Have you ever been standing your kitchen, waiting for some cookies or vegetables to come out of the oven, and been scared half to death by loud, metallic thud? Something that sounds like a small robotic animal is trying to break free from the confines of your oven? That isn’t a robot. Or anything living. It’s your sub-par sheet pan. You need to get a new one.
Heat makes things expand, and last time we checked, a metal sheet pan is a thing. When you put a rim-less sheet pan (like the flat ones with that one curved lip) in the oven, it wants to expand, ultimately causing it to warp. That loud clang is what happens the instant the metal decides it’s a bit too hot. It’s the sound of something flat turning into something…not flat. And a warped sheet pan is no good for baking cookies, toasting nuts, or roasting vegetables. Not one bit.
There’s a way to prevent this. You have to buy a double-thick, rolled-edge sheet pan.
We only use double-thick (also labeled as “commercial”) rolled-edge sheet pans in the BA Test Kitchen. That raised lip will keep any olive oil, sheet pan dinner juices, or small bits of vegetables from dropping off the pan. It also makes sure that pizza dough or cookies don’t end up expanding off the edge of the tray. Sure, it’s a protective barrier, but that little rim’s real value is support.
Rolled-edge sheet pans don’t warp in the same way that flat ones do because the rim keeps the bottom of the pan flat. It pushes down on the edges of the pan, supporting the structure of the tray and making sure your pan stays level and absorbs heat evenly. A thicker layer of aluminum (the reason it’s labeled “commercial” or “double-thick) helps resist warping as well. The rim is your pan’s therapist, a constant source of mental support. And yes, your pan has health insurance that covers therapy. And yes, the rolled edge takes that insurance provider.
A note on size, which can be kind of confusing. A full sheet pan is actually ginormous and won’t fit in most home ovens—they’re primarily used in restaurants and commercial bakeries. What you want is a half sheet pan, which is about 18″x13″ and is plenty big for most home cooking projects. Quarter sheet pans also exist—they’re half the size of a half sheet pan, natch—and they’re great for baking small portions of things like nuts, storing meat in the fridge, or just keeping your ingredients organized.
Now, we’re not going to claim your sheet pans won’t get brown and dirty. They will. That’s what happens when you cook things on sheet pans (and we have a fix for that, btw). But, smudged or nah, a quality rimmed sheet pan is going to improve your quality of life. It will be a quiet life, a peaceful one, with no bangs or thuds or clanks or robot screams coming from the inside of your oven…as it should be.