baking sheet
  • Do buy rimmed baking sheets. While flat baking sheets can be used only for cookies, the rimmed ones can be used for all kinds of things. Whether you're toasting bread crumbs or baking snack mix, you don't want anything to slide off onto the oven floor if you should happen to jostle the baking sheet.
  • Don't buy the insulated kind. (I made this mistake years ago. Since the baking sheets were expensive, I can't bring myself to stop using them.) Insulated baking sheets are designed to keep cookies' bottoms and edges from browning—which is great, except that most people like their cookies a little browned. Baking cookies on insulated sheets also takes longer, especially since there's no browning to clue you in.
  • Do buy the heaviest sheets you can afford. The heavier the baking sheet, the more evenly it will cook and the less likely it is to warp or buckle. If possible, buy half sheet pans, which measure 13x18 inches. That's the size used by professionals to bake half-sheet cakes.
  • Don't buy nonstick baking sheets. They're usually dark brown, meaning that the bottoms of your cookies may burn before the middles are done. And eventually the nonstick coating will wear out, meaning you'll have to buy new pans.
  • Do line your baking sheets with baking parchment for the best results. Nothing sticks to baking parchment. Nothing! You can buy parchment in rolls or 12x16-inch sheets. Either way, baking parchment can be reused a few times if you treat it gently. I clean mine with a damp paper towel.
  • Do think about treating yourself to Silpat mats. Like baking parchment, these wonderful silicone-coated sheets will keep your baked goods from sticking to the pan—but they can be washed and reused for years. The Silpat brand is currently head and shoulders above its competitors. Although Silpat mats cost more than other brands (approximately $25 vs. $15 for generics), they're worth it in terms of their durability and the stress they'll save you.