Baking is an art that requires the right tools to get the best results. The jelly roll pan and the cookie sheet are two of the most popular baking tools. Many often confuse these pans with one another, but both have distinctive differences in size, depth, material, and usage. In this article, we will explore the differences between the jelly roll pan vs. cookie sheet, and help you to choose the right one for your baking needs.

a table set with Thanksgiving food in a jelly roll pan
Jelly roll pans are handy for many uses, such as roasting vegetables and meat.

©Nature's Charm/

When it comes to baking and cooking, having the right equipment is essential for achieving the best results. Two important tools in any kitchen are the jelly roll pan and the cookie sheet. While these two pans may seem interchangeable, they each have unique features making them suitable for different dishes. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of these essential kitchen tools and how to choose the right one for your cooking needs.

Jelly roll pans and cookie sheets have been kitchen staples for many years. Jelly roll pans, or sheet pans, were first for baking jelly rolls, which are thin cakes spread with jelly and rolled up to create a cylindrical shape. Over time, jelly roll pans have become a versatile tool for baking everything from cookies and pastries to roasted vegetables and meats. On the other hand, cookie sheets were created specifically for baking cookies. These flat, rectangular pans come in various sizes and are perfect for baking everything from chocolate chip cookies to oatmeal raisin cookies.

What Is a Jelly Roll Pan?

Jelly roll pans are rectangular pans with a flat bottom and raised edges that are typically one inch in height. They come in various sizes, the most common size being 10×15 inches, and are made from different materials such as aluminum and stainless steel, and either without non-stick coatings. Jelly roll pans are versatile, which makes them great for baking everything from cookies and cakes to roasting vegetables and meats. Their raised edges make them ideal for containing liquids, preventing spills and drips. 

Cookie sheets, also known as baking sheets, are flat and rectangular pans that come in various sizes, the most common being 13×18 inches. They are typically made from stainless steel, aluminum, stainless or non-stick coatings. Since cookie sheets have a flat bottom and no raised edges, they are perfect for baking cookies that need to spread out, like chocolate chip or sugar cookies. They are also great for baking bread rolls and pastries.

close up of freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies on a baking cookie sheet isolated on white
Oatmeal raisin cookies are best baked on a cookie sheet.

©Toasted Pictures/

Jelly roll pans and cookie sheets typically come in a standard depth of one inch. However, there are different depths available for both pans. Jelly roll pans are available in various depths, ranging from half an inch to two inches. Cookie sheets can also come in different depths but typically range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch.

Material: How Material Can Affect Baking and Cooking Outcomes

Aluminum jelly roll pans are the most common and affordable option. They are lightweight, conduct heat well, and are easy to clean. However, they can warp over time and may not last as long as other materials.

Stainless steel cookie sheets are durable, non-reactive, and easy to clean. They also do not warp, making them a great long-term investment. However, they do not conduct heat as well as aluminum, which may affect baking times.

Other material options for both jelly roll pans and cookie sheets include non-stick coatings, silicone, and glass. Non-stick coatings prevent food from sticking to the pan but can scratch easily. Silicone is flexible and easy to store, but can be difficult to clean. Glass pans can produce crisp crusts but can take longer to heat up and cool down.

What Is Each Type of Pan Best Suited For?

Jelly roll pans are versatile and good for a variety of baking dishes, such as baking cookies, cakes, and other pastries. They are also great for roasting vegetables and meats since their raised edges prevent spills and drips.

Cookie sheets are specific for baking cookies, but they can also be useful for other purposes, like baking bread, pizza, and other similar items. Since they don't have raised edges, they allow cookies to spread out evenly and create a crispy texture.

When using a jelly roll pan, make sure to line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Avoid using metal utensils on non-stick coatings to prevent scratches. When using a cookie sheet, make sure to space cookies out evenly to prevent overcrowding and uneven baking.

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Pans in Top Shape

Cleaning a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet can be a breeze if done correctly. First, remove any excess food from the pan with a spatula or scraper. Then, soak the pan in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. Use a non-abrasive scrubber or sponge to remove any remaining residue. For tough, baked-on stains, mix baking soda and water to create a paste and apply it to the affected area. Let the paste sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a non-abrasive scrubber or sponge. Rinse the pan thoroughly with warm water, dry it with a clean towel, or let it air dry.

When it comes to choosing between jelly roll pans and cookie sheets, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and the types of recipes you plan to make. Both pans are versatile and useful for a variety of baked goods. Consider the size and material of the pan, as well as any special features you may need for a specific recipe. By keeping these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision and choose the best pan for your baking and cooking needs.

In conclusion, both jelly roll pans and cookie sheets serve important roles in the kitchen. While they may look similar, understanding their differences is crucial to achieving the best results. Whether you're an experienced chef or a beginner in the kitchen, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of these pans will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right pan for your dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a jelly roll pan and a baking sheet?

A jelly roll pan is a type of baking sheet that is typically smaller and has a higher rim. It holds batter or dough for baking jelly rolls, cakes, and roasting vegetables and meat. In contrast, a baking sheet, also known as a cookie sheet, is often larger and has a lower rim. It is for baking cookies, biscuits, and other flat items.

While it is possible to use a jelly roll pan in place of a cookie sheet, it may not be the best choice. Since jelly roll pans are smaller and have a higher rim, they may not allow enough air circulation for cookies to bake evenly. Additionally, the high rims can make it more difficult to remove cookies from the pan.

Can I put a jelly roll pan in the dishwasher?

Most jelly roll pans are aluminum or stainless steel and are dishwasher safe. However, it is best to check the manufacturer's instructions before placing the pan in the dishwasher, as some materials may be more prone to damage or discoloration.

The best material for a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet depends on your personal preference and the intended use. Aluminum is a popular choice for both types of pans because it is durable, lightweight, and conducts heat well. Stainless steel is also a good choice, as it is sturdy and resists rust and corrosion. Non-stick coatings can make cleanup easier, but may not be ideal for high-heat baking.

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