Restaurant Grade Sheet Pans


Heavy-duty sheet pans

After screwing around with grocery-store sheet pans for years, I went to a restaurant supply store and bought three plain metal sheet pans (technically “half-sheet” at 13×18, but true “full-sheets” are only used in commercial ovens). I’ve used them for over three years now, and am totally convinced that they are awesome.

Here’s why people buy grocery store sheet pans: they’re cheap, non-stick coated, and easily found at the grocery store. And here’s what’s wrong with them. They are flimsy metal, so they warp in the oven if you use them at high temperatures (over, say, 425F). They come in non-standard size, so you can never be sure that a cooling rack will fit into them. And their fancy-schmancy non-stick coating means that you baby them.

Here’s why plain old restaurant-grade sheet pans are awesome:

They’re not much more expensive than the cheap stuff you buy in the grocery store. Going from a $7 grocery-store pan to a $12 restaurant-grade pan is a significant percentage markup, but it’s only $5. If you have a restaurant supply store near you, you may be able to get the restaurant-grade pans for basically the same price as the grocery-store pans.

They are heavy metal, which means that you can toss them into a 500 degree (F) oven to bake bread on them and not worry about warping. And they don’t have any non-stick coating to worry about. I have used my sheet pans for everything from crafting trays to putting them under gardening flats when starting seedlings. No matter how nasty and dirty they get, I know that I can just take a steel wool pad to them and they’ll come back to like-new.

You might think the lack of a non-stick coating is a minus, but seriously, you just spray the pan with non-stick or use baking parchment or silicon mats. It’s not that hard. Every baker I know backs up “nonstick” pans with non-stick spray or parchment anyway, so it’s not like there’s any change in your cooking process.

The link below is not to the exact item I own (sorry, I bought it at a restaurant supply store and can’t find it online), but it looks like basically the same thing.

-- Joshua Bardwell 08/12/10