Menu
Search
Menu
Close

Cookie Sheets

Published February 2013

How we tested

It’s just a flat piece of metal, so you’d think a cookie sheet couldn’t fail. In fact, we’ve seen them bake unevenly and warp, not to mention let cookies burn, stick, or spread into blobs. Cookie sheets come in many materials, sizes, thicknesses, and finishes, insulated or not, with rims or not. What would the best cookie sheets look like? Our previous favorite, bakes beautifully, but you have to buy it online or at restaurant supply stores. Is anybody making a quality cookie sheet for home bakers?

We gathered eight, including our previous winner, priced from $12 to $24, testing both single sheets and insulated versions. Manufacturers claim that insulated sheets heat more evenly and “allow virtually no chance of burning,” as one puts it. The air pocket between two layers of metal is designed to buffer heat, preventing hot spots and warping.

Lots of Tests, Lots of Cookies

To test them, we baked three types of cookies (spritz, lemon, and lace) on both unlined and parchment paper–lined sheets, blending batches of dough and using the same oven so that the only variable was the cookie sheet being tested. First, we looked at how evenly the sheets baked. Not very, it turned out. Many produced pale cookies and dark cookies within a single sheet. Surprisingly, one of the insulated sheets bombed this test, not only baking unevenly but nearly burning every batch, too. We got the best results from two single-layer sheets. One baked slightly faster than recipe times indicated, but it baked evenly, creating flavorful deep-golden bottoms and paler tops. Our previous winner produced perfectly even cookies with matched tops and bottoms. As for the nonstick sheets, the slick surfaces encouraged the batter to run and ooze before it set, so instead of tall, distinct edges, these cookies tapered to thin edges that overbaked.

Whether evenly browned or not, all cookies should come off a baking sheet without sticking. To test how well sheets released cookies, we baked spritz cookies, which are so buttery they don’t require parchment paper. It took a little more effort to remove cookies from sheets with traditional finishes, but in every case but one, we managed. (In that case, the anodized matte surface was to blame, we learned. Anodizing, which helps prevent scratching, is also used to prepare metal for pigments or coatings by making the surface rougher and more porous—and more likely to stick, explained Hugh Rushing of the Cookware Manufacturers Association.) We turned to design. Lace cookies should spread into lovely lacy disks. But if your cookie sheet warps, the cookies run together or come out looking like amoebas. While any metal sheet can warp, we found that the thinnest, lightest pans were most likely to. We were disappointed that the insulated sheets we tested warped, too. Even heating, which these promise, should prevent warping. Apparently not.

Next, could we easily maneuver a spatula between cookies? (This is especially important when you are baking without parchment paper, as you must move the cookies one by one to a wire rack to cool instead of simply transferring them en masse on a sheet of parchment.) Cookie sheets with less than 200 square inches of baking surface felt cramped. As for rims, while cookies can be misshapen if they hit a pan’s rim, raised edges do provide a useful handhold. Pans with two raised edges on the short sides handled best. Single rims on the long side were out of reach after we rotated the pan (most of our cookie recipes call for rotating the sheets for even baking). Three rims was overkill.

What the Best Cookie Sheets Had in Common

Many dozens of cookies later, we tallied our findings: We like thick sheets; thin sheets baked unevenly, ran hot, and tended to warp. We don’t, however, like insulated sheets; though some baked well, all warped to some extent. And light or dark finishes matter less than material: Aluminum sheets, we discovered, have better, more even heat transference than steel sheets. Of the eight cookie sheets we tested, there are five that we cannot recommend.

The good news? The winner from our previous testing prevailed. With two raised edges for easy handling, plenty of space, and thick aluminum construction that resists warping and promotes even browning, this cookie sheet remains our favorite. And while you still have to buy it online, at least it’ll be delivered to your door.

Try CooksIllustrated.com Free for 14 Days

Included in your trial membership

  • 20+ years of Cook's Illustrated foolproof recipes
  • In-depth videos of recipes and cooking techniques
  • SAVE all your Favorites for easy access
  • Up-to-Date reviews and product buying guides

Get everything Cook's Illustrated — become the Smartest Cook you know, guaranteed.

Email is required
How we use your email address

The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*
Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB