Jelly roll pan vs. cookie sheet

Bakers have two choices, cookie sheets and jelly roll pans (also called baking sheets). Cookie sheets have a curved edge on one or two sides that serve as handles, while the other sides are completely flat. This allows hot air to circulate over the cookies and yields baking times that are consistent with recipes.

If you don't frequently bake cookies -- or you're seeking more versatility -- a jelly roll pan with four rimmed sides may be a better bet. Having a raised edge all the way around is useful for roasting or baking vegetables that may slide around during handling or foods that contain liquids that could seep over the edge. You can bake cookies on a jelly roll pan, too, but it'll take longer because air cannot circulate as freely over the raised edges.

Experts offer the following advice about shopping for a cookie sheet:

  • Skip nonstick cookie sheets. Experts say the dark-colored surface on nonstick cookie sheets can absorb heat, resulting in overcooked cookie bottoms. Testers at Cook's Illustrated magazine, who do not favor nonstick cookie sheets, recommend using a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking; reusable silicone baking mats are another option.
  • Two handles are better than one. Look for a sheet with curved edges on both short sides, which make it easier to grasp the pan.
  • Go for heavy aluminum or stainless steel. If the cookie sheet is too thin, it can warp in the oven, causing uneven cooking and spreading of the dough. Experts prefer heavy-gauge aluminum or stainless-steel cookie sheets.
  • Insulated cookie sheets aren't always the best choice. For delicate baked goods like lace cookies, experts say insulated cookie sheets,  uncoated or coated, may be a better option. Insulated pans have a hollow core between a top and bottom layer of metal to prevent overbrowning of cookie bottoms. However, this type of pan can fail to sufficiently crisp the bottom and edges, or cause cookies to spread too thin.

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