There's nothing more disappointing than taking cookies out of the oven, only to find the bottoms are burnt. The cause might not be a too-hot oven, however; it might be your cookie sheet. Dark nonstick coatings retain heat and cause cookie bottoms to burn, more so than with uncoated aluminum or steel cookie sheets, tests indicate. Uncoated cookie sheets also hold up better, because a nonstick finish can become scratched (and lose its nonstick quality) from utensils, stacking and washing.
True cookie sheets lack walled edges, allowing hot air to circulate freely, but they do have one or two sloping sides that serve as handles. Baking sheets or jelly roll pans, on the other hand, have raised edges all the way around, and they are best suited for baking goods like bar cookies or roasting veggies. People certainly use jelly roll pans for cookies, but without flat sides, you'll need a spatula to lift out the cookies, and experts say your cookies don't brown quite as well in a jelly roll pan.
Among reviewers, the 17-by-14-inch Vollrath Cookie Sheet (*Est. $25) is a standout. Editors at a leading foodie magazine say the uncoated baking surface is virtually nonstick, and it consistently yields cookies with the right shade of browning within the recommended cooking times. Testers also say they like this pan's sturdiness and two curved edges on the short sides for easier handling.
The Vollrath cookie sheet (also sold as the Wear-Ever Cookie Sheet) is also the top-rated cookie sheet in user reviews at Cooking.com, where more than 100 owners give it a near-perfect average rating. Owners agree that this heavy-duty cookie sheet doesn't warp, browns cookies to perfection and is a breeze to clean. It also receives a perfect rating from nearly 50 reviewers at AceMart.com, an online restaurant supplier, who say it bakes evenly and doesn't warp.
If you need a larger cookie sheet, the 20.5-by-14-inch Doughmakers Great Grand Cookie Sheet (*Est. $22) also earns positive reviews. This aluminum cookie sheet is cast with an unusual, pebble-like surface, which prevents sticking. Editors at The Boston Globe give it top honors among seven cookie sheets, saying "every cookie came out beautifully."
If you want to spend less, the Chicago Metallic Commercial Cookie Sheet (*Est. $13) is recommended by the same magazine that recommends the Vollrath Cookie Sheet. Testers say this 16-by-14-inch pan is well designed with two curved edges that serve as handles, and the aluminized steel surface is virtually nonstick. Editors at The Boston Globe also praise the pan's nonstick quality. At Cooking.com, nearly 40 owners give the Chicago Metallic Commercial Cookie Sheet an average rating of 4.4 stars. Owners say cookies come out evenly browned and the pan is easy to wash, but a few owners complain that the pan warped in the oven.
Cook's Illustrated compares 12 cookie sheets and provides a helpful video review that recommends a cookie sheet and a rimmed baking sheet (available only to subscribers). The Boston Globe evaluates seven cookie sheets. Short reviews at Cooking Light magazine, Epicurious.com, 3Luxe.com, Bon Appetit magazineand Bestcovery.com name a favorite without any apparent independent testing. We found the most user reviews of cookie sheets at Cooking.com, although opinions at Amazon.com and AceMart.com also provide useful insights.