Buying a Sheet Pan: What to look for

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by schmoozer, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. schmoozer

    schmoozer

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    26
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    It's time to get one or two new sheet pans, actually, half sheet pans.  Over the years I've used them irregularly, and used whatever was handy - good pans, poor quality pans, non-stick, and those made from various materials.  However, these pans will be the first that I've actually purchased.  So, what do I look for?  What materials are out there besides aluminum in its various incarnations: non-stick, anodized, plain?  Are stainless steel pans available?  How well/poorly might they make?  Is the material really important?  After all, the pans will often pre-heat in the oven, or remain in the oven a fair amount of time, so they'll have ample time to reach temperature, and often times the pan really isn't used for cooking so much as to just hold the food tems.  Am I missing something here?

    The most frequent use will be for roasting vegetables and bones, rarely, if ever, for making cookies and baked goods, but that's always a possibility.  Does any one material excell at these tasks?
     
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Not counting the tinny, non-stick pans sold in supermarkets and the like, the only sheet-pan material I've ever seen has been either heavy-gauge aluminum or aluminized steel.

    Unless you have a problem with aluminum, there's no reason not to go with those.

    Unlike the supermarket crap, real sheet pans will not warp in the oven, clean up easily, and last about two days longer than forever.

    BTW, I find that quarter-sheets come in even handier than half-sheets for many prep jobs. So you might want to look at them, as well.

    Although some department stores do carry real sheetpans, you're most likely going to find them in a restaurant supply place.

    Something else to keep in mind. Non-SilPat branded silicone pads are often undersized---which is why they're less expensive. So if you use them, make sure that the pads actually fit half-sheets
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    One other thing. Once you start using real sheet pans for prep and cooking you'll be hooked. Hardly a day goes by that I don't discover additional ways they help me do a better job in the kitchen.

    You might want to consider racks that fit inside your sheets as well. I no longer use paper towels for training fried foods, as one use-example. Instead the stuff comes out of the fryer and onto a sheetpan supported rack. No more soggy food from sitting on oil-soaked paper towels.
     
  4. schmoozer

    schmoozer

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    26
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Thanks, KY.  I like your idea of 1/4 pans.  Perhaps I'll get a couple of 1/4 as well as a couple of 1/2.

    I'm a big fan of racks, and have a few in various sizes that get frequent service.  I'll be heading to BB&B later today or tomorrow, and will see what they offer.  If there's nothing heavy enough, I'll hit the restaurant supply place or perhaps buy on line.  A couple of people sent links to some good pans at reasonable prices ($5.58 sounds reasonable for an 18-gauge pan - 18-gauge seems heavy enough, no?)

    This site http://bigtray.com/  has 16-gauge Wearever pans as well as the 18-gauge show here:
    http://bigtray.com/advance-tabco-sheet-pan-18-8a-13-sku-adv188a13-c-14810.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Can't help with the gauge figure. I just go by the heft and feel of the pans. But I think they're fairly standard.

    If you hold one by the middle of a short end and twist your wrist, if the pan wobbles and warps, then it's too thin.

    One cautionary note: Once you start playing with those quarter sheets two won't be near enough. I've had four, for quite some time, and just bought too more. They're incredibly useful.

    Example: I'm doing a pulled pork today. The 10-pound butt was laid out on a quarter pan for prep work, and then carried out to the smoker right on that pan. Once the meat was transferred to the grill, clean up was less than a minute.

    Sure, there are alternative ways. But, like I say, once you've got the pans you find how useful they can be.
     
  6. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,953
    Likes Received:
    506
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Go to a restaurant supply store, or better yet, to a bakery supply place.

    Heavy guage aluminm is the most common, but there are also steel sheet pans out there too, but they are pricier and heavier,and for these two reasons, usually passed over by many bakers.

    S/S sheetpans are not ideal for baking, as they have a nasty habit of warping and are not great heat conductors---wonderfull for prep and cold stuff, but not for baking.

    Stay away from any non-stick coating, that stuff never lasts.  You'll get better resulsts from slicone (parchment) paper or slicone mats 

    Used alumuinum pans are usually bent.  alum. is a soft material, an with time the bottoms tend to sag a bit.  For most commercial kitchens this isn't a problem--doesn't matter a bit when baking off bacon, or baker's pots, but when trying to bake a sheet cake, or jelly rolls, it becomes a problem 
     
  7. mikelm

    mikelm

    Messages:
    1,691
    Likes Received:
    36
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    I went online to find Vollrath jelly-roll pans (I believe they're quarter-sheet Pans) and their half-sheet pan. Aluminum, tough as nails, and very reasonably priced.

    Completely happy with them./img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif

    Mike
     
  8. schmoozer

    schmoozer

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    26
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I usually make bacon in the oven, using a rack on a sheet pan.  The fat drips off into the pan, the bacon crisps up evenly, and there's little shrinkage.  Plus, it's easy to add some pepper or maple syrup to the bacon strips.  They stay on the strips and add nice flavor instead of getting washed away by the hot bacon grease in a skillet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
  9. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,490
    Likes Received:
    474
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    The other nice thing about half sheet pans and 1/4 sheet pans is the stacks of precut parchment paper for them. Less expensive, and no hassle measuring.

    I get mine locally through a restaurant supplier (www.gygi.com but I can't find it on their website)
     
  10. schmoozer

    schmoozer

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    26
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
     
  11. martiniman

    martiniman

    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I would echo KY on this.  Absolutely do not go cheap or you will regret it, up to the day you throw it away.  Oh, and yes, buy several because you will use them.  However, I did break down and buy one (ok, just one!) non stick, I use it for oven ribs and roasts.  Works great.  Buy commercial grade, I've been very happy with Volrath.  If you pick it up and can make it wobble, drop it and go to the next one.
     
  12. nichole

    nichole

    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Restaurant Manager
    I will personally go for a good brand teflon sheet pan.  It can be quite expensive but at least they last longer than the cheaper variety.  I like good brands like Tefal are OK by my standards.
     
  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Nichole, could you go into details regarding your last post?

    Personally, I see no purpose at all to a teflon (or any nonstick) sheet pan, so I'm curious why that would be your first choice.
     
  14. schmoozer

    schmoozer

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    26
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I'm curious as well about why a "Teflon" pan.  Also, do you mean Teflon specifically, or non-stick in general?  Personally, I see no reason for a non-stick pan as the coating often gets ruined over time and with the use of foil, parchment paper, or Silpats, there doesn't seem to be a need for a non-stick surface.
     
  15. missyjean

    missyjean

    Messages:
    428
    Likes Received:
    14
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I bought one Lincoln Food Service tray-the tray recommended by Cook's Illustrated.  I love it.  I wanted to order another one but found Vollrath is now the manufacturer of these trays.  I ordered one and only 3 sides touched the counter.  I called the seller and they me another one which did the same thing.  I am returning both trays.

    Does anyone know where I can purchase the Lincoln Food Service tray?
     
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Tefal is the cheapest stuff made. They would lastt maybe 2 days in a commercial kitchen. If possible try and find used half sheet pans. They were made a lot heavier then the ones thay stamp out today. Forget stainless steel as you will burn everything ,as it creates hot spots. Alway use parchment paper if possible (it can be used on both sides ) And if possible  double pan . Why double pan because in a conventional oven heat comes from the burner under the pan so by double panning you compansate , making the heat to bottom and top more equal.. Very important when baking cookies.  A stated above purchase  an iceing rack for draining and cooling the products you make..Do not buy teflon, 1. it scratches  2. It's a dark color and  will produce items of a darker color because it absorbs more heat. The reason a lot of them warp is because people throw hot pans or pots into a sink of water to soak. Old pans weigh in at double compared to newer  ones.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    The reason a lot of them warp is because people throw hot pans or pots into a sink of water to soa

    While that's certainly true, Ed, it isn't the only reason. Those thin, stamped sheets will actually warp in the oven, because they heat unevenly.

    Good tip about double panning. I think it's less important if you use Sil-Pats, though. But if you're just using parchment, or not lining at all, doubling can be a great help, particularly with cookies and the like.
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    The  thin ones will  also warp if you try and cook something heavy on them and then pick up pan.. There are a lot of reasons even if you drop one or stack it wrong. Like anything in life you get what you pay for.