How To Clean a Burnt Sheet Pan
We expect a lot from our sheet pans. Whether we're roasting up some veggies or cranking out holiday cookies, sheet pans are constantly in our kitchen rotation. It's no wonder that these workhorses end up looking gross. Blame it on oil, high heat, and burnt-on residue (at some point we've all forgotten to set the timer for a batch of cookies!). No wonder that after months and years of use, sheet pans can build up some seriously baked-on stains. When dish soap just won't do the trick for eradicating gunk, it's time for a stronger solution.
What You Need
The best part? Deep cleaning a stained sheet pan is incredibly easy, there's a lot of hands-off downtime in the process, and the supplies are probably already in your home. All you need is baking soda, for its ability to dissolve grease and its gentle scrubbing properties, and hydrogen peroxide, a disinfectant (if you need to buy some, look for it in the first aid section of your market, not the cleaning aisle). The two ingredients combine to create a grime-fighting formula that will leave your sheet pans looking brand-new.
How to Clean a Sheet Pan
1. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the sheet pan.
2. Cover the baking soda in hydrogen peroxide.
3. Sprinkle another layer of baking soda on top.
4. Leave the pan to sit for up to two hours (the longer the pan soaks, the more baked-on residue will come off).
5. Put on dishwashing gloves. Wipe the pan off with a sponge to reveal a clean pan that looks as good as new—no heavy scrubbing required.
6. If some stains are remaining, repeat the cleaning process again. With a blemish-free sheet pan, you'll be ready to whip up a roasted chicken and potato dinner or a couple dozen chocolate chip cookies.
Use the baking soda-peroxide mixture to clean spatulas and other kitchen tools, and try the formula out on faucets or doorknobs in need of a good polish as well. Baking soda can clean a multitude of household items. This versatile ingredient can be used to scrub dirty oven doors, keep outdoor cushions smelling fresh, brighten laundry, freshen up carpets, and more.
If you're itching to get those pans clean but don't have hydrogen peroxide, try baking soda and vinegar. The results may not be as miraculous as the baking soda/peroxide combo, but it is a powerful cleaner. Combine equal parts of each to make a paste, scrub on your pan with a sponge, and rinse.
Prefer to buy a pre-formulated cleanser? Bar Keepers Friend is a classic go-to for all kinds of tough kitchen jobs. Wet your pan, sprinkle on the cleanser, wait a minute, scrub, rinse, and repeat as needed.
Tips to Keep Your Sheet Pan Clean Longer
Since we use sheet pans so often, they're bound to get dirty. But there are easy things you can do to keep baked-on residue to a minimum. Line pans with parchment paper when you're baking at temperatures up to 400 degrees. When broiling or roasting at higher heat, opt for aluminum foil as a pan liner. And for a wipe-clean sustainable solution, nonstick silicone mats are a smart investment. When roasting, go for an oil with a higher smoking point to minimize the chance of getting tough burnt-on oil stains.
Cleaning your pan with regular dish soap every time you use it will keep serious stains at bay—take an extra five minutes to get food and oil off before you put your sheet pan away. Using the best sponge, preferably a no-scratch scrubber, for the job will make regular sheet pan cleaning easier.
Sheet pans are sturdy, but manufacturers say to avoid putting aluminum pans in the dishwater: harsh dishwashing detergent can discolor aluminum pans (if you put them in the dishwasher by mistake, don't worry too much—they'll still be safe and effective to cook with). But if your sheet pan is treated with a nonstick coating, use extra TLC. Dishwasher detergent could wear away the coating, and metal utensils, rough cleaning brushes, or harsh scouring pads like steel wool will likely scratch nonstick pans. To keep all of your sheet pans in the best condition, use utensils made of wood, nylon, or silicone.
Of course, holiday baking shifts our sheet pans into overdrive. Amidst the frenzy of the season, giving our hardworking kitchen tools some much-needed TLC falls to the wayside. When the holiday hustle is over and the New Year has begun, make a resolution to give your sheet pans some love.