Whether you’re an avid home cook or make dinner a few times a month, odds are you own at least one sheet pan. If you live in the US, that sheet pan is probably about 18×13-inches, which are known technically as half sheet pans (“full” sheet pans are 26×18-inches, often used in bakeries but likely too large for a standard home oven). What you might not have is a 9.5-x13-inch quarter sheet pan, and I’m here to tell you why you must remedy this immediately.
I purchased a set of quarter sheet pans after moving and discovering that my new oven could only fit half sheet pans vertically and sort of hanging over the edge of the back of the oven. This meant that everything I baked had to be rotated halfway or the back-side of the tray would be charred and the front side would be barely cooked. The system was mostly fine, but incredibly annoying, especially for someone who cooks a lot. Quarter sheet pans, however, fit in my weirdly tiny oven without a problem, and my food no longer cooks unevenly.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
Even if you have a normal-sized oven that fits half sheet pans perfectly, investing an a few quarter sheet pans is still worth it. Take roasted vegetables you plan to toss together in a salad, for example. While all the ingredients might cook at the same temperature, cauliflower florets will be done far before halved sweet potatoes, but after thinly sliced carrots. When each individual ingredient is left to cook on its own tray, you reduce the risk of overcooking. Plus, you can probably get four in the oven at a time, so your dinner is bound to be ready more quickly than when you used two half sheet pans.
These small sheet pans are also ideal for when you want to cook something small and don’t necessarily want to dirty a full sheet pan, like a couple potatoes, a cup of nuts, a chicken breast or a few thighs, a sheet pan dinner (with anything from sausage to shrimp to chickpeas) scaled down for one, a single-serving cookie, a few pieces of bread for toast, or even a slice of cold pizza.
Quarter sheet pans come in handy outside of the oven as well. Do you remember watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals? At the start of the show, she’d pull out ingredients from the pantry and fridge, pile them all in her arms in a teetering pile, and amble over to the counter, dropping a bag of chocolate chips or bundle of herbs along the way. It was charming, but quarter sheet pans could’ve helped. When I’m pulling out my 10-odd ingredients to make a recipe, I take a quarter sheet pan with me and drop everything I need onto the tray. Once I start cooking, I’ll season my raw meat on another small tray instead of a plate or cutting board, where meat juices might run freely onto the table.
You can buy quarter sheet pans at most cooking and home goods shops, or of course on Amazon, like this set of three trays for under $25.
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