Baking Pan vs. Baking Sheet – What’s the Difference?

It’s important to know the characteristics of different bakeware to prepare food well

Two forms of bakeware, i.e., baking sheets and baking pans, are quite different despite the similar names.

Whether you’re replacing bakeware or expanding your own, knowing what to expect from each piece of equipment can help you improve your cooking.

This guide goes over the differences between baking pans and baking sheets.

Differences Between Baking Pans and Baking Sheets

A baking sheet, also known as a sheet pan, is a multifunctional piece of bakeware. Therefore, you could use it for cooking sweet dishes and savory dishes.

On the other hand, baking pans are bakeware that comes in different sizes and shapes. Like baking sheets, these pans are also suitable for sweet and savory dishes.

However, the differences between these two forms of bakeware allow for varying dishes and baking methods.

Here’s what you must know about the differences.

Baking Pans Are Deeper Than Baking Sheets

Baking pans are significantly deeper than baking sheets. Both pieces of bakeware are flat, rectangular, and made of metal.

However, the sides on baking pans are much taller all around the pan.

Baking Pans’ Depth Allow Baking Dishes with Runny Batters

As a result, you can cook a variety of sweet dishes, such as cakes or brownies.

The depth allows you to put a runny batter in the pan without the risk of spilling.

You could consider dividing the batter into two baking pans if all of it will not fit into one.

At the same time, you could use a baking pan for preparing savory dishes such as lasagnas, casseroles, or cobblers.

The tall sides allow you to fit in sauces and other foods. It’s also ideal for these savory dishes because you can add layers of food due to the depth.

Baking Sheets Are Good for Cooking with Racks

You can cook foods using a baking sheet without the risk of the juices falling out and getting lost.

So, a baking sheet is great for roasting meat on a rack. As the meat cooks, its juices fall back into the deep baking pan.

The shallowness of baking sheets makes them pair well with cooking accessories, such as roasting and cooling racks.

The racks won’t be too elevated too much. So, you won’t risk spillages and the splashing of hot juices while cooking.

So, you could use these accessories with baking sheets to cook bacon and other meats.

The Depth Difference Can Affect Cooking Times

The difference in the depth of baking pans and baking sheets means that they will have different cook times.

Each dish and type of food will have a different cooking time. However, heat distribution within the two types of pans vary.

Consider this example: you’re cooking a brownie (with a runny batter) in a baking pan and a baking sheet.

Both pans are filled to the brim with batter.

The batter in the baking pan will take longer to cook than that in the baking sheet. This is because the heat will take more time to reach the center of the baking pan (in terms of depth).

Therefore, the difference in depth does alter cook times and the types of food you can cook.

Baking Pans and Bakings Sheets Have Different Dimensions

For the most part, baking sheets have standard shapes and sizes.

This can vary based on regions and manufacturers. On the other hand, baking pans have no specific dimensions.

Baking Sheets Are Limited to Specific Dimensions

There are mostly rectangular, and a full-size baking sheet is 26 in x 18 in.

This pan size can be quite large for home use because it may not fit in the oven.

As a result, it’s not commonly found in many households. These baking sheets are commonly used in restaurants, however.

Half-Size Baking Sheets

On the other hand, a half-size baking sheet is 18 in x 13 in.

This pan size is similar to baking sheets available in supermarkets. It may still be too large for home use.

That said, if your oven can accommodate the pan, it can be great for spacing out food while baking a single layer.

This pan size would work well with cooking pork loins or full chickens.

Quarter-Size Baking Sheets

Baking sheets are also present in a quarter-size. The dimensions for this type of baking sheet are 13 in x 9 in.

This size is ideal for home kitchens. Therefore, they are used for baking cakes with rectangular and single layers.

The quarter-size baking sheet is also very common because it can be used in toaster ovens and countertop ovens.

You could also find a 3-quarter-size baking sheet, which is 21 in x 15 in. However, you find this a little large for baking at home.

It’s worth noting that despite the size and shape restrictions, baking sheets are versatile pieces of bakeware.

The shallow rims are also great for trapping smaller cubes of meat and vegetables.

Baking Pans Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

One factor that makes baking pans particularly useful in the kitchen is that they come in various shapes and sizes.

Baking pans can come in squares or rectangles, which can be long or more evenly spaced out.

Baking pans in squares are most commonly found in 8 in. This size is ideal for home use because it can be used for making many kinds of dishes.

The most common rectangular pan dimensions are 13 in x 9 in. The relatively small sizes allow you to bake with two pans in the oven without cramping them together.

Baking Pans and Baking Sheets Are Made of Different Materials

Both baking pans and baking sheets come in more than one type of material. However, there are differences in the types of materials.

Different materials can affect the cooking methods and the flavor form the dishes.

So, be sure to do your research when picking which material is best for your cooking style.

Baking Pans Can Be Metal and More

Baking pans come in a range of materials, including metal, ceramic, glass, reinforced silicone, and stoneware.

Be careful when cooking with glass. It heats quickly, so there’s a high chance that you can burn your food.

Baking Sheets Are Mostly Metal

Baking sheets are mostly made of metal, such as stainless steel, heavy-gauge aluminum, and hard anodized aluminum.

In fact, these bakings sheets also come in various aluminum grades, offering you with more choice that suits your needs.

Baking sheets are not only metal. Some newer models are made of silicone and have reinforced rims for better durability.

Baking Sheets May Not React Well with Acidic Foods

As mentioned above, baking sheets are commonly made of aluminum.

Therefore, the aluminum on the sheet pans may not react well with acidic foods, such as lemon juice or tomatoes.

Baking Sheets May Leave a Metallic Taste in Acidic Foods

As a result of this reaction, you may notice a metallic taste in your food.

In addition to that, some delicate foods may also lose their color because of the reaction. However, you can rectify this problem with a simple solution.

All you have to do is place parchment paper on the surface of the aluminum baking sheet.

The paper will prevent the foods from making direct contact with the sheet pan. So, the metallic taste or discoloration won’t occur.

You could also use a nonstick baking mat called Silpat for this purpose.

Aluminum baking sheets do have their advantages other than this one problem. These pans are conduct heat uniformly and quickly.

What this means is that you won’t have to worry about some portion of the food being uncooked or overcooked.

At the same time, these aluminum baking sheets are also easy to clean. This is a huge plus when you bake food often.

The addition of parchment paper will make the cleaning process even quicker.

Last Few Words

Baking pans and baking sheets have a number of differences that make them unique bakeware.

However, you can easily tell the difference by the depth of the pans or the height of the rims.

Each type of bakeware can serve different purposes.

So, it’s best to get different types of pans instead of purchasing more than one of the same type of pan (which can be a different or the same size).

You’ll save more space in your cupboard by only getting the equipment that you need.

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