If You’re Not Using Quarter Sheet Pans, You Are Seriously Missing Out
Though half the size of most home cooks' standard sheet pans, the quarter sheet pan offers immeasurable possibility.
When it comes to cooking, my general outlook is go big or go home. Why use a mini food processor when you can opt for a full-size instead? Sure, a 6-inch chef's knife is great, but a 7- or 8-inch would be better. Don't even get me started on tiny cutting boards — pain in my you know what. My thoughts on those single-egg, baby cast iron skillets? Cute! But, impractical and largely useless. You get what I'm saying here? If you're tight on space, then I can understand the need to size down. But if you've got the kitchen space, then why would you?
Despite my affinity towards all things full-size and my distrust of anything smaller, I will admit that there is one huge exception to this preference. That exception is quarter sheet pans. If you're not sure what I'm talking about — let me explain. The baking sheets that you use for roasting veggies and making batches of cookies are technically half sheet pans (confusing, I know). A full sheet pan is bigger than the interior of most conventional home ovens, which means you'll typically only see them in professional, restaurant settings. A quarter sheet pan, as the name implies, is half the size of a half sheet pan, which rounds a quarter sheet pan out at about 13 by 9 inches.
So, what's the big whoop? Honestly, it's hard for me to put into words why I love cooking with a quarter sheet pan so much. There's something about its petite size that makes it feel like less of a burden. A sink full of dirty dishes can seem like a doable feat, but throw in a dirty half sheet pan, and that sink turns into an insurmountable cleaning task. It's the perfect cookware for those small oven tasks. Toasting a handful of nuts, warming up a slice of pizza, toasting a few slices of bread, baking a few cookies (if you don't have emergency cookie dough balls in your freezer, we need to talk), or roasting a potato or two. Maybe you fried some crispy shallots and need to drain them on a paper-towel lined sheet pan. Don't bother with a half sheet pan when you can simply use a quarter. If you live alone or you cook for yourself and one other person, this is the perfect size for so many of your cooking needs.
Buy It: Professional Quarter Sheet Baking Pans — Set of Two ($23.98, amazon.com)
Their small size is not only advantageous because they're easier to handle and clean, but they can also fit in most toaster ovens. On top of that, it's much easier to maneuver a quarter sheet pan into a fridge or freezer than a half sheet pan, so if you need to freeze some biscuits or put some breaded chicken into your fridge, you'll have a much easier time doing so if everything is snug on a quarter sheet pan.
If organization is your thing, using a quarter sheet pan is a great way to set up a convenient station next to your skillet while you're cooking. You can throw a ramekin of salt on there, a tasting spoon, a pair of tongs, a spatula, a bottle of cooking wine, a bottle of oil, and any other tools or ingredients that you might need to have on hand while you're cheffing away. Sure you could set up a station on a half sheet pan, but that's a lot of counter space. Heading out to the grill? Save yourself some time from making excess trips back and forth, and throw all your tools and ingredients on a quarter sheet pan and you've got everything you need.
Most of the time, bigger is better. But when it comes to sheet pans, I will go to the ends of the earth to plead the case for a quarter sheet pan. They're easy to handle, efficient, and the ideal size for too many tasks to count. Really, I guess you could say that my outlook is go big, go home, or go get a quarter a sheet pan.