Plus, find out if it's actually dangerous to cook with a discolored sheet pan.
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From cooking sheet-pan suppers to baking a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, baking sheets are super versatile. They're one of the most essential tools a home cook can have in their arsenal. With frequent use, baking sheets can eventually show wear and tear. Perhaps the most obvious sign of a well-loved baking sheet is when it has browned and lost its natural shine, but that doesn't mean you should throw it out altogether. A well-made baking sheet should last a lifetime, even with stains or scratches. Follow along to find out how to properly prevent discoloration and clean stained baking sheets (a little bit of elbow grease may be required).

nordic ware quarter baking sheet pan
Credit: Courtesy of Nordic Ware

How Do Stains on Baking Sheets Form?

The type of baking sheet you use determines both how stains form and how to clean them. Uncoated aluminum baking sheets can get stained by oil or burnt foods that were overheated on the pan and left a burned residue. This usually happens when olive oil is used—it has a low smoke point, but is often cooked with food in a hot oven for a long period of time, such as for roasted vegetables. Nonstick baking sheets can also become stained in the same way, but they can also develop stains from contact with deep-hued food such as red beets, mustard, or ketchup.

According to experts at Nordic Ware, if a pan is not fully cleaned after it's been used, the residual oils and food will further bake themselves onto the pan the next time it is put in a hot oven. For very stubborn stains, apply Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser ($4.95, or scrub them with a paste made from one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Spread the mixture onto the stains and allow it to sit for one to two hours, then scrub off.

How to Care for Baking Sheets

Protect your baking sheets from stains by always lining them with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat. This will create a layer between food and oils and the pan, which will help to prevent stains. To clean baking sheets, avoid putting them in the dishwasher; instead, wash them by hand with warm water and dish soap. Dishwashers can discolor the surface of baking sheets.

The Bottom Line

While it's best to treat your pans as carefully as possible, a stained or slightly warped baking sheet shouldn't be cause for alarm. The stains are just cosmetic damage and will not affect the performance of your pan, the taste of your food, or the safety of the product, according to the experts at Nordic Ware.


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