A close up of a dirty pan

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.

 

A close up of a dirty pan

Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

How to deep-clean cookie sheets

  1. Sprinkle equal amounts of washing soda (not baking soda) and cream of tartar onto the cookie sheet.
  2. Pour a small amount of very hot water on top of the sheet.
  3. Mix the ingredients into a thick paste.
  4. Spread the paste evenly across the pan, making sure to cover all of the gunk and grime.
  5. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  6. Scrub stains with a non-abrasive scrubbing pad, like Scotchbrite heavy-duty for aluminized steel or non-scratch for aluminum and stainless steel.
  7. Wash paste and dirt off the pan with hot water and blue Dawn.
  8. Rinse well, then dry thoroughly before storing.

How to maintain cookie sheets

To prevent a build-up of food residue, grease, or rust going forward, follow these tips for cleaning and maintaining baking and cookie sheets.

  • Avoid big messes to begin with by lining your pan with aluminum foil,  parchment paper, or silicone baking mats.
  • Coat pans with a very light layer of oil to prevent rusting.
  • After washing, immediately dry cookie sheets to avoid a build-up of bacteria and rust.
  • When possible, hand-wash cookie sheets immediately after use

Best Inexpensive cookie sheets

cooking sheet

Aluminum

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet. These are my absolute favorite cookie sheets. First because they are inexpensive, but also because they are relatively heavy but not too heavy to be easily managed in and out of the oven. They clean up well and have a nice rim size.

While I also own this cookie sheet in full-sheet size, I use it rarely because it’s super large. The half-sheet size might be the only sheet pan you’ll ever need—and so nice you might want to own two.

Pro tip

Don’t put aluminum pots, pans, baking sheets, or utensils in the dishwasher. The harsh detergent can cause pitting and corrosion. You may also see white spots on the surface from the alkalinity of the dishwasher detergent. Even if the pan is labeled as “dishwasher safe,” it’s better to hand wash.

Aluminized steelCookie and Kitchen

USA Pan Warp Resistant Non-Stick Aluminized Steel Bakeware Cookie Sheet. While a bit more pricey than aluminum, aluminized steel is much heavier which makes it more warp-resistant; it conducts heat super well and is resistant to scratching. Quite easy to clean and maintain, too.

 

Non-stickCookie and Oven

Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick 21 x 15-Inch Mega Baking Pan. This is a very nice cookie sheet and the price is right. However, in that it has a non-stick coating, it is delicate, requiring gentle handling and care.

Conclusion

A good cookie sheet is one you’ll be making delicious memories with for years to come. And when you know exactly how to clean your baking sheets and keep them free of baked-on grease, grime, and gunk it will give you that spark of joy that makes baking so much fun.

Start with a good one like the Nordic Ware that I recommended above, and you’ll never have to worry about hopelessly stained cookie sheets or heat warping again.


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10 replies
  1. Audrey says:

    Unfortunately, this did not work at all on my baking sheet. For the price of the washing soda and cream of tartar I could have just bought a new baking sheet.

    Reply
  2. Jan Mcclary says:

    can you please repeat your shampoo article referring to sulfates and what shampoos are recommended to avoid them? Thank you

    Reply
  3. Lynn C says:

    What worked for my *really* baked-on pans was setting the cookie sheets in a kitchen garbage bag, spraying it with oven cleaner, closing the bag, and leaving it outside for 24 hours. I could hardly believe the change! Still had to scrub a little, but nowhere near the fuss needed otherwise.

    Reply
  4. Linda Steele says:

    Is there something else that can be substituted for the “washing soda” in the cleaning solution? I have never heard of/seen it in the store.

    Reply
  5. Pat says:

    Some of my cookie sheets were wedding gifts 51 years ago and they look almost new because I clean them thoroughly before using them again. After washing my cookie sheets and muffin tins I place them in the oven that is still warm from baking to be sure they have dried completely before putting them away. This prevents rust.

    Reply
    • Lynn C says:

      Warm-oven tip I learned from my MIL. Works great! (Just have to remember it’s in there before preheating the oven!)

      Reply
  6. Bonnie Colcher says:

    I have a sort of related question. Does anyone have an idea of how to clean the inside of a toaster oven? I can clean the rack and get big chunks off of the heating element, but what can I use on the crud on the walls? Not really even sure what it is.

    Reply
  7. Kim Rubin says:

    I have 6 really nice sheet pans of different sizes (all of them are the same brand and type). Most of them have stayed in good condition, developing the patina that is normal for them, but always coming clean. But for some reason, I have one that always seems to get really, really gunky. In the past, I searched the internet for ways to get it clean, and tried many of them, including the soda/tartar paste, to no avail. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try one last thing, and get rid of the pan if I couldn’t get it clean. I used no-fume oven spray and steel wool. I sprayed the pan all over (doing it outside even though it was no fume) and let it sit overnight. I then scrubbed it with the steel wool. It took two rounds, but much to my surprise it actually came almost as clean as the others! I may decide to replace this pan later on if it continues to get totally gunky every use, but for now I have a clean pan again.

    Reply
  8. Sue in MN says:

    The cookie sheets & jelly roll pans in my kitchen range in age from 73 years (Mom’s flat aluminum cookie sheet – a wedding gift) to less than 2 years (Nordic Ware Commercial from the Factory Store.) I have 3 standout favorites, the two I mentioned above and a commercial grade stainless steel 1/2 sheet jelly roll pan I got from my father-in-law more than 30 years ago. The non-stick versions have all been tossed in a bin in the basement, where they only come out at our massive family Christmas bake. The rest are only used on the wood grill, or have been given away.
    QUALITY MATTERS! Buy the best you can afford. So does careful use, and proper cleaning. Use parchment, foil or silicon mats instead of baking sprays – they polymerize in the oven and create a difficult to clean layer of gunk over time. Another great tool for burned on crud is BarKeepers’ Friend used with a non-scratch scrubber. My Mom’s cookie sheet has probably baked at least 50,000 cookies over the years, and aside from being a bit battered, it looks as good as the newest one.

    Reply
  9. Betty Thomas says:

    This is a timely column. Not only for the holidays coming up but for my dirty sheet pans that i have been about to toss and replace! i use my sheet pans constantly, to place on the rack below a casserole or pie to prevent spills, for cookies and the ever popular sheet pan dinners. Thanks Mary, I will be giving this a try very soon.

    Reply

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