Bake or Break

A Baker’s Guide to Sheet Pans

Learn all about different sheet pans, cookie sheets, and jelly roll pans in this simple guide for home bakers!

A Baker's Guide to Sheet Pans bakeorbreak.com

Whether you’re new to baking or you have years of baking experience under your apron belt, the different sheet pans available can be a bit confusing at first glance. What’s the difference between a sheet pan and a cookie sheet? Is a jelly roll pan different from a sheet pan? We’ll cover all of that and more, and you’ll be a sheet pan pro!

Before we get into the specifics of pan sizes, I want to give you a not-so-gentle nudge to read my tips for choosing baking pans. There you’ll learn about how to pick pans based on material, thickness, color, and more.

Now, let’s talk about sheet pans!

Full Sheet Pans

For home bakers, full sheet pans are not likely to be a pan that you’ll be able to use. Measuring 26″ x 18″ with about a 1-inch rim around the outside, it just won’t fit in most ovens. These are designed for larger commercial ovens.

Half Sheet Pans

As you might guess from the name, half sheet pans are half the size of a full sheet pan. They usually measure 18″ x 13″ with about a 1-inch rim around the outside, although you’ll see some slight variances in those dimensions.

The workhorse of many home bakers, half sheet pans are great for baking cookies and sheet cakes. For most bakers, having two of these pans will suffice. I like the flexibility of having three half sheet pans for those times I’m on a cookie baking spree.

Some of my favorites:

Quarter Sheet Pans

If you’re playing along here, you’ve likely guessed that a quarter sheet pan is a quarter of the size of a full sheet pan and half the size of a half sheet pan. These small pans measure 13″ x 9″ with about a 1-inch rim around the outside. (Don’t confuse this pan with a 13″ x 9″ pan you might use for something like blondies or a cake. Those have sides at least 2-inches tall.)

These pans are great for small batch cookie baking. I also use them when I portion cookie dough for freezing, as you can put lots of cookies on the pan, and it won’t take up a lot of room in your freezer while you wait on them to be ready to bag for long-term freezer storage.

You’ll likely find that these small pans are more useful than you first might think. Use them for gathering ingredients, toasting small amounts of nuts, or for small cooking jobs.

Some of my favorites:

Jelly Roll Pans

As the name implies, jelly roll pans are often used to make (you guessed it!) jelly rolls and Swiss rolls, which are thin cakes that are filled and rolled. They’re a bit smaller than half sheet pans, but the exact dimensions can vary. If you do a quick search for a jelly roll pan, you’ll find a few different sizes. Most commonly, they are either 10″ x 15″ or 12″ x 17″. If you remember how to measure area from your geometry classes, you’ll realize pretty quickly that that’s a pretty big difference in sizes. In fact, the latter size is fairly close to the size of a half sheet pan.

If the recipe you’re using doesn’t specify dimensions, you may have to use your best judgment about what size you need. I don’t often use a jelly roll pan, but you will find one used in a few recipes here at BoB, like Toasted Pecan Roulade and Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars.

You can also use these pans for baking cookies and for some cooking applications. You’ll likely find, however, that trying to scale a recipe that fills a different size pan to be less than straightforward.

Some of my favorites:

Cookie sheets are designed for baking cookies and other things that don’t need a rim around the outside to prevent spilling or sliding. Instead of a rim, these pans have one or two slightly elevated sides to make it easier to get the pan in and out of the oven. Theoretically, the lack of a rim also allows heat to circulate around the cookies more easily.

Unless you have a particular affinity for cookie sheets, you can absolutely make use of your half sheet pans for baking cookies. I’ll tell you a little secret. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a cookie sheet, and I bake a lot of cookies.

Choosing Pans for Your Baking Style

If you’re replacing some or all of your baking pans, then you likely know which pans you use most often. If you’re new to baking, it can be tough to know what you need to get a basic baking setup. In either case, my best advice is to take the time to think about the types of baked goods you want to make with sheet pans.

If you’re a cookie baker, then I recommend starting with a couple of half sheet pans. They’ll do a great job of baking cookies, while also opening up the possibility of baking sheet cakes, scones, and other baked goods that require a sheet pan.

Tips for Choosing Baking Pans

For further reading about what to consider when choosing pans based on material, color, and more, see How to Choose Baking Pans.

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    2 Comments on “A Baker’s Guide to Sheet Pans”

  1. You did not mention eight sized pans – 9 x 6. They are some of the most useful pans in my kitchen. they are great for baking, broiling for 1 or 2 people. I also use them to pre-salt steaks/chops prior to cooking. I have 4 of them and use them constantly. I also own the other sizes you mention and all are useful. My only issue with the eight sized pan is the 2 manufacturers do not also make cooling/baking racks to fit these pans. I have several small racks but they are too narrow and leave a space next to the pan edge.

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