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How to Clean Baking Sheets So They Shine Like the Top of the Chrysler Building

bon Appétit logo bon Appétit 10/8/2021 Alyse Whitney, Tiffany Hopkins
© Michael Graydon

Perhaps you’ve accepted that, like a classic white T-shirt, your fave baking sheet will always look dirty—no matter how many times you clean it. All the soap and elbow grease in the world, you lament, won’t make a dent in the burnt-on, tacky patina left over from sheet-pan dinners, roasted vegetables, and oat and pecan brittle cookies. It’s time to recycle it and move on, right?

If your half-sheet pan is warped and you’re looking for an excuse to upgrade, we won’t stop you. But you can make that dingy cookie sheet shine again, and the good news is that you don’t need to use harsh chemicals or scour until your arm aches to get the job done. Here are some of the best cleaning tips and tools to make your baking sheets look nearly brand-new.

What is the best way to clean baking sheets?

The best cleaning hack we’ve tried begins with two products that are probably already in your kitchen: baking soda and white vinegar. Plug up your sink, fill it with hot water, and then add in ½ cup of each. Baking soda and vinegar live on opposite ends of the pH scale, so mixing them causes a chemical reaction that’ll bubble up like a school science project. This is where the magic happens! Submerge your dirty baking sheet and let it soak for 30–60 minutes, then scrub off the grime with a scouring pad, the rough side of a scrubby sponge, or steel wool. The steel wool will likely leave some scratches on your baking sheet, which we’d argue give it character. But if you want the marks to be less noticeable, do your scrubbing in even, circular motions.

After buffing the entire surface and loosening all of the residue—this should take a few minutes—wash the baking pan with dish soap and warm water, then dry. Bonus: The combination of baking soda and vinegar will also help clean out your sink drain—because you’re definitely not doing that often enough.

Our Test Kitchen's favorite sponges and scrubbers:

a close up of a device © Photo by Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Skura Style Sponge (Set of 4)

$15.00, Amazon

a close up of a piece of bread © Provided by Bon Appétit

Steel Wool, 12 Pads

$4.00, Amazon

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Kamenoko Tawashi Scrubber

$9.00, East Fork

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Scrub Daddy Sponge

$20.00, Amazon (4 pack)

Even some scrubbing is too much scrubbing. How do I clean my baking sheet with no work at all?

The baking soda and vinegar combo is our favorite solution because of its simplicity and lack of harsh chemicals—but there are other tried-and-true cleaning methods. You can also use baking soda with hydrogen peroxide: Sprinkle baking soda in an even layer directly onto your sheet pan, then spray it with hydrogen peroxide until damp. If you let the mixture sit for two hours, you’ll still need to put in some labor—but leave it overnight and scrubbing won’t really be necessary. The chemical reaction between the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will break up all the gunk, and you’ll merely need to wipe it away with a sponge or scrape it off with a plastic or bamboo scraper before rinsing.

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

$15.00, Amazon

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Bambu Pot Scrapers

$14.00, Amazon

I used the last of my vinegar on a giant batch of pickles. Can I clean sheet pans another way?

If you don’t have baking soda or vinegar on hand (or were traumatized by middle school science fairs), get yourself a powerful cleaning agent that’ll do the work for you, like Bar Keepers Friend. To use, sprinkle a little over your baking sheet, then add a few drops of water and make a paste. Let it sit for one minute—and not a second longer!—then scrub with a gentle scrubber (skip the steel wool) and rinse the pan. And remember, BKF is INTENSE, so always wear dishwashing gloves when using it.

a can of soda © Photo by Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Bar Keepers Friend

$8.00, Amazon

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Casabella Waterblock Gloves

$10.00, Amazon

Your baking sheets are clean—now keep ’em that way

Once you can see your reflection in your cookie sheet, the easiest way to maintain that shine is to line your bakeware with aluminum foil or parchment paper. (Hot tip: Precut parchment paper will make you feel like you have your life together.) Or invest in that silicone baking mat you’ve been sleeping on.

© Provided by Bon Appétit

Precut Parchment Paper Baking Sheets

$15.00, Amazon

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Silicone Baking Mat

$25.00, Amazon

Still want a new sheet pan? Get this one:

a close up of a device © Provided by Bon Appétit

Nordic Ware Half-Sheet Pan

$28.00, Amazon (Pack of 2)

Now go make meatballs:

Crispy Sheet-Pan Meatballs with Salsa Verde

a plate of food: If the word “meatballs” brings to mind some kind of long, elaborate Sunday cooking project, then this recipe is here to change your mind. No shade to the classic Italian American version, but they just don’t need three kinds of meat, a tedious sear and braise, or even tomato sauce to be incredibly delicious. When you stick with one type of meat, give them quick, high-heat roast in the oven, and serve them with an herby salsa verde, few things are as cheap, versatile, and weeknight-friendly as a sheet pan full of meatballs. Think of this recipe as a template, and the possibilities are endless—mess around with different spices, types of meat, herbs and other add-ins, and you can easily make these once a week without getting bored. They’re great on top of grain bowls, in noodle-y soups, as an appetizer, or on their own alongside a green salad or some simply roasted veggies. And don't sleep on that salsa verde—it might just become your new favorite put-on-everything sauce. See recipe. © Bon Appétit If the word “meatballs” brings to mind some kind of long, elaborate Sunday cooking project, then this recipe is here to change your mind. No shade to the classic Italian American version, but they just don’t need three kinds of meat, a tedious sear and braise, or even tomato sauce to be incredibly delicious. When you stick with one type of meat, give them quick, high-heat roast in the oven, and serve them with an herby salsa verde, few things are as cheap, versatile, and weeknight-friendly as a sheet pan full of meatballs. Think of this recipe as a template, and the possibilities are endless—mess around with different spices, types of meat, herbs and other add-ins, and you can easily make these once a week without getting bored. They’re great on top of grain bowls, in noodle-y soups, as an appetizer, or on their own alongside a green salad or some simply roasted veggies. And don't sleep on that salsa verde—it might just become your new favorite put-on-everything sauce. See recipe.
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