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Jelly Roll Pan vs. Cookie Sheet: Is There a Difference?

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Wondering if there’s a difference between a jelly roll pan and a cookie sheet? Discover the answer with this guide from Caraway.

If you value the space in your kitchen, then it makes sense to want only the baking pieces that are absolutely essential. But in some cases, using the same baking pan for everything can lead to incorrectly executed recipes.

If you’re trying to choose between a jelly roll pan and a cookie sheet, then it’s important to know the differences between them (and whether one can be subbed for the other).

Read on to find out what makes a jelly roll pan different from a cookie sheet and which one you should invest in for your kitchen.

Sheet Pans

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Although jelly roll pans and cookie sheet pans are sometimes referred to as sheet pans, they’re not actually the same thing. To clear up our kitchen terminology, let’s take a brief look at the different types of sheet pans and how they differ from other bakeware.

Industrial Sheet

A full sheet is a baking pan that measures 18x26” inches and has raised edges that are about one inch tall. Although this is an essential kitchen tool in restaurants and bakeries, it is far too big to fit in a home oven and is usually reserved for professional use.

Large Baking Sheet

A Large Baking Sheet is half the size of a full sheet pan and measures 18x13” inches. This is a very common size for an at-home Baking Sheet since it’s the perfect size for making sheet-pan dinners and more. And since you want to avoid overcrowding your ingredients when baking, the Large Baking Sheet is the perfect size for baking anything from roasted vegetables to baked salmon.

Medium Baking Sheet

The Medium Baking Sheet measures 10x15” inches, which makes it smaller than others, but no less handy. If you want to scale down your dinners (roasted chicken for one, please), then the Medium Baking Sheet is the ideal size for you. Not only will it make sure that your pared-down recipes come out as intended, but it will also save you a significant amount of time spent cleaning up.

Jelly Roll Pan

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With a good overview of sheet pans, we can confidently move on to discussing jelly roll pans. But first things first: What is a jelly roll, and why does it need its own pan?

Otherwise known as a Swiss roll, a jelly roll is a type of rolled sponge cake that you can fill with anything you want—such as jam, jelly, or cream. While it's more stunning when homemade, it’s also sold in stores under brand names like HoHos and Yodels.

A jelly roll pan is what we use to make the sponge cake. To achieve the perfect size for this rolled cake, a jelly roll pan typically measures 10 ½x5 ½” inches (but in some cases, it can be as big as 12x18” inches). This pan also has raised one-inch sides.

This is a pretty essential kitchen tool when it comes to following recipes that explicitly call for a jelly roll pan (although substitutes can be made in some cases).

But for the most part, baking in one of the sheet pans above could produce a too-thin cake that could even burn. For this reason, we recommend sticking to a larger one when it comes to making rolled cakes.

What Are Jelly Roll Pans Used For?

Plus, a jelly roll pan is fairly versatile and can be confidently used for other purposes.

Here are some of the things you can do with a jelly roll pan:

  • Make Ultra-Thin Brownies (or Blondies): If you prefer your brownies thin and crispy, then a jelly roll will make the perfect kitchen tool for baking them.

  • Make a Sheet-Pan Dinner: Since it’s larger than a quarter sheet pan, you can comfortably use a jelly roll pan to make your sheet-pan dinner for one (or two).

  • Roast Meat: The raised sides of the jelly roll pan are perfect for containing the juices from your pot roast.

  • Roast Vegetables: The larger surface area of a jelly roll pan is perfect for giving your veggies ample room for caramelizing and developing that complex flavor.

  • Bake Cookies: Although we technically have the cookie sheet for this (more on it below), a jelly roll pan can be easily used to bake your favorite cookies.

Cookie Sheet

True to its name, a cookie sheet is the best kitchen tool for baking cookies. It has only one (or—at most—two) raised sides which makes it easier to grab. Otherwise, it’s completely flat. This allows air to circulate, which wicks away moisture and makes your baked goods perfectly crispy.

In addition, a cookie sheet is often insulated, so you don’t have to worry about your baked goods burning too quickly. Last but not least, a cookie sheet comes in a variety of sizes, so you can pick and choose the perfect one for your needs.

While we mainly use the cookie sheet for baking cookies, it has other uses. Using your cookie sheet, you can make essentially any baked good (as long as it doesn’t have a lot of batter). These can include biscuits, flatbread, and even pastries. That said, we would avoid roasting meat on a cookie sheet as it doesn’t have rims to contain the juices.

Jelly Roll Pan vs. Cookie Sheet: How Are They Different?

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Although there are some similarities between a jelly roll pan and a cookie sheet, there are just as many differences.

Here’s a brief guide that outlines how a jelly roll pan compares with a cookie sheet:

Size

For the most part, a jelly roll pan measures in at 10 ½x15 ½” (although there are some that measure 12x18”). A cookie sheet, on the other hand, comes in a variety of sizes so you can choose between making enough cookies for your next get-together or just enough for treating yourself.

If your kitchen space is especially limited, then it’s possible to buy a mini cookie sheet that measures as small as seven inches. Because jelly roll pans are their size for a reason, it’s a bit harder to find one that’s smaller.

Function

A jelly roll pan has one-inch rims, which makes it ideal for working with liquid batter or food that releases juices as they cook. A cookie sheet only has one raised rim (for ease of handling), so it’s not great for working with liquids like the Dutch Oven is.

However, the lack of raised edges makes it perfect for keeping moisture out and achieving that crispiness that we want our cookies to have.

Versatility

If you want to scale down your recipes, then a jelly roll pan can be used to make pretty much anything you want. A cookie sheet definitely doesn’t have as many uses, but it does come out superior when used for baking cookies and other baked goods.

A Sweet Solution

To sum it up, a cookie sheet comes in a variety of sizes and is flat with one (or two) raised edges for easy handling. It’s perfect for keeping moisture out of your baked goods, which is why we prefer it for baking cookies. A jelly roll pan is typically 10 ½x15 ½” and has raised edges that can contain liquids, which makes it pretty versatile.

A jelly roll pan is often useful but does not see quite as much action as we might expect. However, it can be part of a well-rounded kitchen lineup.

When looking to stock your kitchen with the necessities, start with a Complete Bakeware Set. With a full baking set that functions as its own storage solution, you will have everything you need without taking up all the space you have. This leaves you room to add your favorite jelly roll pan, favorite mugs, or more.

Our Sources: Jelly Roll Recipe | Food How to Swap Baking Pan Sizes Without Ruining Your Recipe | The Washington Post How Do You Scale a Recipe to the Amount of Servings You Need? | The Spruce Eats

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