If you’ve ever shopped for cookie sheets, you know there are several options to choose from. There are non-stick pans, light aluminum ones, and even air-cushioned sheets. With all these options, you may be wondering if the end result is the same with each, or if your cookies may turn out differently depending on the type of sheet you use. Here’s a quick rundown on how different sheets may affect the taste of your cookies:
Non-Stick Cookie Sheets
Non-stick cookie sheets are the go-to option for many baking enthusiasts. There’s no need for greasing the sheet or using parchment paper, as the non-stick finish allows the cookies to easily come off the pan. These sheets are ideal for baking thick, chewy cookies. The finish on the pan doesn’t let the cookies spread too much during baking, so the finished product is a plumper, thicker cookie. So if you are baking cookies that should be light and thin, you may want to choose another cookie sheet.
Dark Cookie Sheets
Dark cookie sheets, which are sometimes treated with a non-stick finish, are another choice. The dark coloring absorbs heat faster, allowing foods to cook faster - which is exactly why some cooks prefer to use them. While this quick baking can be good in some situations, it’s not always so with cookies. Dark finish pans are notorious for over-browning the bottoms and edges of cookies, all too often leaving you with a burnt cookie. If you do need to use a dark sheet, try lowering the temperature by 25 degrees and make sure to keep a close eye on the cookies.
Many professional bakers swear by aluminum pans, particularly those of the heavy-duty variety. These pans are strong and durable, and the reflective nature of the aluminum heats evenly and thoroughly. The end result is an evenly baked cookie with just the right amount of crisp on the bottom and edges. Unlike their non-stick counterparts, however, aluminum sheets do not easily yield cookies after baking. If you’re using an aluminum sheet, be sure to line it with parchment paper so the cookies don’t stick.
Air-cushioned cookie sheets are designed with two sheets of aluminum with a thin space in between them. This cushion of air helps cookies bake more evenly, reducing hot spots and resulting in a more consistently textured and tasting cookie. Cookies baked on an air-insulated tend to be uniformly soft and lightly colored. While this is desirable for some types of cookies, one of the primary complaints with air-cushioned sheets is that it takes longer to bake cookies with them and the bottoms don’t brown and crisp well.
Silicone Baking Mats
Silicone baking mats are used in conjunction with a standard cookie sheet. These are ideal for pairing with older sheets that have become warped or cook unevenly, or for using with a sheet that does not have a non-stick finish. Silicone mats are non-stick and they distribute heat evenly, so burnt cookies is rarely an outcome when using them. Many people swear by silicone mats, citing their efficiency in both baking and cleanup, as well as how quickly they cool. However, other people have noted that they can impart a plastic-like flavor to cookies and other baked items.
So Which Cookie Sheet is Best?
There’s no easy answer to this. Certain types of cookie sheets are better for some types of cookies than others, like using a dark pan if you want a crispier cookie. Personal preference also plays a large role in determining which pan is best, as most bakers become comfortable and familiar with a particular pan. The key is to experiment with a few different types of cookie sheets and recipes, until you find the sheet that works best for you.