies.
Due to their flat and unrimmed design, cookie sheets are perfect for tasks like baking cookies, biscuits, scones, and other items that require minimal containment. They are also excellent for toasting nuts, seeds, and spices in a single layer.
In contrast, rimmed baking sheets are designed with raised edges on all four sides. These raised edges, typically about an inch in height, serve multiple functions that expand their utility beyond baking.
One of the primary advantages of rimmed baking sheets is their versatility. While they are still excellent for baking cookies, they can accommodate a broader range of culinary tasks.
The raised edges contain ingredients effectively, making them ideal for roasting vegetables, broiling meats, and cooking one-pan meals. The containment feature is especially valuable when dealing with liquids, preventing sauces or juices from spilling over into the oven.
Functions of a Rimmed Baking Sheet
As we’ve now mentioned a couple of times, a rimmed baking sheet is an extremely versatile piece of equipment to have in the kitchen.
Here are only some of the most common uses for it, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have many limits.
- Baking Cookies
While not exclusive to rimmed baking sheets, they are commonly used for baking cookies.
The flat surface allows for even heat distribution, ensuring that cookies bake uniformly. The raised edges also prevent cookies from spreading too much or merging into one another.
- Roasting Vegetables
Rimmed baking sheets are excellent for roasting vegetables. The raised edges contain the vegetables and any cooking juices, preventing them from spilling over into the oven. This containment helps caramelize the vegetables evenly.
- Sheet Cakes
Rimmed baking sheets are the go-to choice for making sheet cakes. The shallow depth of the pan ensures that the cake bakes evenly and allows for easy removal and cutting into squares or rectangles.
When you need to broil meats or melt cheese on dishes like nachos, a rimmed baking sheet can withstand the high heat of the broiler. The raised edges keep the juices and melted cheese from dripping onto the oven’s heating elements.
- One-Pan Meals
Preparing one-pan meals, such as sheet pan dinners, is a breeze with a rimmed baking sheet.
You can arrange a variety of ingredients on the sheet, from proteins to vegetables, and roast or bake them together. The raised edges keep everything contained and make for easy cleanup.
- Baking Focaccia and Flatbreads
The flat and spacious surface of a rimmed baking sheet is perfect for baking focaccia, flatbreads, or other similar recipes. The rimmed edges help maintain the dough’s shape and contain any toppings or oils used during baking.
- Toasting and Roasting Nuts
When you want to toast or roast nuts, seeds, or spices in a single layer, a rimmed baking sheet is your friend. The flat surface provides even heat distribution, ensuring that your ingredients toast uniformly.
- Cooling Rack Substitute
In a pinch, you can use a rimmed baking sheet as a cooling rack. Place freshly baked items on the sheet to cool, and any excess glaze or frosting will be caught by the raised edges, preventing messes on your countertop.
- Freezing Foods
Rimmed baking sheets can also be used for freezing foods. Place items like berries or individually portioned cookie dough on the sheet and freeze until solid. The flat surface makes it easy to stack or store items in the freezer.
- Drip Tray
When grilling indoors, you can use a rimmed baking sheet as a drip tray to catch excess grease or marinades, preventing them from falling onto the stovetop or oven.
Where to Buy Rimmed Baking Sheets?
Rimmed baking sheets are widely available and can be purchased from various retailers, both in physical stores and online.
Specialty kitchen supply stores, such as Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Bed Bath & Beyond, often carry a variety of baking sheets, including rimmed options. Visiting these stores allows you to see the pans in person and get expert advice.
Online marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Target offer a vast selection of rimmed baking sheets. You can easily compare different brands, sizes, and materials, and read customer reviews to make an informed choice.
And finally, consider going to stores that cater to restaurants and professional kitchens, such as Restaurant Depot or WebstaurantStore. They sell high-quality rimmed baking sheets that are typically durable and built to withstand heavy use.
When shopping for rimmed baking sheets, consider factors like size, material (aluminum, stainless steel, or non-stick), and price. It’s also a good idea to read product reviews and check if the pans are dishwasher-safe for easier cleanup.
What Can I Use Instead of a Rimmed Baking Sheet?
If you don’t have a rimmed baking sheet on hand, you can use several alternative kitchen tools and methods, depending on the specific purpose of the baking sheet.
Remember that when substituting for a rimmed baking sheet, you may need to adjust cooking times and monitor your food more closely to prevent spills or burning.
Additionally, always consider the material’s heat resistance and how it may affect your dish when choosing an alternative.
A cookie sheet can be used for baking cookies, biscuits, and other items that don’t release excessive liquid or grease. You may need to use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper to prevent spills.
For dishes that release liquids, such as roasted vegetables or casseroles, you can use an oven-safe casserole dish with high sides. These dishes are designed to hold liquids and can be covered with aluminum foil if needed.
If you’re baking bread or pizza, a pizza stone or steel can work well. These provide even heat distribution and help achieve a crispy crust.
Baking dishes, such as Pyrex or ceramic dishes, can be used for casseroles, lasagnas, or baked pasta dishes. Make sure your baking dish is oven-safe at the desired temperature.
In a real pinch, cake pans with higher sides can be used for certain baked goods, like bars, brownies, or small batches of roasted vegetables. Line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.