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Baking Sheets: Is Dull and Old Better Than Shiny and New?

By Andrea Geary Published

Is your baking sheet dull and matte from years of use and repeated scrubbing? Lucky you.

We recently put a batch of pristine new sheets into rotation in the test kitchen and suddenly found that our recommended cooking times weren’t getting the job done. What happened?

As we used our shiny new baking sheets, we noticed that garlic bread was pallid and limp, and butternut squash emerged from the oven looking steamed instead of roasted.

We know that dark-colored pans absorb and transfer heat more efficiently than lighter-colored pans. Could the same be true of dull pans, even if they are roughly the same color as a shiny new version?

To find out, we placed gleaming new sheets and dull older ones in the oven with thermocouples attached to record the rates at which they heated.

Deputy Food Editor Andrea Geary places a baking sheet with temperature probes attached into an oven to test whether there is a difference in the heat retention of a shiny pan and a dull pan.

Sure enough, the older sheets heated rapidly, reaching just over 400 degrees in 15 minutes. The shiny new sheets were slower to heat, hitting only 350 degrees in the same amount of time. And they never got as hot as their duller counterparts, maxing out at 385 degrees after more than 30 minutes, meaning these sheets would be far less effective for browning food.

So if your baking sheet has lost its luster, you should celebrate, not mourn.

If You Need a Rimmed Baking Sheet . . .

Nordic Ware Baker's Half Sheet

Everything prepared in this sturdy, warp-resistant sheet cooks appropriately and evenly. 

Recipes to Make with Your Rimmed Baking Sheet

Recipe Really Good Garlic Bread

How do you make the ultimate version of this classic? It’s a pressing issue.

Recipe Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Feta

For great caramelization, don’t drown squash in sugar or syrup. Instead, sharpen your knife.

Recipe Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

We set out to perfect the back-of-the-bag classic with a cookie that was crisp at the edges, chewy in the middle, and full of rich toffee flavor.

Recipe Roasted Smashed Potatoes

How do you produce spuds with mashed-potato creaminess and crackly-crisp crusts without deep frying? It’s a pressing issue.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.