When Should Cookie Sheets Be Replaced?

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Wondering how to detect when it is time to replace your well-loved cookie sheet? Or if there is a clever way to remove those stubborn burned spots? What causes a cookie sheet to warp? Could your severely burned sheet look like new again? We've researched these questions and have provided ample information to solve these culinary issues.

When the cookie sheet has beveled, peeled, or warped, it is time to upcycle or recycle the sheet. The uneven surface will negatively affect how the sheet bakes. An uneven baking surface will not allow the heat to distribute evenly, resulting in overbaked or underbaked foods and potentially causing a health issue for you and your loved ones, or at least a bad taste in their mouths.

Ready to learn more about cookie sheets and other helpful tips and tricks for restoring your bakeware? Please continue reading to find out how to properly recycle your unusable cookie sheets and great ways to rejuvenate your burned sheets with a few simple cleaning tips.

Freshly baked cookies placed on a cookie tray, When Should Cookie Sheets Be Replaced?

Why is my cookie sheet warping?

There are several reasons your cookie sheet could be dented, peeled, pitted, or warped. Generally, when your cookie sheets are peeling, pitted, or dented, there has been damage that caused the sheet to lose its original shape. The warping could be attributed to temperature changes or damage from dropping it on a hard surface.

Also, the high heat temperatures in the oven create an environment where the metal will expand from fluctuating temperatures. The atoms in the metal expand not on one side of the sheet; rather, the cookie sheet's entirety will expand in any direction. The thinner the sheets are, the quicker those will warp. Steel and steel-based metals will warp much quicker than aluminum-based sheets.

Read more: Are Convection Ovens Good For Baking Cakes And Cookies?

Moreover, when the cookie sheets are removed from the oven, the cooler temperatures will cause the metal to react and make a "BANG!" sound. That sound is generated from the extremely hot cookie sheet being removed from the oven to room temperature air. The change in temperature causes the metal to dent and warp rapidly—once damaged, the sheet will not return to its original shape. Once this has occurred, it is time to purchase a new sheet to prevent under and overcooked baked goods.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies on Baking Sheet

How do I make my cookie sheet look new again?

If your cookie sheets are not dented, peeling, or warping, and the only issue is the amount of baked-on food debris. Implementing one of the following methods should restore the cookie sheet. If the cookie sheet is warped, it is time to purchase a new sheet, or maybe two.

The following are several methods that will improve the aesthetic and functionality of your cookie sheets. One of the most successful methods for removing burned stains and other bits of baking debris is using the baking soda and vinegar method. Moreover, all of the methods listed below have achieved the desired results.

Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil Method 

  1. Sprinkle the sheet with baking soda and then sprinkle with water--just enough to create a paste.
  2. Ball up aluminum foil, approximately the size of your hand, and scrub until the sheet is free of burned debris.
  3. Wash with soapy water and thoroughly rinse the sheet.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

  1. Create a paste of baking soda 1/2-cup and white vinegar 1-cup. These measurements could vary depending on the size of the sheet or the amount of debris to remove.
  2. After applying the paste, allow the sheet to sit for at least an hour or more.
  3. Then scrub with a metal scrubber or other abrasive scrubber.

Cream of Tartar and Vinegar Method 

  1. Evenly sprinkle the sheet with a Cream of Tartar powder.
  2. Pour white vinegar on the sheet enough to saturate all of the Cream of Tartar powder and allow the sheet to sit undisturbed for at least eight hours.
  3. Scrub and thoroughly rinse the sheet.

Baking Soda and Peroxide Method 

  1. Liberally sprinkle the entire sheet with baking soda.
  2. Spray the entire sheet with peroxide and make sure that the baking soda and peroxide have the consistency of paste. Allow the mixture to sit for a minimum of eight hours.
  3. Thoroughly scrub the sheet with a brush or a metal scrubber to remove the remaining debris and thoroughly rinse the sheet with hot water.

Word of Caution When Cleaning Cookie Sheets

Many culinary blogs and websites suggest using an Easy-Off oven cleaner or other harsh oven cleaners to remove layers of stubborn debris and stains. Although this method would clean the sheet, Easy-Off does not recommend using their over cleaner on any aluminum cookware or stainless steel cookware that contains percentages of aluminum. Easy-off and aluminum combined cause discoloration, peeling, and pitting.

Also, if you use Easy-Off with any form of cookware, follow company guidelines and rinse the cookware and utensils with a vinegar and water solution.

How to extend the life of the cookie sheets

Freshly baked cookies taken out of the oven

Do not run cold water on the cookie sheet after removing it from the oven. This will cause it to warp. The best method to reduce the risk of warping the cookie sheet is to allow the sheet to cool at room temperature prior to washing. Or, place the sheet back into the oven and turn the oven off. Once the oven has cooled, and the sheet will be cool enough to wash without risk of warping.

Store the sheets flat instead of standing, and this will help retain the shape. Scrape the cookie sheet with a spatula to remove any burned crumbs before washing. Also, wash by hand with mild dish detergents to prevent water damage. The hot or normal setting on most dishwashers paired with harsh dishwasher detergents causes discoloration, pitting, and warping to occur.

Baking tips to avoid staining the cookie sheets!

Ample greasing or oiling of the sheet does help avoid stains and difficulties cleaning the sheets. Try using parchment paper to line the sheet before adding the cookie dough. Removing the cookies is much easier, and cleanup is a snap! Out of parchment paper? Click here to read about five great alternatives to use instead!

A cookie sheet with freshly baked chocolate cookies

How do you dispose of old cookie sheets?

Depending on the condition of your old cookie sheets, there are some options for disposal. If the bakeware is still in useable condition, consider donating it to your local charity—Goodwill or Saint Vincent de Paul. Also, homeless shelters will accept used bakeware to assist those in need of basic household items.

Recycling is another option for bakeware that is completely unusable. The type of metal the cookie sheets are made from will determine if your recycling bins will accept the discarded sheets.  The best option would be to visit your local waste management website and read about properly recycling metals materials. If your waste management does not accept metals, contact your local scrap metal collector for further instructions.

Repurposing the baking sheets is a great option for those that are crafty and enjoy reusing versus recycling. In addition, Pinterest has a multitude of great ideas ranging from creating memo boards, holiday gifts, and decor for kids, like the one featured below.

In Closing

Navigating the world of bakeware and making healthy and safe food for your family and friends is great. Be sure to visit KitchenSeer again soon for more culinary guidance and DIY suggestions! Happy baking!

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